Working on and guarding the Railroad
Then On to Memphis
(June 2 - July 21, 1862)

Corinth, "Crossroads of the Confederacy"
Click on photo to visit's tour of the site

[After the capture of Corinth the most powerful army in North America was dispersed. Sherman's Division was sent to "dislodge the enemy from their position near the Memphis And Charleston Railroad" and "assist in getting and repairing all the locomotives and cars". On June 2nd after marching through a driving rain, then sleeping along the muddy road, the 48th, as part of Sherman's Division, was moved southwest toward Smith's Bridge, then, according to the regimental history, they were "ordered to Chewalla on double-quick, a distance of eight or ten miles." The reason for this rapid move was a mystery to the men, since they encountered no enemy, but it may have resulted in the panic of the Confederate's who prematurely set fire to a bridge. On the Union side of the bridge were trapped seven train loads of valuable Confederate supplies. These were burned by the retreating rebels and were lost to their cause. The situation was clearly reported by General Sherman in his report of June 10, 1862, which is presented below. From July 2 until July 17th Sherman's Division, including the 48th, was primarily involved in getting the railroad repaired and in preventing guerrillas and Confederate cavalry from sabotaging the repaired bridges and track. When it was finally realized that this work was futile, the troops were marched to Memphis. See Stanly P. Hirshson, The White Tecumseh, Wiley, 1997, p. 126-129]

(Click to view the route of the Memphis and Charleston RR followed by the 48th OVI)
Detail from: "New map of Kentucky and Tennessee"
Published by Campbell & Barlow No. 509 Main St., Louisville, Ky, 1861.
Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

National Cemetery at Corinth, Mississippi






[OR 10, Part 1 p. 745-6.]

Camp at Chewalla, June 10, 1862.

    SIR: I have the honor to report that on the 2d instant, about 2 p. m., in camp before Corinth, I received General Halleck's orders, "You will Immediately move your division and that of General Hurlbut through Corinth, and dislodge the enemy from their position near the Memphis and Charleston Railroad." On inquiry by telegraph of the major-general commanding, I learned that the enemy in question was supposed to be near Smith's bridge, across the Tuscumbia Creek, 7 miles southwest of Corinth. The division was immediately put in motion, followed by that of Brigadier-General Hurlbut. We marched into and through Corinth in a violent rainstorm, and took the road toward the west. The rain made the road so heavy that we only made 4 miles, when darkness overtook us, and we lay in the mud and rain that night by the road-side; but I directed Col. Dickey, of the Fourth Illinois Cavalry, to proceed 3 miles further on the road, and to send out a party to Smith's Bridge to ascertain the position of the enemy, his strength, &c.
    At daybreak of the 3d I put the column in motion, and soon met Col. Dickey, whose command had been down to Smith's Bridge, which had been burned and destroyed by the enemy. Satisfied that no enemy was there to dislodge, I then proceeded to carry out the second part of my instructions, viz.: "assist in getting and repairing all the locomotives and cars you can find." Stationing General Hurlbut's Division near Young's Station on the Memphis and Charleston road, which covered the approach from Smith's Bridge, I then conducted my own division to the high ridge back of Chewalla, and there bivouacked. Large working parties were at once sent forward on the railroad about three miles west of Chewalla., where the enemy had prematurely burned the bridge over Cyprus Creek, thereby preventing the escape of 7 locomotives and trains of cars filled with their own stores. They had destroyed all or nearly all of this property by fire, and the burned mass wreck encumbered the railway track for a mile. We set to work forthwith to clear the track, repair the locomotives, and the few platform cars which had not been utterly ruined, with the vast amount of truck-wheels, couplings, and iron work. In this we have saved 7 locomotives, one of which was flat on its side in the ditch, about a dozen platform cars and over 200 pairs of truck wheels, with the ironwork of about 60 cars, all of which has been sent to Corinth or remains at Chewalla on a side track. This work has been prosecuted night and day till yesterday afternoon, when orders were received from Major General Hallack to discontinue it, and move with my own and General Hurlbut's division further west.
    All the bridges to the west whether on the railroad or common roads, have been burned and the roads otherwise obstructed, but I have already sent forward parties to make the necessary repairs, and shall to-morrow move the whole command to Pocahontas and beyond.
    In the vast amount of labor done here the Fifty-second Indiana, known as the railroad regiment, under the command of Major Main, has done a leading part, and is entitled to the credit of having saved for use of the army the rolling stock, so much needed in railroads now subject to our use and control.
    I have the honor to be your obedient servant.

            W. T. SHERMAN,
            Major-General Commanding Division and Expedition
            Capt. George E. Flint,
            Assistant Adjutant-General

June 2, 1862

We remained in camp until June 2d, when we took up our line of march to Memphis, leaving behind Capt. Frazee who was sent home on sick-leave, which left Capt. Peterson in command of the Regiment. We were delayed a short time by a heavy shower. Passing through Corinth, we bivouacked on the road-side for the night.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

June 3, 1862

Early the following morning, we were ordered to Chewalla on double-quick, a distance of eight or ten miles. Why we were ordered to that place on a run, with no enemy near, has never been satisfactorily explained.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

I was soon dispatched with my own and Hurlbut's divisions northwest fourteen miles to Chewalla, to save what could be of any value out of six trains of cars belonging to the rebels which had been wrecked and partially burned at the time of the evacuation of Corinth…

My orders at Chewalla were to rescue the wrecked trains there, to reconnoitre westward and estimate the amount of damage to the railroad as far as Grand Junction, about fifty miles. We camped our troops on high, healthy ground to the south of Chewalla, and after I had personally reconnoitred the country, details of men were made and volunteer locomotive engineers obtained to superintend the repairs. I found six locomotives and about sixty cars, thrown from the track, parts of the machinery detached and hidden in the surrounding swamp, and all damaged as much by fire as possible. It seems that these trains were inside of Corinth during the night of evacuation, loading up with all sorts of commissary stores, etc., and about daylight were started west; but the cavalry-picket stationed at the Tuscumbia bridge had, by mistake or panic, burned the bridge before the trains got to them. The trains, therefore, were caught, and the engineers and guards hastily scattered the stores into the swamp, and disabled the trains as far as they could, before our cavalry had discovered their critical situation. The weather was hot, and the swamp fairly stunk with the putrid flour and fermenting sugar and molasses; I was so much exposed there in the hot sun, pushing forward the work, that I got a touch of malarial fever, which hung on me for a month, and forced me to ride two days in an ambulance, the only time I ever did such a thing during the whole war. By the 7th I reported to General Halleck that the amount of work necessary to reestablish the railroad between Corinth and Grand Junction was so great, that he concluded not to attempt its repair, but to rely on the road back to Jackson (Tennessee), and forward to Grand Junction; and I was ordered to move to Grand Junction, to take up the repairs from there toward Memphis.

Gen. W T Sherman, Memoirs

June 9, 1862

On June 9th, Thomas Peale, Esq., of Lynchburg, Ohio, made us a visit, and remained with us on the march to Lafayette, Tenn. From here he went with the supply train to Memphis, and from there home. He had quite an experience of army life.
June 9th, we resumed our march to Memphis, and camped at Tuscumbia river in the evening, where Lieut. Col. Parker, who had been sent home on sick-leave shortly after the battle of Shiloh, rejoined and took command of the Regiment. [Col. Parker's military record states: "Absent sick from May 12 to June 10 Marked deserted by order of Gen. Sherman May 16, ordered to assume command June 10 by Maj. Gen. W. T. Sherman."] The following day, we repaired the bridge, which had been destroyed by the enemy.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

June 11, 1862

We left June 11th, marched through the richest portion of West Tennessee, and arrived at LaGrange June 14th. We left LaGrange on the 16th, and arrived at Moscow in the evening. Our chief employment, during our stay at Moscow, was to rebuild the railroad bridge over Wolf river.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

During the latter part of June and first half of July, I had my own and Hurlbut's divisions about Grand Junction, Lagrange, Moscow, and Lafayette, building railroad-trestles and bridges, fighting off cavalry detachments coming from the south, and waging an everlasting quarrel with planters about their negroes and fences—they trying, in the midst of moving armies, to raise a crop of corn.

On the 17th of June I sent a detachment of two brigades, under General M. L. Smith, to Holly Springs, in the belief that I could better protect the railroad from some point in front than by scattering our men along it”

Gen. W T Sherman, Memoirs

LaGrange, Tennessee


Moscow, Tennessee


Wolf River on the outskirts of Moscow, TN
looking south toward the Railroad Bridge (obscured by the trees)


June 22, 1862

On the 22d, we were ordered to Lafayette, eight miles below, on the Memphis & Charleston R. R., where we arrived in the afternoon.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

June 23, 1862

The following day a portion of the Regiment went on picket. - During the night quite an amusing incident occurred on one of the picket-posts. Thomas Newton was startled by a snake crawling up inside his pants. He raised the alarm and danced a lively jig, while his comrades assisted him to release the snake, but fortunately he sustained no other injury than a big scare, which he will never forget.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

June 24, 1862

After we returned to camp the following morning, we learned that our brigade had been ordered back to Moscow. This proved to be the hottest and sultriest day of the season, and our march back to Moscow will be as long remembered by us as the one from Moscow, mentioned in history, will be remembered by the French. The blinding dust and intense heat were terribly severe on both man and beast. The roadside was lined with soldiers overcome by heat, and quite a number of artillery horses dropped dead in their traces. Arriving at our destination, we camped on the banks of Wolf river. During our stay here we had a pleasant time, our duties being light and the bathing facilities excellent.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

June 29, 1862

On the 29th several took "French leave," taking the overland route for home, where they
arrived safely, and in due season were safely returned to the Regiment again.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

“On [June] 29th, General Halleck notified me that ‘a division of troops under General C. S. Hamilton of 'Rosecrans's army corps,' had passed the Hatchie from Corinth,’ and was destined for Holly Springs, ordering me to ‘cooperate as far as advisable,’ but ‘not to neglect the protection of the road.’

I ordered General Hurlbut to leave detachments at Grand Junction and Lagrange, and to march for Holly Springs. I left detachments at Moscow and Lafayette, and, with about four thousand men, marched for the same point. Hurlbut and I met at Hudsonville, and thence marched to the Coldwater, within four miles of Holly Springs. We encountered only small detachments of rebel cavalry under Colonels Jackson and Pierson, and drove them into and through Holly Springs; but they hung about, and I kept an infantry brigade in Holly Springs to keep them out.”

Gen. W T Sherman, Memoirs

June 30 - July 5, 1862

On the 30th of June, our Division was ordered on an expedition to Holly Springs' twenty-two miles south. We arrived in sight of Holly Springs at noon on the following day, while the cavalry was having a hot skirmish with the enemy. Our Regiment and the 4th Indiana Battery were ordered forward in the engagement, but a few well-directed shots from the artillery started the rebels in full retreat. We remained in our position until dark, when we fell back about three miles, and camped in the woods on the road-side. Here we lay in ambush, awaiting the return of the enemy, until July 5th, but they did not appear. We started on the expedition with only one day's rations, and expected a supply from Memphis, by the supply-train, but the train had been attacked by the rebels and delayed. As foraging was almost unknown at this stage of the war, we were compelled to subsist entirely on blackberries and apples. We soon stripped the orchards in the vicinity, of their green fruit, and lived a few days on the refuse from a cavalry camp.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

July 1, 1862

[OR 17, Part 1 p. 21-2.]

July 1, 1862.-- Skirmish at Holly Springs, Miss.
Report of Brig. Gen. James W. Denver, U. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade, Fifth Division, Army of the Tennessee.

Moscow, Tenn., July 15, 1862.

    GENERAL: Having on the 1st instant crossed Coldwater Creek on the road from this place to Holly Springs, Miss., in obedience to orders received from your assistant adjutant-general, I pushed on with my brigade and the Morton (Indiana) Battery, Captain Mueller, the Forth Regiment Illinois Cavalry being in advance, until arriving about 2 1/2 miles from Holly Springs, where a sharp skirmish was going on with the enemy's cavalry. The enemy had fired from ambush on our cavalry at very short range, but only killed 1 man and wounded 3 others. Our cavalry dismounted, and very gallantly entering the bushes, although greatly outnumbered, drove the enemy from the ground. The firing still continued pretty sharp in front, and three considerable bodies of the enemy's cavalry having shown themselves near the town, I ordered the Forty-eighth Regiment Ohio Volunteers, Lieutenant Colonel Parker commanding, to reinforce the cavalry, still engaged as skirmishers, when I received your orders to halt and not advance any further. The regiment was halted, and soon afterward the cavalry retired to the rear. I was very much embarrassed at the moment, believing as I did that if I should retire it would be an invitation for the enemy, still in sight, to attack us. I could see no infantry, however in the enemy's lines, and although the distance was near or quite 1 1/2 miles, I determined if possible to drive them away with artillery. I therefore brought up a section of Captain Muller's Battery, which opened on them, when, after firing of a few rounds, they fled through the town and disappeared from our view.
    In this little affair the only troops actually engaged with the enemy were the small remnant of the Fourth Illinois Cavalry, commanded by Major Gibson, and no troops could have been better.
    The enemy, as we afterward learned, were about 1,500 strong; but at first discharge of Capt. Mueller's guns they began to move off, and by the third discharge they were in full flight.
    After sending the Cavalry and some of my staff through the town I returned to Coldwater with my command, in accordance with your orders.
    Very respectfully, your Obedient servant,

                J. W. DENVER,
                Brigadier-General Commanding.
                Maj. Gen. WILLIAM T. SHERMAN,
                Commanding the Fifth Division, Army of the Tennessee.

July 2, 1862

“I got a telegraph order from General Halleck, of July 2d, sent me by courier from Moscow, "not to attempt to hold Holly Springs, but to fall back and protect the railroad." We accordingly marched back twenty-five miles—Hurlbut to Lagrange, and I to Moscow. The enemy had no infantry nearer than the Tallahatchee bridge, but their cavalry was saucy and active, superior to ours, and I despaired of ever protecting a railroad, preventing a broad front of one hundred miles, from their dashes.”

Gen. W T Sherman, Memoirs

July 6, 1862

On the 6th we started back to Moscow. We marched until midnight, when we met the supply-train. A halt was ordered, and through the energy of H. C. Stewart, Quartermaster Sergeant, the rations were soon distributed to the hungry soldiers. At day-break on the following day, we were on the march, reaching Moscow at noon. Up to this time, the slaves were still at work for their masters, and none were allowed to follow the army. On the Holly Springs expedition the Regiment Engaged several of them as cooks, but they had scarcely been initiated when an order was issued to exclude all slaves from camp. Thus ended our first attempt at putting them to work to assist in putting down the Rebellion. But "De Year ob Jubilo," as the slaves called it, was fast approaching. In less than two months, there was a complete change. The slaves came into camp in droves, and were put to work as cooks, teamsters and laborers. At one time nearly every soldier in the Regiment had his private servant!
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

July 11, 1862

[Cyrus Hussey's Diary Begins...]

Friday July 11th 1862.
Moscow, Tennessee. Commenced a letter to my wife. In charge of squad to dig trench at Butchers. Company Drill in the Manual of Arms. Company C. 48th OVI under my charge. [Cyrus Hussey was in Co. A, casualties and sickness required him to take temporary command of Co. C which was without officers.]
Cyrus Hussey

July 12, 1862

Saturday 12th
Finished letter to My Wife & put it up with my old Diary to send by Cy. Johnson [not on Official Roster 48th OVI], who starts Via La Grange this morning. Battalion & Company Drill as per order. Camp thoroughly cleaned by order of Lt. Col. Parker. Commenced returns.
Cyrus Hussey

July 13, 1862

[OR 17, Part 1 p. 23.]

JULY 13, 1862.-Skermish near Wolf River, Tenn.
Report of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, U. S. Army, commanding Fifth Division, Army of the Tennessee.
Moscow, July 14, 1862.

    Yesterday one of our forage trains, guarded by 50 cavalry, was fired on by a party that immediately fled, having killed 1 man and wounded 3 of ours. The attacking party was composed of horsemen, but their dress was not clearly seen in the ambush. I believe they were citizens, hastely called together to fire on the train as it was returning loaded. And I have sent a strong party to bring in 25 of the most prominent of the vacinity, each with a horse, saddle and bridle, whom I wish to send to LaGrange and thence under guard to Columbus, by to-morrow's train. I am satisfied we have no other remidy for this ambush fireing than to hold the neighborhood fully responsible, though the punishment may fall on the wrong parties. The scene of the occurrence was 7 miles out south of Wolf River, and 2 1/2 miles from where I have a regiment on picket.

                    W. T. Sherman
                    General Halleck

Sunday 13th
Morning quite cool. News of 1st inst. from Richmond Va. unfavorable. News of 5th inst. in paper of 10th more favorable.
[Between June 26 and July 2, Union and Confederate forces fought a series of battles: Mechanicsville (June 26-27), Gaines's Mill (June 27), Savage's Station (June 29), Frayser's Farm (June 30), and Malvern Hill (July 1). On July 2, the Confederates withdrew to Richmond, ending the Peninsular Campaign. The first battles were more favorable to the South. At Malvern Hill, the Union inflicted severe casualties on the Confederates. After Malvern Hill, McClellan pulled out and returned to Washington.]
1st Serg't Thos M. Wright [Co. A] Transferred to Co H. To be made 2nd Lieut. C.[Cornelius] Conard appointed 1st Serg't [of Co. A].
Commenced a letter to my Dear Wife.
Cyrus Hussey

July 14, 1862

Monday 14th
Worked in Quarterly Returns until 3:00 P.M. when the Regiment went on Picket.
Had difficulty with Lt. [R. T.] Wilson [Co. H.] in regard to Skillet. He broke it because we would not give it up. Went on Picket West of Town. Nothing of importance transpired.
Cyrus Hussey

July 15, 1862

Tuesday 15th
Commenced a Temporary Breastwork for pickets. Relieved from Guard at 5:00 P.M. by the 70th O.V.I. No Mail! No Mail! How the heart yearns for the messages of love from the loved ones at home!
Cyrus Hussey

July 16, 1862

Wednesday 16th
Capt. Peterson Co. K. got leave of absence on account of ill health. But few can obtain such favors.
Battalion & Co. Drill as usual.
Cyrus Hussey

July 17, 1862

Thursday 17th
Orders to march at 3:00 A.M. Tomorrow Toward Memphis - Our Brigade leading. Finished Quarterly Returns of Clothing, Camp & Garrison Equipage, & Ordinance & Ordinance Stores for 1st and 2nd Qrs. 1862.
Cyrus Hussey

July 18, 1862

On the 18th of July, we took up our line of march once more for Memphis, camping at Collierville the first night, ....
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

Friday 18th
Moved in accordance with Order & halted three Miles West of LaFayette till 4:00 P.M. Here [Division commander Gen. W. T.] Sherman causelessly got mad at [Brig. Gen. J. W.] Denver [3rd Brigade Commander] & Ordered Smith's Brigade forward out of the regular Order of March. [Gen. Sherman's anger may have been in part due to the tone of general Denver's July 15th report on the Skirmish near Holly Springs, July 1st]
The column moved forward & encamped near Collierville. On Picket in Charge of Co. C, covering front of Regiment.
Cyrus Hussey

July 19, 1862

and at White's Station the second [night], ....
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

... Saturday 19th
Moved forward at 6:00 A.M. & Passed through Collierville a small second class village. Cloudy in the morning but the sun burst forth in an hour or two and the men suffered very badly from the heat, exertion & thirst. Our Regiment guarding the [wagon] train. Made a noon halt at Germantown, a small squalid, succession Town. Moved forward to "White Station" 9 mi. from Memphis, in the P.M. Smart Rain. Fine Residences & Country.
Cyrus Hussey

July 20, 1862

...where we remained the succeeding day - the Sabbath - and being short of rations, we spent nearly the whole time in cooking green corn. A field of twenty acres did not quite supply the demand for our Division.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

Sunday 20th
Remained at White Station. Continued the letter to My Wife commenced last Saturday. Dress Parade. Very warm.
Cyrus Hussey

July 21, 1862

The following day, July 21st, we resumed our march. Our Regiment guarded the wagon-train. When within a few miles of the city, we were ordered forward on double-quick, to rejoin our brigade, and make our entrance into the city with our Division. As it was an exceeding hot day, and the dust almost suffocating, it was with great difficulty that we succeeded in picking our way through the immense wagon-train that obstructed the entire road. On reaching our brigade, we entered the city of Memphis, with bands playing, colors flying, and the troops cheering. We marched to the south end of the city, and camped in a peach-orchard, in Fort Pickering, on the banks of the Mississippi river. It had been nearly six months since we had left Ohio, and in that time we had been constantly on the move, and had seen soldiering in nearly all its phases, and now we had reached a haven that promised us rest for a short season at least.
John A. Bering & Thomas Montgomery, 1880

Monday 21st
Moved forward to Memphis. Very hot & oppressive. Many gave out on the road. Fast Marching. No Camp Selected. Lay on the bank of the Mississippi, What a Mighty Stream!
Cyrus Hussey


Next Segment
July 22 - December 22, 1862
On Garrison Duty at Fort Pickering, Memphis


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