Campaign for Corinth
the hills of Northeast Mississippi is a small area with a significant
past: Corinth and Old Tishomingo County. This region played an
important role in the American Civil War. During 1860, the political
situation in the state of Mississippi as well as the Nation deteriorated.
As a result of Abraham Lincoln's election, Mississippi Governor
John Pettus called for a convention to take place in Jackson,
the state capitol.
Prior to the convention in Jackson, the citizens of Old Tishomingo
County were opposed to secession, but when the majority of the
state's delegates voted to secede, the Tishomingo delegates
signed the Article of Secession. In spite of their earlier feelings,
the number of soldiers from Tishomingo County equaled, if not
exceeded, that of any other county in the South.
During 1861, Corinth served as a mobilization center for Confederate
troops. After the fall of Tennessee Forts Henry and Donelson in
February 1862, Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston made the Memphis-Charleston
railroad his line of defense. It was believed that if this east-west
supply line were cut, the upper South would be divided and the
Western Theater would probably be lost.
ordered Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, his second in command, to gather
troops at Corinth. By the end of March, nearly 44000 men, most
of whom were "green' were organized into four corps
under Generals Leonidas Polk, Braxton Bragg, W.J. Hardee and J.C.
Gen, H.W. Halleck also realized Corinth's value, stating
that the railroad centers in Corinth and Richmond were "the
greatest strategic points of the war, and our success at these
points should be insured at all hazards." He ordered Federal
troops to meet at Savannah, on the east side of the Tennessee
Generals Earl Van Dorn and Sterling Price had not reached Corinth,
but Gen. Johnston decided to strike Gen. Grant's Army of
the Tennessee before the Army of the Ohio, under Gen. Carlos Buell,
could reinforce the troops at Pittsburg Landing. The Confederate
troops left Corinth April 3, but did not reach Shiloh until early
morning April 6, due to rain, mud and inexperience.
April 6, the Confederates attacked the Union forces who had not
entrenched. Although the Confederate Army made a strong showing
on the first day of battle, it experienced a terrible loss when
Johnston was mortally wounded. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard assumed
command and halted the attack late in the day. During the night
and early morning, 25,500 reinforcements joined Gen Grant, forcing
the Confederates back, and by 4 p.m., they began their painful
trek back to Corinth. The two-day battle, named for Shiloh Church,
was the bloodiest Civil War battle up until that time.
a hospital center as the wounded were brought back. Many men died
following the battle, not only from injuries sustained in battle,
but childhood diseases, dysentery and fevers. Boxcar loads of
wounded were sent to Okolona, Columbus and Oxford. The Union army
took a month to travel the 22 miles to Corinth. The weather was
bad, the water was not good and disease was rampant. Halleck,
being cautious by nature, entrenched every night. Eventually there
were seven progressive lines and forty miles of trenches.
Engagement at Farmington
By May 4, the Union Army was within 10 miles of Corinth. The
Confederates began a series of small scale attacks. Skirmishes
occurred on May 3, 4 and 8, but May 9 brought a fierce engagement
to Farmington, a small town just east of Corinth. Gen. Pope had
moved his two brigades into Farmington. Confederate Gen. Paine,
commanding 6 regiments, engaged them. Fierce fighting took place
for six hours. The Union troops were ordered to fall back to their
former camp one mile away and the Confederate troops fell back
over 7 Mile Creek.
Siege of Corinth
By May 25, the Union Army was entrenched on high ground within
a few thousand yards of the Confederate fortifications. From there,
Union guns shelled defensive earthworks, supply bases and the
railroad facilities in Corinth. The Union troops outnumbered the
Confederate troops two to one. Because of an inadequate supply
of clean water, the health of Beauregard's men was worsening.
At a council of war, Confederate officers came to the conclusion
that they were not able to hold the railroad crossing.
hoax saved Beauregard's army. During the last week of May,
soldiers removed the army's artillery and replaced them with
"Quaker guns," logs painted black to give the appearance
of real weapons. During the night of May 29, the Confederate army
moved out using the Mobile and Ohio Railroad to carry tons of
supplies, heavy artillery and the sick and wounded. When a train
arrived, the troops cheered, camp fires burned and instruments
played, making the Union think that reinforcements had arrived.
The rest of the men slipped away undetected. When Union patrols
entered Corinth, they found the Confederates gone.
the Confederate evacuation of Corinth, Union soldiers occupied
the town. During the long hot summer, they dug wells to find good
water and constructed additional fortifications. Gen. Halleck
ordered a series of batteries to be built (A through F.) Maj.
Gen. Rosecrans built an inner series of batteries (Madison, Lothrop,
Tannrath, Phillips, Robinett, Powell, Williams) on the ridges
around town which he felt would better protect the railroads.
Trenches for infantrymen connected the batteries and abates strengthened
Battle of Iuka
After the evacuation of Corinth, the Confederate army underwent
significant change. Beauregard suddenly abandoned his army in
Tupelo for health reasons. Bragg succeeded Beauregard and committed
the bulk of his army to an invasion of Tennessee and Kentucky.
The remaining Confederate forces in Mississippi were under the
command of Generals Van Dorn and Price. In September, many of
the men in Corinth went off to fight a bloody battle at Iuka.
Confederate Gen. Sterling Price was in Iuka. Grant, worried that
the Confederates would move into Tennessee to join Bragg, devised
a plan to trap Price. Rosecrans' Army of the Mississippi
approached Iuka from the southwest. Maj. Gen. O.C. Ord brought
three divisions of the Army of the Tennessee from the northwest.
ordered Ord to attack when they heard the sounds of Rosecrans'
attack, but an acustic shadow suppressed the sound and prevented
their knowing that the battle had begun. After an afternoon of
fighting entirely by Rosecrans' men, the Confederates withdrew
to meet up with Van Dorn while the Federal soldiers marched back
to camp at Corinth.
Battle of Corinth
On October 2, Gen Rosecrans learned that the Confederates
were approaching Corinth from the northwest. He positioned his
advance guard about three miles beyond the town limits. On October
3, Confederate and Union forces fought initially at the old Confederate
earthworks, then Battery F. The Confederates then pushed the Union
army back about two miles towards town and heavy fighting was
concentrated around the White House, just north of Battery Robinett.
About 6:00 p.m., Maj. Gen. Van Dorn, Confederate commander, called
a halt to the fighting, certain he could win an overwhelming victory
in the morning.
the night, Union commanders moved their men in a more compact
position closer to Corinth. The partially entrenched line was
less than two miles long and was strengthened at key positions
by the cannons located along the College Hill batteries; Batteries
Williams and Robinett, overlooking the Memphis-Charleston Railroad;
and an unfinished Battery Powell, on the northern outskirts of
9:00, the Confederated opened a savage attack on the Union line.
Some Confederates fought their way into town to the railroad crossing.
About 10:00, four columns of Confederates advanced on Battery
Robinett. They charged three times, each time being mowed down
by fire from the battery cannons and the muskets from the men
in adjoining fields. After desperate fighting, a Union bayonet
charge broke up the enemy columns. By noon, Van Dorn was in retreat.
Early in the morning of October 5, the retreating Confederates
at Chewalla, Tennessee, were concerned about what lay ahead of
them at the Hatchie River. Grant had sent Ord and Gen. Stephen
A. Hurlbert from Boliver, Tennessee, to reinforce Rosecrans at
Corinth. This force clashed with the Confederates at Davis'
Bridge on the Hatchie River. A fierce fight raged over four hours.
Despite great losses the Federals took and held the bridge. Meanwhile
Federal troops from Corinth were approaching from the rear. The
Confederate army was in danger of being trapped, but managed to
find another crossing of the river near Crum's Mill. By midnight,
the entire Confederate army had crossed the river ahead of the
and the Remainder of the War
These battles were last major Confederate offensive in Mississippi.
Likewise, victories in these battles enabled Grant to turn his
attention toward Vicksburg. However, military activity did not
end in 1862. The Union occupied Corinth for the next 15 months,
using it as a base for raiding northern Mississippi, Alabama and
southern Tennessee. The Union troops left Corinth on January 25,
1864. The Confederates returned, but it was too late. The South
had not built a locomotive since 1861 and could not use what had
once been a critically important rail line. The only cars moving
on the patched-together tracks were pulled by mules.
Facts of the Corinth Campaign
During the Siege of Corinth, conditions were miserable: daily
temperatures hovered around 100 degrees; six inches of dust covered
the streets from lack of rain; water and soil were polluted from
the wastes of 200,000 soldiers and their horses causing many people
to suffer from illness called "the evacuation of Corinth."
The crossing of the Memphis-Charleston and the Mobile-Ohio Railroads
was considered for a while in 1862 to be the 16 most important
square feet in the Confederacy. Today the tracks are in the same
At least 300,000 troops were in or around Corinth during the course
of the war, making it the largest aggregate number of troops ever
assembled in the Western Hemisphere.
Approximately 200 top Confederate and Union generals were stationed
in or near Corinth during the war years.
Major General Earl Van Dorn (army of West Tennessee) was court-martialed
for his neglect in taking care of logistical details and forcing
his army to march and fight the Battle of Corinth with insufficient
water and food. The charges were dropped.
Firing on both sides was so inaccurate that soldiers estimated
it took a man's weight in lead to kill a single enemy in
A Federal expert said that each Confederate who was shot required
240 pounds of powder and 900 pounds of lead.
Northern casualties in the Battle of Corinth: 355 killed, 1841
wounded, 324 missing. Casualties from the South numbered: 473
killed, 1997 wounded, 1763 captured or missing.
Battle of Corinth Congressional Medal of Honor recipients: James
W. Archer, Army, 1st Lt. & Adjutant, Second Battle of Corinth,
Oct. 4, 1862. William H. Horsfall, Army, Drummer, Siege of Corinth,
May 21, 1862. William W. McCammon, Army, 1st. Lt, 2nd Battle of
Corinth, Oct. 3, 1862. Denis J.F. Murphy, Army, Sergeant, 2nd
Battle of Corinth, Oct. 3, 1862. Wager Swayne, Army, Lt. Col.,
2nd Battle of Corinth, Oct. 4, 1862..
Shiloh, site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War to that
date, means "place of peace."
Lewis Wallace, Union General, lost his way at Shiloh and his force
took little part in the battle. After the war, he was governor
of ew Mexic and minister to Turkey, but he is best known for writing
Abe, the war eagle, was actually a female bald eagle. She was
named for President Abraham Lincoln and was the mascot of the
8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment. A special perch was
designed for her and she was taken into battle. She participated
in the engagement at Farmington; the Battle of Corinth, in which
the 8th Wisconsin lost half its men; and the Siege of Vicksburg.
Old Abe became a legend, spreading her wings and screaming at
the enemy. Many attempts were made to capture the "Yankee
Buzzard," but none were successful. Old Abe became the screaming
eagle depicted on the insignia of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne
Douglas, the "Rebel "Camel, was part of the 43rd Mississippi.
He was given to Col. William M. Moore by a Lt. Hargrove of Co.
B. Old Douglas was assigned to the regimental band where he carried
instruments and knapsacks. Old Douglas was present at the Battle
of Iuka and later at the Battle of Corinth. It was here that his
owner died during the battle, but Douglas remained with his regiment.
Near the end of the Siege of Vicksburg, a battalion of Union sharpshooters
were ordered to shoot Douglas. They did, but those sharpshooters
were soon killed by sharpshooters from the 43rd Mississippi Company.
Today Douglas the camel has his own marker in the Confederate
section of the Vicksburg cemetery,
War Nurses in Corinth
Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Kate Cumming's family eventually
moved to Alabama. Early in the Civil War, Kate was inspired to
become a volunteer in the Confederate hospitals. At the age of
27, against the wishes of her family who felt that "nursing
soldiers was not work for a refined lady," Kate left for
Northern Mississippi in April 1862 following the Battle of Shiloh.
Kate was no more exceptional than many of the other ladies who
ministered to the wounded and dying, but her well-kept diary provides
valuable insights into conditions at that time. "Nothing
that I have ever heard or read had given me the faintest idea
of the horror witnessed here (in Corinth nursing the returning
soldiers following Shiloh)." "I sat up all night, bathing
the men's wounds and giving them water. The men are lying
all over this house, on their blankets, just as they were brought
in from the battlefield....The foul air from this mass of human
beings at first made me giddy and sick, but I soon got over it.
We have to walk, and when we give the men anything, kneel in blood
and water; but we think nothing of it."
Ann "Mother" Bickerdyke
Mary Ann "Mother" Bickerdyke, born in Ohio in 1817.
By the time the Civil War began, she was a widowed mother of two
young sons, living in Galesburg, Illinois. When her church sent
supplies to Cairo, Illinois, for Federal soldiers, she went along
and was subsequently devoted to the cause. Following the Battle
of Shiloh, Bickerdyke was put in charge of the field hospital
in Farmington, Mississippi.
once the Federal army secured Corinth, she took responsibility
for the Corona College Hospital. Mother Bickerdyke quickly became
a favorite among the soldiers, for she saw that their needs were
met. Bickerdyke also gained the respect of many northern generals,
including Grant and Sherman. When one lower ranking officer began
to complain about "that woman Bickerdyke" to Sherman,
the General heartily replied, "Only God outranks her."