From the Southwest.
[from our army Correspondent.]
Corinth, Miss., May 24, 1862.
Life in the Army of the Mississippi is like the boys' game of ‘"see-saw."’ How you go up to the seventh heaven of expectation on the end of some imaginary contingency, and now you come down to mother earth, with some thumping disappointment.
Such has been the experience of the last forty-eight hours. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, everybody talked ‘"fight,"’ from the Generals
down to camp cooks.
Everything indicated fight from the individual preparing his five days rations to the mass already in motion, and a prophet might have staked his reputation upon the probability.
Yet, here we are at the end of the week-nobody hurt!
quietly in his nest, we in our quarters, the rain coming drearily down, mud four inches deep, roads impassable, and a battle, to all appearance, as remote as ever.
The fact is, Halleck
is disincline to fight.
Every offer of battle we have made — and they have not been a few — he has pertinaciously refused.
Perhaps he is not ready.
If so, his very lack of readiness shows his weakness.
Perhaps he is waiting reinforcements.
Then he shows a proper appreciation of Southern prowess.
Perhaps, and this is doubtless the true cause of his delay, he is fortifying himself to prevent his total rout and annihilation.
A wise precaution Like Raglan
and Prissier before Sebastopol
, he is coming at us by a series of regular approaches.
When he gets sufficiently near, first he will let fly his long-range guns, shoot shells over the tree tops, and ‘"bomb"’ us out. This done, his cohorts will issue from their dens and storm our works.
Then, if not before, will come the tug of war. Strange to say, nobody yet fears him, and what may be stranger still to him, he may possibly find the recoil so much stronger than the first report that he will ‘"fly the track."’ Our Generals
are not idle.
Eyes are watching every Federal movement, and reports come from the other side of the lines with on even regularity.
We know, for instance, that Gen. Sigel
has just landed at Pittsburg
with twenty thousand troops; that star-gazing Mitchell
is on his way, and that other reinforcements will augment the Federal
army to a strength of about ninety thousand.
More men than this I do not believe they can muster into service, and if these stay where they are ten days longer, fifteen thousand sick will be subtracted from the above sum total.
The health of our army is, on the contrary improving.
Well's lately bored are supplying pure water, vegetables are beginning to come in from the surrounding cities, and with these changes in the dietetic, corresponding changes are manifest in the physical condition of the troops.
The Northern journals, by the way, set our strength down at two hundred thousand men. Prisoners concur in this statement, and say that a similar belief prevails throughout the Northern
Hence an indisposition on the part of the men to cross arms with us.
Another tit-bit of intelligence we have is, that for two days the Federal
have lain on their arms expecting an attack from us. Deserters from the army convoyed information of certain movements which apparently led to this belief, but the fact that such a demonstration did not take place shows that deserters as well as newspaper correspondents are liable to be mistaken.
A very considerable number of desertions have taken place within the last two months, but fortunately not to the enemy's lines.--The renegades consist mostly of Tennessean who are separated from their families, or those whose terms of service have expired, and who have been forced to continue in the army.
Many of these have been retaken.
A singular recapture was made on Thursday night. A man ran through our lines, but not knowing the country, unwittingly returned again, and was hailed by the picket on duty.
‘"Oh, you needn't be afraid of me,"’ was the response; ‘"I'm as good a Federal as you are."’
‘"What are you doing here?"’ said the sentinel.
‘"I'm a deserter from the Southern
army, and have come over here to give you some information."’
‘"What is it?"’
‘"Well, the Confederates
are preparing to whip you like h--11, and your Generals
ought to know it."’ And he proceeded to give some other facts, which need not be mentioned.
‘"I reckon you've got in the wrong box,"’ said the picket.
‘"I am a Confederate soldier, and these are the Confederate
lines.--You are my prisoner."’
Calling the officer of the guard, the man was delivered up, and the next day confessed his crime to Gen. Jackson
, saying that his heart was not in the work, that he was an Englishman by birth, and started to desert to the enemy for the purpose of telling them all he knew.
On the strength of this information, Jackson
dispensed with the formalities of a Court-Martial; and ordered the man out to be shot, which was done without ceremony.
I saw another shot the day previous, convicted of being a spy. Such things, however, have become common in the army, and draw only such a crowd as may happen to be within hearing distance.
The last information at hand corroborates all we have received from the Federal
for the last ten days. They are concentrating troops heavily on our right and bringing forward their masses from the river.
Probably their base of operations is Pea Ridge
, a slight elevation about ten miles distant. On this may be erected their strongest works, to which those immediately in front are mere covers.
Their rear division on the centre is at Monterey
, while Pope
on the left and McClernand
on the right, have moved heavy portions of their commands to a close proximity with our lines.
Skirmishing every day. Men frequently killed and wounded.
Artillery practice between pickets about three times a week.
Five Federals captured yesterday with cow bells upon them, their object being to delude our pickets with the idea that they were animals; which is not far from the truth.