Part 5 out of 16

war, and but few in the East equalled it for hard, determined
fighting. I saw an open field, in our possession on the second
day, over which the Confederates had made repeated charges the
day before, so covered with dead that it would have been
possible to walk across the clearing, in any direction, stepping
on dead bodies, without a foot touching the ground. On our side
National and Confederate troops were mingled together in about
equal proportions; but on the remainder of the field nearly all
were Confederates. On one part, which had evidently not been
ploughed for several years, probably because the land was poor,
bushes had grown up, some to the height of eight or ten feet.
There was not one of these left standing unpierced by bullets.
The smaller ones were all cut down.

Contrary to all my experience up to that time, and to the
experience of the army I was then commanding, we were on the
defensive. We were without intrenchments or defensive
advantages of any sort, and more than half the army engaged the
first day was without experience or even drill as soldiers. The
officers with them, except the division commanders and possibly
two or three of the brigade commanders, were equally
inexperienced in war. The result was a Union victory that gave
the men who achieved it great confidence in themselves ever

The enemy fought bravely, but they had started out to defeat and
destroy an army and capture a position. They failed in both,
with very heavy loss in killed and wounded, and must have gone
back discouraged and convinced that the "Yankee" was not an
enemy to be despised.

After the battle I gave verbal instructions to division
commanders to let the regiments send out parties to bury their
own dead, and to detail parties, under commissioned officers
from each division, to bury the Confederate dead in their
respective fronts and to report the numbers so buried. The
latter part of these instructions was not carried out by all;
but they were by those sent from Sherman's division, and by some
of the parties sent out by McClernand. The heaviest loss
sustained by the enemy was in front of these two divisions.

The criticism has often been made that the Union troops should
have been intrenched at Shiloh. Up to that time the pick and
spade had been but little resorted to at the West. I had,
however, taken this subject under consideration soon after
re-assuming command in the field, and, as already stated, my
only military engineer reported unfavorably. Besides this, the
troops with me, officers and men, needed discipline and drill
more than they did experience with the pick, shovel and axe.
Reinforcements were arriving almost daily, composed of troops
that had been hastily thrown together into companies and
regiments--fragments of incomplete organizations, the men and
officers strangers to each other. Under all these circumstances
I concluded that drill and discipline were worth more to our men
than fortifications.

General Buell was a brave, intelligent officer, with as much
professional pride and ambition of a commendable sort as I ever
knew. I had been two years at West Point with him, and had
served with him afterwards, in garrison and in the Mexican war,
several years more. He was not given in early life or in mature
years to forming intimate acquaintances. He was studious by
habit, and commanded the confidence and respect of all who knew
him. He was a strict disciplinarian, and perhaps did not
distinguish sufficiently between the volunteer who "enlisted for
the war" and the soldier who serves in time of peace. One system
embraced men who risked life for a principle, and often men of
social standing, competence, or wealth and independence of
character. The other includes, as a rule, only men who could
not do as well in any other occupation. General Buell became an
object of harsh criticism later, some going so far as to
challenge his loyalty. No one who knew him ever believed him
capable of a dishonorable act, and nothing could be more
dishonorable than to accept high rank and command in war and
then betray the trust. When I came into command of the army in
1864, I requested the Secretary of War to restore General Buell
to duty.

After the war, during the summer of 1865, I travelled
considerably through the North, and was everywhere met by large
numbers of people. Every one had his opinion about the manner
in which the war had been conducted: who among the generals had
failed, how, and why. Correspondents of the press were ever on
hand to hear every word dropped, and were not always disposed to
report correctly what did not confirm their preconceived notions,
either about the conduct of the war or the individuals concerned
in it. The opportunity frequently occurred for me to defend
General Buell against what I believed to be most unjust
charges. On one occasion a correspondent put in my mouth the
very charge I had so often refuted--of disloyalty. This brought
from General Buell a very severe retort, which I saw in the New
York World some time before I received the letter itself. I
could very well understand his grievance at seeing untrue and
disgraceful charges apparently sustained by an officer who, at
the time, was at the head of the army. I replied to him, but
not through the press. I kept no copy of my letter, nor did I
ever see it in print; neither did I receive an answer.

General Albert Sidney Johnston, who commanded the Confederate
forces at the beginning of the battle, was disabled by a wound
on the afternoon of the first day. This wound, as I understood
afterwards, was not necessarily fatal, or even dangerous. But
he was a man who would not abandon what he deemed an important
trust in the face of danger and consequently continued in the
saddle, commanding, until so exhausted by the loss of blood that
he had to be taken from his horse, and soon after died. The news
was not long in reaching our side and I suppose was quite an
encouragement to the National soldiers.

I had known Johnston slightly in the Mexican war and later as an
officer in the regular army. He was a man of high character and
ability. His contemporaries at West Point, and officers
generally who came to know him personally later and who remained
on our side, expected him to prove the most formidable man to
meet that the Confederacy would produce.

I once wrote that nothing occurred in his brief command of an
army to prove or disprove the high estimate that had been placed
upon his military ability; but after studying the orders and
dispatches of Johnston I am compelled to materially modify my
views of that officer's qualifications as a soldier. My
judgment now is that he was vacillating and undecided in his

All the disasters in Kentucky and Tennessee were so discouraging
to the authorities in Richmond that Jefferson Davis wrote an
unofficial letter to Johnston expressing his own anxiety and
that of the public, and saying that he had made such defence as
was dictated by long friendship, but that in the absence of a
report he needed facts. The letter was not a reprimand in
direct terms, but it was evidently as much felt as though it had
been one. General Johnston raised another army as rapidly as he
could, and fortified or strongly intrenched at Corinth. He knew
the National troops were preparing to attack him in his chosen
position. But he had evidently become so disturbed at the
results of his operations that he resolved to strike out in an
offensive campaign which would restore all that was lost, and if
successful accomplish still more. We have the authority of his
son and biographer for saying that his plan was to attack the
forces at Shiloh and crush them; then to cross the Tennessee and
destroy the army of Buell, and push the war across the Ohio
River. The design was a bold one; but we have the same
authority for saying that in the execution Johnston showed
vacillation and indecision. He left Corinth on the 2d of April
and was not ready to attack until the 6th. The distance his
army had to march was less than twenty miles. Beauregard, his
second in command, was opposed to the attack for two reasons:
first, he thought, if let alone the National troops would attack
the Confederates in their intrenchments; second, we were in
ground of our own choosing and would necessarily be
intrenched. Johnston not only listened to the objection of
Beauregard to an attack, but held a council of war on the
subject on the morning of the 5th. On the evening of the same
day he was in consultation with some of his generals on the same
subject, and still again on the morning of the 6th. During this
last consultation, and before a decision had been reached, the
battle began by the National troops opening fire on the enemy.
This seemed to settle the question as to whether there was to be
any battle of Shiloh. It also seems to me to settle the question
as to whether there was a surprise.

I do not question the personal courage of General Johnston, or
his ability. But he did not win the distinction predicted for
him by many of his friends. He did prove that as a general he
was over-estimated.

General Beauregard was next in rank to Johnston and succeeded to
the command, which he retained to the close of the battle and
during the subsequent retreat on Corinth, as well as in the
siege of that place. His tactics have been severely criticised
by Confederate writers, but I do not believe his fallen chief
could have done any better under the circumstances. Some of
these critics claim that Shiloh was won when Johnston fell, and
that if he had not fallen the army under me would have been
annihilated or captured. IFS defeated the Confederates at
Shiloh. There is little doubt that we would have been
disgracefully beaten IF all the shells and bullets fired by us
had passed harmlessly over the enemy and IF all of theirs had
taken effect. Commanding generals are liable to be killed
during engagements; and the fact that when he was shot Johnston
was leading a brigade to induce it to make a charge which had
been repeatedly ordered, is evidence that there was neither the
universal demoralization on our side nor the unbounded
confidence on theirs which has been claimed. There was, in
fact, no hour during the day when I doubted the eventual defeat
of the enemy, although I was disappointed that reinforcements so
near at hand did not arrive at an earlier hour.

The description of the battle of Shiloh given by Colonel Wm.
Preston Johnston is very graphic and well told. The reader will
imagine that he can see each blow struck, a demoralized and
broken mob of Union soldiers, each blow sending the enemy more
demoralized than ever towards the Tennessee River, which was a
little more than two miles away at the beginning of the onset.
If the reader does not stop to inquire why, with such
Confederate success for more than twelve hours of hard fighting,
the National troops were not all killed, captured or driven into
the river, he will regard the pen picture as perfect. But I
witnessed the fight from the National side from eight o'clock in
the morning until night closed the contest. I see but little in
the description that I can recognize. The Confederate troops
fought well and deserve commendation enough for their bravery
and endurance on the 6th of April, without detracting from their
antagonists or claiming anything more than their just dues.

The reports of the enemy show that their condition at the end of
the first day was deplorable; their losses in killed and wounded
had been very heavy, and their stragglers had been quite as
numerous as on the National side, with the difference that those
of the enemy left the field entirely and were not brought back to
their respective commands for many days. On the Union side but
few of the stragglers fell back further than the landing on the
river, and many of these were in line for duty on the second
day. The admissions of the highest Confederate officers engaged
at Shiloh make the claim of a victory for them absurd. The
victory was not to either party until the battle was over. It
was then a Union victory, in which the Armies of the Tennessee
and the Ohio both participated. But the Army of the Tennessee
fought the entire rebel army on the 6th and held it at bay until
near night; and night alone closed the conflict and not the three
regiments of Nelson's division.

The Confederates fought with courage at Shiloh, but the
particular skill claimed I could not and still cannot see;
though there is nothing to criticise except the claims put
forward for it since. But the Confederate claimants for
superiority in strategy, superiority in generalship and
superiority in dash and prowess are not so unjust to the Union
troops engaged at Shiloh as are many Northern writers. The
troops on both sides were American, and united they need not
fear any foreign foe. It is possible that the Southern man
started in with a little more dash than his Northern brother;
but he was correspondingly less enduring.

The endeavor of the enemy on the first day was simply to hurl
their men against ours--first at one point, then at another,
sometimes at several points at once. This they did with daring
and energy, until at night the rebel troops were worn out. Our
effort during the same time was to be prepared to resist
assaults wherever made. The object of the Confederates on the
second day was to get away with as much of their army and
material as possible. Ours then was to drive them from our
front, and to capture or destroy as great a part as possible of
their men and material. We were successful in driving them
back, but not so successful in captures as if farther pursuit
could have been made. As it was, we captured or recaptured on
the second day about as much artillery as we lost on the first;
and, leaving out the one great capture of Prentiss, we took more
prisoners on Monday than the enemy gained from us on Sunday. On
the 6th Sherman lost seven pieces of artillery, McClernand six,
Prentiss eight, and Hurlbut two batteries. On the 7th Sherman
captured seven guns, McClernand three and the Army of the Ohio

At Shiloh the effective strength of the Union forces on the
morning of the 6th was 33,000 men. Lew. Wallace brought 5,000
more after nightfall. Beauregard reported the enemy's strength
at 40,955. According to the custom of enumeration in the South,
this number probably excluded every man enlisted as musician or
detailed as guard or nurse, and all commissioned officers--
everybody who did not carry a musket or serve a cannon. With us
everybody in the field receiving pay from the government is
counted. Excluding the troops who fled, panic-stricken, before
they had fired a shot, there was not a time during the 6th when
we had more than 25,000 men in line. On the 7th Buell brought
20,000 more. Of his remaining two divisions, Thomas's did not
reach the field during the engagement; Wood's arrived before
firing had ceased, but not in time to be of much service.

Our loss in the two days' fight was 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded
and 2,885 missing. Of these, 2,103 were in the Army of the
Ohio. Beauregard reported a total loss of 10,699, of whom 1,728
were killed, 8,012 wounded and 957 missing. This estimate must
be incorrect. We buried, by actual count, more of the enemy's
dead in front of the divisions of McClernand and Sherman alone
than here reported, and 4,000 was the estimate of the burial
parties of the whole field. Beauregard reports the Confederate
force on the 6th at over 40,000, and their total loss during the
two days at 10,699; and at the same time declares that he could
put only 20,000 men in battle on the morning of the 7th.

The navy gave a hearty support to the army at Shiloh, as indeed
it always did both before and subsequently when I was in
command. The nature of the ground was such, however, that on
this occasion it could do nothing in aid of the troops until
sundown on the first day. The country was broken and heavily
timbered, cutting off all view of the battle from the river, so
that friends would be as much in danger from fire from the
gunboats as the foe. But about sundown, when the National
troops were back in their last position, the right of the enemy
was near the river and exposed to the fire of the two gun-boats,
which was delivered with vigor and effect. After nightfall, when
firing had entirely ceased on land, the commander of the fleet
informed himself, approximately, of the position of our troops
and suggested the idea of dropping a shell within the lines of
the enemy every fifteen minutes during the night. This was done
with effect, as is proved by the Confederate reports.

Up to the battle of Shiloh I, as well as thousands of other
citizens, believed that the rebellion against the Government
would collapse suddenly and soon, if a decisive victory could be
gained over any of its armies. Donelson and Henry were such
victories. An army of more than 21,000 men was captured or
destroyed. Bowling Green, Columbus and Hickman, Kentucky, fell
in consequence, and Clarksville and Nashville, Tennessee, the
last two with an immense amount of stores, also fell into our
hands. The Tennessee and Cumberland rivers, from their mouths
to the head of navigation, were secured. But when Confederate
armies were collected which not only attempted to hold a line
farther south, from Memphis to Chattanooga, Knoxville and on to
the Atlantic, but assumed the offensive and made such a gallant
effort to regain what had been lost, then, indeed, I gave up all
idea of saving the Union except by complete conquest. Up to that
time it had been the policy of our army, certainly of that
portion commanded by me, to protect the property of the citizens
whose territory was invaded, without regard to their sentiments,
whether Union or Secession. After this, however, I regarded it
as humane to both sides to protect the persons of those found at
their homes, but to consume everything that could be used to
support or supply armies. Protection was still continued over
such supplies as were within lines held by us and which we
expected to continue to hold; but such supplies within the reach
of Confederate armies I regarded as much contraband as arms or
ordnance stores. Their destruction was accomplished without
bloodshed and tended to the same result as the destruction of
armies. I continued this policy to the close of the war.
Promiscuous pillaging, however, was discouraged and punished.
Instructions were always given to take provisions and forage
under the direction of commissioned officers who should give
receipts to owners, if at home, and turn the property over to
officers of the quartermaster or commissary departments to be
issued as if furnished from our Northern depots. But much was
destroyed without receipts to owners, when it could not be
brought within our lines and would otherwise have gone to the
support of secession and rebellion.

This policy I believe exercised a material influence in
hastening the end.

The battle of Shiloh, or Pittsburg landing, has been perhaps
less understood, or, to state the case more accurately, more
persistently misunderstood, than any other engagement between
National and Confederate troops during the entire rebellion.
Correct reports of the battle have been published, notably by
Sherman, Badeau and, in a speech before a meeting of veterans,
by General Prentiss; but all of these appeared long subsequent
to the close of the rebellion and after public opinion had been
most erroneously formed.

I myself made no report to General Halleck, further than was
contained in a letter, written immediately after the battle
informing him that an engagement had been fought and announcing
the result. A few days afterwards General Halleck moved his
headquarters to Pittsburg landing and assumed command of the
troops in the field. Although next to him in rank, and
nominally in command of my old district and army, I was ignored
as much as if I had been at the most distant point of territory
within my jurisdiction; and although I was in command of all the
troops engaged at Shiloh I was not permitted to see one of the
reports of General Buell or his subordinates in that battle,
until they were published by the War Department long after the
event. For this reason I never made a full official report of
this engagement.



General Halleck arrived at Pittsburg landing on the 11th of
April and immediately assumed command in the field. On the 21st
General Pope arrived with an army 30,000 strong, fresh from the
capture of Island Number Ten in the Mississippi River. He went
into camp at Hamburg landing five miles above Pittsburg. Halleck
had now three armies: the Army of the Ohio, Buell commanding;
the Army of the Mississippi, Pope commanding; and the Army of
the Tennessee. His orders divided the combined force into the
right wing, reserve, centre and left wing. Major-General George
H. Thomas, who had been in Buell's army, was transferred with
his division to the Army of the Tennessee and given command of
the right wing, composed of all of that army except McClernand's
and Lew. Wallace's divisions. McClernand was assigned to the
command of the reserve, composed of his own and Lew. Wallace's
divisions. Buell commanded the centre, the Army of the Ohio;
and Pope the left wing, the Army of the Mississippi. I was
named second in command of the whole, and was also supposed to
be in command of the right wing and reserve.

Orders were given to all the commanders engaged at Shiloh to
send in their reports without delay to department
headquarters. Those from officers of the Army of the Tennessee
were sent through me; but from the Army of the Ohio they were
sent by General Buell without passing through my hands. General
Halleck ordered me, verbally, to send in my report, but I
positively declined on the ground that he had received the
reports of a part of the army engaged at Shiloh without their
coming through me. He admitted that my refusal was justifiable
under the circumstances, but explained that he had wanted to get
the reports off before moving the command, and as fast as a
report had come to him he had forwarded it to Washington.

Preparations were at once made upon the arrival of the new
commander for an advance on Corinth. Owl Creek, on our right,
was bridged, and expeditions were sent to the north-west and
west to ascertain if our position was being threatened from
those quarters; the roads towards Corinth were corduroyed and
new ones made; lateral roads were also constructed, so that in
case of necessity troops marching by different routes could
reinforce each other. All commanders were cautioned against
bringing on an engagement and informed in so many words that it
would be better to retreat than to fight. By the 30th of April
all preparations were complete; the country west to the Mobile
and Ohio railroad had been reconnoitred, as well as the road to
Corinth as far as Monterey twelve miles from Pittsburg.
Everywhere small bodies of the enemy had been encountered, but
they were observers and not in force to fight battles.

Corinth, Mississippi, lies in a south-westerly direction from
Pittsburg landing and about nineteen miles away as the bird
would fly, but probably twenty-two by the nearest wagon-road. It
is about four miles south of the line dividing the States of
Tennessee and Mississippi, and at the junction of the
Mississippi and Chattanooga railroad with the Mobile and Ohio
road which runs from Columbus to Mobile. From Pittsburg to
Corinth the land is rolling, but at no point reaching an
elevation that makes high hills to pass over. In 1862 the
greater part of the country was covered with forest with
intervening clearings and houses. Underbrush was dense in the
low grounds along the creeks and ravines, but generally not so
thick on the high land as to prevent men passing through with
ease. There are two small creeks running from north of the town
and connecting some four miles south, where they form Bridge
Creek which empties into the Tuscumbia River. Corinth is on the
ridge between these streams and is a naturally strong defensive
position. The creeks are insignificant in volume of water, but
the stream to the east widens out in front of the town into a
swamp impassable in the presence of an enemy. On the crest of
the west bank of this stream the enemy was strongly intrenched.

Corinth was a valuable strategic point for the enemy to hold,
and consequently a valuable one for us to possess ourselves
of. We ought to have seized it immediately after the fall of
Donelson and Nashville, when it could have been taken without a
battle, but failing then it should have been taken, without
delay on the concentration of troops at Pittsburg landing after
the battle of Shiloh. In fact the arrival of Pope should not
have been awaited. There was no time from the battle of Shiloh
up to the evacuation of Corinth when the enemy would not have
left if pushed. The demoralization among the Confederates from
their defeats at Henry and Donelson; their long marches from
Bowling Green, Columbus, and Nashville, and their failure at
Shiloh; in fact from having been driven out of Kentucky and
Tennessee, was so great that a stand for the time would have
been impossible. Beauregard made strenuous efforts to reinforce
himself and partially succeeded. He appealed to the people of
the South-west for new regiments, and received a few. A. S.
Johnston had made efforts to reinforce in the same quarter,
before the battle of Shiloh, but in a different way. He had
negroes sent out to him to take the place of teamsters, company
cooks and laborers in every capacity, so as to put all his white
men into the ranks. The people, while willing to send their sons
to the field, were not willing to part with their negroes. It is
only fair to state that they probably wanted their blacks to
raise supplies for the army and for the families left at home.

Beauregard, however, was reinforced by Van Dorn immediately
after Shiloh with 17,000 men. Interior points, less exposed,
were also depleted to add to the strength at Corinth. With
these reinforcements and the new regiments, Beauregard had,
during the month of May, 1862, a large force on paper, but
probably not much over 50,000 effective men. We estimated his
strength at 70,000. Our own was, in round numbers, 120,000. The
defensible nature of the ground at Corinth, and the
fortifications, made 50,000 then enough to maintain their
position against double that number for an indefinite time but
for the demoralization spoken of.

On the 30th of April the grand army commenced its advance from
Shiloh upon Corinth. The movement was a siege from the start to
the close. The National troops were always behind intrenchments,
except of course the small reconnoitring parties sent to the
front to clear the way for an advance. Even the commanders of
these parties were cautioned, "not to bring on an engagement."
"It is better to retreat than to fight." The enemy were
constantly watching our advance, but as they were simply
observers there were but few engagements that even threatened to
become battles. All the engagements fought ought to have served
to encourage the enemy. Roads were again made in our front, and
again corduroyed; a line was intrenched, and the troops were
advanced to the new position. Cross roads were constructed to
these new positions to enable the troops to concentrate in case
of attack. The National armies were thoroughly intrenched all
the way from the Tennessee River to Corinth.

For myself I was little more than an observer. Orders were sent
direct to the right wing or reserve, ignoring me, and advances
were made from one line of intrenchments to another without
notifying me. My position was so embarrassing in fact that I
made several applications during the siege to be relieved.

General Halleck kept his headquarters generally, if not all the
time, with the right wing. Pope being on the extreme left did
not see so much of his chief, and consequently got loose as it
were at times. On the 3d of May he was at Seven Mile Creek with
the main body of his command, but threw forward a division to
Farmington, within four miles of Corinth. His troops had quite
a little engagement at Farmington on that day, but carried the
place with considerable loss to the enemy. There would then
have been no difficulty in advancing the centre and right so as
to form a new line well up to the enemy, but Pope was ordered
back to conform with the general line. On the 8th of May he
moved again, taking his whole force to Farmington, and pushed
out two divisions close to the rebel line. Again he was ordered
back. By the 4th of May the centre and right wing reached
Monterey, twelve miles out. Their advance was slow from there,
for they intrenched with every forward movement. The left wing
moved up again on the 25th of May and intrenched itself close to
the enemy. The creek with the marsh before described, separated
the two lines. Skirmishers thirty feet apart could have
maintained either line at this point.

Our centre and right were, at this time, extended so that the
right of the right wing was probably five miles from Corinth and
four from the works in their front. The creek, which was a
formidable obstacle for either side to pass on our left, became
a very slight obstacle on our right. Here the enemy occupied
two positions. One of them, as much as two miles out from his
main line, was on a commanding elevation and defended by an
intrenched battery with infantry supports. A heavy wood
intervened between this work and the National forces. In rear
to the south there was a clearing extending a mile or more, and
south of this clearing a log-house which had been loop-holed and
was occupied by infantry. Sherman's division carried these two
positions with some loss to himself, but with probably greater
to the enemy, on the 28th of May, and on that day the investment
of Corinth was complete, or as complete as it was ever made.
Thomas' right now rested west of the Mobile and Ohio railroad.
Pope's left commanded the Memphis and Charleston railroad east
of Corinth.

Some days before I had suggested to the commanding general that
I thought if he would move the Army of the Mississippi at night,
by the rear of the centre and right, ready to advance at
daylight, Pope would find no natural obstacle in his front and,
I believed, no serious artificial one. The ground, or works,
occupied by our left could be held by a thin picket line, owing
to the stream and swamp in front. To the right the troops would
have a dry ridge to march over. I was silenced so quickly that I
felt that possibly I had suggested an unmilitary movement.

Later, probably on the 28th of May, General Logan, whose command
was then on the Mobile and Ohio railroad, said to me that the
enemy had been evacuating for several days and that if allowed
he could go into Corinth with his brigade. Trains of cars were
heard coming in and going out of Corinth constantly. Some of
the men who had been engaged in various capacities on railroads
before the war claimed that they could tell, by putting their
ears to the rail, not only which way the trains were moving but
which trains were loaded and which were empty. They said loaded
trains had been going out for several days and empty ones coming
in. Subsequent events proved the correctness of their
judgment. Beauregard published his orders for the evacuation of
Corinth on the 26th of May and fixed the 29th for the departure
of his troops, and on the 30th of May General Halleck had his
whole army drawn up prepared for battle and announced in orders
that there was every indication that our left was to be attacked
that morning. Corinth had already been evacuated and the
National troops marched on and took possession without
opposition. Everything had been destroyed or carried away. The
Confederate commander had instructed his soldiers to cheer on the
arrival of every train to create the impression among the Yankees
that reinforcements were arriving. There was not a sick or
wounded man left by the Confederates, nor stores of any kind.
Some ammunition had been blown up--not removed--but the trophies
of war were a few Quaker guns, logs of about the diameter of
ordinary cannon, mounted on wheels of wagons and pointed in the
most threatening manner towards us.

The possession of Corinth by the National troops was of
strategic importance, but the victory was barren in every other
particular. It was nearly bloodless. It is a question whether
the MORALE of the Confederate troops engaged at Corinth was not
improved by the immunity with which they were permitted to
remove all public property and then withdraw themselves. On our
side I know officers and men of the Army of the Tennessee--and I
presume the same is true of those of the other commands--were
disappointed at the result. They could not see how the mere
occupation of places was to close the war while large and
effective rebel armies existed. They believed that a well-
directed attack would at least have partially destroyed the army
defending Corinth. For myself I am satisfied that Corinth could
have been captured in a two days' campaign commenced promptly on
the arrival of reinforcements after the battle of Shiloh.

General Halleck at once commenced erecting fortifications around
Corinth on a scale to indicate that this one point must be held
if it took the whole National army to do it. All commanding
points two or three miles to the south, south-east and
south-west were strongly fortified. It was expected in case of
necessity to connect these forts by rifle-pits. They were laid
out on a scale that would have required 100,000 men to fully man
them. It was probably thought that a final battle of the war
would be fought at that point. These fortifications were never
used. Immediately after the occupation of Corinth by the
National troops, General Pope was sent in pursuit of the
retreating garrison and General Buell soon followed. Buell was
the senior of the two generals and commanded the entire
column. The pursuit was kept up for some thirty miles, but did
not result in the capture of any material of war or prisoners,
unless a few stragglers who had fallen behind and were willing
captives. On the 10th of June the pursuing column was all back
at Corinth. The Army of the Tennessee was not engaged in any of
these movements.

The Confederates were now driven out of West Tennessee, and on
the 6th of June, after a well-contested naval battle, the
National forces took possession of Memphis and held the
Mississippi river from its source to that point. The railroad
from Columbus to Corinth was at once put in good condition and
held by us. We had garrisons at Donelson, Clarksville and
Nashville, on the Cumberland River, and held the Tennessee River
from its mouth to Eastport. New Orleans and Baton Rouge had
fallen into the possession of the National forces, so that now
the Confederates at the west were narrowed down for all
communication with Richmond to the single line of road running
east from Vicksburg. To dispossess them of this, therefore,
became a matter of the first importance. The possession of the
Mississippi by us from Memphis to Baton Rouge was also a most
important object. It would be equal to the amputation of a limb
in its weakening effects upon the enemy.

After the capture of Corinth a movable force of 80,000 men,
besides enough to hold all the territory acquired, could have
been set in motion for the accomplishment of any great campaign
for the suppression of the rebellion. In addition to this fresh
troops were being raised to swell the effective force. But the
work of depletion commenced. Buell with the Army of the Ohio
was sent east, following the line of the Memphis and Charleston
railroad. This he was ordered to repair as he advanced--only to
have it destroyed by small guerilla bands or other troops as soon
as he was out of the way. If he had been sent directly to
Chattanooga as rapidly as he could march, leaving two or three
divisions along the line of the railroad from Nashville forward,
he could have arrived with but little fighting, and would have
saved much of the loss of life which was afterwards incurred in
gaining Chattanooga. Bragg would then not have had time to
raise an army to contest the possession of middle and east
Tennessee and Kentucky; the battles of Stone River and
Chickamauga would not necessarily have been fought; Burnside
would not have been besieged in Knoxville without the power of
helping himself or escaping; the battle of Chattanooga would not
have been fought. These are the negative advantages, if the term
negative is applicable, which would probably have resulted from
prompt movements after Corinth fell into the possession of the
National forces. The positive results might have been: a
bloodless advance to Atlanta, to Vicksburg, or to any other
desired point south of Corinth in the interior of Mississippi.



My position at Corinth, with a nominal command and yet no
command, became so unbearable that I asked permission of Halleck
to remove my headquarters to Memphis. I had repeatedly asked,
between the fall of Donelson and the evacuation of Corinth, to
be relieved from duty under Halleck; but all my applications
were refused until the occupation of the town. I then obtained
permission to leave the department, but General Sherman happened
to call on me as I was about starting and urged me so strongly
not to think of going, that I concluded to remain. My
application to be permitted to remove my headquarters to Memphis
was, however, approved, and on the 21st of June I started for
that point with my staff and a cavalry escort of only a part of
one company. There was a detachment of two or three companies
going some twenty-five miles west to be stationed as a guard to
the railroad. I went under cover of this escort to the end of
their march, and the next morning proceeded to La Grange with no
convoy but the few cavalry men I had with me.

From La Grange to Memphis the distance is forty-seven miles.
There were no troops stationed between these two points, except
a small force guarding a working party which was engaged in
repairing the railroad. Not knowing where this party would be
found I halted at La Grange. General Hurlbut was in command
there at the time and had his headquarters tents pitched on the
lawn of a very commodious country house. The proprietor was at
home and, learning of my arrival, he invited General Hurlbut and
me to dine with him. I accepted the invitation and spent a very
pleasant afternoon with my host, who was a thorough Southern
gentleman fully convinced of the justice of secession. After
dinner, seated in the capacious porch, he entertained me with a
recital of the services he was rendering the cause. He was too
old to be in the ranks himself--he must have been quite seventy
then--but his means enabled him to be useful in other ways. In
ordinary times the homestead where he was now living produced
the bread and meat to supply the slaves on his main plantation,
in the low-lands of Mississippi. Now he raised food and forage
on both places, and thought he would have that year a surplus
sufficient to feed three hundred families of poor men who had
gone into the war and left their families dependent upon the
"patriotism" of those better off. The crops around me looked
fine, and I had at the moment an idea that about the time they
were ready to be gathered the "Yankee" troops would be in the
neighborhood and harvest them for the benefit of those engaged
in the suppression of the rebellion instead of its support. I
felt, however, the greatest respect for the candor of my host
and for his zeal in a cause he thoroughly believed in, though
our views were as wide apart as it is possible to conceive.

The 23d of June, 1862, on the road from La Grange to Memphis was
very warm, even for that latitude and season. With my staff and
small escort I started at an early hour, and before noon we
arrived within twenty miles of Memphis. At this point I saw a
very comfortable-looking white-haired gentleman seated at the
front of his house, a little distance from the road. I let my
staff and escort ride ahead while I halted and, for an excuse,
asked for a glass of water. I was invited at once to dismount
and come in. I found my host very genial and communicative, and
staid longer than I had intended, until the lady of the house
announced dinner and asked me to join them. The host, however,
was not pressing, so that I declined the invitation and,
mounting my horse, rode on.

About a mile west from where I had been stopping a road comes up
from the southeast, joining that from La Grange to Memphis. A
mile west of this junction I found my staff and escort halted
and enjoying the shade of forest trees on the lawn of a house
located several hundred feet back from the road, their horses
hitched to the fence along the line of the road. I, too,
stopped and we remained there until the cool of the afternoon,
and then rode into Memphis.

The gentleman with whom I had stopped twenty miles from Memphis
was a Mr. De Loche, a man loyal to the Union. He had not
pressed me to tarry longer with him because in the early part of
my visit a neighbor, a Dr. Smith, had called and, on being
presented to me, backed off the porch as if something had hit
him. Mr. De Loche knew that the rebel General Jackson was in
that neighborhood with a detachment of cavalry. His neighbor
was as earnest in the southern cause as was Mr. De Loche in that
of the Union. The exact location of Jackson was entirely unknown
to Mr. De Loche; but he was sure that his neighbor would know it
and would give information of my presence, and this made my stay
unpleasant to him after the call of Dr. Smith.

I have stated that a detachment of troops was engaged in
guarding workmen who were repairing the railroad east of
Memphis. On the day I entered Memphis, Jackson captured a small
herd of beef cattle which had been sent east for the troops so
engaged. The drovers were not enlisted men and he released
them. A day or two after one of these drovers came to my
headquarters and, relating the circumstances of his capture,
said Jackson was very much disappointed that he had not captured
me; that he was six or seven miles south of the Memphis and
Charleston railroad when he learned that I was stopping at the
house of Mr. De Loche, and had ridden with his command to the
junction of the road he was on with that from La Grange and
Memphis, where he learned that I had passed three-quarters of an
hour before. He thought it would be useless to pursue with jaded
horses a well-mounted party with so much of a start. Had he gone
three-quarters of a mile farther he would have found me with my
party quietly resting under the shade of trees and without even
arms in our hands with which to defend ourselves.

General Jackson of course did not communicate his disappointment
at not capturing me to a prisoner, a young drover; but from the
talk among the soldiers the facts related were learned. A day
or two later Mr. De Loche called on me in Memphis to apologize
for his apparent incivility in not insisting on my staying for
dinner. He said that his wife accused him of marked
discourtesy, but that, after the call of his neighbor, he had
felt restless until I got away. I never met General Jackson
before the war, nor during it, but have met him since at his
very comfortable summer home at Manitou Springs, Colorado. I
reminded him of the above incident, and this drew from him the
response that he was thankful now he had not captured me. I
certainly was very thankful too.

My occupation of Memphis as district headquarters did not last
long. The period, however, was marked by a few incidents which
were novel to me. Up to that time I had not occupied any place
in the South where the citizens were at home in any great
numbers. Dover was within the fortifications at Fort Donelson,
and, as far as I remember, every citizen was gone. There were
no people living at Pittsburg landing, and but very few at
Corinth. Memphis, however, was a populous city, and there were
many of the citizens remaining there who were not only
thoroughly impressed with the justice of their cause, but who
thought that even the "Yankee soldiery" must entertain the same
views if they could only be induced to make an honest
confession. It took hours of my time every day to listen to
complaints and requests. The latter were generally reasonable,
and if so they were granted; but the complaints were not always,
or even often, well founded. Two instances will mark the general
character. First: the officer who commanded at Memphis
immediately after the city fell into the hands of the National
troops had ordered one of the churches of the city to be opened
to the soldiers. Army chaplains were authorized to occupy the
pulpit. Second: at the beginning of the war the Confederate
Congress had passed a law confiscating all property of "alien
enemies" at the South, including the debts of Southerners to
Northern men. In consequence of this law, when Memphis was
occupied the provost-marshal had forcibly collected all the
evidences he could obtain of such debts.

Almost the first complaints made to me were these two
outrages. The gentleman who made the complaints informed me
first of his own high standing as a lawyer, a citizen and a
Christian. He was a deacon in the church which had been defiled
by the occupation of Union troops, and by a Union chaplain
filling the pulpit. He did not use the word "defile," but he
expressed the idea very clearly. He asked that the church be
restored to the former congregation. I told him that no order
had been issued prohibiting the congregation attending the
church. He said of course the congregation could not hear a
Northern clergyman who differed so radically with them on
questions of government. I told him the troops would continue
to occupy that church for the present, and that they would not
be called upon to hear disloyal sentiments proclaimed from the
pulpit. This closed the argument on the first point.

Then came the second. The complainant said that he wanted the
papers restored to him which had been surrendered to the
provost-marshal under protest; he was a lawyer, and before the
establishment of the "Confederate States Government" had been
the attorney for a number of large business houses at the North;
that "his government" had confiscated all debts due "alien
enemies," and appointed commissioners, or officers, to collect
such debts and pay them over to the "government": but in his
case, owing to his high standing, he had been permitted to hold
these claims for collection, the responsible officials knowing
that he would account to the "government" for every dollar
received. He said that his "government," when it came in
possession of all its territory, would hold him personally
responsible for the claims he had surrendered to the provost-
marshal. His impudence was so sublime that I was rather amused
than indignant. I told him, however, that if he would remain in
Memphis I did not believe the Confederate government would ever
molest him. He left, no doubt, as much amazed at my assurance
as I was at the brazenness of his request.

On the 11th of July General Halleck received telegraphic orders
appointing him to the command of all the armies, with
headquarters in Washington. His instructions pressed him to
proceed to his new field of duty with as little delay as was
consistent with the safety and interests of his previous
command. I was next in rank, and he telegraphed me the same day
to report at department headquarters at Corinth. I was not
informed by the dispatch that my chief had been ordered to a
different field and did not know whether to move my headquarters
or not. I telegraphed asking if I was to take my staff with me,
and received word in reply: "This place will be your
headquarters. You can judge for yourself." I left Memphis for
my new field without delay, and reached Corinth on the 15th of
the month. General Halleck remained until the 17th of July; but
he was very uncommunicative, and gave me no information as to
what I had been called to Corinth for.

When General Halleck left to assume the duties of
general-in-chief I remained in command of the district of West
Tennessee. Practically I became a department commander, because
no one was assigned to that position over me and I made my
reports direct to the general-in-chief; but I was not assigned
to the position of department commander until the 25th of
October. General Halleck while commanding the Department of the
Mississippi had had control as far east as a line drawn from
Chattanooga north. My district only embraced West Tennessee and
Kentucky west of the Cumberland River. Buell, with the Army of
the Ohio, had, as previously stated, been ordered east towards
Chattanooga, with instructions to repair the Memphis and
Charleston railroad as he advanced. Troops had been sent north
by Halleck along the line of the Mobile and Ohio railroad to put
it in repair as far as Columbus. Other troops were stationed on
the railroad from Jackson, Tennessee, to Grand Junction, and
still others on the road west to Memphis.

The remainder of the magnificent army of 120,000 men which
entered Corinth on the 30th of May had now become so scattered
that I was put entirely on the defensive in a territory whose
population was hostile to the Union. One of the first things I
had to do was to construct fortifications at Corinth better
suited to the garrison that could be spared to man them. The
structures that had been built during the months of May and June
were left as monuments to the skill of the engineer, and others
were constructed in a few days, plainer in design but suited to
the command available to defend them.

I disposed the troops belonging to the district in conformity
with the situation as rapidly as possible. The forces at
Donelson, Clarksville and Nashville, with those at Corinth and
along the railroad eastward, I regarded as sufficient for
protection against any attack from the west. The Mobile and
Ohio railroad was guarded from Rienzi, south of Corinth, to
Columbus; and the Mississippi Central railroad from Jackson,
Tennessee, to Bolivar. Grand Junction and La Grange on the
Memphis railroad were abandoned.

South of the Army of the Tennessee, and confronting it, was Van
Dorn, with a sufficient force to organize a movable army of
thirty-five to forty thousand men, after being reinforced by
Price from Missouri. This movable force could be thrown against
either Corinth, Bolivar or Memphis; and the best that could be
done in such event would be to weaken the points not threatened
in order to reinforce the one that was. Nothing could be gained
on the National side by attacking elsewhere, because the
territory already occupied was as much as the force present
could guard. The most anxious period of the war, to me, was
during the time the Army of the Tennessee was guarding the
territory acquired by the fall of Corinth and Memphis and before
I was sufficiently reinforced to take the offensive. The enemy
also had cavalry operating in our rear, making it necessary to
guard every point of the railroad back to Columbus, on the
security of which we were dependent for all our supplies.
Headquarters were connected by telegraph with all points of the
command except Memphis and the Mississippi below Columbus. With
these points communication was had by the railroad to Columbus,
then down the river by boat. To reinforce Memphis would take
three or four days, and to get an order there for troops to move
elsewhere would have taken at least two days. Memphis therefore
was practically isolated from the balance of the command. But
it was in Sherman's hands. Then too the troops were well
intrenched and the gunboats made a valuable auxiliary.

During the two months after the departure of General Halleck
there was much fighting between small bodies of the contending
armies, but these encounters were dwarfed by the magnitude of
the main battles so as to be now almost forgotten except by
those engaged in them. Some of them, however, estimated by the
losses on both sides in killed and wounded, were equal in hard
fighting to most of the battles of the Mexican war which
attracted so much of the attention of the public when they
occurred. About the 23d of July Colonel Ross, commanding at
Bolivar, was threatened by a large force of the enemy so that he
had to be reinforced from Jackson and Corinth. On the 27th there
was skirmishing on the Hatchie River, eight miles from Bolivar.
On the 30th I learned from Colonel P. H. Sheridan, who had been
far to the south, that Bragg in person was at Rome, Georgia,
with his troops moving by rail (by way of Mobile) to Chattanooga
and his wagon train marching overland to join him at Rome. Price
was at this time at Holly Springs, Mississippi, with a large
force, and occupied Grand Junction as an outpost. I proposed to
the general-in-chief to be permitted to drive him away, but was
informed that, while I had to judge for myself, the best use to
make of my troops WAS NOT TO SCATTER THEM, but hold them ready
to reinforce Buell.

The movement of Bragg himself with his wagon trains to
Chattanooga across country, while his troops were transported
over a long round-about road to the same destination, without
need of guards except when in my immediate front, demonstrates
the advantage which troops enjoy while acting in a country where
the people are friendly. Buell was marching through a hostile
region and had to have his communications thoroughly guarded
back to a base of supplies. More men were required the farther
the National troops penetrated into the enemy's country. I,
with an army sufficiently powerful to have destroyed Bragg, was
purely on the defensive and accomplishing no more than to hold a
force far inferior to my own.

On the 2d of August I was ordered from Washington to live upon
the country, on the resources of citizens hostile to the
government, so far as practicable. I was also directed to
"handle rebels within our lines without gloves," to imprison
them, or to expel them from their homes and from our lines. I
do not recollect having arrested and confined a citizen (not a
soldier) during the entire rebellion. I am aware that a great
many were sent to northern prisons, particularly to Joliet,
Illinois, by some of my subordinates with the statement that it
was my order. I had all such released the moment I learned of
their arrest; and finally sent a staff officer north to release
every prisoner who was said to be confined by my order. There
were many citizens at home who deserved punishment because they
were soldiers when an opportunity was afforded to inflict an
injury to the National cause. This class was not of the kind
that were apt to get arrested, and I deemed it better that a few
guilty men should escape than that a great many innocent ones
should suffer.

On the 14th of August I was ordered to send two more divisions
to Buell. They were sent the same day by way of Decatur. On
the 22d Colonel Rodney Mason surrendered Clarksville with six
companies of his regiment.

Colonel Mason was one of the officers who had led their
regiments off the field at almost the first fire of the rebels
at Shiloh. He was by nature and education a gentleman, and was
terribly mortified at his action when the battle was over. He
came to me with tears in his eyes and begged to be allowed to
have another trial. I felt great sympathy for him and sent him,
with his regiment, to garrison Clarksville and Donelson. He
selected Clarksville for his headquarters, no doubt because he
regarded it as the post of danger, it being nearer the enemy.
But when he was summoned to surrender by a band of guerillas,
his constitutional weakness overcame him. He inquired the
number of men the enemy had, and receiving a response indicating
a force greater than his own he said if he could be satisfied of
that fact he would surrender. Arrangements were made for him to
count the guerillas, and having satisfied himself that the enemy
had the greater force he surrendered and informed his
subordinate at Donelson of the fact, advising him to do the
same. The guerillas paroled their prisoners and moved upon
Donelson, but the officer in command at that point marched out
to meet them and drove them away.

Among other embarrassments, at the time of which I now write,
was the fact that the government wanted to get out all the
cotton possible from the South and directed me to give every
facility toward that end. Pay in gold was authorized, and
stations on the Mississippi River and on the railroad in our
possession had to be designated where cotton would be
received. This opened to the enemy not only the means of
converting cotton into money, which had a value all over the
world and which they so much needed, but it afforded them means
of obtaining accurate and intelligent information in regard to
our position and strength. It was also demoralizing to the
troops. Citizens obtaining permits from the treasury department
had to be protected within our lines and given facilities to get
out cotton by which they realized enormous profits. Men who had
enlisted to fight the battles of their country did not like to be
engaged in protecting a traffic which went to the support of an
enemy they had to fight, and the profits of which went to men
who shared none of their dangers.

On the 30th of August Colonel M. D. Leggett, near Bolivar, with
the 20th and 29th Ohio volunteer infantry, was attacked by a
force supposed to be about 4,000 strong. The enemy was driven
away with a loss of more than one hundred men. On the 1st of
September the bridge guard at Medon was attacked by guerillas.
The guard held the position until reinforced, when the enemy
were routed leaving about fifty of their number on the field
dead or wounded, our loss being only two killed and fifteen
wounded. On the same day Colonel Dennis, with a force of less
than 500 infantry and two pieces of artillery, met the cavalry
of the enemy in strong force, a few miles west of Medon, and
drove them away with great loss. Our troops buried 179 of the
enemy's dead, left upon the field. Afterwards it was found that
all the houses in the vicinity of the battlefield were turned
into hospitals for the wounded. Our loss, as reported at the
time, was forty-five killed and wounded. On the 2d of September
I was ordered to send more reinforcements to Buell. Jackson and
Bolivar were yet threatened, but I sent the reinforcements. On
the 4th I received direct orders to send Granger's division also
to Louisville, Kentucky.

General Buell had left Corinth about the 10th of June to march
upon Chattanooga; Bragg, who had superseded Beauregard in
command, sent one division from Tupelo on the 27th of June for
the same place. This gave Buell about seventeen days' start. If
he had not been required to repair the railroad as he advanced,
the march could have been made in eighteen days at the outside,
and Chattanooga must have been reached by the National forces
before the rebels could have possibly got there. The road
between Nashville and Chattanooga could easily have been put in
repair by other troops, so that communication with the North
would have been opened in a short time after the occupation of
the place by the National troops. If Buell had been permitted
to move in the first instance, with the whole of the Army of the
Ohio and that portion of the Army of the Mississippi afterwards
sent to him, he could have thrown four divisions from his own
command along the line of road to repair and guard it.

Granger's division was promptly sent on the 4th of September. I
was at the station at Corinth when the troops reached that point,
and found General P. H. Sheridan with them. I expressed surprise
at seeing him and said that I had not expected him to go. He
showed decided disappointment at the prospect of being
detained. I felt a little nettled at his desire to get away and
did not detain him.

Sheridan was a first lieutenant in the regiment in which I had
served eleven years, the 4th infantry, and stationed on the
Pacific coast when the war broke out. He was promoted to a
captaincy in May, 1861, and before the close of the year managed
in some way, I do not know how, to get East. He went to
Missouri. Halleck had known him as a very successful young
officer in managing campaigns against the Indians on the Pacific
coast, and appointed him acting-quartermaster in south-west
Missouri. There was no difficulty in getting supplies forward
while Sheridan served in that capacity; but he got into
difficulty with his immediate superiors because of his stringent
rules for preventing the use of public transportation for private
purposes. He asked to be relieved from further duty in the
capacity in which he was engaged and his request was granted.
When General Halleck took the field in April, 1862, Sheridan was
assigned to duty on his staff. During the advance on Corinth a
vacancy occurred in the colonelcy of the 2d Michigan cavalry.
Governor Blair, of Michigan, telegraphed General Halleck asking
him to suggest the name of a professional soldier for the
vacancy, saying he would appoint a good man without reference to
his State. Sheridan was named; and was so conspicuously
efficient that when Corinth was reached he was assigned to
command a cavalry brigade in the Army of the Mississippi. He
was in command at Booneville on the 1st of July with two small
regiments, when he was attacked by a force full three times as
numerous as his own. By very skilful manoeuvres and boldness of
attack he completely routed the enemy. For this he was made a
brigadier-general and became a conspicuous figure in the army
about Corinth. On this account I was sorry to see him leaving
me. His departure was probably fortunate, for he rendered
distinguished services in his new field.

Granger and Sheridan reached Louisville before Buell got there,
and on the night of their arrival Sheridan with his command
threw up works around the railroad station for the defence of
troops as they came from the front.



At this time, September 4th, I had two divisions of the Army of
the Mississippi stationed at Corinth, Rienzi, Jacinto and
Danville. There were at Corinth also Davies' division and two
brigades of McArthur's, besides cavalry and artillery. This
force constituted my left wing, of which Rosecrans was in
command. General Ord commanded the centre, from Bethel to
Humboldt on the Mobile and Ohio railroad and from Jackson to
Bolivar where the Mississippi Central is crossed by the Hatchie
River. General Sherman commanded on the right at Memphis with
two of his brigades back at Brownsville, at the crossing of the
Hatchie River by the Memphis and Ohio railroad. This made the
most convenient arrangement I could devise for concentrating all
my spare forces upon any threatened point. All the troops of the
command were within telegraphic communication of each other,
except those under Sherman. By bringing a portion of his
command to Brownsville, from which point there was a railroad
and telegraph back to Memphis, communication could be had with
that part of my command within a few hours by the use of
couriers. In case it became necessary to reinforce Corinth, by
this arrangement all the troops at Bolivar, except a small
guard, could be sent by rail by the way of Jackson in less than
twenty-four hours; while the troops from Brownsville could march
up to Bolivar to take their place.

On the 7th of September I learned of the advance of Van Dorn and
Price, apparently upon Corinth. One division was brought from
Memphis to Bolivar to meet any emergency that might arise from
this move of the enemy. I was much concerned because my first
duty, after holding the territory acquired within my command,
was to prevent further reinforcing of Bragg in Middle
Tennessee. Already the Army of Northern Virginia had defeated
the army under General Pope and was invading Maryland. In the
Centre General Buell was on his way to Louisville and Bragg
marching parallel to him with a large Confederate force for the
Ohio River.

I had been constantly called upon to reinforce Buell until at
this time my entire force numbered less than 50,000 men, of all
arms. This included everything from Cairo south within my
jurisdiction. If I too should be driven back, the Ohio River
would become the line dividing the belligerents west of the
Alleghanies, while at the East the line was already farther
north than when hostilities commenced at the opening of the
war. It is true Nashville was never given up after its first
capture, but it would have been isolated and the garrison there
would have been obliged to beat a hasty retreat if the troops in
West Tennessee had been compelled to fall back. To say at the
end of the second year of the war the line dividing the
contestants at the East was pushed north of Maryland, a State
that had not seceded, and at the West beyond Kentucky, another
State which had been always loyal, would have been discouraging
indeed. As it was, many loyal people despaired in the fall of
1862 of ever saving the Union. The administration at Washington
was much concerned for the safety of the cause it held so dear.
But I believe there was never a day when the President did not
think that, in some way or other, a cause so just as ours would
come out triumphant.

Up to the 11th of September Rosecrans still had troops on the
railroad east of Corinth, but they had all been ordered in. By
the 12th all were in except a small force under Colonel Murphy
of the 8th Wisconsin. He had been detained to guard the
remainder of the stores which had not yet been brought in to

On the 13th of September General Sterling Price entered Iuka, a
town about twenty miles east of Corinth on the Memphis and
Charleston railroad. Colonel Murphy with a few men was guarding
the place. He made no resistance, but evacuated the town on the
approach of the enemy. I was apprehensive lest the object of
the rebels might be to get troops into Tennessee to reinforce
Bragg, as it was afterwards ascertained to be. The authorities
at Washington, including the general-in-chief of the army, were
very anxious, as I have said, about affairs both in East and
Middle Tennessee; and my anxiety was quite as great on their
account as for any danger threatening my command. I had not
force enough at Corinth to attack Price even by stripping
everything; and there was danger that before troops could be got
from other points he might be far on his way across the
Tennessee. To prevent this all spare forces at Bolivar and
Jackson were ordered to Corinth, and cars were concentrated at
Jackson for their transportation. Within twenty-four hours from
the transmission of the order the troops were at their
destination, although there had been a delay of four hours
resulting from the forward train getting off the track and
stopping all the others. This gave a reinforcement of near
8,000 men, General Ord in command. General Rosecrans commanded
the district of Corinth with a movable force of about 9,000
independent of the garrison deemed necessary to be left
behind. It was known that General Van Dorn was about a four
days' march south of us, with a large force. It might have been
part of his plan to attack at Corinth, Price coming from the east
while he came up from the south. My desire was to attack Price
before Van Dorn could reach Corinth or go to his relief.

General Rosecrans had previously had his headquarters at Iuka,
where his command was spread out along the Memphis and
Charleston railroad eastward. While there he had a most
excellent map prepared showing all the roads and streams in the
surrounding country. He was also personally familiar with the
ground, so that I deferred very much to him in my plans for the
approach. We had cars enough to transport all of General Ord's
command, which was to go by rail to Burnsville, a point on the
road about seven miles west of Iuka. From there his troops were
to march by the north side of the railroad and attack Price from
the north-west, while Rosecrans was to move eastward from his
position south of Corinth by way of the Jacinto road. A small
force was to hold the Jacinto road where it turns to the
north-east, while the main force moved on the Fulton road which
comes into Iuka further east. This plan was suggested by

Bear Creek, a few miles to the east of the Fulton road, is a
formidable obstacle to the movement of troops in the absence of
bridges, all of which, in September, 1862, had been destroyed in
that vicinity. The Tennessee, to the north-east, not many miles
away, was also a formidable obstacle for an army followed by a
pursuing force. Ord was on the north-west, and even if a rebel
movement had been possible in that direction it could have
brought only temporary relief, for it would have carried Price's
army to the rear of the National forces and isolated it from all
support. It looked to me that, if Price would remain in Iuka
until we could get there, his annihilation was inevitable.

On the morning of the 18th of September General Ord moved by
rail to Burnsville, and there left the cars and moved out to
perform his part of the programme. He was to get as near the
enemy as possible during the day and intrench himself so as to
hold his position until the next morning. Rosecrans was to be
up by the morning of the 19th on the two roads before described,
and the attack was to be from all three quarters
simultaneously. Troops enough were left at Jacinto and Rienzi
to detain any cavalry that Van Dorn might send out to make a
sudden dash into Corinth until I could be notified. There was a
telegraph wire along the railroad, so there would be no delay in
communication. I detained cars and locomotives enough at
Burnsville to transport the whole of Ord's command at once, and
if Van Dorn had moved against Corinth instead of Iuka I could
have thrown in reinforcements to the number of 7,000 or 8,000
before he could have arrived. I remained at Burnsville with a
detachment of about 900 men from Ord's command and communicated
with my two wings by courier. Ord met the advance of the enemy
soon after leaving Burnsville. Quite a sharp engagement ensued,
but he drove the rebels back with considerable loss, including
one general officer killed. He maintained his position and was
ready to attack by daylight the next morning. I was very much
disappointed at receiving a dispatch from Rosecrans after
midnight from Jacinto, twenty-two miles from Iuka, saying that
some of his command had been delayed, and that the rear of his
column was not yet up as far as Jacinto. He said, however, that
he would still be at Iuka by two o'clock the next day. I did not
believe this possible because of the distance and the condition
of the roads, which was bad; besides, troops after a forced
march of twenty miles are not in a good condition for fighting
the moment they get through. It might do in marching to relieve
a beleaguered garrison, but not to make an assault. I
immediately sent Ord a copy of Rosecrans' dispatch and ordered
him to be in readiness to attack the moment he heard the sound
of guns to the south or south-east. He was instructed to notify
his officers to be on the alert for any indications of battle.
During the 19th the wind blew in the wrong direction to transmit
sound either towards the point where Ord was, or to Burnsville
where I had remained.

A couple of hours before dark on the 19th Rosecrans arrived with
the head of his column at garnets, the point where the Jacinto
road to Iuka leaves the road going east. He here turned north
without sending any troops to the Fulton road. While still
moving in column up the Jacinto road he met a force of the enemy
and had his advance badly beaten and driven back upon the main
road. In this short engagement his loss was considerable for
the number engaged, and one battery was taken from him. The
wind was still blowing hard and in the wrong direction to
transmit sounds towards either Ord or me. Neither he nor I nor
any one in either command heard a gun that was fired upon the
battle-field. After the engagement Rosecrans sent me a dispatch
announcing the result. This was brought by a courier. There was
no road between Burnsville and the position then occupied by
Rosecrans and the country was impassable for a man on
horseback. The courier bearing the message was compelled to
move west nearly to Jacinto before he found a road leading to
Burnsville. This made it a late hour of the night before I
learned of the battle that had taken place during the
afternoon. I at once notified Ord of the fact and ordered him
to attack early in the morning. The next morning Rosecrans
himself renewed the attack and went into Iuka with but little
resistance. Ord also went in according to orders, without
hearing a gun from the south of town but supposing the troops
coming from the south-west must be up by that time. Rosecrans,
however, had put no troops upon the Fulton road, and the enemy
had taken advantage of this neglect and retreated by that road
during the night. Word was soon brought to me that our troops
were in Iuka. I immediately rode into town and found that the
enemy was not being pursued even by the cavalry. I ordered
pursuit by the whole of Rosecrans' command and went on with him
a few miles in person. He followed only a few miles after I
left him and then went into camp, and the pursuit was continued
no further. I was disappointed at the result of the battle of
Iuka--but I had so high an opinion of General Rosecrans that I
found no fault at the time.



On the 19th of September General Geo. H. Thomas was ordered east
to reinforce Buell. This threw the army at my command still more
on the defensive. The Memphis and Charleston railroad was
abandoned, except at Corinth, and small forces were left at
Chewalla and Grand Junction. Soon afterwards the latter of
these two places was given up and Bolivar became our most
advanced position on the Mississippi Central railroad. Our
cavalry was kept well to the front and frequent expeditions were
sent out to watch the movements of the enemy. We were in a
country where nearly all the people, except the negroes, were
hostile to us and friendly to the cause we were trying to
suppress. It was easy, therefore, for the enemy to get early
information of our every move. We, on the contrary, had to go
after our information in force, and then often returned without

On the 22d Bolivar was threatened by a large force from south of
Grand Junction, supposed to be twenty regiments of infantry with
cavalry and artillery. I reinforced Bolivar, and went to
Jackson in person to superintend the movement of troops to
whatever point the attack might be made upon. The troops from
Corinth were brought up in time to repel the threatened movement
without a battle. Our cavalry followed the enemy south of Davis'
mills in Mississippi.

On the 30th I found that Van Dorn was apparently endeavoring to
strike the Mississippi River above Memphis. At the same time
other points within my command were so threatened that it was
impossible to concentrate a force to drive him away. There was
at this juncture a large Union force at Helena, Arkansas, which,
had it been within my command, I could have ordered across the
river to attack and break up the Mississippi Central railroad
far to the south. This would not only have called Van Dorn
back, but would have compelled the retention of a large rebel
force far to the south to prevent a repetition of such raids on
the enemy's line of supplies. Geographical lines between the
commands during the rebellion were not always well chosen, or
they were too rigidly adhered to.

Van Dorn did not attempt to get upon the line above Memphis, as
had apparently been his intention. He was simply covering a
deeper design; one much more important to his cause. By the 1st
of October it was fully apparent that Corinth was to be attacked
with great force and determination, and that Van Dorn, Lovell,
Price, Villepigue and Rust had joined their strength for this
purpose. There was some skirmishing outside of Corinth with the
advance of the enemy on the 3d. The rebels massed in the
north-west angle of the Memphis and Charleston and the Mobile
and Ohio railroads, and were thus between the troops at Corinth
and all possible reinforcements. Any fresh troops for us must
come by a circuitous route.

On the night of the 3d, accordingly, I ordered General
McPherson, who was at Jackson, to join Rosecrans at Corinth with
reinforcements picked up along the line of the railroad equal to
a brigade. Hurlbut had been ordered from Bolivar to march for
the same destination; and as Van Dorn was coming upon Corinth
from the north-west some of his men fell in with the advance of
Hurlbut's and some skirmishing ensued on the evening of the
3d. On the 4th Van Dorn made a dashing attack, hoping, no
doubt, to capture Rosecrans before his reinforcements could come
up. In that case the enemy himself could have occupied the
defences of Corinth and held at bay all the Union troops that
arrived. In fact he could have taken the offensive against the
reinforcements with three or four times their number and still
left a sufficient garrison in the works about Corinth to hold
them. He came near success, some of his troops penetrating the
National lines at least once, but the works that were built
after Halleck's departure enabled Rosecrans to hold his position
until the troops of both McPherson and Hurlbut approached towards
the rebel front and rear. The enemy was finally driven back with
great slaughter: all their charges, made with great gallantry,
were repulsed. The loss on our side was heavy, but nothing to
compare with Van Dorn's. McPherson came up with the train of
cars bearing his command as close to the enemy as was prudent,
debarked on the rebel flank and got in to the support of
Rosecrans just after the repulse. His approach, as well as that
of Hurlbut, was known to the enemy and had a moral effect.
General Rosecrans, however, failed to follow up the victory,
although I had given specific orders in advance of the battle
for him to pursue the moment the enemy was repelled. He did not
do so, and I repeated the order after the battle. In the first
order he was notified that the force of 4,000 men which was
going to his assistance would be in great peril if the enemy was
not pursued.

General Ord had joined Hurlbut on the 4th and being senior took
command of his troops. This force encountered the head of Van
Dorn's retreating column just as it was crossing the Hatchie by
a bridge some ten miles out from Corinth. The bottom land here
was swampy and bad for the operations of troops, making a good
place to get an enemy into. Ord attacked the troops that had
crossed the bridge and drove them back in a panic. Many were
killed, and others were drowned by being pushed off the bridge
in their hurried retreat. Ord followed and met the main
force. He was too weak in numbers to assault, but he held the
bridge and compelled the enemy to resume his retreat by another
bridge higher up the stream. Ord was wounded in this engagement
and the command devolved on Hurlbut.

Rosecrans did not start in pursuit till the morning of the 5th
and then took the wrong road. Moving in the enemy's country he
travelled with a wagon train to carry his provisions and
munitions of war. His march was therefore slower than that of
the enemy, who was moving towards his supplies. Two or three
hours of pursuit on the day of battle, without anything except
what the men carried on their persons, would have been worth
more than any pursuit commenced the next day could have possibly
been. Even when he did start, if Rosecrans had followed the
route taken by the enemy, he would have come upon Van Dorn in a
swamp with a stream in front and Ord holding the only bridge;
but he took the road leading north and towards Chewalla instead
of west, and, after having marched as far as the enemy had moved
to get to the Hatchie, he was as far from battle as when he
started. Hurlbut had not the numbers to meet any such force as
Van Dorn's if they had been in any mood for fighting, and he
might have been in great peril.

I now regarded the time to accomplish anything by pursuit as
past and, after Rosecrans reached Jonesboro, I ordered him to
return. He kept on to Ripley, however, and was persistent in
wanting to go farther. I thereupon ordered him to halt and
submitted the matter to the general-in-chief, who allowed me to
exercise my judgment in the matter, but inquired "why not
pursue?" Upon this I ordered Rosecrans back. Had he gone much
farther he would have met a greater force than Van Dorn had at
Corinth and behind intrenchments or on chosen ground, and the
probabilities are he would have lost his army.

The battle of Corinth was bloody, our loss being 315 killed,
1,812 wounded and 232 missing. The enemy lost many more.
Rosecrans reported 1,423 dead and 2,225 prisoners. We fought
behind breastworks, which accounts in some degree for the
disparity. Among the killed on our side was General
Hackelman. General Oglesby was badly, it was for some time
supposed mortally, wounded. I received a congratulatory letter
from the President, which expressed also his sorrow for the

This battle was recognized by me as being a decided victory,
though not so complete as I had hoped for, nor nearly so
complete as I now think was within the easy grasp of the
commanding officer at Corinth. Since the war it is known that
the result, as it was, was a crushing blow to the enemy, and
felt by him much more than it was appreciated at the North. The
battle relieved me from any further anxiety for the safety of the
territory within my jurisdiction, and soon after receiving
reinforcements I suggested to the general-in-chief a forward
movement against Vicksburg.

On the 23d of October I learned of Pemberton's being in command
at Holly Springs and much reinforced by conscripts and troops
from Alabama and Texas. The same day General Rosecrans was
relieved from duty with my command, and shortly after he
succeeded Buell in the command of the army in Middle
Tennessee. I was delighted at the promotion of General
Rosecrans to a separate command, because I still believed that
when independent of an immediate superior the qualities which I,
at that time, credited him with possessing, would show
themselves. As a subordinate I found that I could not make him
do as I wished, and had determined to relieve him from duty that
very day.

At the close of the operations just described my force, in round
numbers, was 48,500. Of these 4,800 were in Kentucky and
Illinois, 7,000 in Memphis, 19,200 from Mound City south, and
17,500 at Corinth. General McClernand had been authorized from
Washington to go north and organize troops to be used in opening
the Mississippi. These new levies with other reinforcements now
began to come in.

On the 25th of October I was placed in command of the Department
of the Tennessee. Reinforcements continued to come from the
north and by the 2d of November I was prepared to take the
initiative. This was a great relief after the two and a half
months of continued defence over a large district of country,
and where nearly every citizen was an enemy ready to give
information of our every move. I have described very
imperfectly a few of the battles and skirmishes that took place
during this time. To describe all would take more space than I
can allot to the purpose; to make special mention of all the
officers and troops who distinguished themselves, would take a
volume. (*9)



Vicksburg was important to the enemy because it occupied the
first high ground coming close to the river below Memphis. From
there a railroad runs east, connecting with other roads leading
to all points of the Southern States. A railroad also starts
from the opposite side of the river, extending west as far as
Shreveport, Louisiana. Vicksburg was the only channel, at the
time of the events of which this chapter treats, connecting the
parts of the Confederacy divided by the Mississippi. So long as
it was held by the enemy, the free navigation of the river was
prevented. Hence its importance. Points on the river between
Vicksburg and Port Hudson were held as dependencies; but their
fall was sure to follow the capture of the former place.

The campaign against Vicksburg commenced on the 2d of November
as indicated in a dispatch to the general-in-chief in the
following words: "I have commenced a movement on Grand
Junction, with three divisions from Corinth and two from
Bolivar. Will leave here [Jackson, Tennessee] to-morrow, and
take command in person. If found practicable, I will go to
Holly Springs, and, may be, Grenada, completing railroad and
telegraph as I go."

At this time my command was holding the Mobile and Ohio railroad
from about twenty-five miles south of Corinth, north to Columbus,
Kentucky; the Mississippi Central from Bolivar north to its
junction with the Mobile and Ohio; the Memphis and Charleston
from Corinth east to Bear Creek, and the Mississippi River from
Cairo to Memphis. My entire command was no more than was
necessary to hold these lines, and hardly that if kept on the
defensive. By moving against the enemy and into his unsubdued,
or not yet captured, territory, driving their army before us,
these lines would nearly hold themselves; thus affording a large
force for field operations. My moving force at that time was
about 30,000 men, and I estimated the enemy confronting me,
under Pemberton, at about the same number. General McPherson
commanded my left wing and General C. S. Hamilton the centre,
while Sherman was at Memphis with the right wing. Pemberton was
fortified at the Tallahatchie, but occupied Holly Springs and
Grand Junction on the Mississippi Central railroad. On the 8th
we occupied Grand Junction and La Grange, throwing a
considerable force seven or eight miles south, along the line of
the railroad. The road from Bolivar forward was repaired and put
in running order as the troops advanced.

Up to this time it had been regarded as an axiom in war that
large bodies of troops must operate from a base of supplies
which they always covered and guarded in all forward
movements. There was delay therefore in repairing the road
back, and in gathering and forwarding supplies to the front.

By my orders, and in accordance with previous instructions from
Washington, all the forage within reach was collected under the
supervision of the chief quartermaster and the provisions under
the chief commissary, receipts being given when there was any
one to take them; the supplies in any event to be accounted for
as government stores. The stock was bountiful, but still it
gave me no idea of the possibility of supplying a moving column
in an enemy's country from the country itself.

It was at this point, probably, where the first idea of a
"Freedman's Bureau" took its origin. Orders of the government
prohibited the expulsion of the negroes from the protection of
the army, when they came in voluntarily. Humanity forbade
allowing them to starve. With such an army of them, of all ages
and both sexes, as had congregated about Grand Junction,
amounting to many thousands, it was impossible to advance. There
was no special authority for feeding them unless they were
employed as teamsters, cooks and pioneers with the army; but
only able-bodied young men were suitable for such work. This
labor would support but a very limited percentage of them. The
plantations were all deserted; the cotton and corn were ripe:
men, women and children above ten years of age could be employed
in saving these crops. To do this work with contrabands, or to
have it done, organization under a competent chief was
necessary. On inquiring for such a man Chaplain Eaton, now and
for many years the very able United States Commissioner of
Education, was suggested. He proved as efficient in that field
as he has since done in his present one. I gave him all the
assistants and guards he called for. We together fixed the
prices to be paid for the negro labor, whether rendered to the
government or to individuals. The cotton was to be picked from
abandoned plantations, the laborers to receive the stipulated
price (my recollection is twelve and a half cents per pound for
picking and ginning) from the quartermaster, he shipping the
cotton north to be sold for the benefit of the government.
Citizens remaining on their plantations were allowed the
privilege of having their crops saved by freedmen on the same

At once the freedmen became self-sustaining. The money was not
paid to them directly, but was expended judiciously and for
their benefit. They gave me no trouble afterwards.

Later the freedmen were engaged in cutting wood along the
Mississippi River to supply the large number of steamers on that
stream. A good price was paid for chopping wood used for the
supply of government steamers (steamers chartered and which the
government had to supply with fuel). Those supplying their own
fuel paid a much higher price. In this way a fund was created
not only sufficient to feed and clothe all, old and young, male
and female, but to build them comfortable cabins, hospitals for
the sick, and to supply them with many comforts they had never
known before.

At this stage of the campaign against Vicksburg I was very much
disturbed by newspaper rumors that General McClernand was to
have a separate and independent command within mine, to operate
against Vicksburg by way of the Mississippi River. Two
commanders on the same field are always one too many, and in
this case I did not think the general selected had either the
experience or the qualifications to fit him for so important a
position. I feared for the safety of the troops intrusted to
him, especially as he was to raise new levies, raw troops, to
execute so important a trust. But on the 12th I received a
dispatch from General Halleck saying that I had command of all
the troops sent to my department and authorizing me to fight the
enemy where I pleased. The next day my cavalry was in Holly
Springs, and the enemy fell back south of the Tallahatchie.

Holly Springs I selected for my depot of supplies and munitions
of war, all of which at that time came by rail from Columbus,
Kentucky, except the few stores collected about La Grange and
Grand Junction. This was a long line (increasing in length as
we moved south) to maintain in an enemy's country. On the 15th
of November, while I was still at Holly Springs, I sent word to
Sherman to meet me at Columbus. We were but forty-seven miles
apart, yet the most expeditious way for us to meet was for me to
take the rail to Columbus and Sherman a steamer for the same
place. At that meeting, besides talking over my general plans I
gave him his orders to join me with two divisions and to march
them down the Mississippi Central railroad if he could. Sherman,
who was always prompt, was up by the 29th to Cottage Hill, ten
miles north of Oxford. He brought three divisions with him,
leaving a garrison of only four regiments of infantry, a couple
of pieces of artillery and a small detachment of cavalry.
Further reinforcements he knew were on their way from the north
to Memphis. About this time General Halleck ordered troops from
Helena, Arkansas (territory west of the Mississippi was not under
my command then) to cut the road in Pemberton's rear. The
expedition was under Generals Hovey and C. C. Washburn and was
successful so far as reaching the railroad was concerned, but
the damage done was very slight and was soon repaired.

The Tallahatchie, which confronted me, was very high, the
railroad bridge destroyed and Pemberton strongly fortified on
the south side. A crossing would have been impossible in the
presence of an enemy. I sent the cavalry higher up the stream
and they secured a crossing. This caused the enemy to evacuate
their position, which was possibly accelerated by the expedition
of Hovey and Washburn. The enemy was followed as far south as
Oxford by the main body of troops, and some seventeen miles
farther by McPherson's command. Here the pursuit was halted to
repair the railroad from the Tallahatchie northward, in order to
bring up supplies. The piles on which the railroad bridge rested
had been left standing. The work of constructing a roadway for
the troops was but a short matter, and, later, rails were laid
for cars.

During the delay at Oxford in repairing railroads I learned that
an expedition down the Mississippi now was inevitable and,
desiring to have a competent commander in charge, I ordered
Sherman on the 8th of December back to Memphis to take charge.
The following were his orders:

Headquarters 13th Army Corps,
Department of the Tennessee.
OXFORD, MISSISSIPPI, December 8,1862.

Commanding Right Wing:

You will proceed, with as little delay as possible, to Memphis,
Tennessee, taking with you one division of your present
command. On your arrival at Memphis you will assume command of
all the troops there, and that portion of General Curtis's
forces at present east of the Mississippi River, and organize
them into brigades and divisions in your own army. As soon as
possible move with them down the river to the vicinity of
Vicksburg, and with the co-operation of the gunboat fleet under
command of Flag-officer Porter proceed to the reduction of that
place in such a manner as circumstances, and your own judgment,
may dictate.

The amount of rations, forage, land transportation, etc.,
necessary to take, will be left entirely with yourself. The
Quartermaster at St. Louis will be instructed to send you
transportation for 30,000 men; should you still find yourself
deficient, your quartermaster will be authorized to make up the
deficiency from such transports as may come into the port of

On arriving in Memphis, put yourself in communication with
Admiral Porter, and arrange with him for his co-operation.

Inform me at the earliest practicable day of the time when you
will embark, and such plans as may then be matured. I will hold
the forces here in readiness to co-operate with you in such
manner as the movements of the enemy may make necessary.

Leave the District of Memphis in the command of an efficient
officer, and with a garrison of four regiments of infantry, the
siege guns, and whatever cavalry may be there.


This idea had presented itself to my mind earlier, for on the 3d
of December I asked Halleck if it would not be well to hold the
enemy south of the Yallabusha and move a force from Helena and
Memphis on Vicksburg. On the 5th again I suggested, from
Oxford, to Halleck that if the Helena troops were at my command
I though it would be possible to take them and the Memphis
forces south of the mouth of the Yazoo River, and thus secure
Vicksburg and the State of Mississippi. Halleck on the same
day, the 5th of December, directed me not to attempt to hold
the country south of the Tallahatchie, but to collect 25,000
troops at Memphis by the 20th for the Vicksburg expedition. I
sent Sherman with two divisions at once, informed the
general-in-chief of the fact, and asked whether I should command
the expedition down the river myself or send Sherman. I was
authorized to do as I though best for the accomplishment of the
great object in view. I sent Sherman and so informed General

As stated, my action in sending Sherman back was expedited by a
desire to get him in command of the forces separated from my
direct supervision. I feared that delay might bring McClernand,
who was his senior and who had authority from the President and
Secretary of War to exercise that particular command,--and
independently. I doubted McClernand's fitness; and I had good
reason to believe that in forestalling him I was by no means
giving offence to those whose authority to command was above
both him and me.

Neither my orders to General Sherman, nor the correspondence
between us or between General Halleck and myself, contemplated
at the time my going further south than the Yallabusha.
Pemberton's force in my front was the main part of the garrison
of Vicksburg, as the force with me was the defence of the
territory held by us in West Tennessee and Kentucky. I hoped to
hold Pemberton in my front while Sherman should get in his rear
and into Vicksburg. The further north the enemy could be held
the better.

It was understood, however, between General Sherman and myself
that our movements were to be co-operative; if Pemberton could
not be held away from Vicksburg I was to follow him; but at that
time it was not expected to abandon the railroad north of the
Yallabusha. With that point as a secondary base of supplies,
the possibility of moving down the Yazoo until communications
could be opened with the Mississippi was contemplated.

It was my intention, and so understood by Sherman and his
command, that if the enemy should fall back I would follow him
even to the gates of Vicksburg. I intended in such an event to
hold the road to Grenada on the Yallabusha and cut loose from
there, expecting to establish a new base of supplies on the
Yazoo, or at Vicksburg itself, with Grenada to fall back upon in
case of failure. It should be remembered that at the time I
speak of it had not been demonstrated that an army could operate
in an enemy's territory depending upon the country for
supplies. A halt was called at Oxford with the advance
seventeen miles south of there, to bring up the road to the
latter point and to bring supplies of food, forage and munitions
to the front.

On the 18th of December I received orders from Washington to
divide my command into four army corps, with General McClernand
to command one of them and to be assigned to that part of the
army which was to operate down the Mississippi. This interfered
with my plans, but probably resulted in my ultimately taking the
command in person. McClernand was at that time in Springfield,
Illinois. The order was obeyed without any delay. Dispatches
were sent to him the same day in conformity.

On the 20th General Van Dorn appeared at Holly Springs, my
secondary base of supplies, captured the garrison of 1,500 men
commanded by Colonel Murphy, of the 8th Wisconsin regiment, and
destroyed all our munitions of war, food and forage. The
capture was a disgraceful one to the officer commanding but not
to the troops under him. At the same time Forrest got on our
line of railroad between Jackson, Tennessee, and Columbus,
Kentucky, doing much damage to it. This cut me off from all
communication with the north for more than a week, and it was
more than two weeks before rations or forage could be issued
from stores obtained in the regular way. This demonstrated the
impossibility of maintaining so long a line of road over which
to draw supplies for an army moving in an enemy's country. I
determined, therefore, to abandon my campaign into the interior
with Columbus as a base, and returned to La Grange and Grand
Junction destroying the road to my front and repairing the road
to Memphis, making the Mississippi river the line over which to
draw supplies. Pemberton was falling back at the same time.

The moment I received the news of Van Dorn's success I sent the
cavalry at the front back to drive him from the country. He had
start enough to move north destroying the railroad in many
places, and to attack several small garrisons intrenched as
guards to the railroad. All these he found warned of his coming
and prepared to receive him. Van Dorn did not succeed in
capturing a single garrison except the one at Holly Springs,
which was larger than all the others attacked by him put
together. Murphy was also warned of Van Dorn's approach, but
made no preparations to meet him. He did not even notify his

Colonel Murphy was the officer who, two months before, had
evacuated Iuka on the approach of the enemy. General Rosecrans
denounced him for the act and desired to have him tried and
punished. I sustained the colonel at the time because his
command was a small one compared with that of the enemy--not
one-tenth as large--and I thought he had done well to get away
without falling into their hands. His leaving large stores to
fall into Price's possession I looked upon as an oversight and
excused it on the ground of inexperience in military matters. He
should, however, have destroyed them. This last surrender
demonstrated to my mind that Rosecrans' judgment of Murphy's
conduct at Iuka was correct. The surrender of Holly Springs was
most reprehensible and showed either the disloyalty of Colonel
Murphy to the cause which he professed to serve, or gross

After the war was over I read from the diary of a lady who
accompanied General Pemberton in his retreat from the
Tallahatchie, that the retreat was almost a panic. The roads
were bad and it was difficult to move the artillery and
trains. Why there should have been a panic I do not see. No
expedition had yet started down the Mississippi River. Had I
known the demoralized condition of the enemy, or the fact that
central Mississippi abounded so in all army supplies, I would
have been in pursuit of Pemberton while his cavalry was
destroying the roads in my rear.

After sending cavalry to drive Van Dorn away, my next order was
to dispatch all the wagons we had, under proper escort, to
collect and bring in all supplies of forage and food from a
region of fifteen miles east and west of the road from our front
back to Grand Junction, leaving two months' supplies for the
families of those whose stores were taken. I was amazed at the
quantity of supplies the country afforded. It showed that we
could have subsisted off the country for two months instead of
two weeks without going beyond the limits designated. This
taught me a lesson which was taken advantage of later in the
campaign when our army lived twenty days with the issue of only
five days' rations by the commissary. Our loss of supplies was
great at Holly Springs, but it was more than compensated for by
those taken from the country and by the lesson taught.

The news of the capture of Holly Springs and the destruction of
our supplies caused much rejoicing among the people remaining in
Oxford. They came with broad smiles on their faces, indicating
intense joy, to ask what I was going to do now without anything
for my soldiers to eat. I told them that I was not disturbed;
that I had already sent troops and wagons to collect all the
food and forage they could find for fifteen miles on each side
of the road. Countenances soon changed, and so did the
inquiry. The next was, "What are WE to do?" My response was
that we had endeavored to feed ourselves from our own northern
resources while visiting them; but their friends in gray had
been uncivil enough to destroy what we had brought along, and it
could not be expected that men, with arms in their hands, would
starve in the midst of plenty. I advised them to emigrate east,
or west, fifteen miles and assist in eating up what we left.



This interruption in my communications north--I was really cut
off from communication with a great part of my own command
during this time--resulted in Sherman's moving from Memphis
before McClernand could arrive, for my dispatch of the 18th did
not reach McClernand. Pemberton got back to Vicksburg before
Sherman got there. The rebel positions were on a bluff on the
Yazoo River, some miles above its mouth. The waters were high
so that the bottoms were generally overflowed, leaving only
narrow causeways of dry land between points of debarkation and
the high bluffs. These were fortified and defended at all
points. The rebel position was impregnable against any force
that could be brought against its front. Sherman could not use
one-fourth of his force. His efforts to capture the city, or
the high ground north of it, were necessarily unavailing.

Sherman's attack was very unfortunate, but I had no opportunity
of communicating with him after the destruction of the road and
telegraph to my rear on the 20th. He did not know but what I
was in the rear of the enemy and depending on him to open a new
base of supplies for the troops with me. I had, before he
started from Memphis, directed him to take with him a few small
steamers suitable for the navigation of the Yazoo, not knowing
but that I might want them to supply me after cutting loose from
my base at Grenada.

On the 23d I removed my headquarters back to Holly Springs. The
troops were drawn back gradually, but without haste or confusion,
finding supplies abundant and no enemy following. The road was
not damaged south of Holly Springs by Van Dorn, at least not to
an extent to cause any delay. As I had resolved to move
headquarters to Memphis, and to repair the road to that point, I
remained at Holly Springs until this work was completed.

On the 10th of January, the work on the road from Holly Springs
to Grand Junction and thence to Memphis being completed, I moved
my headquarters to the latter place. During the campaign here
described, the losses (mostly captures) were about equal,
crediting the rebels with their Holly Springs capture, which
they could not hold.

When Sherman started on his expedition down the river he had
20,000 men, taken from Memphis, and was reinforced by 12,000
more at Helena, Arkansas. The troops on the west bank of the
river had previously been assigned to my command. McClernand
having received the orders for his assignment reached the mouth
of the Yazoo on the 2d of January, and immediately assumed
command of all the troops with Sherman, being a part of his own
corps, the 13th, and all of Sherman's, the 15th. Sherman, and
Admiral Porter with the fleet, had withdrawn from the Yazoo.
After consultation they decided that neither the army nor navy
could render service to the cause where they were, and learning
that I had withdrawn from the interior of Mississippi, they
determined to return to the Arkansas River and to attack
Arkansas Post, about fifty miles up that stream and garrisoned
by about five or six thousand men. Sherman had learned of the
existence of this force through a man who had been captured by
the enemy with a steamer loaded with ammunition and other
supplies intended for his command. The man had made his
escape. McClernand approved this move reluctantly, as Sherman
says. No obstacle was encountered until the gunboats and
transports were within range of the fort. After three days'
bombardment by the navy an assault was made by the troops and
marines, resulting in the capture of the place, and in taking
5,000 prisoners and 17 guns. I was at first disposed to
disapprove of this move as an unnecessary side movement having
no especial bearing upon the work before us; but when the result
was understood I regarded it as very important. Five thousand
Confederate troops left in the rear might have caused us much
trouble and loss of property while navigating the Mississippi.

Immediately after the reduction of Arkansas Post and the capture
of the garrison, McClernand returned with his entire force to
Napoleon, at the mouth of the Arkansas River. From here I
received messages from both Sherman and Admiral Porter, urging
me to come and take command in person, and expressing their
distrust of McClernand's ability and fitness for so important
and intricate an expedition.

On the 17th I visited McClernand and his command at Napoleon. It
was here made evident to me that both the army and navy were so
distrustful of McClernand's fitness to command that, while they
would do all they could to insure success, this distrust was an
element of weakness. It would have been criminal to send troops
under these circumstances into such danger. By this time I had
received authority to relieve McClernand, or to assign any
person else to the command of the river expedition, or to assume
command in person. I felt great embarrassment about
McClernand. He was the senior major-general after myself within
the department. It would not do, with his rank and ambition, to
assign a junior over him. Nothing was left, therefore, but to
assume the command myself. I would have been glad to put
Sherman in command, to give him an opportunity to accomplish
what he had failed in the December before; but there seemed no
other way out of the difficulty, for he was junior to
McClernand. Sherman's failure needs no apology.

On the 20th I ordered General McClernand with the entire
command, to Young's Point and Milliken's Bend, while I returned
to Memphis to make all the necessary preparation for leaving the
territory behind me secure. General Hurlbut with the 16th corps
was left in command. The Memphis and Charleston railroad was
held, while the Mississippi Central was given up. Columbus was
the only point between Cairo and Memphis, on the river, left
with a garrison. All the troops and guns from the posts on the


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