Part 3 out of 8
Half sick in consequence of the hardships of the campaign, and
satisfied there would be no more fighting of importance during the
summer, I determined to go back to civilization. I returned to
St. Louis by way of Springfield and Rolla. A wounded officer,
Lieutenant-Colonel Herron (who afterward wore the stars of a
major-general), was my traveling companion. Six days of weary toil
over rough and muddy roads brought us to the railway, within twelve
hours of St. Louis. It was my last campaign in that region. From that
date the war in the Southwest had its chief interest in the country
east of the Great River.
UP THE TENNESSEE AND AT PITTSBURG LANDING.
At St. Louis.--Progress of our Arms in the Great Valley.--Cairo.--Its
Peculiarities and Attractions.--Its Commercial, Geographical, and
Sanitary Advantages.--Up the Tennessee.--Movements Preliminary to
the Great Battle.--The Rebels and their Plans.--Postponement of
the Attack.--Disadvantages of our Position.--The Beginning of the
Battle.--Results of the First Day.--Re-enforcements.--Disputes between
Officers of our two Armies.--Beauregard's Watering-Place.
On reaching St. Louis, three weeks after the battle of Pea Ridge, I
found that public attention was centered upon the Tennessee River.
Fort Henry, Fort Donelson, Columbus, and Nashville had fallen, and
our armies were pushing forward toward the Gulf, by the line of the
Tennessee. General Pope was laying siege to Island Number Ten, having
already occupied New Madrid, and placed his gun-boats in front of
that point. General Grant's army was at Pittsburg Landing, and General
Buell's army was moving from Nashville toward Savannah, Tennessee.
The two armies were to be united at Pittsburg Landing, for a further
advance into the Southern States. General Beauregard was at Corinth,
where he had been joined by Price and Van Dorn from Arkansas, and by
Albert Sidney Johnston from Kentucky. There was a promise of active
hostilities in that quarter. I left St. Louis, after a few days' rest,
for the new scene of action.
Cairo lay in my route. I found it greatly changed from the Cairo of
the previous autumn. Six months before, it had been the rendezvous of
the forces watching the Lower Mississippi. The basin in which the town
stood, was a vast military encampment. Officers of all rank thronged
the hotels, and made themselves as comfortable as men could be in
Cairo. All the leading journals of the country were represented,
and the dispatches from Cairo were everywhere perused with interest,
though they were not always entirety accurate.
March and April witnessed a material change. Where there had been
twenty thousand soldiers in December, there were less than one
thousand in April. Where a fleet of gun-boats, mortar-rafts, and
transports had been tied to the levees during the winter months, the
opening spring showed but a half-dozen steamers of all classes. The
transports and the soldiers were up the Tennessee, the mortars were
bombarding Island Number Ten, and the gun-boats were on duty where
their services were most needed. The journalists had become war
correspondents in earnest, and were scattered to the points of
Cairo had become a vast depot of supplies for the armies operating
on the Mississippi and its tributaries. The commander of the post was
more a forwarding agent than a military officer. The only steamers at
the levee were loading for the armies. Cairo was a map of busy, muddy
The opening year found Cairo exulting in its deep and all-pervading
mud. There was mud everywhere.
Levee, sidewalks, floors, windows, tables, bed-clothing, all were
covered with it. On the levee it varied from six to thirty inches
in depth. The luckless individual whose duties obliged him to make
frequent journeys from the steamboat landing to the principal hotel,
became intimately acquainted with its character.
Sad, unfortunate, derided Cairo! Your visitors depart with unpleasant
memories. Only your inhabitants, who hold titles to corner lots, speak
loudly in your praise. When it rains, and sometimes when it does not,
your levee is unpleasant to walk upon. Your sidewalks are dangerous,
and your streets are unclean. John Phenix declared you destitute of
honesty. Dickens asserted that your physical and moral foundations
were insecurely laid. Russell did not praise you, and Trollope uttered
much to your discredit. Your musquitos are large, numerous, and
hungry. Your atmosphere does not resemble the spicy breezes that blow
soft o'er Ceylon's isle. Your energy and enterprise are commendable,
and your geographical location is excellent, but you can never become
a rival to Saratoga or Newport.
Cairo is built in a basin formed by constructing a levee to inclose
the peninsula at the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.
Before the erection of the levee, this peninsula was overflowed by the
rise of either river. Sometimes, in unusual floods, the waters reach
the top of the embankment, and manage to fill the basin. At the
time of my visit, the Ohio was rising rapidly. The inhabitants were
alarmed, as the water was gradually gaining upon them. After a time it
took possession of the basin, enabling people to navigate the streets
and front yards in skiffs, and exchange salutations from house-tops
or upper windows. Many were driven from their houses by the flood, and
forced to seek shelter elsewhere. In due time the waters receded and
the city remained unharmed. It is not true that a steamer was lost in
consequence of running against a chimney of the St. Charles Hotel.
Cairo has prospered during the war, and is now making an effort
to fill her streets above the high-water level, and insure a dry
foundation at all seasons of the year. This once accomplished, Cairo
will become a city of no little importance.
Proceeding up the Tennessee, I reached Pittsburg Landing three days
after the great battle which has made that locality famous.
The history of that battle has been many times written. Official
reports have given the dry details,--the movements of division,
brigade, regiment, and battery, all being fully portrayed. A few
journalists who witnessed it gave the accounts which were circulated
everywhere by the Press. The earliest of these was published by _The
Herald._ The most complete and graphic was that of Mr. Reid, of _The
Cincinnati Gazette._ Officers, soldiers, civilians, all with greater
or less experience, wrote what they had heard and seen. So diverse
have been the statements, that a general officer who was prominent in
the battle, says he sometimes doubts if he was present.
In the official accounts there have been inharmonious deductions, and
many statements of a contradictory character. Some of the participants
have criticised unfavorably the conduct of others, and a bitterness
continuing through and after the war has been the result.
In February of 1862, the Rebels commenced assembling an army at
Corinth. General Beauregard was placed in command. Early in March,
Price and Van Dorn were ordered to take their commands to Corinth,
as their defeat at Pea Ridge had placed them on the defensive against
General Curtis. General A. S. Johnston had moved thither, after the
evacuation of Bowling Green, Kentucky, and from all quarters
the Rebels were assembling a vast army. General Johnston became
commander-in-chief on his arrival.
General Halleck, who then commanded the Western Department, ordered
General Grant, after the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson, to move
to Pittsburg Landing, and seize that point as a base against Corinth.
General Buell, with the Army of the Ohio, was ordered to join him from
Nashville, and with other re-enforcements we would be ready to take
Owing to the condition of the roads, General Buell moved very slowly,
so that General Grant was in position at Pittsburg Landing several
days before the former came up. This was the situation at the
beginning of April; Grant encamped on the bank of the Tennessee
nearest the enemy, and Buell slowly approaching the opposite bank. It
was evidently the enemy's opportunity to strike his blow before our
two armies should be united.
On the 4th of April, the Rebels prepared to move from Corinth to
attack General Grant's camp, but, on account of rain, they delayed
their advance till the morning of the 6th. At daylight of the 6th our
pickets were driven in, and were followed by the advance of the Rebel
The division whose camp was nearest to Corinth, and therefore the
first to receive the onset of the enemy, was composed of the newest
troops in the army. Some of the regiments had received their arms less
than two weeks before. The outposts were not sufficiently far from
camp to allow much time for getting under arms after the first
encounter. A portion of this division was attacked before it could
form, but its commander, General Prentiss, promptly rallied his men,
and made a vigorous fight. He succeeded, for a time, in staying the
progress of the enemy, but the odds against him were too great. When
his division was surrounded and fighting was no longer of use, he
surrendered his command. At the time of surrender he had little more
than a thousand men remaining out of a division six thousand strong.
Five thousand were killed, wounded, or had fled to the rear.
General Grant had taken no precautions against attack. The
vedettes were but a few hundred yards from our front, and we had no
breast-works of any kind behind which to fight. The newest and least
reliable soldiers were at the point where the enemy would make his
first appearance. The positions of the various brigades and divisions
were taken, more with reference to securing a good camping-ground,
than for purposes of strategy. General Grant showed himself a soldier
in the management of the army after the battle began, and he has since
achieved a reputation as the greatest warrior of the age. Like the
oculist who spoiled a hatful of eyes in learning to operate for the
cataract, he improved his military knowledge by his experience at
Shiloh. Never afterward did he place an army in the enemy's country
without making careful provision against assault.
One division, under General Wallace, was at Crump's Landing, six miles
below the battle-ground, and did not take part in the action till the
following day. The other divisions were in line to meet the enemy soon
after the fighting commenced on General Prentiss's front, and made a
stubborn resistance to the Rebel advance.
The Rebels well knew they would have no child's play in that battle.
They came prepared for hot, terrible work, in which thousands of men
were to fall. The field attests our determined resistance; it attests
their daring advance. A day's fighting pushed us slowly, but steadily,
toward the Tennessee. Our last line was formed less than a half mile
from its bank. Sixty pieces of artillery composed a grand battery,
against which the enemy rushed. General Grant's officers claim that
the enemy received a final check when he attacked that line. The
Rebels claim that another hour of daylight, had we received no
re-enforcements, would have seen our utter defeat. Darkness and a
fresh division came to our aid.
General Buell was to arrive at Savannah, ten miles below Pittsburg,
and on the opposite bank of the river, on the morning of the 6th. On
the evening of the 5th, General Grant proceeded to Savannah to meet
him, and was there when the battle began on the following morning.
His boat was immediately headed for Pittsburg, and by nine o'clock
the General was on the battle-field. From that time, the engagement
received his personal attention. When he started from Savannah, some
of General Buell's forces were within two miles of the town. They were
hurried forward as rapidly as possible, and arrived at Pittsburg, some
by land and others by water, in season to take position on our left,
just as the day was closing. Others came up in the night, and formed a
part of the line on the morning of the 7th.
General Nelson's Division was the first to cross the river and form
on the left of Grant's shattered army. As he landed, Nelson rode among
the stragglers by the bank and endeavored to rally them. Hailing a
captain of infantry, he told him to get his men together and fall into
line. The captain's face displayed the utmost terror. "My regiment
is cut to pieces," was the rejoinder; "every man of my company is
"Then why ain't you killed, too, you d----d coward?" thundered Nelson.
"Gather some of these stragglers and go back into the battle."
The man obeyed the order.
[Illustration: NELSON CROSSING THE TENNESSEE RIVER.]
General Nelson reported to General Grant with his division, received
his orders, and then dashed about the field, wherever his presence was
needed. The division was only slightly engaged before night came on
and suspended the battle.
At dawn on the second day the enemy lay in the position it held When
darkness ended the fight. The gun-boats had shelled the woods during
the night, and prevented the Rebels from reaching the river on our
left. A creek and ravine prevented their reaching it on the right.
None of the Rebels stood on the bank of the Tennessee River on that
occasion, except as prisoners of war.
As they had commenced the attack on the 6th, it was our turn to begin
it on the 7th. A little past daylight we opened fire, and the fresh
troops on the left, under General Buell, were put in motion. The
Rebels had driven us on the 6th, so we drove them on the 7th. By noon
of that day we held the ground lost on the day previous.
The camps which the enemy occupied during the night were comparatively
uninjured, so confident were the Rebels that our defeat was assured.
It was the arrival of General Buell's army that saved us. The history
of that battle, as the Rebels have given it, shows that they expected
to overpower General Grant before General Buell could come up. They
would then cross the Tennessee, meet and defeat Buell, and recapture
Nashville. The defeat of these two armies would have placed the Valley
of the Ohio at the command of the Rebels. Louisville was to have been
the next point of attack.
The dispute between the officers of the Army of the Tennessee and
those of the Army of the Ohio is not likely to be terminated until
this generation has passed away. The former contend that the Rebels
were repulsed on the evening of the 6th of April, before the Army of
the Ohio took part in the battle. The latter are equally earnest in
declaring that the Army of the Tennessee would have been defeated had
not the other army arrived. Both parties sustain their arguments by
statements in proof, and by positive assertions. I believe it is the
general opinion of impartial observers, that the salvation of General
Grant's army is due to the arrival of the army of General Buell. With
the last attack on the evening of the 6th, in which our batteries
repulsed the Rebels, the enemy did not retreat. Night came as the
fighting ceased. Beauregard's army slept where it had fought, and
gave all possible indication of a readiness to renew the battle on the
following day. So near was it to the river that our gun-boats threw
shells during the night to prevent our left wing being flanked.
Beauregard is said to have sworn to water his horse in the Tennessee,
or in Hell, on that night. It is certain that the animal did not
quench his thirst in the terrestrial stream. If he drank from springs
beyond the Styx, I am not informed.
SHILOH AND THE SIEGE OF CORINTH.
The Error of the Rebels.--Story of a Surgeon.--Experience of a
Rebel Regiment.--Injury to the Rebel Army.--The Effect in our own
Lines.--Daring of a Color-Bearer.--A Brave Soldier.--A Drummer-Boy's
Experience.--Gallantry of an Artillery Surgeon.--A Regiment Commanded
by a Lieutenant.--Friend Meeting Friend and Brother Meeting Brother
in the Opposing Lines.--The Scene of the Battle.--Fearful Traces
of Musketry-Fire.--The Wounded.--The Labor of the Sanitary
Commission.--Humanity a Yankee Trick.--Besieging Corinth.--A
Cold-Water Battery.--Halleck and the Journalists.--Occupation of
The fatal error of the Rebels, was their neglect to attack on the 4th,
as originally intended. They were informed by their scouts that Buell
could not reach Savannah before the 9th or 10th; and therefore a delay
of two days would not change the situation. Buell was nearer than they
The surgeon of the Sixth Iowa Infantry fell into the enemy's hands
early on the morning of the first day of the battle, and established a
hospital in our abandoned camp. His position was at a small log-house
close by the principal road. Soon after he took possession, the
enemy's columns began to file past him, as they pressed our army. The
surgeon says he noticed a Louisiana regiment that moved into battle
eight hundred strong, its banners flying and the men elated at the
prospect of success. About five o'clock in the afternoon this regiment
was withdrawn, and went into bivouac a short distance from the
surgeon's hospital. It was then less than four hundred strong, but the
spirit of the men was still the same. On the morning of the 7th,
it once more went into battle. About noon it came out, less than a
hundred strong, pressing in retreat toward Corinth. The men still
clung to their flag, and declared their determination to be avenged.
The story of this regiment was the story of many others. Shattered and
disorganized, their retreat to Corinth had but little order. Only the
splendid rear-guard, commanded by General Bragg, saved them from utter
confusion. The Rebels admitted that many of their regiments were
unable to produce a fifth of their original numbers, until a week
or more after the battle. The stragglers came in slowly from the
surrounding country, and at length enabled the Rebels to estimate
their loss. There were many who never returned to answer at roll-call.
In our army, the disorder was far from small. Large numbers of
soldiers wandered for days about the camps, before they could
ascertain their proper locations. It was fully a week, before all
were correctly assigned. We refused to allow burying parties from the
Rebels to come within our lines, preferring that they should not
see the condition of our camp. Time was required to enable us to
recuperate. I presume the enemy was as much in need of time as
A volume could be filled with the stories of personal valor during
that battle. General Lew Wallace says his division was, at a certain
time, forming on one side of a field, while the Rebels were on the
opposite side. The color-bearer of a Rebel regiment stepped in front
of his own line, and waved his flag as a challenge to the color-bearer
that faced him. Several of our soldiers wished to meet the challenge,
but their officers forbade it. Again the Rebel stepped forward, and
planted his flag-staff in the ground. There was no response, and again
and again he advanced, until he had passed more than half the distance
between the opposing lines. Our fire was reserved in admiration of the
man's daring, as he stood full in view, defiantly waving his banner.
At last, when the struggle between the divisions commenced, it was
impossible to save him, and he fell dead by the side of his colors.
On the morning of the second day's fighting, the officers of one of
our gun-boats saw a soldier on the river-bank on our extreme left,
assisting another soldier who was severely wounded. A yawl was sent to
bring away the wounded man and his companion. As it touched the side
of the gun-boat on its return, the uninjured soldier asked to be sent
back to land, that he might have further part in the battle. "I have,"
said he, "been taking care of this man, who is my neighbor at home. He
was wounded yesterday morning, and I have been by his side ever since.
Neither of us has eaten any thing for thirty hours, but, if you will
take good care of him, I will not stop now for myself. I want to get
into the battle again at once." The man's request was complied with. I
regret my inability to give his name.
A drummer-boy of the Fifteenth Iowa Infantry was wounded five times
during the first day's battle, but insisted upon going out on the
second day. He had hardly started before he fainted from loss of
blood, and was left to recover and crawl back to the camp.
Colonel Sweeney, of the Fifty-second Illinois Infantry, who lost an
arm in Mexico and was wounded in the leg at Wilson Creek, received a
wound in his arm on the first day of the battle. He kept his saddle,
though he was unable to use his arm, and went to the hospital after
the battle was over. When I saw him he was venting his indignation
at the Rebels, because they had not wounded him in the stump of
his amputated arm, instead of the locality which gave him so much
inconvenience. It was this officer's fortune to be wounded on nearly
every occasion when he went into battle.
During the battle, Dr. Cornyn, surgeon of Major Cavender's battalion
of Missouri Artillery, saw a section of a battery whose commander had
been killed. The doctor at once removed the surgeon's badge from his
hat and the sash from his waist, and took command of the guns. He
placed them in position, and for several hours managed them with good
effect. He was twice wounded, though not severely. "I was determined
they should not kill or capture me as a surgeon when I had charge
of that artillery," said the doctor afterward, "and so removed every
thing that marked my rank."
The Rebels made some very desperate charges against our artillery, and
lost heavily in each attack. Once they actually laid their hands on
the muzzles of two guns in Captain Stone's battery, but were unable to
General Hurlbut stated that his division fought all day on Sunday with
heavy loss, but only one regiment broke. When he entered the battle
on Monday morning, the Third Iowa Infantry was commanded by a
first-lieutenant, all the field officers and captains having been
disabled or captured. Several regiments were commanded by captains.
Colonel McHenry, of the Seventeenth Kentucky, said his regiment fought
a Kentucky regiment which was raised in the county where his own was
organized. The fight was very fierce. The men frequently called out
from one to another, using taunting epithets. Two brothers recognized
each other at the same moment, and came to a tree midway between the
lines, where they conversed for several minutes.
The color-bearer of the Fifty-second Illinois was wounded early in the
battle. A man who was under arrest for misdemeanor asked the privilege
of carrying the colors. It was granted, and he behaved so admirably
that he was released from arrest as soon as the battle was ended.
General Halleck arrived a week after the battle, and commenced a
reorganization of the army. He found much confusion consequent upon
the battle. In a short time the army was ready to take the offensive.
We then commenced the advance upon Corinth, in which we were six
weeks moving twenty-five miles. When our army first took position
at Pittsburg Landing, and before the Rebels had effected their
concentration, General Grant asked permission to capture Corinth.
He felt confident of success, but was ordered not to bring on an
engagement under any circumstances. Had the desired permission been
given, there is little doubt he would have succeeded, and thus avoided
the necessity of the battle of Shiloh.
The day following my arrival at Pittsburg Landing I rode over the
battle-field. The ground was mostly wooded, the forest being one
in which artillery could be well employed, but where cavalry was
comparatively useless. The ascent from the river was up a steep bluff
that led to a broken table-ground, in which there were many ravines,
generally at right angles to the river. On this table-ground our camps
were located, and it was there the battle took place.
Everywhere the trees were scarred and shattered, telling, as plainly
as by words, of the shower of shot, shell, and bullets, that had
fallen upon them. Within rifle range of the river, stood a tree
marked by a cannon-shot, showing how much we were pressed back on
the afternoon of the 6th. From the moment the crest of the bluff was
gained, the traces of battle were apparent.
In front of the line where General Prentiss's Division fought, there
was a spot of level ground covered with a dense growth of small trees.
The tops of these trees were from twelve to fifteen feet high, and had
been almost mowed off by the shower of bullets which passed through
them. I saw no place where there was greater evidence of severe work.
There was everywhere full proof that the battle was a determined one.
Assailant and defendant had done their best.
It was a ride of five miles among scarred trees, over ground cut by
the wheels of guns and caissons, among shattered muskets, disabled
cannon, broken wagons, and all the heavier debris of battle.
Everywhere could be seen torn garments, haversacks, and other personal
equipments of soldiers. There were tents where the wounded had been
gathered, and where those who could not easily bear movement to the
transports were still remaining. In every direction I moved, there
were the graves of the slain, the National and the Rebel soldiers
being buried side by side. Few of the graves were marked, as the
hurry of interment had been great. I fear that many of those graves,
undesignated and unfenced, have long since been leveled. A single
year, with its rain and its rank vegetation, would leave but a small
trace of those mounds.
All through that forest the camps of our army were scattered. During
the first few days after the battle they showed much irregularity, but
gradually took a more systematic shape. When the wounded had been
sent to the transports, the regiments compacted, the camps cleared
of superfluous baggage and _materiel_, and the weather became more
propitious, the army assumed an attractive appearance.
When the news of the battle reached the principal cities of the West,
the Sanitary Commission prepared to send relief. Within twenty-four
hours, boats were dispatched from St. Louis and Cincinnati, and
hurried to Pittsburg Landing with the utmost rapidity. The battle had
not been altogether unexpected, but it found us without the proper
preparation. Whatever we had was pushed forward without delay, and the
sufferings of the wounded were alleviated as much as possible.
As fast as the boats arrived they were loaded with wounded, and sent
to St. Louis and other points along the Mississippi, or to Cincinnati
and places in its vicinity. Chicago, St. Louis, and Cincinnati were
the principal points represented in this work of humanity. Many
prominent ladies of those cities passed week after week in the
hospitals or on the transports, doing every thing in their power, and
giving their attention to friend and foe alike.
In all cases the Rebels were treated with the same kindness that our
own men received. Not only on the boats, but in the hospitals where
the wounded were distributed, and until they were fully recovered, our
suffering prisoners were faithfully nursed. The Rebel papers afterward
admitted this kind treatment, but declared it was a Yankee trick to
win the sympathies of our prisoners, and cause them to abandon the
insurgent cause. The men who systematically starved their prisoners,
and deprived them of shelter and clothing, could readily suspect the
humanity of others. They were careful never to attempt to kill by
kindness, those who were so unfortunate as to fall into their hands.
It was three weeks after the battle before all the wounded were sent
away, and the army was ready for offensive work. When we were once
more in fighting trim, our lines were slowly pushed forward. General
Pope had been called from the vicinity of Fort Pillow, after his
capture of Island Number Ten, and his army was placed in position
on the left of the line already formed. When our advance began, we
mustered a hundred and ten thousand men. Exclusive of those who do not
take part in a battle, we could have easily brought eighty thousand
men into action. We began the siege of Corinth with every confidence
in our ability to succeed.
In this advance, we first learned how an army should intrench
itself. Every time we took a new position, we proceeded to throw
up earth-works. Before the siege was ended, our men had perfected
themselves in the art of intrenching. The defenses we erected will
long remain as monuments of the war in Western Tennessee. Since
General Halleck, no other commander has shown such ability to fortify
in an open field against an enemy that was acting on the defensive.
It was generally proclaimed that we were to capture Corinth with all
its garrison of sixty or seventy thousand men. The civilian observers
could not understand how this was to be accomplished, as the Rebels
had two lines of railway open for a safe retreat. It was like the old
story of "bagging Price" in Missouri. Every part of the bag, except
the top and one side, was carefully closed and closely watched.
Unmilitary men were skeptical, but the military heads assured them it
was a piece of grand strategy, which the public must not be allowed to
During the siege, there was very little for a journalist to record.
One day was much like another. Occasionally there would be a collision
with the enemy's pickets, or a short struggle for a certain position,
usually ending in our possession of the disputed point. The battle of
Farmington, on the left of our line, was the only engagement worthy
the name, and this was of comparatively short duration. Twenty-four
hours after it transpired we ceased to talk about it, and made only
occasional reference to the event. There were four weeks of monotony.
An advance of a half mile daily was not calculated to excite the
The chaplains and the surgeons busied themselves in looking after
the general health of the army. One day, a chaplain, noted for his
advocacy of total abstinence, passed the camp of the First Michigan
Battery. This company was raised in Coldwater, Michigan, and the
camp-chests, caissons, and other property were marked "Loomis's
Coldwater Battery." The chaplain at once sought Captain Loomis, and
paid a high compliment to his moral courage in taking a firm and noble
stand in favor of temperance. After the termination of the interview,
the captain and several friends drank to the long life of the chaplain
and the success of the "Coldwater Battery."
Toward the end of the siege, General Halleck gave the journalists a
sensation, by expelling them from his lines. The representatives of
the Press held a meeting, and waited upon that officer, after the
appearance of the order requiring their departure. They offered a
protest, which was insolently rejected. We could not ascertain General
Halleck's purpose in excluding us just as the campaign was closing,
but concluded he desired we should not witness the end of the siege
in which so much had been promised and so little accomplished. A week
after our departure, General Beauregard evacuated Corinth, and our
army took possession. The fruits of the victory were an empty village,
a few hundred stragglers, and a small quantity of war _materiel_.
From Corinth the Rebels retreated to Tupelo, Mississippi, where
they threw up defensive works. The Rebel Government censured General
Beauregard for abandoning Corinth. The evacuation of that point
uncovered Memphis, and allowed it to fall into our hands.
Beauregard was removed from command. General Joseph E. Johnston was
assigned to duty in his stead. This officer proceeded to reorganize
his army, with a view to offensive operations against our lines.
He made no demonstrations of importance until the summer months had
The capture of Corinth terminated the offensive portion of the
campaign. Our army occupied the line of the Memphis and Charleston
Railway from Corinth to Memphis, and made a visit to Holly Springs
without encountering the enemy. A few cavalry expeditions were made
into Mississippi, but they accomplished nothing of importance. The
Army of the Tennessee went into summer-quarters. The Army of the Ohio,
under General Buell, returned to its proper department, to confront
the Rebel armies then assembling in Eastern Tennessee. General Halleck
was summoned to Washington as commander-in-chief of the armies of the
CAPTURE OF FORT PILLOW AND BATTLE OF MEMPHIS.
The Siege of Fort Pillow.--General Pope.--His Reputation for Veracity.
--Capture of the "Ten Thousand."--Naval Battle above Fort Pillow.--The
John II. Dickey.--Occupation of the Fort.--General Forrest.--Strength
of the Fortifications.--Their Location.--Randolph, Tennessee.--Memphis
and her Last Ditch.--Opening of the Naval Combat.--Gallant Action
of Colonel Ellet.--Fate of the Rebel Fleet.--The People Viewing the
While I was tarrying at Cairo, after the exodus of the journalists
from the army before Corinth, the situation on the Mississippi became
interesting. After the capture of Island Number Ten, General Pope was
ordered to Pittsburg Landing with his command. When called away, he
was preparing to lay siege to Fort Pillow, in order to open the river
to Memphis. His success at Island Number Ten had won him much credit,
and he was anxious to gain more of the same article. Had he taken Fort
Pillow, he would have held the honor of being the captor of Memphis,
as that city must have fallen with the strong fortifications which
served as its protection.
The capture of Island Number Ten was marked by the only instance of a
successful canal from one bend of the Mississippi to another. As soon
as the channel was completed, General Pope took his transports below
the island, ready for moving his men. Admiral Foote tried the first
experiment of running his gun-boats past the Rebel batteries, and was
completely successful. The Rebel transports could not escape, neither
could transports or gun-boats come up from Memphis to remove the Rebel
army. There was a lake in the rear of the Rebels which prevented their
retreat. The whole force, some twenty-eight hundred, was surrendered,
with all its arms and munitions of war. General Pope reported his
captures somewhat larger than they really were, and received much
applause for his success.
The reputation of this officer, on the score of veracity, has not been
of the highest character. After he assumed command in Virginia, his
"Order Number Five" drew upon him much ridicule. Probably the story
of the capture of ten thousand prisoners, after the occupation of
Corinth, has injured him more than all other exaggerations combined.
The paternity of that choice bit of romance belongs to General
Halleck, instead of General Pope. Colonel Elliott, who commanded
the cavalry expedition, which General Pope sent out when Corinth
was occupied, forwarded a dispatch to Pope, something like the
"I am still pursuing the enemy. The woods are full of stragglers. Some
of my officers estimate their number as high as ten thousand. Many
have already come into my lines."
[Illustration: THE CARONDELET RUNNING THE BATTERIES AT ISLAND NO. 10]
Pope sent this dispatch, without alteration, to General Halleck. From
the latter it went to the country that "General Pope reported ten
thousand prisoners captured below Corinth." It served to cover up
the barrenness of the Corinth occupation, and put the public in
good-humor. General Halleck received credit for the success of his
plans. When it came out that no prisoners of consequence had been
taken, the real author of the story escaped unharmed.
At the time of his departure to re-enforce the army before Corinth,
General Pope left but a single brigade of infantry, to act in
conjunction with our naval forces in the siege of Fort Pillow. This
brigade was encamped on the Arkansas shore opposite Fort Pillow, and
did some very effective fighting against the musquitos, which that
country produces in the greatest profusion. An attack on the fort,
with such a small force, was out of the question, and the principal
aggressive work was done by the navy at long range.
On the 10th of May, the Rebel fleet made an attack upon our navy,
in which they sunk two of our gun-boats, the _Mound City_ and the
_Cincinnati_, and returned to the protection of Fort Pillow with one
of their own boats disabled, and two others somewhat damaged. Our
sunken gun-boats were fortunately in shoal water, where they were
speedily raised and repaired. Neither fleet had much to boast of as
the result of that engagement.
The journalists who were watching Fort Pillow, had their head-quarters
on board the steamer _John H. Dickey_, which was anchored in
midstream. At the time of the approach of the Rebel gun-boats, the
_Dickey_ was lying without sufficient steam to move her wheels, and
the prospect was good that she might be captured or destroyed. Her
commander, Captain Mussleman, declared he was _not_ in that place to
stop cannon-shot, and made every exertion to get his boat in condition
to move. His efforts were fully appreciated by the journalists,
particularly as they were successful. The _Dickey_, under the same
captain, afterward ran a battery near Randolph, Tennessee, and though
pierced in every part by cannon-shot and musket-balls, she escaped
without any loss of life.
As soon as the news of the evacuation of Corinth was received at
Cairo, we looked for the speedy capture of Fort Pillow. Accordingly,
on the 4th of June, I proceeded down the river, arriving off Fort
Pillow on the morning of the 5th. The Rebels had left, as we expected,
after spiking their guns and destroying most of their ammunition. The
first boat to reach the abandoned fort was the _Hetty Gilmore_, one of
the smallest transports in the fleet. She landed a little party, which
took possession, hoisted the flag, and declared the fort, and all it
contained, the property of the United States. The Rebels were, by this
time, several miles distant, in full retreat to a safer location.
It was at this same fort, two years later, that the Rebel General
Forrest ordered the massacre of a garrison that had surrendered after
a prolonged defense. His only plea for this cold-blooded slaughter,
was that some of his men had been fired upon after the white flag was
raised. The testimony in proof of this barbarity was fully conclusive,
and gave General Forrest and his men a reputation that no honorable
soldier could desire.
In walking through the fort after its capture, I was struck by its
strength and extent. It occupied the base of a bluff near the water's
edge. On the summit of the bluff there were breast-works running in a
zigzag course for five or six miles, and inclosing a large area.
The works along the river were very strong, and could easily hold a
powerful fleet at bay.
From Fort Pillow to Randolph, ten miles lower down, was less than an
hour's steaming. Randolph was a small, worthless village, partly at
the base of a bluff, and partly on its summit. Here the Rebels had
erected a powerful fort, which they abandoned when they abandoned
Fort Pillow. The inhabitants expressed much agreeable astonishment
on finding that we did not verify all the statements of the Rebels,
concerning the barbarity of the Yankees wherever they set foot on
Southern soil. The town was most bitterly disloyal. It was afterward
burned, in punishment for decoying a steamboat to the landing, and
then attempting her capture and destruction. A series of blackened
chimneys now marks the site of Randolph.
Our capture of these points occurred a short time after the Rebels
issued the famous "cotton-burning order," commanding all planters to
burn their cotton, rather than allow it to fall into our hands. The
people showed no particular desire to comply with the order, except
in a few instances. Detachments of Rebel cavalry were sent to enforce
obedience. They enforced it by setting fire to the cotton in presence
of its owners. On both banks of the river, as we moved from Randolph
to Memphis, we could see the smoke arising from plantations, or from
secluded spots in the forest where cotton had been concealed. In many
cases the bales were broken open and rolled into the river, dotting
the stream with floating cotton. Had it then possessed the value that
attached to it two years later, I fear there would have been many
attempts to save it for transfer to a Northern market.
On the day before the evacuation of Fort Pillow, Memphis determined
she would never surrender. In conjunction with other cities, she
fitted up several gun-boats, that were expected to annihilate the
Yankee fleet. In the event of the failure of this means of defense,
the inhabitants were pledged to do many dreadful things before
submitting to the invaders. Had we placed any confidence in the
resolutions passed by the Memphians, we should have expected all the
denizens of the Bluff City to commit _hari-kari_, after first setting
fire to their dwellings.
On the morning of the 6th of June, the Rebel gun-boats, eight in
number, took their position just above Memphis, and prepared for the
advance of our fleet. The Rebel boats were the _Van Dorn_ (flag-ship),
_General Price_, _General Bragg_, _General Lovell_, _Little Rebel_,
_Jeff. Thompson_, _Sumter_, and _General Beauregard_. The _General
Bragg_ was the New Orleans and Galveston steamer _Mexico_ in former
days, and had been strengthened, plated, and, in other ways made as
effective as possible for warlike purposes. The balance of the fleet
consisted of tow-boats from the Lower Mississippi, fitted up as rams
and gun-boats. They were supplied with very powerful engines, and
were able to choose their positions in the battle. The Rebel fleet was
commanded by Commodore Montgomery, who was well known to many persons
on our own boats.
The National boats were the iron-clads _Benton, Carondelet, St. Louis,
Louisville_, and _Cairo_. There was also the ram fleet, commanded by
Colonel Ellet. It comprised the _Monarch, Queen of the West, Lioness,
Switzerland, Mingo, Lancaster No. 3, Fulton, Horner_, and _Samson_.
The _Monarch_ and _Queen of the West_ were the only boats of the
ram fleet that took part in the action. Our forces were commanded by
Flag-officer Charles H. Davis, who succeeded Admiral Foote at the time
of the illness of the latter.
The land forces, acting in conjunction with our fleet, consisted of a
single brigade of infantry, that was still at Fort Pillow. It did not
arrive in the vicinity of Memphis until after the battle was over.
Early in the morning the battle began. It was opened by the gun-boats
on the Rebel side, and for some minutes consisted of a cannonade at
long range, in which very little was effected. Gradually the boats
drew nearer to each other, and made better use of their guns.
Before they arrived at close quarters the rams _Monarch_ and _Queen
of the West_ steamed forward and engaged in the fight. Their
participation was most effective. The _Queen of the West_ struck and
disabled one of the Rebel gun-boats, and was herself disabled by the
force of the blow. The _Monarch_ steered straight for the _General
Lovell_, and dealt her a tremendous blow, fairly in the side, just aft
the wheel. The sides of the _Lovell_ were crushed as if they had been
made of paper, and the boat sank in less than three minutes, in a spot
where the plummet shows a depth of ninety feet.
Grappling with the _Beauregard_, the _Monarch_ opened upon her with
a stream of hot water and a shower of rifle-balls, which effectually
prevented the latter from using a gun. In a few moments she cast off
and drifted a short distance down the river. Coming up on the other
side, the _Monarch_ dealt her antagonist a blow that left her in a
sinking condition. Herself comparatively uninjured, she paused to
allow the gun-boats to take a part. Those insignificant and unwieldy
rams had placed three of the enemy's gun-boats _hors de combat_ in
less than a quarter of an hour's time.
Our gun-boats ceased firing as the rams entered the fight; but they
now reopened. With shot and shell the guns were rapidly served. The
effect was soon apparent. One Rebel boat was disabled and abandoned,
after grounding opposite Memphis. A second was grounded and blown up,
and two others were disabled, abandoned, and captured.
It was a good morning's work. The first gun was fired at forty minutes
past five o'clock, and the last at forty-three minutes past six. The
Rebels boasted they would whip us before breakfast. We had taken no
breakfast when the fight began. After the battle was over we enjoyed
our morning meal with a relish that does not usually accompany defeat.
The following shows the condition of the two fleets after the
_General Beauregard_, sunk.
_General Lovell_, sunk.
_General Price_, injured and captured.
_Little Rebel_, " " "
_Sumter_, " " "
_General Bragg_, " " "
_Jeff. Thompson_, burned.
_General Van Dorn_, escaped.
THE NATIONAL FLEET.
_St. Louis_, "
_Monarch_ (ram), unhurt.
_Queen of the West_ (ram), disabled.
The captured vessels were refitted, and, without alteration of names,
attached to the National fleet. The _Sumter_ was lost a few months
later, in consequence of running aground near the Rebel batteries in
the vicinity of Bayou Sara. The _Bragg_ was one of the best boats
in the service in point of speed, and proved of much value as a
dispatch-steamer on the lower portion of the river.
The people of Memphis rose at an early hour to witness the naval
combat. It had been generally known during the previous night that the
battle would begin about sunrise. The first gun brought a large crowd
to the bluff overlooking the river, whence a full view of the fight
was obtained. Some of the spectators were loyal, and wished success to
the National fleet, but the great majority were animated by a strong
hope and expectation of our defeat.
A gentleman, who was of the lookers-on, subsequently told me of the
conduct of the populace. As a matter of course, the disloyalists had
all the conversation their own way. While they expressed their wishes
in the loudest tones, no one uttered a word in opposition. Many
offered wagers on the success of their fleet, and expressed a
readiness to give large odds. No one dared accept these offers, as
their acceptance would have been an evidence of sympathy for the
Yankees. Americans generally, but particularly in the South, make
their wagers as they hope or wish. In the present instance no man was
allowed to "copper" on the Rebel flotilla.
IN MEMPHIS AND UNDER THE FLAG
Jeff. Thompson and his Predictions.--A Cry of Indignation.--Memphis
Humiliated.--The Journalists in the Battle.--The Surrender.--A Fine
Point of Law and Honor.--Going on Shore.--An Enraged Secessionist.--A
Dangerous Enterprise.--Memphis and her Antecedents.--Her Loyalty.--An
Amusing Incident.--How the Natives learned of the Capture of Fort
Donelson.--The Last Ditch.--A Farmer-Abolitionist.--Disloyalty among
the Women.--"Blessings in Disguise."--An American Mark Tapley.
The somewhat widely (though not favorably) known Rebel chieftain,
Jeff. Thompson, was in Memphis on the day of the battle, and boasted
of the easy victory the Rebels would have over the National fleet.
"We will chaw them up in just an hour," said Jeff., as the battle
"Are you sure of that?" asked a friend.
"Certainly I am; there is no doubt of it." Turning to a servant, he
sent for his horse, in order, as he said, to be able to move about
rapidly to the best points for witnessing the engagement.
In an hour and three minutes the battle was over. Jeff, turned in his
saddle, and bade his friend farewell, saying he had a note falling due
that day at Holly Springs, and was going out to pay it. The "chawing
up" of our fleet was not referred to again.
As the _Monarch_ struck the _Lovell_, sinking the latter in deep
water, the crowd stood breathless. As the crew of the sunken boat were
floating helplessly in the strong current, and our own skiffs were
putting off to aid them, there was hardly a word uttered through all
that multitude. As the Rebel boats, one after another, were sunk or
captured, the sympathies of the spectators found vent in words. When,
at length, the last of the Rebel fleet disappeared, and the Union
flotilla spread its flags in triumph, there went up an almost
universal yell of indignation from that vast crowd. Women tore their
bonnets from their heads, and trampled them on the ground; men stamped
and swore as only infuriated Rebels can, and called for all known
misfortunes to settle upon the heads of their invaders. The profanity
was not entirely monopolized by the men.
This scene of confusion lasted for some time, and ended in anxiety to
know what we would do next. Some of the spectators turned away, and
went, in sullen silence, to their homes. Others remained, out of
curiosity, to witness the end of the day's work. A few were secretly
rejoicing at the result, but the time had not come when they could
display their sympathies. The crowd eagerly watched our fleet, and
noted every motion of the various boats.
The press correspondents occupied various positions during the
engagement. Mr. Coffin, of the Boston _Journal_, was on the tug
belonging to the flag-ship, and had a fine view of the whole affair.
One of _The Herald_ correspondents was in the pilot-house of the
gun-boat _Cairo_, while Mr. Colburn, of _The World_, was on the
captured steamer _Sovereign_. "Junius," of _The Tribune_, and Mr.
Vizitelly, of the London _Illustrated News_, with several others, were
on the transport _Dickey_, the general rendezvous of the journalists.
The representative of the St. Louis _Republican_ and myself were
on the _Platte Valley_, in rear of the line of battle. The _Platte
Valley_ was the first private boat that touched the Memphis landing
after the capture of the city.
The battle being over, we were anxious to get on shore and look at the
people and city of Memphis. Shortly after the fighting ceased, Colonel
Ellet sent the ram _Lioness_, under a flag-of-truce, to demand the
surrender of the city. To this demand no response was given. A little
later, Flag-Officer Davis sent the following note to the Mayor, at the
hands of one of the officers of the gun-boat _Benton_:--
UNITED STATES FLAG-STEAMER BENTON,
OFF MEMPHIS, _June_ 6, 1862.
SIR:--I have respectfully to request that you will surrender the city
of Memphis to the authority of the United States, which I have the
honor to represent. I am, Mr. Mayor, with high respect, your most
obedient servant, C. H. DAVIS, _Flag-Officer Commanding_.
To his Honor, the Mayor of Memphis.
To this note the following reply was received:--
MAYOR'S OFFICE, MEMPHIS, _June_ 6, 1862.
C. H. Davis, _Flag-Officer Commanding_:
SIR:--Your note of this date is received and contents noted. In reply
I have only to say that, as the civil authorities have no means of
defense, by the force of circumstances the city is in your hands.
Respectfully, John Park, _Mayor of Memphis_.
At the meeting, four days before, the citizens of Memphis had solemnly
pledged themselves never to surrender. There was a vague understanding
that somebody was to do a large amount of fighting, whenever Memphis
was attacked. If this fighting proved useless, the city was to
be fired in every house, and only abandoned after its complete
destruction. It will be seen that the note of the mayor, in response
to a demand for surrender, vindicates the honor of Memphis. It merely
informs the United States officer that the city has fallen "by the
force of circumstances." Since that day I have frequently heard its
citizens boast that the place was not surrendered. "You came in," say
they, "and took possession, but we did not give up to you. We declared
we would never surrender, and we kept our word."
About eleven o'clock in the forenoon, the transports arrived with our
infantry, and attempted to make a landing. As their mooring-lines were
thrown on shore they were seized by dozens of persons in the crowd,
and the crews were saved the trouble of making fast. This was an
evidence that the laboring class, the men with blue shirts and shabby
hats, were not disloyal. We had abundant evidence of this when our
occupation became a fixed fact. It was generally the wealthy who
adhered to the Rebel cause.
As a file of soldiers moved into the city, the people stood at a
respectful distance, occasionally giving forth wordy expression of
their anger. When I reached the office of _The Avalanche_, one of
the leading journals of Memphis, and, of course, strongly disloyal,
I found the soldiers removing a Rebel flag from the roof of the
building. The owner of the banner made a very vehement objection to
the proceeding. His indignation was so great that his friends were
obliged to hold him, to prevent his throwing himself on the bayonet of
the nearest soldier. I saw him several days later, when his anger had
somewhat cooled. He found relief from his troubles, before the end of
June, by joining the Rebel army at Holly Springs.
On the bluff above the levee was a tall flag-staff. The Rebels had
endeavored to make sure of their courage by nailing a flag to the
top of this staff. A sailor from one of the gun-boats volunteered to
ascend the staff and bring down the banner. When he had ascended about
twenty feet, he saw two rifles bearing upon him from the window of
a neighboring building. The sailor concluded it was best to go
no further, and descended at once. The staff was cut down and the
obnoxious flag secured.
With the city in our possession, we had leisure to look about us.
Memphis had been in the West what Charleston was in the East: an
active worker in the secession cause. Her newspapers had teemed with
abuse of every thing which opposed their heresy, and advocated the
most summary measures. Lynching had been frequent and never rebuked,
impressments were of daily and nightly occurrence, every foundery and
manufactory had been constantly employed by the Rebel authorities, and
every citizen had, in some manner, contributed to the insurrection. It
was gratifying in the extreme to see the Memphis, of which we at
Cairo and St. Louis had heard so much, brought under our control. The
picture of five United States gun-boats lying in line before the city,
their ports open and their guns shotted, was pleasing in the eyes of
Outside of the poorer classes there were some loyal persons, but
their number was not large. There were many professing loyalty,
who possessed very little of the article, and whose record had been
exceedingly doubtful. Prominent among these were the politicians, than
whom none had been more self-sacrificing, if their own words could be
There were many men of this class ready, no doubt, to swear allegiance
to the victorious side, who joined our standard because they
considered the Rebel cause a losing one. They may have become
loyal since that time, but it has been only through the force of
circumstances. In many cases our Government accepted their words as
proof of loyalty, and granted these persons many exclusive privileges.
It was a matter of comment that a newly converted loyalist could
obtain favors at the hands of Government officials, that would be
refused to men from the North. The acceptance of office under the
Rebels, and the earnest advocacy he had shown for secession, were
generally alleged to have taken place under compulsion, or in the
interest of the really loyal men.
A Memphis gentleman gave me an amusing account of the reception of the
news of the fall of Fort Donelson. Many boasts had been made of the
terrible punishment that was in store for our army, if it ventured an
attack upon Fort Donelson. No one would be allowed to escape to tell
the tale. All were to be slaughtered, or lodged in Rebel prisons.
Memphis was consequently waiting for the best tidings from the
Cumberland, and did not think it possible a reverse could come to the
One Sunday morning, the telegraph, without any previous announcement,
flashed the intelligence that Fort Donelson, with twelve thousand men,
had surrendered, and a portion of General Grant's army was moving on
Nashville, with every prospect of capturing that city. Memphis was in
consternation. No one could tell how long the Yankee army would stop
at Nashville before moving elsewhere, and it was certain that Memphis
was uncovered by the fall of Fort Donelson.
My informant first learned the important tidings in the rotunda of the
Gayoso House. Seeing a group of his acquaintances with faces depicting
the utmost gloom, he asked what was the matter.
"Bad enough," said one. "Fort Donelson has surrendered with nearly all
"That is terrible," said my friend, assuming a look of agony, though
he was inwardly elated.
"Yes, and the enemy are moving on Nashville."
"Horrible news," was the response; "but let us not be too despondent.
Our men are good for them, one against three, and they will never get
out of Nashville alive, if they should happen to take it."
With another expression of deep sorrow at the misfortune which had
befallen the Rebel army, this gentleman hastened to convey the glad
news to his friends. "I reached home," said he, "locked my front door,
called my wife and sister into the parlor, and instantly jumped over
the center-table. They both cried for joy when I told them the old
flag floated over Donelson."
The Secessionists in Memphis, like their brethren elsewhere, insisted
that all the points we had captured were given up because they had no
further use for them. The evacuation of Columbus, Fort Pillow, Fort
Henry, and Bowling Green, with the surrender of Donelson, were parts
of the grand strategy of the Rebel leaders, and served to lure us on
to our destruction. They would never admit a defeat, but contended we
had invariably suffered.
An uneducated farmer, on the route followed by one of our armies in
Tennessee, told our officers that a Rebel general and his staff had
taken dinner with him during the retreat from Nashville. The farmer
was anxious to learn something about the military situation, and asked
a Rebel major how the Confederate cause was progressing.
"Splendidly," answered the major. "We have whipped the Yankees in
every battle, and our independence will soon be recognized."
The farmer was thoughtful for a minute or two, and then deliberately
"I don't know much about war, but if we are always whipping the
Yankees, how is it they keep coming down into our country after every
The major grew red in the face, and told the farmer that any man
who asked such an absurd question was an Abolitionist, and deserved
hanging to the nearest tree. The farmer was silenced, but not
I had a fine illustration of the infatuation of the Rebel
sympathizers, a few days after Memphis was captured. One evening,
while making a visit at the house of an acquaintance, the hostess
introduced me to a young lady of the strongest secession proclivities.
Of course, I endeavored to avoid the topics on which we were certain
to differ, but my new acquaintance was determined to provoke a
discussion. With a few preliminaries, she throw out the question:
"Now, don't you think the Southern soldiers have shown themselves
the bravest people that ever lived, while the Yankees have proved the
"I can hardly agree with you," I replied. "Your people have certainly
established a reputation on the score of bravery, but we can claim
quite as much."
"But we have whipped you in every battle. We whipped you at Manassas
and Ball's Bluff, and we whipped General Grant at Belmont."
"That is very true; but how was it at Shiloh?"
"At Shiloh we whipped you; we drove you to your gun-boats, which was
all we wanted to do."
"Ah, I beg your pardon; but what is your impression of Fort Donelson?"
"Fort Donelson!"--and my lady's cheek flushed with either pride or
indignation--"Fort Donelson was an unquestioned victory for the South.
We stopped your army--all we wanted to; and then General Forrest,
General Floyd, and all the troops we wished to bring off, came
away. We only left General Buckner and three thousand men for you to
"It seems, then, we labored under a delusion at the North. We thought
we had something to rejoice over when Fort Donelson fell. But, pray,
what do you consider the capture of Island Number Ten and the naval
"At Island Ten we defeated you" (how this was done she did not say),
"and we were victorious here. You wanted to capture all our boats; but
you only got four of them, and those were damaged."
"In your view of the case," I replied, "I admit the South to have been
always victorious. Without wishing to be considered disloyal to the
Nation, I can heartily wish you many similar victories."
In the tour which Dickens records, Mark Tapley did not visit the
Southern country, but the salient points of his character are
possessed by the sons of the cavaliers. "Jolly" under the greatest
misfortunes, and extracting comfort and happiness from all calamities,
your true Rebel could never know adversity. The fire which consumes
his dwelling is a personal boon, as he can readily explain. So is
a devastating flood, or a widespread pestilence. The events which
narrow-minded mudsills are apt to look upon as calamitous, are only
"blessings in disguise" to every supporter and friend of the late
SUPERVISING A REBEL JOURNAL.
The Press of Memphis.--Flight of _The Appeal_.--A False
Prediction.--_The Argus_ becomes Loyal.--Order from General
Wallace.--Installed in Office.--Lecturing the Rebels.--"Trade follows
the Flag."--Abuses of Traffic.--Supplying the Rebels.--A Perilous
Adventure.--Passing the Rebel Lines.--Eluding Watchful Eyes.
On the morning of the 6th of June, the newspaper publishers, like most
other gentlemen of Memphis, were greatly alarmed. _The Avalanche_ and
_The Argus_ announced that it was impossible for the Yankee fleet to
cope successfully with the Rebels, and that victory was certain to
perch upon the banners of the latter. The sheets were not dry before
the Rebel fleet was a thing of the past. _The Appeal_ had not been
as hopeful as its contemporaries, and thought it the wisest course to
abandon the city. It moved to Grenada, Mississippi, a hundred miles
distant, and resumed publication. It became a migratory sheet, and was
at last captured by General Wilson at Columbus, Georgia. In ability it
ranked among the best of the Rebel journals.
_The Avalanche_ and _The Argus_ continued publication, with a strong
leaning to the Rebel side. The former was interfered with by our
authorities; and, under the name of _The Bulletin_, with new editorial
management, was allowed to reappear. _The Argus_ maintained its Rebel
ground, though with moderation, until the military hand fell upon it.
Memphis, in the early days of our occupation, changed its commander
nearly every week. One of these changes brought Major-General Wallace
into the city. This officer thought it proper to issue the following
HEAD-QUARTERS THIRD DIVISION, RESERVED CORPS,
ARMY OF TENNESSEE, MEMPHIS, _June_ 17,1862.
EDITORS DAILY ARGUS:--As the closing of your office might be injurious
to you pecuniarily, I send two gentlemen--Messrs. A.D. Richardson and
Thos. W. Knox, both of ample experience--to take charge of the
editorial department of your paper. The business management of your
office will be left to you.
_General Third Division, Reserved Corps._
The publishers of _The Argus_ printed this order at the head of their
columns. Below it they announced that they were not responsible for
any thing which should appear editorially, as long as the order was in
force. The business management and the general miscellaneous and news
matter were not interfered with.
Mr. Richardson and myself entered upon our new duties immediately. We
had crossed the Plains together, had published a paper in the Rocky
Mountains, had been through many adventures and perils side by side;
but we had never before managed a newspaper in an insurrectionary
district. The publishers of _The Argus_ greeted us cordially, and our
whole intercourse with them was harmonious. They did not relish the
intrusion of Northern men into their office, to compel the insertion
of Union editorials, but they bore the inconvenience with an excellent
grace. The foreman of the establishment displayed more mortification
at the change, than any other person whom we met.
The editorials we published were of a positive character. We plainly
announced the determination of the Government to assert itself and put
down and punish treason. We told the Memphis people that the scheme
of partisan warfare, which was then in its inception, would work
more harm than good to the districts where guerrilla companies were
organized. We insisted that the Union armies had entered Memphis and
other parts of the South, to stay there, and that resistance to
their power was useless. We credited the Rebels with much bravery and
devotion to their cause, but asserted always that we had the right and
the strong arm in our favor.
It is possible we did not make many conversions among the disloyal
readers of _The Argus_, but we had the satisfaction of saying what
we thought it necessary they should hear. The publishers said their
subscribers were rapidly falling off, on account of the change of
editorial tone. Like newspaper readers everywhere, they disliked to
peruse what their consciences did not approve. We received letters,
generally from women, denying our right to control the columns of the
paper for our "base purposes." Some of these letters were not written
after the style of Chesterfield, but the majority of them were
There were many jests in Memphis, and throughout the country
generally, concerning the appointment of representatives of _The
Herald_ and _The Tribune_ to a position where they must work together.
_The Herald_ and _The Tribune_ have not been famous, in the past
twenty years, for an excess of good-nature toward each other. Mr.
Bennett and Mr. Greeley are not supposed to partake habitually of the
same dinners and wine, or to join in frequent games of billiards
and poker. The compliments which the two great dailies occasionally
exchange, are not calculated to promote an intimate friendship between
the venerable gentlemen whose names are so well known to the public.
No one expects these veteran editors to emulate the example of Damon
At the time Mr. Richardson and myself took charge of _The Argus, The
Tribune_ and _The Herald_ were indulging in one of their well-known
disputes. It was much like the Hibernian's debate, "with sticks," and
attracted some attention, though it was generally voted a nuisance.
Many, who did not know us, imagined that the new editors of _The
Argus_ would follow the tendencies of the offices from which they bore
credentials. Several Northern journals came to hand, in which this
belief was expressed. A Chicago paper published two articles supposed
to be in the same issue of _The Argus_, differing totally in every
line of argument or statement of fact. One editor argued that the
harmonious occupancy of contiguous desks by the representatives
of _The Herald_ and _The Tribune_, betokened the approach of the
When he issued the order placing us in charge of _The Argus_, General
Wallace assured its proprietors that he should remove the editorial
supervision as soon as a Union paper was established in Memphis. This
event occurred in a short time, and _The Argus_ was restored to its
original management, according to promise.
As soon as the capture of Memphis was known at the North, there was an
eager scramble to secure the trade of the long-blockaded port. Several
boat-loads of goods were shipped from St. Louis and Cincinnati, and
Memphis was so rapidly filled that the supply was far greater than the
Army and Treasury regulations were soon established, and many
restrictions placed upon traffic. The restrictions did not materially
diminish the quantity of goods, but they served to throw the trade
into a few hands, and thus open the way for much favoritism. Those who
obtained permits, thought the system an excellent one. Those who were
kept "out in the cold," viewed the matter in a different light. A
thousand stories of dishonesty, official and unofficial, were in
constant circulation, and I fear that many of them came very near the
In our occupation of cities along the Mississippi, the Rebels found
a ready supply from our markets. This was especially the case at
Memphis. Boots and shoes passed through the lines in great numbers,
either by stealth or by open permit, and were taken at once to the
Rebel army. Cloth, clothing, percussion-caps, and similar articles
went in the same direction. General Grant and other prominent officers
made a strong opposition to our policy, and advised the suppression of
the Rebellion prior to the opening of trade, but their protestations
were of no avail. We chastised the Rebels with one hand, while we fed
and clothed them with the other.
After the capture of Memphis, Colonel Charles R. Ellet, with two boats
of the ram fleet, proceeded to explore the river between Memphis
and Vicksburg. It was not known what defenses the Rebels might have
constructed along this distance of four hundred miles. Colonel Ellet
found no hinderance to his progress, except a small field battery near
Napoleon, Arkansas. When a few miles above Vicksburg, he ascertained
that a portion of Admiral Farragut's fleet was below that point,
preparing to attack the city. He at once determined to open
communication with the lower fleet.
Opposite Vicksburg there is a long and narrow peninsula, around which
the Mississippi makes a bend. It is a mile and a quarter across the
neck of this peninsula, while it is sixteen miles around by the course
of the river. It was impossible to pass around by the Mississippi,
on account of the batteries at Vicksburg. The Rebels were holding the
peninsula with a small force of infantry and cavalry, to prevent our
effecting a landing. By careful management it was possible to elude
the sentinels, and cross from one side of the peninsula to the other.
Colonel Ellet armed himself to make the attempt. He took only a
few documents to prove his identity as soon as he reached Admiral
Farragut. A little before daylight, one morning, he started on his
perilous journey. He waded through swamps, toiled among the thick
undergrowth in a portion of the forest, was fired upon by a Rebel
picket, and narrowly escaped drowning in crossing a bayou. He was
compelled to make a wide detour, to avoid capture, and thus extended
his journey to nearly a half-dozen miles.
On reaching the bank opposite one of our gun-boats, he found a yawl
near the shore, by which he was promptly taken on board. The officers
of this gun-boat suspected him of being a spy, and placed him under
guard. It was not until the arrival of Admiral Farragut that his true
character became known.
After a long interview with that officer he prepared to return. He
concealed dispatches for the Navy Department and for Flag-Officer
Davis in the lining of his boots and in the wristbands of his shirt. A
file of marines escorted him as far as they could safely venture, and
then bade him farewell. Near the place where he had left his own boat,
Colonel Ellet found a small party of Rebels, carefully watching from
a spot where they could not be easily discovered. It was a matter of
some difficulty to elude these men, but he did it successfully, and
reached his boat in safety. He proceeded at once to Memphis with his
dispatches. Flag-Officer Davis immediately decided to co-operate with
Admiral Farragut, in the attempt to capture Vicksburg.
Shortly after the capture of New Orleans, Admiral Farragut ascended
the Mississippi as far as Vicksburg. At that time the defensive force
was very small, and there were but few batteries erected. The Admiral
felt confident of his ability to silence the Rebel guns, but he was
unaccompanied by a land force to occupy the city after its capture.
He was reluctantly compelled to return to New Orleans, and wait until
troops could be spared from General Butler's command. The Rebels
improved their opportunities, and concentrated a large force to put
Vicksburg in condition for defense. Heavy guns were brought from
various points, earth-works were thrown up on all sides, and the town
became a vast fortification. When the fleet returned at the end of
June, the Rebels were ready to receive it. Their strongest works were
on the banks of the Mississippi. They had no dread of an attack from
the direction of Jackson, until long afterward.
Vicksburg was the key to the possession of the Mississippi. The Rebel
authorities at Richmond ordered it defended as long as defense was
THE FIRST SIEGE OF VICKSBURG.
From Memphis to Vicksburg.--Running the Batteries.--Our Inability
to take Vicksburg by Assault.--Digging a Canal.--A Conversation with
Resident Secessionists.--Their Arguments _pro_ and _con_, and the
Answers they Received.--A Curiosity of Legislation.--An Expedition up
the Yazoo.--Destruction of the Rebel Fleet.--The _Arkansas_ Running
the Gauntlet.--A Spirited Encounter.--A Gallant Attempt.--Raising the
Siege.--Fate of the _Arkansas_.
On the 1st of July, I left Memphis with the Mississippi flotilla, and
arrived above Vicksburg late on the following day. Admiral Farragut's
fleet attempted the passage of the batteries on the 28th of June. A
portion of the fleet succeeded in the attempt, under a heavy fire,
and gained a position above the peninsula. Among the first to effect
a passage was the flag-ship _Hartford_, with the "gallant old
salamander" on board. The _Richmond, Iroquois_, and _Oneida_ were
the sloops-of-war that accompanied the _Hartford_. The _Brooklyn_ and
other heavy vessels remained below.
The history of that first siege of Vicksburg can be briefly told.
Twenty-five hundred infantry, under General Williams, accompanied the
fleet from New Orleans, with the design of occupying Vicksburg after
the batteries had been silenced by our artillery. Most of the Rebel
guns were located at such a height that it was found impossible to
elevate our own guns so as to reach them. Thus the occupation by
infantry was found impracticable. The passage of the batteries was
followed by the bombardment, from the mortar-schooners of Admiral
Farragut's fleet and the mortar-rafts which Flag-Officer Davis had
brought down. This continued steadily for several days, but Vicksburg
did not fall.
A canal across the peninsula was proposed and commenced. The water
fell as fast as the digging progressed, and the plan of leaving
Vicksburg inland was abandoned for that time. Even had there been
a flood in the river, the entrance to the canal was so located that
success was impossible. The old steamboat-men laughed at the efforts
of the Massachusetts engineer, to create a current in his canal by
commencing it in an eddy.
Just as the canal project was agreed upon, I was present at a
conversation between General Williams and several residents of the
vicinity. The latter, fearing the channel of the river would be
changed, visited the general to protest against the carrying out of
The citizens were six in number. They had selected no one to act as
their leader. Each joined in the conversation as he saw fit. After a
little preliminary talk, one of them said:
"Are you aware, general, there is no law of the State allowing you to
make a cut-off, here?"
"I am sorry to say," replied General Williams, "I am not familiar
with the laws of Louisiana. Even if I were, I should not heed them.
I believe Louisiana passed an act of secession. According to your own
showing you have no claims on the Government now."
This disposed of that objection. There was some hesitation, evidently
embarrassing to the delegation, but not to General Williams. Citizen
number one was silenced. Number two advanced an idea.
"You may remember, General, that you will subject the parish of
Madison to an expenditure of ninety thousand dollars for new levees."
This argument disturbed General Williams no more than the first one.
He promptly replied:
"The parish of Madison gave a large majority in favor of secession;
did it not?"
"I believe it did," was the faltering response.
"Then you can learn that treason costs something. It will cost you far
more before the war is over."
Citizen number two said nothing more. It was the opportunity for
number three to speak.
"If this cut-off is made, it will ruin the trade of Vicksburg. It has
been a fine city for business, but this will spoil it. Boats will not
be able to reach the town, but will find all the current through the
"That is just what we want," said the General. "We are digging the
canal for the very purpose of navigating the river without passing
Number three went to the rear. Number four came forward.
"If you make this cut-off, all these plantations will be carried away.
You will ruin the property of many loyal men."
He was answered that loyal men would be paid for all property taken or
destroyed, as soon as their loyalty was proved.
The fifth and last point in the protest was next advanced. It came
from an individual who professed to practice law in De Soto township,
and was as follows:
"The charter of the Vicksburg and Shreveport Railroad is perpetual,
and so declared by act of the Louisiana Legislature. No one has any
right to cut through the embankment."
"That is true," was the quiet answer. "The Constitution of the United
States is also a perpetual charter, which it was treason to violate.
When you and your leaders have no hesitation at breaking national
faith, it is absurd to claim rights under the laws of a State which
you deny to be in the Union."
This was the end of the delegation. Its members retired without having
gained a single point in their case. They were, doubtless, easier in
mind when they ascertained, two weeks later, that the canal enterprise
was a failure.
The last argument put forth on that occasion, to prevent the carrying
out of our plans, is one of the curiosities of legislation. For a long
time there were many parties in Louisiana who wished the channel
of the Mississippi turned across the neck of the peninsula opposite
Vicksburg, thus shortening the river fifteen miles, at least, and
rendering the plantations above, less liable to overflow. As Vicksburg
lay in another State, her interests were not regarded. She spent much
money in the corrupt Legislature of Louisiana to defeat the scheme.
As a last resort, it was proposed to build a railway, with a perpetual
charter, from the end of the peninsula opposite Vicksburg, to some
point in the interior. Much money was required. The capitalists of
Vicksburg contributed the funds for lobbying the bill and commencing
the road. Up to the time when the Rebellion began, it was rendered
certain that no hand of man could legally turn the Mississippi across
The first siege of Vicksburg lasted but twenty days. Our fleet was
unable to silence the batteries, and our land force was not sufficient
for the work. During the progress of the siege, Colonel Ellet, with
his ram fleet, ascended the Yazoo River, and compelled the Rebels to
destroy three of their gun-boats, the _Livingston, Polk_, and _Van
Dorn_, to prevent their falling into our hands. The _Van Dorn_ was
the only boat that escaped, out of the fleet of eight Rebel gun-boats
which met ours at Memphis on the 6th of June.
At the time of making this expedition, Colonel Ellet learned that
the famous ram gun-boat _Arkansas_ was completed, and nearly ready
to descend the river. He notified Admiral Farragut and Flag-Officer
Davis, but they paid little attention to his warnings.
This Rebel gun-boat, which was expected to do so much toward the
destruction of our naval forces on the Mississippi, was constructed
at Memphis, and hurried from there in a partially finished condition,
just before the capture of the city. She was towed to Yazoo City and
there completed. The _Arkansas_ was a powerful iron-clad steamer,
mounting ten guns, and carrying an iron beak, designed for penetrating
the hulls of our gun-boats. Her engines were powerful, though they
could not be worked with facility at the time of her appearance. Her
model, construction, armament, and propelling force, made her equal to
any boat of our upper flotilla, and her officers claimed to have full
confidence in her abilities.
On the morning of the 15th of July, the _Arkansas_ emerged from the
Yazoo River, fifteen miles above Vicksburg. A short distance up that
stream she encountered two of our gun-boats, the _Carondelet_ and
_Tyler_, and fought them until she reached our fleet at anchor above
Vicksburg. The _Carondelet_ was one of our mail-clad gun-boats, built
at St. Louis in 1861. The _Tyler_ was a wooden gun-boat, altered from
an old transport, and was totally unfit for entering into battle. Both
were perforated by the Rebel shell, the _Tyler_ receiving the larger
number. The gallantry displayed by Captain Gwin, her commander, was
worthy of special praise.
Our fleet was at anchor four or five miles above Vicksburg--some of
the vessels lying in midstream, while others were fastened to the
banks. The _Arkansas_ fired to the right and left as she passed
through the fleet. Her shot disabled two of our boats, and slightly
injured two or three others. She did not herself escape without
damage. Many of our projectiles struck her sides, but glanced into the
river. Two shells perforated her plating, and another entered a
port, exploding over one of the guns. Ten men were killed and as many
The _Arkansas_ was not actually disabled, but her commander declined
to enter into another action until she had undergone repairs. She
reached a safe anchorage under protection of the Vicksburg batteries.
A few days later, a plan was arranged for her destruction. Colonel
Ellet, with the ram _Queen of the West_, was to run down and strike
the _Arkansas_ at her moorings. The gun-boat _Essex_ was to join in
this effort, while the upper flotilla, assisted by the vessels of
Admiral Farragut's fleet, would shell the Rebel batteries.
The _Essex_ started first, but ran directly past the _Arkansas_,
instead of stopping to engage her, as was expected. The _Essex_ fired
three guns at the _Arkansas_ while in range, from one of which a
shell crashed through the armor of the Rebel boat, disabling an entire
The _Queen of the West_ attempted to perform her part of the work,
but the current was so strong where the _Arkansas_ lay that it was
impossible to deal an effective blow. The upper flotilla did not open
fire to engage the attention of the enemy, and thus the unfortunate
_Queen of the West_ was obliged to receive all the fire from the Rebel
batteries. She was repeatedly perforated, but fortunately escaped
without damage to her machinery. The _Arkansas_ was not seriously
injured in the encounter, though the completion of her repairs was
On the 25th of July the first siege of Vicksburg was raised. The
upper flotilla of gun-boats, mortar-rafts, and transports, returned
to Memphis and Helena. Admiral Farragut took his fleet to New Orleans.
General Williams went, with his land forces, to Baton Rouge. That city
was soon after attacked by General Breckinridge, with six thousand
men. The Rebels were repulsed with heavy loss. In our own ranks the
killed and wounded were not less than those of the enemy. General
Williams was among the slain, and at one period our chances, of making
a successful defense were very doubtful.
The _Arkansas_ had been ordered to proceed from Vicksburg to take part
in this attack, the Rebels being confident she could overpower
our three gun-boats at Baton Rouge. On the way down the river her
machinery became deranged, and she was tied up to the bank for
repairs. Seeing our gun-boats approaching, and knowing he was helpless
against them; her commander ordered the _Arkansas_ to be abandoned
and blown up. The order was obeyed, and this much-praised and really
formidable gun-boat closed her brief but brilliant career.
The Rebels were greatly chagrined at her loss, as they had expected
she would accomplish much toward driving the National fleet from the
Mississippi. The joy with which they hailed her appearance was far
less than the sorrow her destruction evoked.
THE MARCH THROUGH ARKANSAS.--THE SIEGE OF CINCINNATI.
General Curtis's Army reaching Helena.--Its Wanderings.--The
Arkansas Navy.--Troops and their Supplies "miss
Connection."--Rebel Reports.--Memphis in Midsummer.--"A Journey due
North."--Chicago.--Bragg's Advance into Kentucky.--Kirby Smith in
Front of Cincinnati.--The City under Martial Law.--The Squirrel
Hunters.--War Correspondents in Comfortable Quarters.--Improvising an
Army.--Raising the Siege.--Bragg's Retreat.
About the middle of July, General Curtis's army arrived at Helena,
Arkansas, ninety miles below Memphis. After the battle of Pea Ridge,
this army commenced its wanderings, moving first to Batesville, on
the White River, where it lay for several weeks. Then it went to
Jacksonport, further down that stream, and remained a short time.
The guerrillas were in such strong force on General Curtis's line of
communications that they greatly restricted the receipt of supplies,
and placed the army on very short rations. For nearly a month the
public had no positive information concerning Curtis's whereabouts.
The Rebels were continually circulating stories that he had
surrendered, or was terribly defeated.
The only reasons for doubting the truth of these stories were, first,
that the Rebels had no force of any importance in Arkansas; and
second, that our army, to use the expression of one of its officers,
"wasn't going round surrendering." We expected it would turn up in
some locality where the Rebels did not desire it, and had no fears of
General Curtis constructed several boats at Batesville, which were
usually spoken of as "the Arkansas navy." These boats carried some six
or eight hundred men, and were used to patrol the White River, as
the army moved down its banks. In this way the column advanced from
Batesville to Jacksonport, and afterward to St. Charles.
Supplies had been sent up the White River to meet the army. The
transports and their convoy remained several days at St. Charles, but
could get no tidings of General Curtis. The river was falling, and
they finally returned. Twelve hours after their departure, the advance
of the lost army arrived at St. Charles.
From St. Charles to Helena was a march of sixty miles, across a
country destitute of every thing but water, and not even possessing
a good supply of that article. The army reached Helena, weary and
hungry, but it was speedily supplied with every thing needed, and
put in condition to take the offensive. It was soon named in general
orders "the Army of Arkansas," and ultimately accomplished the
occupation of the entire State.
During July and August there was little activity around Memphis. In
the latter month, I found the climate exceedingly uncomfortable. Day
after day the atmosphere was hot, still, stifling, and impregnated
with the dust that rose in clouds from the parched earth. The
inhabitants endured it easily, and made continual prophesy that
the _hot_ weather "would come in September." Those of us who were
strangers wondered what the temperature must be, to constitute "hot"
weather in the estimation of a native. The thermometer then stood at
eighty-five degrees at midnight, and ninety-eight or one hundred at
noon. Few people walked the streets in the day, and those who
were obliged to do so generally moved at a snail's pace. Cases
of _coup-de-soleil_ were frequent. The temperature affected me
personally, by changing my complexion to a deep yellow, and reducing
my strength about sixty per cent.
I decided upon "A Journey due North." Forty-eight hours after
sweltering in Memphis, I was shivering on the shores of Lake Michigan.
I exchanged the hot, fever-laden atmosphere of that city, for the cool
and healthful air of Chicago. The activity, energy, and enterprise
of Chicago, made a pleasing contrast to the idleness and gloom that
pervaded Memphis. This was no place for me to exist in as an invalid.
I found the saffron tint of my complexion rapidly disappearing, and my
strength restored, under the influence of pure breezes and busy life.
Ten days in that city prepared me for new scenes of war.
At that time the Rebel army, under General Bragg, was making its
advance into Kentucky. General Buell was moving at the same time
toward the Ohio River. The two armies were marching in nearly parallel
lines, so that it became a race between them for Nashville and
Louisville. Bragg divided his forces, threatening Louisville and
Cincinnati at the same time. Defenses were thrown up around the former
city, to assist in holding it in case of attack, but they were never
brought into use. By rapid marching, General Buell reached Louisville
in advance of Bragg, and rendered it useless for the latter to fling
his army against the city.
Meantime, General Kirby Smith moved, under Bragg's orders, to the
siege of Cincinnati. His advance was slow, and gave some opportunity
for preparation. The chief reliance for defense was upon the raw
militia and such irregular forces as could be gathered for the
occasion. The hills of Covington and Newport, opposite Cincinnati,
were crowned with fortifications and seamed with rifle-pits, which
were filled with these raw soldiers. The valor of these men was beyond
question, but they were almost entirely without discipline. In front
of the veteran regiments of the Rebel army our forces would have been
at great disadvantage.
When I reached Cincinnati the Rebel army was within a few miles of the
defenses. On the train which took me to the city, there were many of
the country people going to offer their services to aid in repelling
the enemy. They entered the cars at the various stations, bringing
their rifles, which they well knew how to use. They were the famous
"squirrel-hunters" of Ohio, who were afterward the subject of some
derision on the part of the Rebels. Nearly twenty thousand of them
volunteered for the occasion, and would have handled their rifles to
advantage had the Rebels given them the opportunity.
At the time of my arrival at Cincinnati, Major-General Wallace was in
command. The Queen City of the West was obliged to undergo some of
the inconveniences of martial law. Business of nearly every kind was
suspended. A provost-marshal's pass was necessary to enable one to
walk the streets in security. The same document was required of any
person who wished to hire a carriage, or take a pleasant drive to
the Kentucky side of the Ohio. Most of the able-bodied citizens
voluntarily offered their services, and took their places in the
rifle-pits, but there were some who refused to go. These were hunted
out and taken to the front, much against their will. Some were found
in or under beds; others were clad in women's garments, and working at
wash-tubs. Some tied up their hands as if disabled, and others plead
baldness or indigestion to excuse a lack of patriotism. All was of no
avail. The provost-marshal had no charity for human weakness.
This severity was not pleasant to the citizens, but it served an
admirable purpose. When Kirby Smith arrived in front of the defenses,
he found forty thousand men confronting him. Of these, not over six
or eight thousand had borne arms more than a week or ten days. The
volunteer militia of Cincinnati, and the squirrel-hunters from the
interior of Ohio and Indiana, formed the balance of our forces.
Our line of defenses encircled the cities of Covington and Newport,
touching the Ohio above and below their extreme limits. Nearly every
hill was crowned with a fortification. These fortifications were
connected by rifle-pits, which were kept constantly filled with men.
On the river we had a fleet of gun-boats, improvised from ordinary
steamers by surrounding their vulnerable parts with bales of hay. The
river was low, so that it was necessary to watch several places where
fording was possible. A pontoon bridge was thrown across the Ohio, and
continued there until the siege was ended.
It had been a matter of jest among the journalists at Memphis and
other points in the Southwest, that the vicissitudes of war might some
day enable us to witness military operations from the principal hotels
in the Northern cities. "When we can write war letters from the Burnet
or the Sherman House," was the occasional remark, "there will be some
personal comfort in being an army correspondent." What we had said
in jest was now proving true. We could take a carriage at the Burnet
House, and in half an hour stand on our front lines and witness the
operations of the skirmishers. Later in the war I was enabled to write
letters upon interesting topics from Detroit and St. Paul.
The way in which our large defensive force was fed, was nearly as
great a novelty as the celerity of its organization. It was very
difficult to sever the red tape of the army regulations, and enable
the commissary department to issue rations to men that belonged to no
regiments or companies. The people of Cincinnati were very prompt to
send contributions of cooked food to the Fifth Street Market-House,
which was made a temporary restaurant for the defenders of the city.
Wagons were sent daily through nearly all the streets to gather these
contributed supplies, and the street-cars were free to all women and
children going to or from the Market-House. Hundreds walked to the
front, to carry the provisions they had prepared with their own hands.
All the ordinary edibles of civilized life were brought forward in
abundance. Had our men fought at all, they would have fought on full
The arrival of General Buell's army at Louisville rendered it
impossible for Bragg to take that city. The defenders of Cincinnati
were re-enforced by a division from General Grant's army, which was
then in West Tennessee. This arrival was followed by that of other
trained regiments and brigades from various localities, so that we
began to contemplate taking the offensive. The Rebels disappeared from
our front, and a reconnoissance showed that they were falling back
toward Lexington. They burned the turnpike and railway bridges as they
retreated, showing conclusively that they had abandoned the siege.
As soon as the retirement of the Rebels was positively ascertained,
a portion of our forces was ordered from Cincinnati to Louisville.
General Buell's army took the offensive, and pursued Bragg as he
retreated toward the Tennessee River. General Wallace was relieved,
and his command transferred to General Wright.
A change in the whole military situation soon transpired. From holding
the defensive, our armies became the pursuers of the Rebels, the
latter showing little inclination to risk an encounter. The battle of
Perryville was the great battle of this Kentucky campaign. Its result
gave neither army much opportunity for exultation.
In their retreat through Kentucky and Tennessee, the Rebels gathered
all the supplies they could find, and carried them to their commissary
depot at Knoxville. It was said that their trains included more than
thirty thousand wagons, all of them heavily laden. Large droves of
cattle and horses became the property of the Confederacy.
THE BATTLE OF CORINTH.
New Plans of the Rebels.--Their Design to Capture Corinth,--Advancing
to the Attack.--Strong Defenses.--A Magnificent Charge.--Valor _vs._
Breast-Works.--The Repulse.--Retreat and Pursuit.--The National Arms
The Bragg campaign into Kentucky being barren of important results,
the Rebel authorities ordered that an attempt should be made to
drive us from West Tennessee. The Rebel army in Northern Mississippi
commenced the aggressive late in September, while the retreat of Bragg
was still in progress. The battle of Iuka resulted favorably to the
Rebels, giving them possession of that point, and allowing a large
quantity of supplies to fall into their hands. On the 4th of October
was the famous battle of Corinth, the Rebels under General Van Dorn
attacking General Rosecrans, who was commanding at Corinth.
The Rebels advanced from Holly Springs, striking Corinth on the
western side of our lines. The movement was well executed, and
challenged our admiration for its audacity and the valor the Rebel
soldiery displayed. It was highly important for the success of the
Rebel plans in the Southwest that we should be expelled from Corinth.
Accordingly, they made a most determined effort, but met a signal
Some of the best fighting of the war occurred at this battle of
Corinth. The Rebel line of battle was on the western and northern
side of the town, cutting off our communications with General Grant
at Jackson. The Rebels penetrated our line, and actually obtained
possession of a portion of Corinth, but were driven out by hard,
earnest work. It was a struggle for a great prize, in which neither
party was inclined to yield as long as it had any strength remaining
to strike a blow.
The key to our position was on the western side, where two earth-works
had been thrown up to command the approaches in that direction. These
works were known as "Battery Williams" and "Battery Robbinette," so
named in honor of the officers who superintended their erection and
commanded their garrisons at the time of the assault. These works were
on the summits of two small hills, where the ascent from the main road
that skirted their base was very gentle. The timber on these slopes
had been cut away to afford full sweep to our guns. An advancing
force would be completely under our fire during the whole time of its
ascent. Whether succeeding or failing, it must lose heavily.
[Illustration: THE REBEL CHARGE AT CORINTH.]
General Van Dorn gave Price's Division the honor of assaulting these
works. The division was composed of Missouri, Arkansas, and Texas
regiments, and estimated at eight thousand strong. Price directed the
movement in person, and briefly told his men that the position must be
taken at all hazards. The line was formed on the wooded ground at
the base of the hills on which our batteries stood. The advance was
commenced simultaneously along the line.
As the Rebels emerged from the forest, our guns were opened. Officers
who were in Battery Williams at the time of the assault, say the
Rebels moved in splendid order. Grape and shell made frequent and wide
gaps through their ranks, but the line did not break nor waver. The
men moved directly forward, over the fallen timber that covered the
ground, and at length came within range of our infantry, which had
been placed in the forts to support the gunners. Our artillery had
made fearful havoc among the Rebels from the moment they left the
protection of the forest. Our infantry was waiting with impatience to
play its part.
When the Rebels were fairly within range of our small-arms, the order
was given for a simultaneous volley along our whole line. As the
shower of bullets struck the Rebel front, hundreds of men went down.
Many flags fell as the color-bearers were killed, but they were
instantly seized and defiantly waved. With a wild cheer the Rebels
dashed forward up to the very front of the forts, receiving without
recoil a most deadly fire. They leaped the ditch and gained the
parapet. They entered a bastion of Battery Williams, and for a minute
held possession of one of our guns.
Of the dozen or more that gained the interior of the bastion, very few
escaped. Nearly all were shot down while fighting for possession
of the gun, or surrendered when the parapet was cleared of those
ascending it. The retreat of the Rebels was hasty, but it was orderly.
Even in a repulse their coolness did not forsake them. They left their
dead scattered thickly in our front. In one group of seventeen, they
lay so closely together that their bodies touched each other. An
officer told me he could have walked along the entire front of Battery
Williams, touching a dead or wounded Rebel at nearly every step. Two
Rebel colonels were killed side by side, one of them falling with his
hand over the edge of the ditch. They were buried where they died.
In the attack in which the Rebels entered the edge of the town, the
struggle was nearly as great. It required desperate fighting for them
to gain possession of the spot, and equally desperate fighting on our
part to retake it. All our officers who participated in this battle
spoke in admiration of the courage displayed by the Rebels. Praise
from an enemy is the greatest praise. The Rebels were not defeated
on account of any lack of bravery or of recklessness. They were fully
justified in retreating after the efforts they made. Our army was
just as determined to hold Corinth as the Rebels were to capture it.
Advantages of position turned the scale in our favor, and enabled us
to repulse a force superior to our own.
Just before the battle, General Grant sent a division under General
McPherson to re-enforce Corinth. The Rebels had cut the railway
between the two points, so that the re-enforcement did not reach
Corinth until the battle was over.
On the morning following the battle, our forces moved out in pursuit
of the retreating Rebels. At the same time a column marched from
Bolivar, so as to fall in their front. The Rebels were taken between
the two columns, and brought to an engagement with each of them;
but, by finding roads to the south, managed to escape without
disorganization. Our forces returned to Corinth and Bolivar, thinking
it useless to make further pursuit.
Thus terminated the campaign of the enemy against Corinth. There
was no expectation that the Rebels would trouble us any more in that
quarter for the present, unless we sought them out. Their defeat
was sufficiently serious to compel them to relinquish all hope of
expelling us from Corinth.
During the time of his occupation of West Tennessee, General Grant was
much annoyed by the wandering sons of Israel, who thronged his lines
in great numbers. They were engaged in all kinds of speculation in
which money could be made. Many of them passed the lines into the
enemy's country, and purchased cotton, which they managed to bring to
Memphis and other points on the river. Many were engaged in smuggling
supplies to the Rebel armies, and several were caught while acting as
On our side of the lines the Jews were Union men, and generally
announced their desire for a prompt suppression of the Rebellion.
When under the folds of the Rebel flag they were the most ardent
Secessionists, and breathed undying hostility to the Yankees. Very few
of them had any real sympathy with either side, and were ready, like
Mr. Pickwick, to shout with the largest mob on all occasions, provided
there was money to be made by the operation. Their number was very
great. In the latter half of '62, a traveler would have thought the
lost tribes of Israel were holding a reunion at Memphis.
General Grant became indignant, and issued an order banishing the Jews
from his lines. The order created much excitement among the Americans
of Hebraic descent. The matter was placed before the President, and
the obnoxious restriction promptly revoked. During the time it was in
force a large number of the proscribed individuals were obliged to go
Sometimes the Rebels did not treat the Jews with the utmost courtesy.
On one occasion a scouting party captured two Jews who were buying
cotton. The Israelites were robbed of ten thousand dollars in gold
and United States currency, and then forced to enter the ranks of the
Rebel army. They did not escape until six months later.
In Chicago, in the first year of the war, a company of Jews was armed
and equipped at the expense of their wealthier brethren. The men
composing the company served their full time, and were highly praised
for their gallantry.
The above case deserves mention, as it is an exception to the general
conduct of the Jews.
THE CAMPAIGN FROM CORINTH.
Changes of Commanders.--Preparations for the Aggressive.--Marching
from Corinth.--Talking with the People.--"You-uns and
We-uns."--Conservatism of a "Regular."--Loyalty and
Disloyalty.--Condition of the Rebel Army.--Foraging.--German Theology
for American Soldiers.--A Modest Landlord.--A Boy without a Name.--The
Freedmen's Bureau.--Employing Negroes.--Holly Springs and its
People.--An Argument for Secession.
Two weeks after the battle of Corinth, General Rosecrans was summoned
to the Army of the Cumberland, to assume command in place of General
Buell. General Grant was placed at the head of the Thirteenth Army
Corps, including all the forces in West Tennessee. Preparations for an
aggressive movement into the enemy's country had been in progress for
some time. Corinth, Bolivar, and Jackson were strongly fortified,
so that a small force could defend them. The base of supply was at
Columbus, Kentucky, eighty-five miles due north of Jackson, thus
giving us a long line of railway to protect.
On the first of November the movement began, by the advance of a
column from Corinth and another from Bolivar. These columns met at
Grand Junction, twenty-five miles north of Holly Springs, and, after
lying there for two weeks, advanced to the occupation of the latter