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Chapter 19:

  • The Western theatre of the war.
  • -- Valley of the Mississippi. -- evacuation of Corinth. -- important objects of the movement. -- its success. -- the Halleck -- Pope dispatch. -- an enormous falsehood. -- Gen. Beauregard's comments on it. -- capture of Memphis. -- an unequal fight on the River. -- bombardment of Vicksburg. -- great importance of this point. -- preparations for its defence by Van Dorn. -- the ironclad Arkansas. -- she runs the gauntlet of the enemy's fleet. -- thrilling scene of the adventure. -- failure of the first attempt of the enemy upon Vicksburg. -- engagement at Baton Rouge. -- success of Breckinridge's attack. -- he waits for the iron-clad Arkansas. -- she becomes unmanageable and is fired by her crew. -- withdrawal of Breckinridge from Baton Rouge. -- Confederate occupation of Port Hudson. -- the Kentucky campaign. -- Gen. Bragg in command of the Confederate army in the West. -- how Gen. Beauregard was retired. -- Bragg's plan of operations against Kentucky. -- Morgan's raid. -- disposition of the Federal forces West of the Alleghany Mountains. -- co-operation of Kirby Smith with Bragg's column. -- battle of Richmond. -- Kirby Smith in a position to threaten both Cincinnati and Louisville. -- Bragg's movement to intercept Buell. -- the latter concentrating at Bowling Green. -- great success of Bragg's movements so far. -- his boastful dispatch to Richmond. -- his political object in invading Kentucky. -- his proclamation at Glasgow. -- surrender of the Federal garrison at Mumfordsville. -- Bragg's whole army between Nashville and Louisville. -- his splendid opportunity. -- he does not use it. -- he permits Buell to pass to Louisville without a battle. -- his weak excuse for a fatal errour -- the Federals now able to resume the offensive in Kentucky. -- Bragg's uncertain movements. -- his disarranged plan of battle. -- Gen. Polk's disobedience of orders. -- battle of Perryville. -- Bragg's unfortunate distribution of forces. -- misapprehension of Kirby Smith. -- Withers' division not in the fight. -- the enemy driven. -- arrival of another of his corps upon the field. -- Bragg retires upon Bryantsville. -- he determines to evacuate Kentucky. -- retreat through Cumberland Gap. -- disappointment at Richmond. -- errours of the Kentucky campaign. -- how far it was a Confederate success. -- its large captures. -- North Alabama and Middle Tennessee redeemed. -- Bragg in front of Nashville. -- operations in the Southwest. -- battle of Corinth. -- movements of Van Dorn and Price. -- the affair of Iuka. -- Van Dorn's reasons for attacking Corinth. -- gallant and impetuous charge of Price's troops. -- the second day's fight. -- mismanagement of the attack on the enemy's works. -- terrible slaughter at College Hill. -- the Confederates repulsed. -- affair on the Hatchie River. -- Van Dorn's retreat. -- review of the summer and autumn campaigns of 1862. -- glory of the Confederate arms. -- reflection of the London times on the “New nationality.”

[320] While the events we have related in the two preceding chapters were taking place in Virginia and on its borders, an important campaign was occurring in the country west of the Alleghany Mountains, and in the valley of the Mississippi River; and while Lee entered Maryland, Bragg invaded Kentucky, threatening the line of the Ohio, thus in every direction bringing the front of the war to the enemy's own territory. But before reaching that period wherein the Confederate arms in the West were carried to the frontier, as by a parallel movement with the operations in Virginia, it is necessary to recount a number of preceding events in the Western theatres of the war, in which the lights of victory and shadows of defeat were strangely mingled.

Evacuation of Corinth.

At the last point of our narrative of operations in the West, Gen. Beauregard was holding Corinth; an important strategic position, protecting his communications by the two railroads intersecting there. The trans-Mississippi campaign being considered closed for some time, Price and Van Dorn, with a division of Missourians and some Arkansas troops, had crossed the Mississippi and joined Beauregard, with a view of operating on the east bank of the river. It was soon ascertained that the immense forces of Grant and Buell, combined under command of Halleck, were slowly advancing. The movement of the enemy threatened Beauregard's left, along the Mobile and Ohio railroad, while he had already pushed along the Memphis and Charleston road, camping about three miles from Corinth. To foil the design of the enemy; to protect his most important line of Southern communication; to obtain a better position to fortify; and to secure the health of his troops, Gen. Beauregard decided to evacuate Corinth. The objects of the movement were all important. Our main railroad communication with Richmond via Chattanooga, was in the enemy's possession, and the only line of communication we now had with the Confederate capital was the devious one, by way of Mobile, Alabama, and Georgia. Corinth was indefensible. It was a wretched site for a camp, utterly destitute of water, good or bad, and what little could be obtained, was scooped up from the sand, or from pools fed by occasional rains.

The evacuation was commenced on the 30th of May. Remaining in [321] rear of the Tuscumbia and its affluents, some six miles from Corinth, long enough to collect stragglers, Gen. Beauregard resumed his march, concentrating his main forces at Baldwin. On the 7th of June he left Baldwin, it offering no advantages of a defensive character, and assembled the main body of his forces at Tupelo. Tile position selected was an excellent one to protect the south branches of the Mobile and New Orleans railroads. The movement of Gen. Beauregard was a surprise to the enemy, and a decided success. His effective force did not exceed forty-seven thousand men of all arms, and he had skilfully avoided attack from an enemy superiour in numbers. By holding Corinth, he had gained time, and held the enemy in check without a battle; and by retreating when he did, he out-generaled Halleck, rendered him powerless to move, and saved Mississippi from the inroad of a large army, which would have followed him into the interiour at an earlier season of the year, but was now unable to do so, from weakened forces and the great heats.1

Gen. Halleck attempted to break the news of his discomfiture by a flaming official despatch to Washington, in which he was assisted by Gen. John Pope, then acting under him, to one of the most monstrous falsehoods of the war. This false despatch is so characteristic of the Federal method in dealing with the facts of the war, that it may be copied here for a general lesson to the reader: [322]

Headquarters, June 4, 182.
Gen. Pope, with forty thousand men, is thirty miles south of Corinth, pushing the enemy hard. He already reports ten thousand prisoners and deserters from the enemy, and fifteen thousand stand of arms captured.

Thousands of the enemy are throwing away their arms. A farmer said, that when Beauregard learned that Col. Elliot had cut the railroad on his line of retreat, he became frantic, and told his men to save themselves the best way they could.

We have captured nine locomotives and a number of cars. One of the former is already prepared, and is running to-day. Several more will be in running order in two or three days. The result is all I could possibly desire.

H. W. Halleck, Major-Genera Commanding.

Gen. Beauregard's comments on the above, published in the Mobile Register, were to the following effect:

Headquarters, Western Department, June 17th.
Gentlemen: My attention has just been called to the dispatch of Major-Gen. Halleck, commanding the enemy's forces, which, coming from such a source, is most remarkable in one respect — that it contains as many misrepresentations as lines.

Gen. Pope did not “push hard” upon me with forty thousand men thirty miles from Corinth on the 4th inst., for my troops occupied a defensive line in the rear of “ Twenty Mile Creek,” less than twenty-five miles from Corinth, until the 8th inst., when the want of good water induced me to retire at my leisure to a better position. Moreover, if Gen. Pope had attempted, at any time during the retreat from Corinth, to push hard upon me, I would have given him such a lesson as would have checked his ardour; but he was careful to advance only after my troops had retired from each successive position.

The retreat was conducted with great order and precision, doing much credit to the officers and men under my orders, and must be looked upon, in every respect, by the country, as equivalent to a brilliant victory.

Gen. Pope must certainly have dreamed of taking ten thousand prisoners and fifteen thousand stand of arms; for we positively never lost them. About one or two hundred stragglers would probably cover all the prisoners he took, and about five hundred damaged muskets is all the arms he got. These belonged to a convalescent camp, four miles south of Corinth, evacuated during the night, and were overlooked on account of the darkness. The actual number of prisoners taken during the retreat was about equal on both sides, and they were but few.

Major-Gen. Halleck must be a very credulous man, indeed, to believe the absurd story of “ that farmer.” He ought to know that the burning of two or more cars on a railroad is not sufficient to make “ Beauregard frantic ” and ridiculous, especially when I expected to hear every moment of the capture of the marauding party, whose departure from Farmington had been communicated to me the day before, and I had given, in consequence, all necessary orders; but a part of my forces passed Booneville an hour before the arrival of Colonel Elliot's command, and the other part arrived just in time to drive it away and liberate the convalescents captured; unfortunately, however, not in time to save four of the sick, who were barbarously consumed in the station-house. Let Col. Elliot's name descend to infamy as the author of such a revolting deed. Gen. Halleck did not capture nine locomotives. It was only by the accidental destruction of a bridge, before some trains had passed, that he got seven engines in a damaged condition, the cars having been burned by my orders. [323]

It is, in fact, easy to see how little the enemy respect truth and justice when speaking of their military operations, especially when, through inability or over-confidence, they meet with deserved failure.

If the result be all he desired, it can be said that Major-Gen. Halleck is easily satisfied; it remains to be seen whether his Government and people will be of the like opinion.

I attest that all we lost at Corinth and during the retreat would not amount to one day's expense of his army.

Capture of Memphis.

A few days after Gen. Beauregard's movement from Corinth, the city of Memphis having been abandoned by the Confederate garrison departing to another scene of action, was easily captured by the large Federal fleet in the Mississippi River. The capture was made on the 6th of June. The evacuation of Forts Pillow and Randolph had taken place two days before. In the river near Memphis was a small fleet of Confederate boats. It consisted of the General Van Dorn, (flag-ship,) General Price, General Bragg, Jeff. Thompson, General Lovell, General Beauregard, Sumter, and Little Rebel, all under the command of Corn. Montgomery. Each of these boats carried an armament of two guns, with the exception of the Jeff. Thompson, which had four.

The Federal gunboats consisted of the following: the gunboat Benton, (flag-ship of Corn. Davis,) mounting fourteen guns; gunboat St. Louis, thirteen guns; gunboat Mound City, thirteen guns; gunboat Louisville, thirteen guns; gunboat Cairo, thirteen guns; gunboat Carondelet, thirteen guns; three mortar-boats, and twenty rams and transports. This overwhelming force advanced, with several of their rams in front, their iron-clad gunboats in the centre, two and three abreast, and their mortarboards and transports bringing up their rear.

The unequal fight lasted but a few hours. The Jeff. Thompson, Beauregard, Sumter, and Bragg were respectively disabled, run ashore, or set on fire, their crews meanwhile escaping to the woods. The Jeff. Thompson was blown up, the Beauregard sunk near the shore, her upper-works remaining above the surface. The Sumter and Bragg were the only boats that could be brought off, and these were subsequently anchored in front of the city, with the odious flag of the invaders flying at their mast-heads. The Confederate loss did not exceed fifty in killed and wounded, and one hundred prisoners. On the boats captured and destroyed, there was but a small quantity of stores and munitions, and everything in the city of value to the government had been removed. Beyond the mere fact of obtaining possession of the position, the victory of the enemy was a barren one.


Bombardment of Vicksburg.

But the enemy was now to attempt a much more important step towards opening the navigation of the Mississippi River--a result persistently demanded by the Northwestern States as the price of their contributions to the war, and their support of the Administration at Washington.

The Confederates had been prompt to perceive the great importance of Vicksburg; and on the fall of New Orleans, Gen. Lovell had ordered a detail of his force to garrison the place and construct works for its defence. It was the most important point in the Valley of the Mississippi. Thousands of men, supplies, and materiel were continually crossing the river-much of our provisions for the armies in the East and West being derived from Texas, parts of Louisiana, and Arkansas. Could the Federals obtain possession of Vicksburg, all the agricultural products of the Northern and Western States would pass down unmolested to the Gulf; the enemy would gain free access to the whole river front, supply themselves abundantly with cotton, sugar, molasses, and other products, disjoin the east and west Mississippi States, and, having the Confederacy fairly on its flanks, could operate with impunity upon numberless points, divide our forces, and open a new prospect of subjugation.

When in the summer of 1862, Gen. Earl Van Dorn was assigned to the defence of Vicksburg, he found the city besieged by a powerful fleet of war vessels, and an army. Many of the citizens retired to the interiour, while the Confederate troops marched in, and pitched their tents in the valleys and on the hills adjacent in convenient position to support batteries and strike assailants. Breckinridge's division occupied the city. Additional guns were brought up from Mobile, from Richmond, from Columbus and elsewhere, and put in battery, preparatory for a grand trial of artillery with the enemy's fleet.

The attacking force of the enemy was at first confined to Porter's mortar fleet, and Farragut's gunboats, with their attendant array in transports, which had ascended the river from New Orleans. The evacuation of Fort Pillow, and the fall of Memphis, opened the new danger of a combination between the upper and lower fleets of the enemy. The junction was effected early in July, and thus a force of more than forty gunboats, mortar-boats, rams and transports lay in menace before the city. On the 12th of July it opened fire.

While the enemy had been completing his preparations for the bombardment of Vicksburg, the Confederates had been engaged in a well-masked enterprise, and Com. Lynch having improvised a ship-yard near [325] Yazoo City, had been hard at work, night and day, fitting out a ram, called the Arkansas. At the mouth of the Yazoo River, a raft had been built, to afford some sort of protection to the fleet of river passenger and freight boats, that had escaped from New Orleans, and were now concealed in this river, and to put bounds to the enemy's curiosity. One of these vessels was razed by Corn. Lynch, and the construction of the ungainly Arkansas begun. Four large guns were placed aboard; and on the 15th of July, Gen. Van Dorn issued an order to prepare her for immediate and active service, it being intended to use her as part of his force for the relief of Vicksburg.

In the early morning of this day, this rough ungainly vessel, which it was anticipated might compete with the deeds of the famous Virginia in Hampton Roads, passed through the raft of the Yazoo, and commenced the fearful gauntlet of the enemy's vessels drawn up in parallel lines to receive her when passing the channel of the Mississippi River. Frigates, rams, gunboats-all were ready to annihilate that iron-clad mass of timber slowly floating towards them. Presently an iron-clad left her position, and boldly steaming up between the lines of dark hulls, opened fire at a considerable distance. The Arkansas was silent, and nothing was seen but a rush of steam as the monster slowly entered the channel. Once her bow gun was fired, smashing the boiler and machinery of one of the enemy's vessels. A few moments more, and a terrific fire from both of the enemy's squadrons was poured upon the strange vessel, which appeared now as a mass of sparks floating between parallel lines of curling smoke. On the bluff were a thousand breathless spectators of the fearful scene. The Arkansas moved on. Fighting at long range, the Federal fleet slowly followed, and the nearer she approached the bluff, the quicker the Arkansas fought. At last finding her safe under the Confederate batteries, the enemy gave up the chase, and amid cheers from the excited spectators on the bluff and a salvo of artillery, the Arkansas slowly turned the point and was moored before Vicksburg!

With the failure to destroy or take the Arkansas, the siege of Vicksburg practically ended. The attack on the batteries soon ceased, and the enemy, baffled and enraged by an unexpected, determined and persistent defence, vented his wrath in impotent and barbarian effort to destroy the city. On the 27th of July, both fleets disappeared, foiled in their struggle to reduce the place. The casualties on our side, during the entire siege, were twenty-two killed and wounded. Not a gun was dismounted, and but two were temporarily disabled.

Engagement at Baton Rouge.

Satisfied of the enemy's disappearance from Vicksburg, Gen. Van [326] Dorn resolved to strike a blow before he had time to organize and mature a new scheme of assault. The Federals held Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, forty miles below the mouth of Red River, with a land force of about three thousand five hundred men, in conjunction with four or five gunboats, and some transports. It was a matter of great necessity to us that the navigation of Red River should be opened as high as Vicksburg Supplies, much needed, existed there, difficult to be obtained from any other quarter, and strong military reasons demanded that we should hold the Mississippi at two points, to facilitate communications and co-operation between Van Dorn's district and the trans-Mississippi department. The capture of Baton Rouge, and the forces of the enemy at that point, would open the Mississippi, secure the navigation of Red River, then in a state of blockade, and might make practicable the recapture of New Orleans.

To secure these objects, orders were given to Gen. Breckinridge to move upon Baton Rouge with a force of five thousand men, picked from the troops at Vicksburg, and there was added to his command the effective force of Gen. Ruggles, then at Camp Moore, making a total force of six thousand men. To ensure the success of the plan, the Arkansas was ordered to co-operate with the land force by a simultaneous attack from the river. All damages sustained by the Arkansas from the fleets of the enemy had been repaired, and when she left the wharf at Vicksburg for Baton Rouge, she was deemed to be as formidable, in attack or defence, as when she defied a fleet of forty vessels of war, many of them iron-clads.

By epidemic disease the land force under Gen. Breckinridge was reduced to less than three thousand effective men, within the period of ten days after he reached Camp Moore. Advised, however, by telegram every hour of the progress of the Arkansas towards Baton Rouge, and counting on her co-operation, Breckinridge, on the morning of the 5th August, determined to attack the enemy with his whole effective force, then reduced o about two thousand five hundred men. The attack was gallantly made; and the enemy, driven from all his positions, was forced to seek protection under the cover of his gunboats.

Breckinridge had listened in vain for the guns of the Arkansas. She never reached the scene of contest. After arriving within a short distance of Baton Rouge, in ample time for joint action at the appointed hour of attack, she had suddenly become unmanageable, from a failure in her machinery, which all the efforts of her engineers could not repair. Lieut. Stevens, her commander, moored her to the shore; and on the cautious approach of the enemy, he landed her crew, cut her from her moorings, fired her with his own hands, and turned her adrift down the river. With every gun shotted, the Confederate flag floating from her prow, and not a man on board, the Arkansas bore down upon the enemy. It was a strange spectacle, this vessel, abandoned by commander and crew, and dedicated [327] to sacrifice, yet fighting a battle like a thing of life. Her guns were discharged as the flames reached them, and when her last shot was fired, the explosion of her magazine ended the brief career of the Arkansas.

Unable, without the co-operation of this vessel, to penetrate the cover of the enemy's gunboats, Gen. Breckinridge withdrew his troops at ten o'clock in the morning. He had fought a brilliant action, but was unable to pursue his victory further. Our casualties amounted to four hundred and sixty-seven. The force of the enemy brought into action was not less than forty-five hundred men. We had eleven pieces of field artillery. They brought to bear on us not less than eighteen pieces, exclusive of the guns of the fleet. In one respect the contrast between the opposing forces was very striking. The Federal troops were well clothed, and their encampments showed the presence of every comfort and even luxury. Our men had little transportation, indifferent food, and no shelter. Half of them had no coats, and hundreds of them were without either shoes or socks; yet no troops ever behaved with greater gallantry, and even reckless audacity.

Advised of the result of Gen. Breckinridge's expedition, Gen. Van Dorn immediately ordered the occupation of Port Hudson, a point selected for its eligibility of defence, and for its capacity for offensive annoyance of the enemy, established batteries, manned them with experienced gunners, and guarded them by an adequate supporting force, holding Baton Rouge, in the meanwhile, in menace. The effect of these operations was the evacuation of Baton Rouge by the enemy, and his disappearance from the Mississippi between the capital of Louisiana and Vicksburg. The results sought by the movement against Baton Rouge were thus, to a great extent, obtained. The Confederates held two points of the Mississippi — more than two hundred miles of distance intervening-unmolested by the enemy, and closed to him. The navigation of the Mississippi River, from the mouth of Red River to Vicksburg, was opened to our commerce, giving us also the important advantage of water connection, by the latter river, with the most important portion of the trans-Mississippi region, from which indispensable supplies were drawn.

The Kentucky campaign.

But while the Confederate situation on the Mississippi River was thus satisfactory, Gen. Bragg, who now commanded the whole Confederate army of the West, in place of Gen. Beauregard, was preparing for an important campaign, the object of which was to relieve Western Tennessee and Alabama from the presence of the enemy by an advance against Kentucky, with possibly the ultimate object of capturing and holding Louisville [328] on the Ohio, and occupying permanently the eastern portion of the State.

In the lull of operations incident to the position of his army at Tupelo, after the successful evacuation of Corinth, Gen. Beauregard had sought to recuperate his health by a short respite from duty. He turned over the command to Gen. Bragg, with instructions looking to the preparation of the army for the field at once on his return, which he anticipated would be in three weeks. But no sooner had President Davis heard of this step, than he telegraphed Gen. Bragg to assume permanent command-taking the opportunity to inflict upon Gen. Beauregard a mark of his displeasure, and in fact to encourage the curious report in Richmond that he had become insane, and was no longer fitted for a command.

Gen. Bragg's expedition was preceded by extended raids of Morgan and Forrest into Kentucky and Tennessee. The former, who had at first attracted attention as a captain of irregular cavalry, and was now a brigadier-general in the Confederate service, in the month of July, with a force numbering less than two entire regiments of cavalry, penetrated the State of Kentucky, passed through seventeen towns, destroyed millions of dollars worth of United States property, and returned to Tennessee with a loss in all his engagements of not more than ninety men in killed, wounded, and missing.

The campaign of Gen. Bragg was to take place amid intricate and formidable combinations of the enemy. In the country west of the Alleghany the Federal Government had prepared an extensive programme of operations. In the south, Gen. Butler occupied New Orleans, whilst Admirals Farragut and Porter guarded the Lower Mississippi, and bombarded Vicksburg. Commanding the Army of Tennessee, in the neighbourhood of Corinth, with his advance as far south as Holly Springs and his right at Memphis, was Gen. Grant, with Gens. Sherman, Rosecrans, and McClernand under his command. Further east was the Federal Gen. Mitchell, between Corinth and Chattanooga, opposed to a small force under Gen. Adams; whilst threatening Eastern Tennessee, was Buell's army, and occupying Cumberland Gap, was Gen. Morgan.

Early in August four divisions of Bragg's command were concentrated near Chattanooga, and awaited the arrival of the artillery, cavalry, and baggage train, which necessarily moved across the country by land. A conference was held here with Gen. Kirby Smith, commanding the Department of East Tennessee; and it was soon determined that all his force should be used to operate upon the enemy's left at Cumberland Gap, and he was requested to confer with Brig.-Gen. Humphrey Marshall, commanding in Southwestern Virginia, with whom he was already in correspondence, to secure his co-operation also in the movement.

After returning to Knoxville, Gen. Smith asked for further assistance [329] and two fine brigades, under Brig.-Gen. P. R. Cleburne and Col. Preston Smith were sent to him, in addition to the division which had gone from Tupelo. The remainder of Bragg's immediate command, the Army of the Mississippi, divided between Maj.-Gen. Polk and Hardee, made every preparation, and awaited only its baggage train and artillery to cross the Tennessee River, and enter upon its arduous and perilous campaign over the mountains dividing East and Middle Tennessee.

The movement of the artillery and wagons across the mountain region of North Alabama having been successfully accomplished, late in August, Bragg commenced crossing the river at Chattanooga, with very limited means. The enemy, with a largely superiour force, occupied the lines of the railroads from Decatur to Bridgeport, Alabama, from Decatur to Nashville, and from Nashville to Stevenson, with large detached commands at McMinnville and Cumberland Gap. Having crossed the river at Chattanooga, the column took up its line of march on the 28th August, over Waldron's Ridge and the Cumberland Mountain for Middle Tennessee. Gen. Kirby Smith had already successfully passed through Northeastern Tennessee, and gained the rear of Cumberland Gap, held by the enemy in strong force well fortified.

Leaving a sufficient force to hold the enemy in observation, his dislodgment being considered impracticable, Smith moved, as authorized, with the remainder of his command, on Lexington, Kentucky. This rich country, full of supplies so necessary to us, was represented to ,be occupied by a force which could make but feeble resistance. Hurrying forward by forced marches through a wild and mountainous country, the Confederates appeared in front of the town of Richmond on the 29th of August.

Battle of Richmond.

Gen. Cleburne's division, which was in advance, came upon the enemy's advance about six miles from Richmond, early in the day, and drove it from the field, before the remainder of the column was brought into action.

Falling back about three miles and a half, and receiving reinforcements, the enemy again made a stand( and were again driven from the field in confusion. Gen. Smith did not pursue rapidly, and the enemy formed his line of battle in the outskirts of Richmond, his forces having swelled to the number of ten thousand men, Gen. Nelson commanding.

The enemy's centre and left was here attacked by Preston Smith's division, while Churchill, with a brigade, moved to the left. Under the combined attack, the Federals were utterly routed, and retreated in terrible confusion. A detachment of Confederate cavalry came in upon their flank. and scattered them in all directions, capturing all their artillery [330] and trains. Not a regiment escaped in order. In the last engagement we took prisoners from thirteen regiments. Our loss, killed and wounded, was about four hundred; that of the enemy over one thousand, and his prisoners about five thousand. The immediate fruits of the victory were nine pieces of artillery, some ten thousand small arms, and large quantities of supplies.

Pushing forward from Richmond, the Confederate force entered Lexington on the 2d September, and Frankfort on the 17th, and was thus in a position to threaten either Cincinnati, about eighty miles, or Louisville, about fifty miles distant.

The movement of Kirby Smith made it necessary for Gen. Bragg to intercept Gen. Buell, now rapidly moving towards Nashville, or to move towards the right, so as to secure a junction with Smith when necessary. On reaching Middle Tennessee, it was found that the enemy's main force, by use of railroads and good turnpikes, had concentrated in Nashville, and was strongly fortified. With a heavy demonstration against this position, Bragg's force was thrown rapidly to Glasgow, reaching that point the 13th of September, before any portion of the enemy passed Bowling Green. As soon as the movement was discovered., the enemy moved in haste by rail and turnpike, but reached Bowling Green only in time to find the Confederates had seized and now held both roads near Cave City.

So far the Confederate movements in Kentucky were a decided success, and promised the most important results. The enemy's communications were severed, and his forces separated, whilst our own connections were secured. Without firing a gun, we had also compelled the evacuation of all Northern Alabama and Middle Tennessee, south of the Cumberland. On the 12th September, Bragg sent a fulsome despatch to Richmond, greatly exciting the hopes of the Government there. He telegraphed: “My advance will be in Glasgow to-day, and I shall be with them tomorrow; my whole force will be there on the 14th. We shall then be between Buell and Kirby Smith, for which I have been struggling. The troops are in good tone and condition, somewhat footsore and tired, but cheerful. They have submitted most heroically to privations and hardships, and have maintained their reputation for discipline. Our greatest want has been breadstuffs, but we shall be in a plentiful country at Glasgow and beyond. With arms we can, not ,only clear Tennessee and Kentucky, but I confidently trust, hold them both. Gen. Buell, with the larger portion of his army, is concentrating at Bowling Green. From Glasgow we can examine him and decide on the future.”

Gen. Bragg had a political object in invading Kentucky, which was to afford a rallying point for what he believed to be the Secession sentiment of the State. From his headquarters at Glasgow he issued a proclamation, informing the people of Kentucky that he had come with the Confederate [331] army of the West to offer them an opportunity to free themselves from the tyranny of a despotic ruler. They came not as conquerours or despoilers, but to restore to them the liberties of which they had been deprived by a cruel and relentless foe; to guaranty to all the sanctity of their homes and altars, to punish with a rod of iron the despoilers of their peace, and to avenge the cowardly insults to their women.

On the 17th September, the Federal garrison at Mumfordsville surrendered to Gen. Bragg's advanced divisions. Hardee's wing moved by Cave City, direct upon Mumfordsville, and Polk, by another road, crossed the river some miles to the right, and gained the enemy's rear in the afternoon of the 16th. An immediate demand for the surrender of the garrison was made, and the next morning an unconditional surrender was obtained. We secured 4,267 prisoners, 10 pieces of artillery, 5,000 small arms, and a proportional quantity of ammunition, horses, mules, and military stores.

Bragg's whole army was now on the road between Nashville and Louisville — the road by i which Bull would be forced to march if he sought to interpose his army between the Confederates and the Ohio. It was apparently an excellent opportunity of striking not only a military but a political blow against the Federal cause in Kentucky. Bragg might press on, and, in conjunction with Kirby Smith, capture Louisville, or lie might, with equal forces, meet Buell in the field, and force him back to Nashville. He adopted neither course. After the success of Mumfordsville, he suffered Buell and his wagon trains to pass between him and the Ohio River, almost within sight of his lines, while he marched away to Bardstown, and thence to Frankfort. Thus Buell entered Louisville, and Gen. Morgan, who had, by Kirby Smith's advance, been cut off with his detachment at Cumberland Gap, effected his retreat to Cincinnati; the first road between Nashville and Louisville having been left open by Bragg's march to Frankfort from the west, the second between Cumberland Gap and Nashville by Kirby Smith's march to the same point from the east, the great opportunity of the Kentucky campaign was lost, and the Federals were able to resume the offensive in that State.

The remarkable failure of Gen. Bragg to deliver battle at Mumfordsville was the subject of much censure and criticism, which never obtained any reply from him but a weak and insufficient explanation in his official report. He there alleged that his movement towards Bardstown was to procure subsistence; that his army was reduced to three days rations, and that “a serious engagement would not fail, whatever its results, to materially cripple him.”

Gen. Polk, left at Bardstown in command, was directed by Gen. Bragg, if pressed by a force too large to justify his giving battle, to fall back in the direction of the new depot, near Bryantsville, in front of which it was proposed to concentrate for action. Arriving in Lexington on the 1st [332] October, Gen. Bragg met the Provisional Governor of the State, who had previously been invited to accompany him, and arranged for his installation at the Capitol on the 4th. The available forces of Kirby Smith, just returned to Lexington, were ordered immediately to Frankfort. Learning of a heavy movement of the enemy from Louisville, Gen. Bragg ordered Polk, “to move from Bardstown with his whole available force, by way of Bloomfield towards Frankfort, to strike the enemy in flank and rear,” and informed him that Smith would attack in front.

Tie plan of battle, however, was disarranged, as Polk, after a council of his officers, decided not to risk the attack, but to move as originally instructed by Bragg towards Harrodsburg. Proceeding rapidly to that point himself, Gen. Bragg was met there by Polk on the 6th of October, with the head of the column which had marched from Bardstown on the 3d. It was now determined to concentrate all the forces in front of Lexington, and to make a battle there. But before this order was put in full operation, information was received that the enemy, in limited force, was pressing upon Gen. Hardee at Perryville; that he was nowhere concentrated against us, but was moving by separate columns; his right near Lebanon, a corps in front of Perryville, and his left, two entire corps, extending by way of Macksville to Frankfort, a line of at least sixty miles.

Written orders were given to Gen. Polk to move Cheatham's division, now at Harrodsburg, back to Perryville, and to proceed to that point himself, “attack the enemy immediately, rout him, and then move rapidly to join Maj.-Gen. Smith,” as before ordered; and it was added, “No time should be lost in this movement.” Meanwhile, during the same day, Gen. Bragg had received repeated and urgent applications from Gen. Smith (near Frankfort) by express, representing the enemy to be in strong force in his immediate front, and earnestly asking for reinforcements. Accordingly, Withers' division had been detached and sent to him, and was far on the way thither at the time when the movement to Perryville was ordered.

Battle of Perryville.

It thus happened that by misapprehension, Bragg had made an unfortunate distribution of his forces, and deceived as to the real strength of the enemy in the vicinity of Perryville, was forced to give battle there at serious disadvantage. Polk arrived at Perryville with Cheatham's division before midnight of the 7th, and the troops were placed by Gen. Hardee in the line of battle previously established. Our forces now in this position consisted of three divisions of infantry, about 14,500-and two small brigades of cavalry, about 1,500 strong.

It was past noon of the 8th October when the action commenced. It [333] was fought by our troops with a gallantry and persistent determination to conquer, which the enemy could not resist; and though he was largely more than two to our one, he was driven from the field with terrible loss. Night closed the operation just as a third corps of the enemy threw the head of its columns against our left flank. We had entire possession of the battle-field, with thousands of the enemy's killed and wounded, several batteries of artillery, and six hundred prisoners.

In the progress of the engagement, we had advanced so far as to expose our left flank to the third corps under McCook, just arrived from the direction of Lebanon. Gen. Bragg, therefore, caused our line, which rested upon the field till midnight, to fall back to its original position.

Assured that the enemy had concentrated his three corps against him, and finding that his loss had already been quite heavy in the unequal contest against the two corps under Crittenden and Gilbert, Gen. Bragg gave the order to fall back at daylight on Harrodsburg, and sent instructions to Smith to move his command to form a junction with him, at that place. Thence, on the 11th, the whole force was retired upon Bryantsville.

Gen. Bragg was now no longer able to attack and rout an enemy largely superiour in numbers; and to evacuate Kentucky had become an imperative necessity. The season of autumnal rains was approaching; the rough and uneven roads leading over the stupendous mountains of Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky, to and through Cumberland Gap, would then become utterly impassable to an army. Should Bragg remain till then, and meet with a reverse, his army would be lost. Accordingly all necessary arrangements were made, and the troops put in motion by two columns, under Polk and Smith, on the 13th October for Cumberland Gap. After a rapid march, with some privations in the absence of baggage trains, which had been sent ahead, the Confederate forces passed the Gap with immaterial loss from the 19th to the 24th of October.

This retreat of Bragg was certainly a sore disappointment to the hopes which his first movements in Kentucky had occasioned and his sensational despatches had unduly excited. His campaign was long a theme of violent criticism in the Confederacy. The detachment of Kirby Smith and the operation on different lines in Kentucky; the loss of the opportunity at Mumfordsville; and the failure to assemble all the Confederates in the field at Perryville, were pointed out as so many errours in the campaign. But the popular mind in criticising military operations is too prone to for get what is accomplished, while pointing out what might have been attempted. The Kentucky campaign was in a great measure a Confederate success. Though compelled to yield a portion of the valuable territory from which we had driven the enemy, the fruits of the campaign were large. With a force enabling us at no time to put more than forty thousand men, of all arms, and in all places in battle, we had redeemed North [334] Alabama and Middle Tennessee, and had recovered possession of Cumberland Gap, the gateway to the heart of the Confederacy. We had killed, wounded, and captured no less than twenty-five thousand of the enemy; taken over thirty pieces of artillery, seventeen thousand small arms, some two million cartridges for the same; destroyed some hundreds of wagons, and brought off several hundred more, with their teams and harness complete; replaced our jaded cavalry horses by a fine mount; lived two months upon supplies wrested from the enemy's possession; secured material to clothe the army; and, finally, secured subsistence from the redeemed country to support not only Bragg's army, but also large forces in other parts of the Confederacy. In four weeks after passing Cumberland Gap, Bragg's army was found, with serried ranks, in front of the enemy at Nashville; better organized, better disciplined, better clothed and fed, in better health and tone, and in larger numbers than when it entered on the campaign, though it had made a march at least three times as long as that of the enemy in reaching the same point, and was moreover entirely self-sustained.

Operations in the Southwest.-battle of Corinth.

When Gen. Bragg moved into Kentucky, he left to Van Dorn and Price the enemy in West Tennessee. These orders were however changed, and Price was directed to follow Rosecrans across the Tennessee River into Middle Tennessee, whither it was then supposed he had gone. To make a demonstration in favour of Price, Gen. Van Dorn marched his whole command on the 20th day of September to within seven miles of Bolivar, driving three brigades of the enemy back to that place, and forcing the return from Corinth of one division, which had been sent there to strengthen Grant's army.

Gen. Price, in obedience to his orders, marched in the direction of Iuka, to cross the Tennessee, but was not long in discovering that Rosecrans had not crossed that stream. This officer, in connection with Grant, attacked him on the 19th day of September, and compelled him to fall back towards Baldwin, on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. On the 25th Van Dorn received a despatch, by courier, from Price, stating that he was at Baldwin, and was then ready to join with his forces in an attack on Corinth, as had been previously suggested. The forces met at Ripley, on the 28th September, according to agreement, and marched the next morning towards Pocahontas, which place was reached on the 1st October.

The disposition of the enemy's forces at this time was as follows: Sherman, at Memphis, with about six thousand men; Hurlburt, afterwards Ord, at Bolivar, with about eight thousand; Grant (headquarters at Jack [335] son), with about three thousand; Rosecrans at Corinth, with about fifteen thousand, together with the following outposts, viz.: Rienzi, twenty-five hundred; Burnsville, Jacinto, and Iuka, about six thousand; at important bridges, and on garrison duty, about two or three thousand, making in the aggregate about forty-two thousand (42,000) men in West Tennessee. Memphis, Jackson, Bolivar, and Corinth were fortified, the works mounting siege guns, the outposts slightly fortified, having field pieces. Memphis, Bolivar, and Corinth are in the arc of a circle, the chord of which, from Memphis to Corinth, makes an angle with a due east line about fifteen degrees south. Bolivar is about equi-distant from Memphis and Corinth, somewhat nearer the latter, and is at the intersection of the Hatchie River and the Mississippi Central and Ohio Railroad.

It was a situation in which the enemy could scarcely determine at what point the Confederates would make their principal attack. In the event of operations being conducted against Bolivar, Rosecrans was prepared to fall on the Confederate right. rear, whilst if Corinth should be attacked, a similar duty would devolve on the garrison of Bolivar.

Gen. Van Dorn determined to attempt Corinth. He had a reasonable hope of success. Field returns at Ripley showed his strength to be about twenty-two thousand men. Rosecrans at Corinth had about fifteen thousand, with about eight thousand additional men at outposts, from twelve to fifteen miles distant. He might surprise him, and carry the place before these troops could be brought in. Van Dorn therefore marched towards Pocahontas, threatening Bolivar, then turned suddenly across the Hatchie and Tuscumbia, and on the morning of the 3d October, attacked Corinth without hesitation, and did surprise that place before the outpost garrisons were called in.

Rosecrans' forces occupied a position outside the defences of the town, three divisions forming the first two lines, and one division slightly in rear as a reserve. He was anxious to retire slowly within the inner line of works, and gave orders to that effect; but Price's troops, flushed with the excitement of an attack, and anxious to wipe out the recollection of their repulse at Iuka, advanced rapidly, and pressed hard on the Federal centre, capturing two guns from Davies' division, and driving the Federals within their inner line of redoubts.

Gen. Van Dorn anticipated an easy success on the following morning, and telegraphed to Richmond the announcement of a great victory. It would seem that he was entirely unaware of the strength of the enemy's works at Corinth, and of the trial which yet remained for the courage and devotion of his troops.

The Confederate plan of battle for the next day was, that Price should open with a large battery of artillery, and then attack in force with his left, and that while thus engaged, Lovell's division should press forward, [336] and attack with vigour on our right. Gen. Hebert, who commanded a division on the left, was to lead in the attack. Daylight came, and there was no attack on the left. Of this failure to execute his orders, Gen. Van Dorn says, in his official report: “A staff officer was sent to Hebert to inquire the cause. That officer could not be found. Another messenger was sent, and a third; and about seven o'clock Gen. Hebert came to my headquarters, and reported sick.” Gen. Price then put Brig.-Gen. Green in command of the left wing; and it was eight o'clock before the proper dispositions for the attack at this point were made. In the mean time, the centre, held by Maury's division, became engaged with the enemy's sharpshooters, and the battle was brought on, and extended along the whole centre and left wing. One brigade after another went gallantly into the action, and, pushing forward through direct and cross-fire, over every obstacle, reached Corinth, and planted their colours on the last stronghold of the enemy. A hand to hand contest was being enacted in the very yard of Gen. Rosecrans' headquarters, and in the streets of the town. The enemy was followed and driven from house to house with great slaughter. In the town were batteries in mask, supported by heavy reserves, behind which the retreating enemy took shelter, and which opened upon our troops a most destructive fire at short range. The heavy guns of College Hill — the enemy's most important work — were for a moment silenced, and all seemed about to be ended, when a heavy fire from fresh troops from Iuka, Burnsville, and Rienzi, that had succeeded in reaching Corinth in time, poured into our thinned ranks.

Our troops gave way. They were pushed down College Hill, and followed by the enemy through the woods and over the ground they had gained by such desperate courage. At the very time the day was lost, Lovell's division was advancing, and was on the point of assaulting the enemy's works, when he received orders to throw one of his brigades (Villepigues') rapidly to the centre, to cover the broken ranks thrown back from Corinth, The movement was well executed, and the enemy did not dare to press his success.

The next day it was determined by Van Dorn to fall back towards Ripley and Oxford, and thus again take position behind the lagoons and swamps of Mississippi. The movement was accomplished with but little molestation from the enemy, beyond an affair in crossing the Hatchie, in which Gen. Ord, who commanded the enemy's advance, was held in check and punished. The following was found to be our loss in the severest conflicts with the enemy, and on the march to and from Corinth, viz.: killed, 594; wounded, 2,162; prisoners and missing, 2,102. One piece of artillery was driven in the night by a mistake into the enemy's lines, and captured. Four pieces were taken at the Hatchie bridge, the horses being shot. Two pieces of artillery were captured from the enemy at Corinth [337] by Gen. Lovell's division, one of which was brought off. Five pieces were also taken by Gen. Price's corps, two of which were brought off-thus resulting in a loss to us of only two pieces. The enemy's loss in killed and wounded, by his own account, was 2,127. We took over three hundred prisoners.

The retreat from Corinth was not a rout. But the engagement there was a serious disaster to the Confederates, and cost Van Dorn his command; censured as he was for having carried his men against works, the strength of which he had underrated, and then having failed to make proper combinations in the attack. This event may be said to have closed for some time the campaign in the West. It had not completed all the expectations of the Southern public. It is true that the country between Nashville and Chattanooga was re-occupied by the Confederate forces; but the decisive event of the campaign was the retreat from Kentucky, and as public expectation in the South had been disappointed when Lee retired across the Potomac, so did it experience a similar feeling when it was known that Bragg had retreated through the Cumberland Mountains.

These were the two turning-points of the autumn campaigns of 1862. Whatever the territorial results of these campaigns, their moral effect was great, and the position of the Confederates was now very different from what it had been in the early part of the year. The glory of their arms now attracted the attention of the world. They had carried their arms from Chattanooga to Louisville, and, although forced to retire, had proved that the subjugation of the West was a task which the enemy had only commenced. They had raised the siege of Richmond, threatened Washington, and beaten the enemy back in that quarter to what had been the threshold of the war. The London Times declared that the history of these campaigns comprised a list of military achievements almost without parallel, and added: “Whatever may be the fate of the new nationality, or its subsequent claims to the respect of mankind, it will assuredly begin its career with a reputation for genius and valour which the most famous nations may envy.”

1 The correspondent of a Northern journal thus betrays the disappointment of the enemy, and the damage to his expectations and plans in Beauregard's evacuation of Corinth:

I went all over the tented field of the enemy-all over the fortifications-all over the town-talked with the frank druggist and the sturdy Irishman that had worked upon the railroad. And so do I write what I saw in grief, mortification, chagrin, and shame. I said yesterday: “ I'll write no more; others may; I can't. Patriotism will not let me write what I have seen, and can swear to.” When I write such words as I am sometimes compelled to, if I write at all, I am afraid lest, in exposing military imbecility, I shall wound and damage our beautiful commonwealth, that struggles so tremendously for existence and perpetuity.

But I do religiously believe that it is best now for the commonwealth to hear and heed what is bitter, undisputed fact — the Confederate strategy since the battle of Shiloh has been as successful as it has been superiour. Taking the enemy's stand-point, and writing when and where I do, I cannot possibly imagine how it could have been more eminent for perfection and success. Taking our stand-point — the stand-point of the Union's hopes and Halleck's fame — I cannot possibly imagine how it could have been more mortifyingly disastrous. If the attack at Shiloh was a surprise to Gen. Grant, the evacuation of Corinth was no less a surprise to Gen. Halleck. If the one ruined Grant, the other hes. laid out in pallid death the military name and fame of Major-Gen. Halleck.

The druggist says he was two weeks getting away. But aside from such testimony, could the army of Beauregard be removed so cleanly, and completely, and noiselessly, during a night, or day and night, or two days and two nights? Did it require the tremendous concussion of the magazine-explosion to get into our ears — what we could not get into our eyes — the evacuation? Why, that was the last act of the mortifying drama. On Friday morning we went in. The prisoners that we captured amounted to about four hundred. Four hundred! Even the beggarly picket regiments and light artillery that fought us so boldly, got away. Those that we caught declare that they were kept in ignorance of the movements at Corinth, and were as much surprised at the evacuation as ourselves. Corinth has been searched in vain for a spiked or disabled gun. Shame on us, what a clean piece of evacuation it was.

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