Recollections of campaign against Grant in North Mississippi in 1862-63.
[The following paper was written for the Society in the early part of 1872, and published in the Southern Magazine
. Its republication has been frequently called for, and we take pleasure in complying with this demand and putting in our published records this interesting and valuable narrative of the gallant soldier who was an eyewitness, and an important ‘part,’ of what he tells:]
I am the senior surviving General of those who took part in the whole campaign in North Mississippi
in 1862 against the forces of General Grant
, and it is proper I should place on record my knowledge of those operations.
In doing this I must rely upon my own recollections and memoranda, and upon those of such comrades as I may be able to confer with.
There are no official records open to us now, which may, perhaps, be regretted less on this occasion, because the campaign under discussion was outside the grand movements of the war, but it was of deep concern to important communities in the South
, and to the soldiers who bore an active part in it, and to the Southern
widows and orphans whose nearest and dearest died on those battlefields, as bloody and as honorable as any that were ever illustrated by Confederate valor; therefore I write about it. Of the general officers
of our army who took part in those operations, Van Dorn
, Little, Villipigue
, and Bowen
, have all gone to their rest, leaving but three or four of us to toil on until our summons comes, and we shall go to join them again; I shall, therefore, tell my story in no spirit of detraction.
Indeed, I have neither inclination nor occasion to detract from any of them; their honors in those fights were hard-earned, nor can I blame any of them for the disasters which came upon our army.
They were brave men, who devoted all to their country, and among them were commanders of a high order of ability.
On the 30th of May, 1862, General Beauregard
in the presence of Halleck
's army, and in June, 1862, his army was lying around Tupelo
, cantoned on the Mobile and Ohio railroad.
Late in June Van Dorn
was detached from command of his corps, known as the ‘Army of the West,’ and sent to take command at Vicksburg
, which was then threatened with attack.
You will remember how well he acquitted himself in that command.
repulsed the enemy from Vicksburg
and occupied and defended Port Hudson
, thus securing to the Confederacy
for nearly a year free access to the Trans-Mississippi Department and the unobstructed navigation of Red River
, by which vast supplies of meat and grain were contributed to the maintenance of our armies east of the great river, which already began to feel the want of good provisions.
having fallen into ill health, the supreme command of our army at Tupelo
devolved upon General Bragg
In August, 1862, Bragg
threw his main army by rail via Mobile
, to Chattanooga
, leaving Price
in command of the ‘Army of the West,’ with orders to observe the Federal
army at Corinth
, with a view to oppose him in any movement down into Mississippi
; or, in case Grant
should move up into Tennessee
to join Buell
, then Price
was to hinder him in that movement, and was also to move up into Tennessee
and unite his forces with the army of Bragg
were thus left independent of each other.
Each commanded a corps of two strong divisions, both were in the State of Mississippi
, and, as events proved, it might have been for the good of all had one of them been in supreme command over the whole military forces of that State.
, after placing Vicksburg
and Port Hudson
in satisfactory condition of defence, attacked the Federal
forces in Baton Rouge
He sent General Breckenridge
to conduct the expedition.
It seems altogether probable that he would have captured the place and the enemy's army in it, but for the accidental loss of the iron-clad Arkansas
, and the extraordinary epidemic of cholera, which reduced his force to one half its original numbers.
As soon as Van Dorn
had refitted his forces after this attack, his ever-restless, aggressive spirit drew him up toward the northern line of the State
, where Grant
commanded a considerable force, occupying Corinth
, and other points in West Tennessee
, North Mississippi
, and Alabama
having superior rank, but not having command over Price
, sent Colonel Lindsey Lunsford Lomax
early in September to urge upon Price
that they should combine their forces and drive the Federals
out of Mississippi
and West Tennessee
At the time he made the proposition their combined forces would have amounted to about 25,000 infantry, with about 3,000 cavalry.
replied that he could not comply with this request without departing from his instructions and the objects for which General Bragg
had left him where he was. And just here were developed the bad consequences of having these two commanders
present in the field without a common superior; for had Price
been justified in placing his forces under Van Dorn
's command at this time, there is scarcely a doubt that the enemy would have been driven in a few days entirely beyond the Tennessee river
Then would have followed the reinforcement of Bragg
's army by the corps of Van Dorn
, and without extraordinary misconduct or misfortunes, the Confederate Army of Tennessee
might have crossed the Ohio
But such speculations are vain and sad enough now; my present business is to tell the sorrowful story as it was, not to dream about what it might have been.
Within a few days after Price
declined Van Dorn
's invitation, he learned from spies in Corinth
had commenced his evacuation of that line, was then actually throwing his supplies across the Tennessee
, and would soon be on his way to reinforce Buell
Therefore to intercept him, or that failing, to join Bragg
marched from Tupelo
is on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, fifty miles south of Corinth
is on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, seventeen miles east of Corinth
Our army consisted of Maury
's First Division, and Little
's Second Division of Infantry, and Armstrong
's Cavalry brigade.
We numbered in all near 16,000 effectives, viz: about 14,000 infantry and near 2,000 cavalry.
On the 19th of September we entered Iuka
's cavalry advanced, found the place occupied by a force of the enemy, who retreated toward Corinth
, abandoning to us a considerable amount of stores.
On the 21st of September I placed the First division on the march, intending to move close up to Burnsville
, the station on the Memphis and Charleston railroad between Iuka
, where we now ascertained the enemy was in strong force.
At about 3 P. M. the enemy advanced upon me from Burnsville
with so much boldness that I believed it to be an attack in force; but deploying three battalions of sharpshooters, forced him back by them alone, and proved him to be merely a reconnoissance in force.
It was handsomely conducted, and was pushed with a boldness not usual in my experience with the Federal
troops, so that I formed line of battle and awaited with confident expectation the attack of Grant
's whole army.
From this time we began to receive such information about Grant
's position as indicated that he had moved none of his forces over the Tennessee
, but that he still held the line of Corinth
; and this conviction was much strengthened in the mind of General Price
, when, on the 24th of September, he received by flag of truce a summons from
stated in his letter that recent information showed that McClellan
had destroyed Lee
's army at Antietam
; that, therefore, the rebellion must soon terminate, and that in order to spare the useless effusion of blood, he gave Price
this opportunity to lay down his arms.
replied to Ord
that he was glad to be able to inform him that we had late and reliable information which justified the belief that the results of the battle of Sharpsburg
had been highly satisfactory to us; that the Army of Northern Virginia was still in the field, and that as for himself, while duly sensible of the kindness of feeling which had inspired General Ord
's invitation, he would lay down his arms whenever Mr. Lincoln
should acknowledge the independence of the Southern Confederacy, and not sooner.
On the same day Price
received another urgent request from Van Dorn
to come with all his forces, meet him at Ripley
, and move their combined forces against Grant
On this same day, Little and I were occupying with both our divisions a line of battle about two miles west of Iuka
We faced Burnsville
, our left resting on the Memphis
About 10 A. M. we were called by General Price
to a council of war.
He then disclosed to us Ord
's and Van Dorn
's letters, with other important information, and it was evident to us all that the enemy was not moving over the Tennessee
at all, but still lay in heavy force on our immediate left, and in position to cut us off entirely from our line and base of supplies on the Mobile and Ohio railroad.
He decided to march back next morning toward Baldwin
, and thence to unite with Van Dorn
in a combined attack on Corinth
Orders were at once issued for the trains to be packed and the whole army to move at dawn in the morning on the road back to Baldwin
Since an early hour on this day our cavalry pickets had been sending reports of a heavy force moving on us by the Jacinto
Little moved soon after midday away from the line facing Burnsville
, and took position to command the approach by the Jacinto
And he was just in good time, for about four o'clock P. M. Rosecrantz
came upon him with a sudden and heavy attack, striking our advanced line, which was composed of new troops, most of whom were now in their first battle; he forced them back and came triumphantly onward without a check.
He had advanced almost within sight of Iuka
when Little met him with his glorious Missouri
brigade; the Third Louisiana Infantry and Whitfield
's Texas Legion were there too. And then they rolled back the victorious tide of battle.
The Federals were driven before them, our first line of battle
was restored, and when night fell the Confederates
held the field.
Nine cannon had been captured from the enemy, and every man in Little
's division was confident of victory, should Rosecrantz
resume his attack on the morrow.
But one reflection saddened every heart that night.
General Henry Little
had fallen dead, in the very execution of the advance which had won that bloody field.
He was conversing with General Price
when he was shot through the head, and fell from his horse without a word.
He was buried that night by torchlight in Iuka
No more efficient soldier than Henry Little ever fought for a good cause.
The magnificent Missouri
brigade, the finest body of troops I had ever then seen, or have ever seen since, was the creation of his untiring devotion to duty and his remarkable qualities as a commander.
In camp he was diligent in instructing his officers in their duty and providing for the comfort and efficiency of his men, and on the battlefield he was as steady and cool and able a commander as I have ever seen.
His eyes closed forever upon the happiest spectacle they could behold, and the last throbs of his heart were amidst the victorious shouts of his charging brigade.
The night had fallen dark when the battle closed.
It had been brief, but was one of the fiercest and bloodiest combats of the war. The Third Louisiana regiment lost half its men; Whitfield
's Legion also suffered very heavily.
These two regiments and a little Arkansas
battalion of about one hundred men had charged and captured the enemy's guns.
advanced by this Jacinto
road, which enters Iuka
from the south, Grant
was to attack by the Burnsville
road from the west.
As generally happens in combined movements, there was want of concert of action.
had been beaten and forced back by Little, when, at about sunset, Grant
deployed in front of me. It was then too late to attack me that night.
At dark General Price
withdrew me from before Grant
, and intended to attack Rosecrantz
at dawn with all his forces.
At ten o'clock that night Rosecrantz
to the following effect: ‘I have met with such obstinate resistance that I cannot advance further by the Jacinto
road; but there are some heights on my right which command the town, and at dawn I shall occupy them.’
L'homme propose, Dieu dispose
, is often true in war. At dawn I
held those heights.
Before midnight I had received from pickets, prisoners and others, satisfactory information that Grant
had deployed a heavy force, estimated at 10,000 men, in front of my skirmish
line, across the Burnsville
I had, at dark, withdrawn my division, except the cavalry under General Wirt Adams
, and the skirmish line under Colonel William P. Rogers
; and now we lay in the town, with purpose to take part in the attack on Rosecrantz
in the morning.
's force on the Jacinto
road was estimated at over 17,000 men. Our army lay between Grant
, and if the battle were renewed in the morning, placed as we were, our total destruction seemed inevitable.
About two hours after midnight, accompanied by General Armstrong
, who commanded our cavalry forces, and who was one of the cleverest of our cavalry commanders, and by Colonel Thomas Snead
, General Price
's clever Chief of-Staff
, I went to the old General
's quarters, aroused him from a sound sleep, laid before him the information I had received, and urged upon him the necessity for our carrying out, without delay, the decision we had formed at 10 A. M. that morning, to return to our base on the Mobile and Ohio railroad.
The old man was hard to move.
He had taken an active personal part in the battle that evening; his Missourians had behaved beautifully under his own direction, the enemy had been so freely driven back, that he could think of nothing but the complete victory he would gain over Rosecrantz
in the morning.
He seemed to take no account of Grant
at all. His only reply to our facts and our arguments, as he sat on the side of his bed in appropriate sleeping costume, was: ‘We'll wade through him, sir, in the morning; General, you ought to have seen how my boys fought this evening; we drove them a mile, sir.’
‘But,’ said I, ‘Grant
has come up since then, and since dark you have drawn me from before him; my brigades are lying in the streets, with their backs to Grant
, and the whole wagon train is mixed up with us, so that we can't get into position promptly in the morning.
As sure as we resume battle, placed as we are, we shall be beaten, and we shall lose every wagon.
You can't procure another wagon train like this, not if you were to drain the State of Mississippi
of all its teams.
We have won the fight this evening.
We decided on going back anyhow in the morning to Baldwin
, and I don't see that anything that has happened since we published that decision should detain us here any longer.’
both sustained my views.
I think Governor Polk
, of Missouri
, was occupying the same chamber and was present during our interview.
After decided opposition General Price
admitted the prudence of our executing our return to the railroad, instead of assuming the aggressive in the morning.
Orders were issued accordingly for the wagon train to move at 3 A. M. I was instructed to send one of my brigades to escort the wagon train, and to remain with the other two brigades as rear-guard of the army.
Accordingly, before dawn I had occupied the commanding heights, referred to by Rosecrantz
in his last night's dispatch to Grant
, with the brigades of Moore
's brigade had gone on with the train.
I think Rosecrantz
must have thought our army was changing front to offer battle from those heights, and the concerted plans of Grant
and himself were so disconcerted that before they could rearrange any, the wagon train was safe on the road toward the Gulf of Mexico
The army, too, disappeared over the hill and into the forest-screened road, while the commanding heights were occupied by my line of battle with colors flying and guns unlimbered, offering battle to all their combined forces.
Soon after 8 A. M. Colonel Snead
galloped up to me and said: ‘General, I am ordered by General Price
to say that the train and army are now well on the road, and you will please follow at once with the rear-guard.’
We moved at once; Armstrong
covered my rear with his cavalry, and it was about 2 P. M., at a point eight miles from Iuka
, that the last collision occurred between us and Grant
's army during the Iuka affair.
I held the Second Texas Sharpshooters, Rodgers
commanding, and Bledsoe
's battery in rear of the rear-guard.
had been followed all day by the enemy's pursuing force, who were very cautious in their pressure upon him, but kept close up to his cavalry constantly.
About 2 P. M. the movement of our army had become quite slow.
The teamsters, having no longer the fear of the enemy before them, had relaxed their energies, and the rear-guard halted.
Just at this moment the enemy was coming confidently on; Armstrong
moved on with his cavalry past the rear of the rear-guard of infantry, Rodgers
were lying in ambuscade at a good point in the road, and Colonel
's’ cavalry regiment was formed ready to charge.
On came the confident Federals—I think a General Hatch
was commanding them—until they were within short range, when the Second Texas Rifles and Bledsoe
's canister and old McCulloch
's cavalry all broke upon them at once.
We laid many of them low, and then pursued our march to Baldwin
without a shot.
In my narrative of the battle of Iuka
I have related how General Price
, acting on information received from General Bragg
and from our own scouts, had moved as far as Iuka
on his way to prevent
's forces in Mississippi
from a junction with Buell
's in Tennessee
; how at Iuka
we had been attacked by Rosecrantz
; how we had repulsed him, capturing nine cannon and many prisoners, and had next morning returned to our proper base upon the railroad with the purpose to join our forces to Van Dorn
's and make a combined attack on Corinth
This attack had for some time occupied Van Dorn
Several weeks before General Price
moved upon Iuka
, General Van Dorn
had sent a staff-officer, Colonel Lomax
(since Major-General Lomax
), to invite and urge General Price
that they should combine their forces in an attack upon Corinth
The plan was wise while it was bold, and characteristic of Van Dorn
's aggressive temper.
The enemy occupied West Tennessee
and the Memphis and Charleston railroad at Memphis
with garrisons aggregating 42,000 men, and was preparing with extraordinary energy to reduce Vicksburg
by a combined attack of land and naval forces.
To prevent this, his expulsion from West Tennessee
was a military necessity, while it was our obvious defensive policy to force him across the Ohio
, occupy Columbus
, and fortify the Cumberland
and Tennessee rivers
This policy induced General Bragg
to move his army into Kentucky
, and Van Dorn
felt that he could force the enemy out of West Tennessee
and contribute to its success.
was the enemy's strongest and most salient point.
Its capture would decide the fate of West Tennessee
; and the combined forces of Price
and Van Dorn
in the month of August could have captured Corinth
, and have cleared West Tennessee
of all hostile forces.
When Van Dorn
first invited General Price
's co-operation in this enterprise, his command embraced two large divisions under Breckenridge
, numbering about 12,000 infantry, with over 1,000 cavalry under Jackson
; and he expected to receive about 5,000 veteran infantry, just exchanged from the Fort Donelson
prisoners, in time for the movement.
This force, added to General Price
's army, would have given an effective active force of over 30,000 veteran troops; and it is most unfortunate that General Price
could not then have consented to unite with General Van Dorn
in a movement so auspicious of great results.
But as I have told you, Price
was constrained to decline all part in that enterprise until he had made his movement to luka, after which Price
's forces were greatly reduced by the results of the battle, while Van Dorn
's were diminished by the detachment of Breckenridge
with 6,000 men, and by
the unexpected delays in fitting out the ‘Donelson
prisoners’ for the field; so that when on the 30th of September we marched from Ripley
, our combined forces were but little over half of what Van Dorn
had justly calculated upon when he first proposed the enterprise.
The disastrous results which ensued brought censure upon Van Dorn
, and have left a cloud upon his military reputation which I hope the publication of this narrative will aid to dispel.
There are few of those who criticised his conduct who knew the great objects he sought to accomplish, or the means with which he proposed to march to a certain and brilliant victory by which the State of Mississippi
would have been freed from invasion and the war would have been transferred beyond the Ohio
Such results justified unusual hazard of battle; and after Van Dorn
's forces were reduced by near one-half, he still felt he ought to strike a bold and manly blow for his native State, and did not hesitate to attack the enemy with all the energy and force he could bring to bear upon him. We marched from Baldwin
to join Van Dorn
on the morning of the 27th, and our whole effective force was made up of—
|Maury's division||4,800 muskets.|
|Hebert's division||5,000 muskets.|
|Armstrong's cavalry||2,000 men.|
|Light artillery||42 guns.|
We reached Ripley
on the evening of the 29th. General Van Dorn
with his staff was already there.
He had sent his cavalry forward to cover our front, and his infantry and artillery, under General Lovell
, were close at hand and marched into Ripley
in fine order the day after our arrival.
On the morning of October 1st our combined forces moved from Ripley
to attack the enemy in Corinth
We marched with a total force of nearly 19,000 effectives, viz.—
threw his cavalry forward so as to mask his movements, and marched directly with his infantry by way of Davis
's bridge upon the enemy in Corinth
On the evening of October 2d we bivouacked at Chewella on the railroad, eight miles west of Corinth
At dawn on the 3d of October we moved from Chewella to attack the enemy in Corinth
's brigade had been sent towards Bolivar
, where he captured a large regiment of cavalry, and our advance was covered by Armstrong
's brigade alone, Wirt Adams
's brigade having been detached towards Davis
General Van Dorn
was assured that the whole force of the enemy in the works at Corinth
numbered about 12,000 men, and he resolved to assault with all of his forces.
His purpose was to dismount his cavalry and attack with his whole army, and had he executed this intention in the spirit in which he conceived it, there is not ground for a reasonable doubt of his success.
Soon after daylight our cavalry became engaged with the enemy's advanced pickets, and forced them back until just after crossing to the north side of the railroad we formed in line of battle.
We were then more than three miles from Corinth
Our line was perpendicular to the Memphis and Charleston railroad.
's division was formed on the right (south) of the railroad; Maury
's division was formed on the left (north) of the railroad, Moore
's brigade touching the left of Lovell
's division on the railroad; Cabell
's brigade was formed as a reserve behind the left of Maury
's division; the Missouri division touched Maury
's left; and in this order we moved forward at 10 A. M., and soon found ourselves confronted by the enemy's line of battle, which occupied the defences constructed by General Beauregard
during the previous spring against the army of Halleck
All the timber covering the slopes which led up to the works had been felled, and formed an obstructing abattis to our advancing line; but at the signal to advance, our whole line moved forward under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry across the space which divided us from the enemy without any check or hesitation, and drove him at every point from his position.
We captured five cannon and put the whole force to rout.
Our loss was not heavy in men, but we had to mourn the death of Colonel Martin
, a young officer commanding the Mississippi
brigade, who was killed while gallantly leading his men. The divisions of Maury
, composing the ‘Army of the West,’ as Price
's corps was designated, continued to advance towards Corinth
, preserving an alignment perpendicular to the Memphis and Charleston railroad.
We were repeatedly and obstinately encountered by the opposing lines of the enemy, and during the day several fierce combats took place, which necessarily delayed our arrival before the place, but did not cause our troops to lose one foot of the ground we had won.
During the advance of Price
's corps on this day, the right brigade of Maury
's division was commanded by General John C. Moore
, an officer of fine ability and courage.
Close on the railroad, but on the south side of it, was an entrenched camp of the enemy.
, advancing with his right on the railroad, would have soon been enfiladed by this force, but instantly perceiving his situation, he threw his brigade across the railroad, and attacking the camp, drove the Federals
who were occupying it back into their heavy works about College Hill
; he then recrossed to the north of the railroad, resumed his position in the line of Maury
's division, and soon encountered a Federal brigade, which after a fierce conflict he drove before him into the works of Corinth
's brigade of Maury
's division were also hotly engaged during this advance, and Cabell
's brigade, acting as reserve, was repeatedly detached to reinforce such portions of the line north of the railroad as seemed in need of support.
At sunset the enemy in front of Price
's corps had been driven into the town at every point along our whole front, and the troops of Price
's corps had established their line close up to Corinth
After a hot day of incessant action and constant victory, we felt that our prize was just before us, and one more vigorous effort would crown our arms with complete success.
felt all this, and wished to storm the town at once, but General Price
thought the troops were too much exhausted They had been marching and fighting since dawn; the day had been one of the hottest of the year; our men had been without water since morning, and were almost famished; while we were pursuing the enemy from his outer works that morning several of our men fell from sunstroke, and it was with good reason that General Price
opposed further action that evening.
He said: ‘I think we have done enough for to-day, General, and the men should rest.’
acquiesced in this and gave his orders for a general assault in the morning.
They were of the simplest nature.
At an early hour before dawn all of the artillery of his army was ordered to open upon the town and works, and at daylight the whole line was to advance and storm them.
During the night the enemy was actively moving his trains and baggage out on the roads to the Tennessee river
, and all night reinforcements were pouring into Corinth
Under the direction of Colonel William E. Burnett
, all of the artillery of Maury
's division, and two of the pieces captured from the enemy added to it, opened upon the enemy in Corinth
, and at short
range and with good effect cannonaded the place for near two hours before light.
The guns of the other divisions did not open.
At daylight I withdrew my guns and prepared to assault the town.
My line, Moore
's and Phiffer
's brigade, with Cabell
's in reserve, was formed close up to the Mobile and Ohio railroad, just on the outskirts of Corinth
, and concealed from view of the enemy by the timber which then covered the bottom along the creek.
The orders given me were to charge the town as soon as I should observe the fire of the Missourians, who were on my left, change from picketfiring to rolling fire of musketry.
For hours we listened and awaited our signal.
Half-past 10 o'clock had come before the signal to advance was given.
I have never understood the reason for so much delay; but as soon as we began to hear the rolling fire of musketry on the left, Maury
's division broke through the screen of timber and into the town, and into the enemy's works.
We broke his centre; the Missourians moved in line with us. Gates
's brigade of Missourians took all of the enemy's artillery to our left, and all along in front of Price
's corps the enemy was driven from his guns, and his guns were captured by us. Within about twenty minutes from the time we began our movement our colors were planted in triumph upon the ramparts of Corinth
But it was a brief triumph, and won at a bloody cost.
No charge in the history of the war was more daring or more bloody.
From the first moment after leaving the timber the troops were exposed to a most deadly cross-fire; they fell by hundreds, but the line moved on—never faltered for one moment until our colors were placed upon the works.
Every State of the Confederacy
had representatives in this charge, and well did they illustrate the valor of Confederate troops.
From General to drummer-boy no one faltered.
A color-bearer of an Arkansas regiment was shot down; young Robert Sloan
, a boy of the same regiment, scarce eighteen years old, seized the colors and sprang upon the ramparts, waving them over it, and fell pierced with balls while cheering on his comrades.
Field-officers fell by scores; more than 3,000 of the rank and file were killed, wounded and captured during this fierce assault.
The whole of Price
's corps penetrated to the centre of the town of Corinth
, and was in position to swing around and take the enemy's left wing in flank and rear, for we were twelve hundred yards in rear of the lines on College Hill
, which formed the enemy's left wing, and against which our right wing south of the Memphis and Charleston railroad had been arrayed.
But since 10 A. M. of the previous morning
our right wing had made no decided advance or attack upon the enemy in its front, and when Rosencrantz
found his centre broken by our charge, believing the demonstration of our right wing merely a ‘feint,’ he withdrew General Stanley
with a heavy force from his left and threw him against us.
Disarrayed and torn as our lines were, with more than one-third of our men down, and with many of our best regimental officers killed and wounded, the troops were not ready to meet and repel the fresh troops that, now in fine array, came upon our right flank from the left of the enemy's works on College Hill
and swept us out of the place.
Our men fell back in disorder, but sullenly.
I saw no man running, but all attempts to rally and reform them under the heavy fire of the enemy, now in possession again of their artillery, were vain.
They marched on towards the timber in a walk, each man taking his own route and obstinately refusing to make any effort to renew the attack; and it was only after we had fallen back beyond the range of the enemy's fire that any of our organizations were reformed.
When we returned from the town we found General Van Dorn
had ordered Villipigue
's brigade from his right, south of the railroad, to cover our retreat from the town, and it was drawn up in line nearly three thousand strong, facing the enemy and about one thousand yards from his works.
These troops were in fine order; they had done no fighting.
We moved on towards Chewella again, reorganizing our forces as best we could while we marched along.
Our right wing had borne no great part in the fighting, and it was in good order and served now to present a good front towards the enemy.
I do not think the enemy was in condition to pursue and attack us. He had suffered heavily, and had been greatly impressed by the assault of Price
's corps; and it was not until next day he moved in force to follow us. By sunset we were again bivouacked at Chewella, and busily occupied in reforming our organizations.
The flower of our men and officers lay in the environs of Corinth
, never more to rejoin their comrades.
We had been bloodily repulsed; but Price
's corps had made an honest fight and lost no honor in the battle.
General Van Dorn
seemed to feel he had deserved the victory.
In a manly spirit he assumed all responsibility for his failure; like General Lee
, he reproached nobody.
During the whole battle he was close to his troops about the centre
of his lines, where the fighting was most active and constant; and not a movement was made without his knowledge and direction, except the capture by General Moore
of the entrenched camp of the enemy south of the railroad, which was one of those events of battle which give no time for reference to higher authority, and which illustrate the true genius for war of the executive commander who, as Moore
did, seizes the opportunity they offer.
It is generally believed that the battle was lost by the inaction of our right wing, which, after the first advance on the morning of the third, made no decided attempt upon the lines in its front.
So notable was this inertness that the enemy seems to have considered the attack of that wing merely a feint, which justified him in detaching a large force from his left to reinforce his centre, which had been broken and was in great peril.
It is altogether probable that had the attack with the right wing been pressed as it was pressed by the centre and left, Van Dorn
would have captured Corinth
and the enemy's army.
The troops which made the assault were chiefly Missourians, Arkansians, Texans, Mississippians, Alabamians and Louisianians.
Soon after daylight on the 4th a battery on the railroad, known as Battery Robinet, which was immediately on my right flank, opened an enfilading fire upon my line, then drawn up near and parallel to the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and ready to begin the assault.
I ordered General Moore
to place the Second Texas Sharpshooters, one of the finest regiments I have ever seen, under the brow of a ridge which ran perpendicular to my line and about two hundred yards from that battery.
They reduced its fire very much in a few minutes, and when the order was given to charge they naturally charged that battery, which was right in their front though upon our right flank.
Colonel W. P. Rodgers
and Major Mullen
of this regiment fell in this work.
The commanders of divisions and brigades who went into Corinth
with the troops were General Dabney H. Maury
, commanding First division; General Martin Green
, commanding Second division; General John C. Moore
, commanding First brigade of Maury
's division; General William S. Cabell
, commanding Second brigade of Maury
's division; General Charles Phiffer
, commanding Third brigade of Maury
's division; Colonel E. Gates
First Missouri Cavalry, commanding First Missouri brigade, Green
's division; Colonel Cockrell
, commanding Second brigade, Green
division; Colonel Moore
, commanding Third brigade, Green
When after all was over and the whole of the Army of the West, now reduced to about 6,000 men, came out of the town and into the woods through which we had so confidently charged an hour before, generals, colonels and staff-officers in vain endeavored to rally the men. They plodded doggedly along toward the road by which we had marched on the day before, and it was not in any man's power then to form them into line.
We found Generals Van Dorn
within a few hundred yards of the place, sitting on their horses near each other.
looked upon the thousands of men streaming past him with a mingled expression of sorrow and pity.
Old General Price
looked on the disorder of his darling troops with unmitigated anguish.
The big tears coursed down the old man's bronzed face, and I have never witnessed such a picture of mute despair and grief as his countenance wore when he looked upon the utter defeat of those magnificent troops.
He had never before known them to fail, and they never had failed to carry the lines of any enemy in their front; nor did they ever, to the close of their noble career at Blakely
on the 9th of April, 1865, fail to defeat the troops before them.
I mean no disparagement to any troops of the Southern Confederacy when I say the Missouri
troops of the Army of the West were not surpassed by any troops in the world.
In the month of November, 1862, a court of inquiry was convened at Abbeville, Mississippi
, to examine into certain allegations made by General John S. Bowen
about the conduct of General Van Dorn
during the expedition against Corinth
General Van Dorn
was fully acquitted.
A very intelligent battery commander, Captain Thomas F. Tobin
, now the proprietor of a cotton-press in Memphis
, was an important witness on this trial, and we quote from his testimony to show how complete was the first success of the assault on Corinth
, and had it been supported, how great and complete would have been the victory.
Question by the defendant.—1st.
After you were taken prisoner state if you know if any portion of our army carried the interior works around Corinth; 2d, and what troops, if you know them; 3d, and also state whether they entered the town; 4th, and how far they penetrated into it.
Yes. 2d. General Maury's division, nearly all of it, I think, and the First brigade of General Green's division, commanded by Colonel Gates, carried everything before them; 3d, and
came into Corinth driving everything before them across the high bridge over the Memphis and Charleston railroad and beyond General Polk's old headquarters, which was outside the town.
The artillery of the enemy went out as far as General Price's old headquarters.
Our troops penetrated to the Corinth House and the Tishomingo Hotel, and to the square in front of General Bragg's old headquarters, and into the yard of General Rosecrantz's headquarters.
Question by defendant.—State, if you know, any fact tending to show that the enemy anticipated a defeat on the morning of the 4th.
Answer.—I judge that they expected a defeat from their having sent all of their wagons to the rear, some of which did not get back until Wednesday.
They had no ordnance whatever except what they had in the limbers and caissons of their pieces, so I was told; and I was ordered to report at the Tennessee river.
I was taken prisoner on Saturday, October 4th, about 4 A. M., on the road that leads between Forts Williams and Robinet.
I was ordered by General Stanley to report at some landing on the Tennessee river —I think it was Hemiling Landing—to General Rosecrantz at sunset that evening.
Colonel William E. Barry
, Thirty-fifth Mississippi regiment, of Columbus
, was detailed by me to report to General Van Dorn
as commander of the burial party which was detailed and left by General Van Dorn
to discharge this solemn duty.
declined to receive Colonel Barry
's command within his lines, but with a rare courtesy explained to General Van Dorn
that he was forced to do this by considerations of a proper character, and assured General Van Dorn
that ‘every becoming respect should be shown his dead and wounded.’
It is due to General Rosecrantz
to say that he made good his promise as to the dead and the wounded, of whom we left many hundreds on the field.
remained near Chewella, and had an opportunity of counting the force with which Rosecrantz
pursued us, and he reported it to me at 22,000 men, from which I concluded the force in Corinth
must have been about 30,000 men when we attacked the place on the 4th of October.
The combined effective forces of Van Dorn
, including all arms, numbered on the morning of the 2d October, about 18,600 men, Jackson
's cavalry was detached towards Bolivar
; it numbered about 1,000 effectives.
) Legion was left to guard Davis
's bridge, and numbered
about 500 effectives.
's brigade, 1,000 effectives, was also detached to guard the approaches from Bolivar
's battery was detached with six guns and about 120 men. So that the total effective force with which we began the fight on the morning of the 3d did not exceed 16,080 men. The force which actually assaulted Corinth
on October 4th (Price
's corps only) did not exceed 9,000 effectives.
I think this battle illustrated the superior elan
of Confederate troops.
The outer defences of Corinth
had in the spring of 1862 held Halleck
's great army before them for six weeks; and although the Confederate army holding those works was not half so strong as the Federal
army under Halleck
, he never dared to attack us. In October, 1862, we found these conditions all reversed.
Those same works were then held by a Federal army which we believed to equal or exceed ours in numbers; yet we did not hesitate to attack them, and with no more delay than was necessary to form our line of battle.
We marched upon those entrenchments without check or hesitation, and carried them in just the time necessary for us to traverse at quick time the space which divided our opposing lines.
I have been careful to state correctly the force with which we made this attack, because of the gross misrepresentations which have so often been made of the opposing Confederate and Federal armies during the late war. The school-histories of the United States
, prepared by Northern authors for the use of our own children, are replete with this sort of disparagement of the Confederate armies.
In one of their histories I have recently seen a statement of Van Dorn
's army at Corinth
, at the exaggerated number of 40,000 effectives.
As you know, it very rarely happened to any Confederate General to lead so many of our troops against the enemy; and had Van Dorn
led half so many against the inner works of Corinth
, and made them all fight as Price
's corps did, we would have captured Rosecrantz
No commander of the Federal
armies evinced more tenacity and skill than did General Rosecrantz
during this battle.
He was one of the ablest of the Union Generals
, and his moderation and humanity in the conduct of war kept pace with his courage and skill.
Our dead received from him all of the care due brave men who fell in manly warfare, and our wounded and prisoners who fell into his hands attest his soldierly courtesy.
After the repulse of Van Dorn
on the morning of October 4th, he fell back to Chewalla
, eight miles from Corinth
with his shattered forces, and bivouacked there.
The division of Lovell
having taken no part in the assault upon the works of Corinth
, was the only portion of our army in good order, and now served a good purpose by marching in the rear and presenting a good front to the enemy, should he pursue us. On the march to Chewella and during the night Maury
's and Greene
's divisions were continually receiving accessions of stragglers, and by daylight of the 5th our companies and battalions were reorganized, and, as the result proved, we were again in good fighting order.
Our ranks had been fearfully thinned by the combats of the two previous days.
's division had marched from Chewalla
to the attack of Corinth
on the morning of the 3d with forty-eight hundred muskets in ranks; on the morning of the 5th our roll-call showed eighteen hundred men present for duty.
's division had suffered almost as severely; and worst of all, as we looked upon our thinned ranks and noted the loss of our bravest and best men, then lying upon the slopes of Corinth
, we felt how bootless had been their sacrifice, and how different the result would have been had our charge upon the works been supported.
The utmost depression prevailed throughout the army, and it was with no elation we heard our dauntless leader, Van Dorn
, had determined to make another attack that day on the enemy at Rienzi
The pioneers, preceded by an advance-guard of cavalry, had already, before daylight of the 5th, been sent forward on the road to Rienzi
, when Van Dorn
was induced by the representations of some of his principal generals as to the condition of their troops to countermand the orders for the Rienzi
movement, and to take the route for Ripley via
's bridge over the Hatchie
Our wagon train was parked at the Tuscumbia bridge
's cavalry brigade, with Whitfield
's Texas Legion, had been thrown forward across the Hatchie
, and guarded the approaches from Bolivar
No serious apprehension was entertained of being opposed on our return route, but we had every expectation of being pursued by Rosecrantz
's division having suffered most severely, was placed in front of the army, and Lovell
's not having suffered at all, marched as rear-guard of the army.
By sunrise we were on the march.
At the Tuscumbia
we found our wagons, and hundreds of our stragglers who had passed the night with the train, where rations and water were so plentiful, and where the presence of the cheerful retinues of the quartermasters and commissaries gave assurance of safety, were induced to resume their
proper places in our ranks.
It was about 10 A. M., and we had arrived with the head of our column to within one mile of the bridge over the Hatchie
, when a courier from Wirt Adams
galloped up and reported to General Van Dorn
that ‘the enemy in heavy force is moving from Bolivar
to oppose the crossing of the Hatchie
turned to General Maury
, who was riding by his side, and said with the cheerful manner which the near prospect of a fight always gave him, ‘Maury
, you are in for it again to day. Push forward as rapidly as you can and occupy the heights beyond the river before the enemy can get them.’
's brigade, about eight hundred strong, moved forward at the double-quick promptly at the world, crossed the bridge, and had reached the foot of the high ground south of the river when the enemy's line was discovered already forming on the crest, and a six-gun battery opened an enfilading fire with canister and grape upon us. At this moment the brigade, in column of fours, was marching along a narrow lane which led straight towards the enemy's battery.
and General Moore
, with their staff officers, were at the head of this column and within five hundred yards of the battery when it opened fire upon us. The aim seemed good, for the shot spattered in the sand all around us, and the sabots bounded with their humming sound close about us; yet not a man in the brigade was touched.
In the next second the lane was cleared, and the brigade was forming into line of battle to the right of it, and prepared to storm the heights.
These were already occupied by the forces under General Ord
, which had been rapidly pushed down from Bolivar
by that officer, and now to the number of eight or ten thousand held the ground which covered the only practicable crossing of the Hatchie river
did not wait for Moore
to assault him, but forming his troops into two lines of battle, swept down the slope towards the river, forcing Moore
back and breaking up his whole brigade.
Some were captured, some were driven into the river, and scarce an organized company came out of the conflict.
By this time the Texas
's dismounted cavalry, had come up. General Maury
rapidly formed them on the little ridge which commands the bridge from the north side.
, Chief of Artillery
's division, one of the bravest and ablest artillery officers of our army, now saw his opportunity, and rapidly massed all the batteries of the division on this eminence.
About two hundred yards before them lay Davis
's bridge, over which Ord
's forces must pass to attack us. Burnett
charged his guns with double
canister, and swept that bridge until near five hundred of the enemy were laid on or about it. Ord
was wounded and his army held in check.
's brigade (Arkansians) rapidly formed up on the right of Russ
's, and though the two combined did not exceed twelve hundred men, they checked every attempt of the enemy to cross, and steadily held their ground, until after several hours they were ordered to retire.
It is only just to these gallant troops to say that they
saved Van Dorn
's army that day.
The whole of our train, about five hundred wagons, and our army now lay in the forks of the Hatchie
The Tuscumbia river
, crossed only by a bridge, was in our rear, and the Hatchie river
and bridge in our front.
On our left flank, six miles distant, was another bridge crossing the Hatchie
by what is called the ‘Boneyard road’ to Ripley
Early in the day Armstrong
had been sent with his cavalry brigade to guard this road and destroy the bridge.
He had begun the destruction of the bridge when he heard the sounds of battle at the Davis
's bridge, and with a soldier's instinct understood at once the condition of affairs.
He sent a courier to Van Dorn
to say that he might turn the train and army into the Boneyard
road, and he would have the bridge repaired by the time they would reach it. This was promptly done, and when all were fairly on the new route, Maury
was ordered to withdraw from his position and follow the train.
By 10 P. M. we were all safely over the Hatchie
and without the loss of a wagon.
The night was clear, the moon was full, and we, relieved from the danger of capture which had seemed inevitable, marched so lightly along our road that by daylight we were bivouacked eighteen miles beyond the Hatchie river
, while Ord
with eight thousand men guarded Davis
's bridge, and Rosecrantz
with twenty thousand men watched the Tuscumbia bridge
, neither of them doubting that in the morning we would surrender without another shot on the appearance of the summons they would send us.
Never did an army more narrowly escape than did Van Dorn
's from the forks of the Hatchie
's guns had ceased firing on our advance Rosecrantz
had attacked our rear at the Tuscumbia
They could each hear the other's artillery; and ignorant of the existence of the Boneyard
road, they seemed to have felt secure of their prey and indisposed to press an enemy at bay, whose prowess they had such good reason to respect After this they made no energetic pursuit, and we continued on our march towards Holly Springs
without further molestation.
At Holly Springs
five thousand exchanged prisoners taken at Fort
joined us, and many absentees and stragglers came in. The enemy remained supine, and for more than a month we were encamped about Holly Springs
, and actively engaged in reorganizing, refitting and reinforcing our army.
A vigorous pursuit immediately after our defeat at Corinth
would have prevented all this and eventually destroyed our whole command.
It was late in October before Grant
moved upon us at Holly Springs
We retired before him without offering battle, and occupied a strong line we had fortified behind the Tallehatchie
, about twenty-five miles south of Holly Springs
Here again Grant
delayed in an unaccountable manner his further advance upon us, and it was late in November before he moved from Holly Springs
His army had been largely reinforced, and was now estimated at sixty thousand men; ours numbered about sixteen thousand infantry and artillery, with less than three thousand cavalry.
Sending a strong column around our left flank, Grant
came along the main direct road from Holly Springs
, which crosses the Tallehatchie
by a bridge half a mile below the railroad bridge.
's division held these crossings from November 29th to December 2d, and checked the advance of Grant
's army until all our trains and troops were well on the march for Grenada
, where we would make our next stand.
December 2d we fell back to Oxford
, where we halted for the night.
Next day we marched eight miles beyond Oxford
Next day we crossed the Youghoney, or Yocone, bivouacking near Springdale
On the 4th and 5th December we halted near Coffeeville
, where we rested one day. The enemy's cavalry pressed upon us here until it was handsomely repulsed by Tilghman
's brigade, after which we marched unmolested to Grenada
, and took position behind the Yallobusha
to receive battle on December 6th.
But again Grant
remained inactive in our front.
had now taken command of our department, and Van Dorn
was in immediate command of our army.
Chafing under this deposition from the chief command, which followed his defeat at Corinth
, Van Dorn
's ardent temper burned for some brilliant achievement which would vindicate his soldiership and restore the prestige of his former high reputation.
He ascertained from his outlying pickets that Grant
had accumulated vast depots of supplies at Holly Springs
, which were guarded by no very large force, and resolved to destroy these depots and thereby compel the retreat of Grant
's army, which depended on them.
Just before Christmas
, therefore, Van Dorn
cavalry force of two thousand men, and taking command in person, passed around Grant
's army, and dashed into Holly Springs
about dawn one winter's morning, surprising and capturing the garrison, and gaining complete possession of the great depots of supplies which filled the place.
These he destroyed, and made good his return to Grenada
without having sustained any serious loss.
This brilliant blow ended Grant
's campaign in North Mississippi
, caused the immediate retirement of his army, and enabled Pemberton
to detach reinforcements to Vicksburg
, where General Sherman
had landed a formidable expedition, intended to carry the place by coup-de main
It has always seemed inexplicable that General Grant
retained the confidence of his Government after the failures of this campaign.
His mistakes were palpable and their consequences disastrous.
At Iuka Grant
's combined movement, concerted with Rosecrantz
, failed through Grant
made his circuitous march of near twenty miles by the Jacinto
road around Price
's left flank and attacked before 4 P. M. Grant on the same day moved from Burnsville
, eight miles distant, to attack us in front, but so tardy were his movements that Rosecrantz
had fought his battle and been repulsed, and night had fallen before Grant
deployed his line of battle, and he actually remained all night two miles from the battlefield, with no enemy in his immediate front, except the picket line of Maury
This unexplained slowness enabled Price
to extricate his army and train from between Grant
, and escape what would have been certain capture, had Grant
been as prompt as Rosecrantz
Again, two weeks later, after the defeat of Van Dorn
failed to press his beaten enemy, but permitted him to lie unmolested at Holly Springs
for one month, and until his (our) army was refitted, reinforced and reorganized.
then moved most slowly and cautiously to Holly Springs
, and remained there one month, while we lay behind the Tallehatchie
, twenty-five miles off. Late in November he moved from Holly Springs
with sixty thousand men, sending a column around our left flank, so that we abandoned our defences on that line and retired towards Grenada
Here we remained until near Christmas, when Van Dorn
seized the opportunity which Grant
's crowning blunder afforded, swooped upon his unguarded depots, and terminated his campaign in North Mississippi
What was the mysterious influence of this man over his Government that he was treated with unabated confidence after such flagrant lachesse
We must now go back a little to relate the more clearly the sequel of these operations of General Grant
, which ensued only a few days after his Holly Springs
' disaster, terminated in Sherman
's defeat at Chickasaw Bluff, and was the last act of the Grant
campaign in Mississippi
In December, while Grant
was so leisurely moving down the Central railroad and bearing our little army back towards Grenada
was sent with a force, estimated at twenty thousand men, to seize Vicksburg
He would then move to Jackson
, and thus Van Dorn
would be placed with his little army of just sixteen thousand men between the armies of Grant
, and would have been forced to evacuate Mississippi
disembarked his army on the Yazoo river
, above Vicksburg
, about December 20th.
The place was then defended by an insufficient force, and must have fallen an easy prey to an energetic attack by such an army as General Sherman
now brought against it. But Sherman
delayed his attack several days, thus losing precious time and opportunity, and it was not until December 27th that he moved in battle array to fight the battle of Chickasaw Bluff, which, so far as we know, is the only battle General Sherman
ever did fight.
On that day General Stephen D. Lee
commanded five regiments of infantry and two light batteries, twenty-five hundred men and twelve guns, which confronted Sherman
's army on the Chickasaw
and Willow bayous
arrayed his little force along the road which leads under the Chickasaw Bluff
His centre fronted the opening between the bayous through which Sherman
would debouch to the attack.
An open cotton field six hundred yards across lay between the hostile lines.
The centre of Lee
's line, Louisiana
troops, lay in the road, with the bluff at their backs.
There was no ditch or embankment, or cover of any sort along this part of Lee
's line; nor was there any obstacle to the approach of the Federal
forces, except the steady rifles of the brave men who that day achieved the most signal victory of the war.
The troops of Lee
's wings were much better posted than his centre; they were on more elevated ground.
Their front was, in great part, securely covered by deep and impassable fissures or gullies, which the enemy could not discover until within point-blank range, and their fire could sweep the whole front of attack.
four o'clock P. M., the enemy, in a heavy column, marched out of the timber beyond the bayou, crossed the narrow neck between the bayous, and marched straight against Lee
The column of attack was commanded by General Frank Blair
, and moved up in fine and formidable array; but so deadly was the fire of Lee
's line, and so steady were his men, that before the foremost enemy could come within one hundred yards, their lines were broken, the attack was repulsed, the Federals
were retreating in disorder to the cover of the woods, leaving one thousand dead, wounded and prisoners on the field, and General Sherman
was defeated, and from that moment abandoned all further efforts at an attack, and turned all his energies and attention to effect a safe retreat.
In no battle of the war was the disparity of numbers greater, or was the disparity in losses so great.
captured on the ground two hundred and fifty prisoners, officers and men, who, in their fright, had fallen down; our men thought them dead, until examination proved them to be entirely unhurt.
Several hundred wounded were removed by Lee
to his own hospitals, and more than one hundred were killed upon the field.
, of Lee
's staff, killed by the explosion of a caisson, was the only Confederate officer killed, ten others, privates, were killed, and this was Lee
's whole loss, except thirty-eight wounded.
It was about the 22d of December when our little army at Grenada
heard of the landing of Sherman
's large force before Vicksburg
, in our rear.
had just gone off on his expedition, and those of us who knew his destination were in the deepest anxiety as to its result.
This was relieved by the news of his complete success which reached us next day, the 23d, and on Christmas eve our hearts were gladdened by rumors of Grant
's retirement from our front.
Christmas day was brightened by the certain intelligence that Grant
had fallen back with his whole army, and next day Maury
's division marched to reinforce Vicksburg
Our advance entered the town as the last cannon-shots were booming on the battlefield, and we found troops and people in great exultation over Lee
's victory, though still anxious for the results of the battle, which would be renewed, as we all believed, at dawn in the morning.
The night closed in stormy and very dark, but the troops found their suppers already cooked for them, and by 9 P. M. we were on the march for the battle-ground, six miles above the city.
We were only four hundred, but we were veterans of many battles, and we knew the whole of our division would be up in time for the fight.
We felt confident of the result, and our arrival imparted renewed confidence to Lee
's little army.
When daylight came it revealed to us Sherman
's lines formed as if for defence, in the timber beyond the bayou.
All day long they held their places in rifle-pits they had dug during the night.
All day long, and for the next two days, our forces were increasing, until the whole of Maury
's division was up, immediately followed by Stevenson
's, and by the 30th we were prepared to assume the offensive, when, on that day, about midday, a flag of truce came from Sherman
's lines requesting a truce to bury their dead.
Three days before, on the 27th, Lee
had sent out burial parties to bury Sherman
's dead, but they were fired on and driven in by the enemy's pickets, and his dead had, therefore, remained on the field in view of both armies, swelling and festering in the rains and the sun until the evening of the 30th.
The letter requesting truce was signed by General Morgan
It contained a vague apology for the delay which had occurred in attending to this requirement of civilized war. It was brought to General Maury
, commanding on that part of the line, and General Lee
was instructed to reply to it and to grant a truce of four hours. Ninety-six dead bodies were removed and buried during the truce, which lasted until near dark.
Next morning Sherman
had disappeared from our front, and the smoke of many steamers on the Yazoo
told us he was making his escape from the scene of his disaster and disgrace.
, with the Second Texas and five or six other regiments, got some flying shots at his rear-guard, and as we afterwards ascertained, inflicted a heavy loss on some of the steamers which were late in getting off.
Thus terminated Sherman
's first independent expedition.
he went up to Arkansas
Post, and took part in the capture of that place by Porter
And here it was that Grant
came down to meet him and turned him back, saying: ‘Vicksburg
must be taken if it requires my whole army.’
The conduct of Sherman
during this, his first independent expedition, is open to criticism.
The grandeur of his intentions and preparations is in strong contrast with the impotent conclusion.
His delay and hesitation in making his attack, the feebleness of that attack, and his unjustifiable readiness to abandon the whole enterprise, evinced incapacity for command.
His attempt to evade admitting that the battlefield was Lee
's in not applying at once for a truce to bury his dead, and his petty assumption of dignity in causing a subordinate officer to sign the letter which he finally sent requesting
a truce, and the gross neglect of his gallant dead consequent upon this unsoldier-like course, were characteristic of the man who has proclaimed that Wade Hampton
's troops burned Columbia
, and that his did not, and who announces that ‘the honor of military men is very different from the honor of politicians
In pleasing contrast with Sherman
's conduct of this battle was that of his antagonist, Brigadier General Stephen D. Lee
. Twenty years younger than Sherman
, he was yet a soldier of tried experience, and was fresh from the Army of Northern Virginia, that school of war commanded by the great master of the art, and had borne a conspicuous part in all of its great battles.
was now commanding for the first time on a field where all was committed to the hazard of battle.
The odds against him were fearful—near ten to one—and it was not possible to perceive that the advantages of position were so strongly in his favor as to compensate for his unequal numbers.
A commander of less experience and nerve than Lee
might have posted the centre of his army on
the bluff instead of in the road at its base.
perceived that if his line were on the bluff, there would be a dead angle along its front of such extent that the enemy would be safe from fire a long way off, and could carry his position by escalade.
Therefore he resolved to receive the attack at the base of the bluff, and to depend on the markmanship of his troops and their tried courage, animated by his example, for his sole defence.
never, during the battle, showed himself in its front, but remained with his reserves, which he never brought up, Lee
's presence was constantly seen and felt along his whole line.
Never did commander show himself in battle more freely to friend and foe, and never was such exposure justified by richer results.
The remarkable brevity of General Sherman
's references (in his report to the Joint Committee
on the Conduct of the War
) to operations extending over a campaign of three months, is explained by the failure to accomplish results and by the necessity for suppressio veri
‘From December 25th, 1862, to January 1st, 1863, made repeated attacks on the bluffs between Vicksburg
and Haines's Bluff, but failed.’
The above paragraph contains one statement of fact only, viz: in the last two words.
The rest of it is full of the author's characteristic mistakes.
It should have read ‘made an attack on the bluff, etc., but failed.’
If any other attack besides that I have above described
was made on the bluffs between Vicksburg
and Haines's Bluff by General Sherman
's army in the winter of 1862 and 1863, we, who were defending those bluffs, were not aware of it
It is well to append here the following report of General W. T. Sherman
on his operations during the campaign of 1862-63:
On September 24th, 1862, by Major-General Grant's order, took command of the first district of West Tennessee.
November 25th, pursuant to orders of General Grant, moved out of Memphis for Tchulahoma (?) to report to him at Holly Springs, to attack and drive the enemy, then in force along the line of the Tallehatchie river. December 3d crossed the Tallehatchie at Wyatt's, and December 5th met General Grant at Oxford, Mississippi.
By his order returned to Memphis December 12th, leaving all my command but one division.
Organized out of the new troops there and at Helena, Arkansas, a special command to move by water, and by a sudden coup-de-main, carry Vicksburg.
Embarked December 20th, and from December 25th to January 1st, 1863, made repeated attacks on the bluffs between Vicksburg and Haines's Bluff, but failed.