Memoirs of General W.T. Sherman

Text to Speech

had no intrenchments of any sort, on the theory that as soon as

Buell arrived we would march to Corinth to attack the enemy. The

rebel army, commanded by General Albert Sidney Johnston, was,

according to their own reports and admissions, forty-five thousand

strong, had the momentum of attack, and beyond all question fought

skillfully from early morning till about 2 a.m., when their

commander-in-chief was killed by a Mini-ball in the calf of his

leg, which penetrated the boot and severed the main artery. There

was then a perceptible lull for a couple of hours, when the attack

was renewed, but with much less vehemence, and continued up to

dark. Early at night the division of Lew Wallace arrived from the

other side of Snake Creek, not having fired a shot. A very small

part of General Buell's army was on our side of the Tennessee River

that evening, and their loss was trivial.

During that night, the three divisions of McCook, Nelson, and

Crittenden, were ferried across the Tennessee, and fought with us

the next day (7th). During that night, also, the two wooden

gunboats, Tyler, commanded by Lieutenant Groin, and Lexington,

Lieutenant Shirk, both of the regular navy, caused shells to be

thrown toward that part of the field of battle known to be occupied

by the enemy. Beauregard afterward reported his entire loss as ten

thousand six hundred and ninety-nine. Our aggregate loss, made up

from official statements, shows seventeen hundred killed, seven

thousand four hundred and ninety-five wounded, and three thousand

and twenty-two prisoners; aggregate, twelve thousand two hundred

and seventeen, of which twenty-one hundred and sixty-seven were in

Buell's army, leaving for that of Grant ten thousand and fifty.

This result is a fair measure of the amount of fighting done by

each army.




While, the "Army of the Tennessee," under Generals Grant and C. F.

Smith, was operating up the Tennessee River, another force, styled

the "Army of the Mississippi," commanded by Major-General John

Pope, was moving directly down the Mississippi River, against that

portion of the rebel line which, under Generals Polk and Pillow,

had fallen back from Columbus, Kentucky, to Island Number Ten and

New Madrid. This army had the full cooperation of the gunboat

fleet, commanded by Admiral Foote, and was assisted by the high

flood of that season, which enabled General Pope, by great skill

and industry, to open a canal from a point above Island Number Ten

to New Madrid below, by which he interposed between the rebel army

and its available line of supply and retreat. At the very time

that we were fighting the bloody battle on the Tennessee River,

General Pope and Admiral Foote were bombarding the batteries on

Island Number Ten, and the Kentucky shore abreast of it; and

General Pope having crossed over by steamers a part of his army to

the east bank, captured a large part of this rebel army, at and

near Tiptonville.

General Halleck still remained at St. Louis, whence he gave general

directions to the armies of General Curtis, Generals Grant, Buell,

and Pope; and instead of following up his most important and

brilliant successes directly down the Mississippi, he concluded to

bring General Pope's army around to the Tennessee, and to come in

person to command there. The gunboat fleet pushed on down the

Mississippi, but was brought up again all standing by the heavy

batteries at Fort Pillow, about fifty miles above Memphis. About

this time Admiral Farragut, with another large sea-going fleet, and

with the cooperating army of General Butler, was entering the

Mississippi River by the Passes, and preparing to reduce Forts

Jackson and St, Philip in order to reach New Orleans; so that all

minds were turned to the conquest of the Mississippi River, and

surely adequate means were provided for the undertaking.

The battle of Shiloh had been fought, as described, on the 6th and

7th of April; and when the movement of the 8th had revealed that

our enemy was gone, in full retreat, leaving killed, wounded, and

much property by the way, we all experienced a feeling of relief.

The struggle had been so long, so desperate and bloody, that the

survivors seemed exhausted and nerveless; we appreciated the value

of the victory, but realized also its great cost of life. The

close of the battle had left the Army of the Tennessee on the

right, and the Army of the Ohio on the left; but I believe neither

General Grant nor Buell exercised command, the one over the other;

each of them having his hands full in repairing damages. All the

division, brigade, and regimental commanders were busy in

collecting stragglers, regaining lost property, in burying dead men

and horses, and in providing for their wounded. Some few new

regiments came forward, and some changes of organization became

necessary. Then, or very soon after, I consolidated my font

brigades into three, which were commanded: First, Brigadier-General

Morgan L: Smith; Second, Colonel John A. McDowell; Third,

Brigadier-General J. W. Denver. About the same time I was promoted

to major-general volunteers.

The Seventy-first Ohio was detached to Clarksville, Tennessee, and

the Sixth and Eighth Missouri were transferred to my division.

In a few days after the battle, General Halleck arrived by

steamboat from St. Louis, pitched his camp near the steamboat-

landing, and assumed personal command of all the armies. He was

attended by his staff, composed of General G. W. Cullum, U. S.

Engineers, as his chief of staff; Colonel George Thom, U. S.

Engineers; and Colonels Kelton and Kemper, adjutants-general. It

soon became manifest that his mind had been prejudiced by the

rumors which had gone forth to the detriment of General Grant; for

in a few days he issued an order, reorganizing and rearranging the

whole army. General Buell's Army of the Ohio constituted the

centre; General Pope's army, then arriving at Hamburg Landing, was

the left; the right was made up of mine and Hurlbut's divisions,

belonging to the old Army of the Tennessee, and two new ones, made

up from the fragments of the divisions of Prentiss and C. F. Smith,

and of troops transferred thereto, commanded by Generals T. W.

Sherman and Davies. General George H. Thomas was taken from Buell,

to command the right. McClernand's and Lew Wallace's divisions

were styled the reserve, to be commanded by McClernand. General

Grant was substantially left out, and was named "second in

command," according to some French notion, with no clear,

well-defined command or authority. He still retained his old

staff, composed of Rawlins, adjutant-general; Riggin, Lagow, and

Hilyer, aides; and he had a small company of the Fourth Illinois

Cavalry as an escort. For more than a month he thus remained,

without any apparent authority, frequently visiting me and others,

and rarely complaining; but I could see that he felt deeply the

indignity, if not insult, heaped upon him.

General Thomas at once assumed command of the right wing, and,

until we reached Corinth, I served immediately under his command.

We were classmates, intimately acquainted, had served together

before in the old army, and in Kentucky, and it made to us little

difference who commanded the other, provided the good cause


Corinth was about thirty miles distant, and we all knew that we

should find there the same army with which we had so fiercely

grappled at Shiloh, reorganized, reenforced, and commanded in chief

by General Beauregard in place of Johnston, who had fallen at

Shiloh. But we were also reenforced by Buell's and Pope's armies;

so that before the end of April our army extended from Snake Creek

on the right to the Tennessee River, at Hamburg, on the left, and

must have numbered nearly one hundred thousand men.

Ample supplies of all kinds reached us by the Tennessee River,

which had a good stage of water; but our wagon transportation was

limited, and much confusion occurred in hauling supplies to the

several camps. By the end of Aril, the several armies seemed to be

ready, and the general forward movement on Corinth began. My

division was on the extreme right of the right wing, and marched

out by the "White House," leaving Monterey or Pea Ridge to the

south. Crossing Lick Creek, we came into the main road about a

mile south of Monterey, where we turned square to the right, and

came into the Purdy road, near "Elams." Thence we followed the

Purdy road to Corinth, my skirmishers reaching at all times the

Mobile & Ohio Railroad. Of course our marches were governed by the

main centre, which followed the direct road from Pittsburg Landing

to Corinth; and this movement was provokingly slow. We fortified

almost every camp at night, though we had encountered no serious

opposition, except from cavalry, which gave ground easily as we

advanced. The opposition increased as we neared Corinth, and at a

place called Russell's we had a sharp affair of one brigade, under

the. immediate direction of Brigadier-General Morgan L. Smith,

assisted by the brigade of General Denver. This affair occurred on

the 19th of May, and our line was then within about two miles of

the northern intrenchments of Corinth.

On the 27th I received orders from General Halleck "to send a force

the next day to drive the rebels from the house in our front, on

the Corinth road, to drive in their pickets as far as possible, and

to make a strong demonstration on Corinth itself;" authorizing me

to call on any adjacent division for assistance.

I reconnoitred the ground carefully, and found that the main road

led forward along the fence of a large cotton-field to our right

front, and ascended a wooded hill, occupied in some force by the

enemy, on which was the farm-house referred to in General Halleck's

orders. At the farther end of the field was a double log-house,

whose chinking had been removed; so that

it formed a good block house from which the enemy could fire

on any person approaching from our quarter.

General Hurlbut's division was on my immediate left, and General

McClernand's reserve on our right rear. I asked of each the

assistance of a brigade. The former sent General Veatch's, and the

latter General John A. Logan's brigade. I asked the former to

support our left flank, and the latter our right flank. The next

morning early, Morgan L. Smith's brigade was deployed under cover

on the left, and Denver's on the right, ready to move forward

rapidly at a signal. I had a battery of four twenty-pound Parrott

guns, commanded by Captain Silversparre. Colonel Ezra Taylor,

chief of artillery, had two of these guns moved up silently by hand

behind a small knoll, from the crest of which the enemy's

block-house and position could be distinctly seen; when all were

ready, these guns were moved to the crest, and several quick rounds

were fired at the house, followed after an interval by a single

gum. This was the signal agreed on, and the troops responded

beautifully, crossed the field in line of battle, preceded by their

skirmishers who carried the position in good style, and pursued the

enemy for half a mile beyond.

The main line halted on the crest of the ridge, from which we could

look over the parapets of the rebel works at Corinth, and hear

their drum and bugle calls. The rebel brigade had evidently been

taken by surprise in our attack; it soon rallied and came back on

us with the usual yell, driving in our skirmishers, but was quickly

checked when it came within range of our guns and line of battle.

Generals Grant and Thomas happened to be with me during this

affair, and were well pleased at the handsome manner in which the

troops behaved. That night we began the usual entrenchments, and

the next day brought forward the artillery and the rest of the

division, which then extended from the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, at

Bowie Hill Out, to the Corinth & Purdy road, there connecting with

Hurlbut's division. That night, viz., May 29th, we heard unusual

sounds in Corinth, the constant whistling of locomotives, and soon

after daylight occurred a series of explosions followed by a dense

smoke rising high over the town. There was a telegraph line

connecting my headquarters with those of General Halleck, about

four miles off, on the Hamburg road. I inquired if he knew the

cause of the explosions and of the smoke, and he answered to

"advance with my division and feel the enemy if still in my front"

I immediately dispatched two regiments from each of my three

brigades to feel the immediate front, and in a very short time

advanced with the whole division. Each brigade found the rebel

parapets abandoned, and pushed straight for the town, which lies in

the northeast angle of intersection of the Mobile & Ohio and

Memphis & Charleston Railroads. Many buildings had been burned by

the enemy on evacuation, which had begun the night before at 6

p.m., and continued through the night, the rear-guard burning their

magazine at the time of withdrawing, about daybreak. Morgan L.

Smith's brigade followed the retreating rear-guard some four miles

to the Tuacumbia Bridge, which was found burned. I halted the

other brigades at the college, about a mile to the southwest of the

town, where I was overtaken by General Thomas in person.

The heads of all the columns had entered the rebel lines about the

same time, and there was some rather foolish clamor for the first

honors, but in fact there was no honor in the event. Beauregard

had made a clean retreat to the south, and was only seriously

pursued by cavalry from General Pope's flank. But he reached

Tupelo, where he halted for reorganization; and there is no doubt

that at the moment there was much disorganization in his ranks, for

the woods were full of deserters whom we did not even take

prisoners, but advised them to make their way home and stay there.

We spent the day at and near the college, when General Thomas, who

applied for orders at Halleck's headquarters, directed me to

conduct my division back to the camp of the night before, where we

had left our trains The advance on Corinth had occupied all of the

month of May, the most beautiful and valuable month of the year for

campaigning in this latitude. There had been little fighting, save

on General Pope's left flank about Farmington; and on our right. I

esteemed it a magnificent drill, as it served for the instruction

of our men in guard and picket duty, and in habituating them to

out-door life; and by the time we had reached Corinth I believe

that army was the best then on this continent, and could have gone

where it pleased. The four subdivisions were well commanded, as

were the divisions and brigades of the whole army. General Halleck

was a man of great capacity, of large acquirements, and at the time

possessed the confidence of the country, and of most of the army.

I held him in high estimation, and gave him credit for the

combinations which had resulted in placing this magnificent army of

a hundred thousand men, well equipped and provided, with a good

base, at Corinth, from which he could move in any direction.

Had he held his force as a unit, he could have gone to Mobile, or

Vicksburg, or anywhere in that region, which would by one move have

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