« AnteriorContinuar »
the railroad bridge, which was in flames. Decatur is a post village of Morgan County, Alabama, situated on the left bank of the Tennessee River, thirty miles west by southwest of Huntsville. It is on the route of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, distant about forty-four miles from Tuscumbia.
On the 24th of April, General Mitchel's advance, under Turchin, reached Tuscumbia, opposite Corinth. Meantime, the gunboats on the Tennessee River effected a passage over the muscle shoals, an extensive series of rapids, which are passable only at very high stages
Halleck at Pittsburg Landing.-Fall of Corinth.—Pursuit.-Memphis Occupied.-Gen. eral Grant-End of Campaign.-Halleck at Washington.
GENERAL HALLECK was appointed to the command of the Department of the Mississippi on the 16th of March, but it was not until the 15th of April, after the reduction of Island No. Ten had liberated General Pope's command, and the severe battle at Pittsburg Landing had caused a further concentration of the Confederates at Corinth, and General Mitchel had obtained control of the railroad, that he assumed command in the field. His operations were confined to the reduction of the enemy's position at Corinth, whither Beauregard had fallen back from the battle-field of Shiloh. He had, by river, full communication with Cairo, whither his wounded were sent by steamer, and whence he drew in profusion every needed supply, yet it was not until the close of May that he ascertained there was no longer any enemy at Corinth-Beauregard having effected his retreat. Corinth is a very important strategical point, situated in a hilly, semi-mountainous country-a branch of the Appalachian range, which diverges from the Alleghany Mountains, and forms the mountains and gold-bearing regions of Georgia and Alabama. Here, also, is the junction of the Memphis and Charleston and Mobile and Ohio Railroads, which form the means of communication between the Atlantic and Gulf seaboards. Doubtless the troops were on both sides much disorganized, and time was required to restore the morale of the army. Fresh horses were required, as well as caissons, gun-carriages, and small-arms, but all these were within reach at Cairo and St. Louis. The enemy, with greater wants, had less means of supplying them. General Halleck proceeded with the utmost caution, and seemed determined to have his army re-enforced and well equipped before making a forward movement. The troops of Buell and Grant were concentrated, Pope was summoned with his command from the Mississippi, and Mitchel was directed to threaten the right flank and rear of the enemy at Iuka, a few miles southeast of Corinth. On the reduction of Island No. Ten, the flotilla was transferred to Flag-officer Davis-Commodore Foote being disabled by a severe wound-and was ordered to follow the enemy to Fort Wright, fifty miles above Memphis, to which place he had fallen back. The fleet was accompanied by Pope's troops in transports.
On April 13th the fleet arrived off Fort Wright. In this neighborhood the river flows east from Island No. Thirty-Two to Island No. Thirty-Three, when it takes a westerly direction, flowing round a bluff, and again takes an easterly course. It thus forms two points-that of Fort Wright, on the Tennessee shore, and another nearly opposite in Arkansas. The latter point, flat and marshy, is protected from the overflow of the river by a levee which extends down the whole river to New Orleans; on that point the army of Pope was landed on the night of the 15th, the day on which Halleck took command at Pittsburg. The enemy sent over small parties in skiffs and cut the levee in four places. The water poured through the cuts in torrents, deepening and widening them constantly, until the inundation not only of the point became a certainty, but on the bottom-lands of the whole eastern portion of Arkansas. Their object was doubtless to prevent anticipated operations by our army, and it compelled the re-embarkation of the troops upon the transports. On the 18th, General Pope received orders to repair to Pittsburg Landing, where he arrived on the 24th, and landed at Hamburg, forming the left of Halleck's army, on the same day that Mitchel occupied Tuscumbia. The enemy's force at the same time was augmented by the armies of Van Dorn and Price at Memphis, and the latter general was transferred to the command at Fort Wright.
The enemy's outposts still hovered around Pittsburg Landing. They had strong advance forces at Purdy, Pea Ridge, and Monterey, respectively, six, eight, and ten miles from the landing. On the 27th of April, the several divisions of Halleck's army began to move forward slowly, and General Hurlbut occupied Shiloh Church, which had been held by Beauregard on the 6th, the enemy retiring with small loss. General Grant also moved his head-quarters nearer the front. The impassable state of the roads, it was alleged, prevented a more rapid movement in advance. Beginning on the extreme right, the advanced divisions of the army were placed as follows: Sherman's, McCook's, MeArthur's (late C. F. Smith's), Crittenden's, and Nelson's, the centre resting on Hamburg, a landing on the river, some four or five miles above Pittsburg landing. The reserve divisions of the army, commencing at the right, were Wallace's, McClernand's, Hurlbut's, and MeKean's. General Grant commanded the right and right centre of the army, General Buell the left and left centre, and General Pope the extreme left, in all about one hundred thousand effective troops. The troops continued to press forward at various points, as circumstances would permit, and on the 3d May, General Paine's Division of Pope's Corps reconnoitred in force as far as Farmington, which is fitteen miles from Pittsburg Landing and five miles from Corinth. Here he encountered a force of four thousand and five hundred of the enemy, with four guns; after a sharp encounter, the enemy were driven back with loss, and the Union troops held the position, throwing out pickets towards Corinth. At the same time an artillery reconnoissance was made to Glendale, southeast of Corinth, on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, where the bridges were destroyed. On the 9th, a strong force of the enemy under General Bragg attacked the Union troops, occupying
Farmington, but after a sharp engagement, with considerable loss on either side, was driven off. The lines of Halleck's army were now twelve miles in extent, forming the segment of a circle, of which the right, threatening the Memphis road, was about a mile nearer Corinth than the left. The former wing had recently been transferred to General Thomas, while Grant became second in command under Halleck. On the 25th the army moved up to within three-fourths of a mile of the enemy's works and intrenched. It was now forty-five days since General Halleck had taken the command at Pittsburg Landing, and, moving forward by regular approaches, he had, with occasional skirmishes, gained about sixteen miles of ground, but the amount of labor done was very great. The long line of the advancing army, in order to keep an unbroken front, was compelled to make roads. Hardly a division made a movement that did not cut a new road through the woods, with bridges for the ravines, and long lines of corduroy for the swamps. Even brigades required short roads to the left or right of their division road to enable them to occupy their places in the line; and thus the whole country was covered with a network of roads. In this immense labor the time was occupied. On the morning of the 28th, General Halleck sent Colonel Elliott, with a large cavalry force, to seize Booneville on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, with a view of cutting Beauregard's communications with the south; and three reconnoitring parties, one each from Thomas on the right, Buell in the centre, and Pope on the left, advanced to feel the enemy's position and ascertain his strength. They were met with great determination, but succeeded in holding the ground gained.
While these events were in progress, the flotilla, that had reached Fort Wright April 13th, opened its fire upon the forts on the 15th, with fourteen mortar-boats. The siege was continued until the 8th May, when the Confederate flotilla of eight gunboats, of which several were rams, advanced up the river and engaged Davis's vessels; after an hour's conflict, they retired, with the loss of three boats. The operations against the fort were then prolonged until June 4th, when it was discovered that the place was abandoned, all the guns carried off, and stores and supplies destroyed. Perceiving that Memphis would soon be uncovered to the Union forces on the river, Beauregard decided, as a consequence, that Corinth was no longer tenable. When, therefore, General Halleck was finally ready for the assault of Corinth, he discovered it to be evacuated. The movement was complete; every thing had been carried off or destroyed. The case was similar to the fall of Yorktown. The combat of the 28th was described in General Halleck's dispatch as follows:
"HEAD-QUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE MISSISSIPPI, "CAMP ON THE CORINTH ROAD, May 28, 1862.
"Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War:
"Three strong reconnoitring columns advanced this morning on the right, centre, and left, to feel the enemy and unmask his batteries. The enemy hotly contested his ground at each point, but was driven back with considerable loss.
The column on the left encountered the strongest opposition.
five killed and wounded. The enemy left thirty dead on the field.
Our loss is twenty-