Map of the Country Between Monterey, Tenn. & Corinth, Miss.
in May 1862, Col. Geo. Thom, A.D.C. & Chief of Topl. Engrs.
Library of Congress
CLICK ON MAP OR INSETS FOR ENLARGEMENTS
The route taken by Gen. WT Sherman’s Division and thus the 48th OVI can be seen by following the series of entrenchments that they left after each move forward. We will use the dates on the entrenchments as a label. Each entrenchment was given a camp number in the 48th OVI’s regimental history* as are the dates they were at each camp. These differ slightly from the dates on Col. Thom’s map so we will list these camp numbers and dates after Thom’s dates. Five entrenchments of WT Sherman’s Division are on the map. Inset A has May 7 (Camp#4) and May 11 (Camp #5). Inset B has May 13 (Camp #6), May 21 (Camp #7) and May 28 (Camp#8). Inset C has May 28 (Camp#8). Presumably there were three camps before they reached Monterey, TN.
Camps between Shiloh Church and Monterey, TN (Inferred from camps listed in the Regimental History)
Camps between Monterey, TN and Corinth, MS on Thom Map
Lt. Frank Posegate
Lt. Francis (Frank) M. Posegriate of Company A, 48th OVI wrote two letters to the "The Highland Weekly News", one on May 25, 1862 and a second on May 31, 1862. These letters were written in the field shortly after the events they describe. F.M. Posegate had been a printer, newspaper owner and editor before the war and he excelled observing events and writing them down quickly and accurately. The first letter describes the final week of the approach of Gen. Halleck’s "Grand Army of the West" to the city of Corinth, Mississippi as well as commenting on newspaper coverage of Shiloh and Corinth. The second describes the last two days of the siege including a first hand account of the entry of the Confederate works by his company along with two other companies of skirmishers and a detailed account of their experiences.
In 1862 Corinth, Mississippi was a key strategic location because it was the junction of Memphis & Charleston Railroad, connecting the Mississippi and the Atlantic Ocean, and the Mobile & Ohio Railroad, connecting the Gulf of Mexico with the Ohio River at Caro, Illinois. The Memphis & Charleston was particularly important. Since it was the only east west railroad through the upper South it allowed rapid transport of troops and goods beyond the reach of the US Naval Blockade.
Pittsburg Landing, on the Tennessee River, where the Battle of Shiloh was fought, was merely a Union Army staging area for an attack on Corinth. It was Corinth that was the main objective of the Union forces. Corinth’s railroads allowed Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston to bring together the troops needed to defend it. Gen. Grant’s Army of the Tennessee was camped at Pittsburg Landing waiting for the arrival of Gen. Buell’s army of the Ohio so that the combined force could attack Corinth, 23 miles to the south. Gen. Johnston attacked Grant’s army before the two Union armies could join forces and gain numerical superiority. The first day’s battle went largely the Southerner’s way but disorganization of the Southern army resulting from the offensive, and arrival of Gen. Buell’s and Gen. Wallace’s fresh troops resulted in a Union victory on the second day.
The commander of the western Union forces, Gen. Halleck, had ordered Grant not to engage the enemy until Gen. Buell arrived. He was angry that the battle had occurred and angry at the lack of preparation of defenses at the camp by the generals in charge. Since Johnston initiated the battle Grant cannot be blamed for bringing on the fighting, but Grant, Sherman and all the other senior officers were clearly accountable for not securing the camp or scouting for enemy troops.
Gen. Halleck would react to Shiloh in a number of ways. A cautious man to begin with, he moved the Union troops at a very slow and deliberate pace, constructing defensive breastworks after every few miles of advance. He would also bring in additional troops and reorganize the Union forces.
Because General Sherman’s memoirs are heavily read, the most familiar descriptions of the Siege of Corinth follow the story of Sherman’s division of Thomas’ wing of the army. Since the 48th OVI was in Sherman’s division this description fits them fairly well but the other wings of the Grand Army faced obstacles that Gen. Thomas’s did not and experienced events that influenced the movements of the whole Army including Sherman’s division. Specifically, Gen. Pope’s and Gen. Buell’s wings both had to cross wider streams and travel over poorer roads than Gen. Thomas’ wing did so they were started earlier on their march to Corinth. Pope’s wing started to Corinth on April 27th, Buell’s wing on May 2nd, but Thomas’ wing, including the 48th Ohio, did not begin to move until May 4th. Gen. Pope’s Wing was also targeted by Gen. Beauregard in an attack designed to disable his wing of the army. The attack failed but it made Gen. Halleck even more cautious and slowed movements of all wings of his army toward Corinth after May 9th.
In his first letter Lt. Posegate says "Our Brigade, the 3rd, consisting of the 72nd, 48th, 70th and the 53rd Ohio Regiments, commanded by Brigadier-General Denver, of California-Kansas notoriety, and I believe formally of Clinton County, Ohio, in Maj. General W, T. Sherman’s Division, occupies the extreme right of the Grand Army" a position of honor and danger. The place is rightly assigned, and is but a just tribute to the gallant services rendered in the battle of Shiloh..." It is true that on May 25th Sherman’s Third Brigade was moved from the left flank of Sherman’s Division to the right flank* that was at the far right flank of the entire Army and thus "in the air." The position shows Sherman’s confidence in Gen. Denver as well as his brigade. In this same letter he also describes the advance of his division, on the extreme right flank of the army in general terms and defends the slow movement of the army as being the result of the logistical problems caused by moving large numbers of men over very difficult terrain.a Grant and Sherman would ultimately become Posegate’s heroes and he would admire them rest of his life, but on May 25th, 1862, after suffering the results of lack of preparation for defense of the camp at Shiloh, he admired Gen. Halleck’s cautious approach and was quite willing to move cautiously and build numerous breastworks. He felt that "The army have implicit confidence that Halleck knows what he is doing, and are perfectly content to await his good time." Posegate had a fairly modern view of journalism and is generally disgusted with the lack of fact checking at Shiloh. A considerable amount of space is devoted to his views on this.
As part of Gen. Halleck’s reorganization of the army Lt. Posegate’s brigade underwent a major change in organization and command just as they were about to engage in the skirmish at Russell House on May 15th the 53rd Ohio was added to the Brigade and Gen. James W. Denver, who the city in Colorado is named after, took command of the brigade replacing Shiloh veteran Col. Buckland who returned to his command the 72nd OVI. Posegate reports these events.
The Highland Weekly News, June 12, 1862 pp. 1
Our Army Correspondence
Letter from Lieut. Frank Posegate
HEAD”QRS, Co. "A,” 48th Reg’t, Camp No. 7, BEFORE CORINTH,
May 25, 1862
Dear Boardman1:--I owe you an apology for not heretofore having given the "folks at home,” through the columns of my favorite News, an inkling of the doings of the "Grand Army of the West,” now before Corinth. If the apology be accepted, and you deem my effusions of sufficient merit to interest your readers, I will endeavor, as circumstances transpire, to commit them to paper and forward them to you for publication. My facilities for gaining information are, of course, very limited, and consequently, if I do not produce a complete panorama of various events transpiring, you must not be disappointed.
This army, as you are aware, consists of three distinct "corps” under the respective commands of Maj. Generals Thomas, Buell, and Pope, and the whole under the immediate command of Maj. Gen. Halleck. These three "corps d’armee” are all now in line of battle, from right to left, in the order their commands are named above. The line is perhaps not less than twelve miles in length [7 miles on the map above], and according to my understanding forms a semi-circle, no part of which is exceeding one to one-half miles from the rebel works at Corinth. -- Each "corps” furnishes its own reserve under the command of some acting or real Major General -- the whole reserve being under the command of Maj. Gen. McClernand.
Gen. Grant still holds a command here, but the nature of that command it will take a more knowing pen than mine to speak.
No doubt great impatience is felt at home in regard to the seeming slow movements of this army, but the fact is taken into consideration that the number of troops here perhaps exceeds 150,000, and that the whole of this tremendous force has been moved from Shiloh to its present position, through an almost interminable forest -- that roads were to cut, bridges to erect, and fortifications to erect,--impatience will give place to wonder and surprise that so much has been really accomplished in so short a time. Gen. Halleck is making everything secure as he advances -- no risks are taken. Never has there been an hour, during the day or night, since we commenced our forward move from "the bloody field of Shiloh,” that our whole army was not in condition to repulse any attack that might be made upon it, and to follow up such repulse, even to the taking of Corinth. The Grand Army is now in position -- the one from which, perhaps, the final attack the rebel lines will be made. At what particular time the attack will take place, "this deponent knoweth not,” but in all probability ere this reaches you "the child will have been born,” and christened another Union Victory.
Great diversity of opinion exists here as to whether the rebels intend to make their last grand struggle at Corinth. -- Some officers high in authority, avow that Beauregard has fallen back to grand junction, only leaving a strong rear guard to hold Halleck in check as long as possible. Others positively assert that the rebels are in full force and daily receiving reinforcements. When those to whom we look for information on this point disagree, we gentlemen of bright barred epaulettes can only say with Bunsby2, "If it be so that the ship are gone down, then it be so; but it be so that the ship are not gone down then so likewise.” The army have implicit confidence that Halleck knows what he is doing, and are perfectly content to await his good time. It has been my good fortune, once or twice, to catch a casual glance of Gen. Halleck as he passed, accompanied by his staff, thro’ our lines. If the General had been so obliging to your humble correspondent as to dismount, I would eagerly have seized the opportunity to make a pen picture3 of him for your readers. He did not, however, even so much as "halt” -- so I will have to forego the picture and only say that, as he appeared on horseback, he is my ideal of a general.
Our Brigade, the 3rd, consisting of the 72nd, 48th, 70th and the 53rd Ohio Regiments, commanded by Brigadier-General Denver4, of California-Kansas notoriety, and I believe formally of Clinton County, Ohio, in Maj. General W, T. Sherman’s Division, occupies the extreme right of the Grand Army -- a position of honor and danger. The place is rightly assigned, and is but a just tribute to the gallant services rendered in the battle of Shiloh on the 6th and 7th ult. It will be remembered that the 72nd 48th and 70th at that time constituted the 4th Brigade, under the command of Col. R. E. Buckland; the 53nd being, I believe in Col. Hilderbrand’s Brigade5. The 53rd has been accused of cowardice, but in the next fight I opine they will vindicate themselves from the charge, and show to those who now cry them down that had the officers in command done their duty, the regiment would never have been subject to so withering a charge, but on the contrary would, in all probability, have gained imperishable laurels. Since the Battle some of the Brigades have been consolidated, and Colonels acting as Brigadiers have been sent back to their regiments in order to give the commands to those upon whom Congress has conferred the honor of a "star” -- Thus the 53rd is added, Col. Buckland has returned to his regiment6, and Gen. Denver is in command of the 3rd Brigade.
It is, perhaps, rather late to make any allusion to the Battle of Shiloh, as all the events in regard thereto have been worn thread-bare, but if your readers will excuse the digression, I will try and post them as to how some of the newspaper accounts of that battle were manufactured. The most correct report that has yet come under my observation is that of the Cincinnati Times, written by Mr. E. M. Spencer. This gentleman was, to my own certain knowledge, upon the ground at the commencement of the fight, and his report shows that he was careful to get the facts, as near as possible, before committing anything to paper that might in the least reflect on the action of any regiment or individual;--not so with many others, as my experience will demonstrate.
Having been wounded in the shoulder early in the action of Sunday7, I was compelled to leave the regiment in search of surgical assistance. This assistance I found on board the steamboat Hannibal, late in the afternoon. As my shoulder was being dressed, I noticed a couple of spritely-looking chaps note-book and pencil in hand, very busily plying the wounded, as they were brought on board, with questions as to how the battle was going. Various were the tales told by the poor fellows. One would have it that his regiment was totally annihilated -- another that the regiment on their left had ignominiously fled without firing a gun -- another that some Captain’s Battery had deserted his regiment just as its services were most needed. No two tales agreed, nor in the majority of cases could a single individual tell the same story twice in succession. Yet these two correspondents diligently made notes from the conglomerated savings until a sufficiency seemed to be obtained from which to hatch out a telegram or letter. No regard to facts -- all they appeared to be after was items enough to fill the column -- no matter who was wronged or who was unjustly praised -- they received so much a column and a column they must have. I afterward learned that one of these gentlemen was the correspondent of a Chicago paper, and having a curiosity to read a report so made up, I put myself to some trouble to procure a copy of the paper containing the same. As might naturally be expected, the report was found to be a tissue of bare-faced assertions. In it the grossest injustice was done some of "the bravest of the brave,” while in more than one instance regiments and individuals who really acted the part of cowards, were highly extolled for their noble and unflinching bravery. Alas! That the press has, that powerful lever for weal or woe of man, in this world, should be so carelessly used.
It is continually asserted in the newspapers of the North, that in all the Southern States a strong Union sentiment exists. With these assertions, so far as knowledge extends, I beg leave to differ. No doubt the sentiment would exist if the masses of people understood the matter -- but they do not. The leaders are careful to keep all outside avenues of communication closed, and so long as they succeed in this we need not expect much Unionism in the South. The larger part of the soldiers in the rebel army, have been so completely gulled that they look upon our army as a set of cut-throat, negro-thieving savages. If the two armies could get together and have a good sociable "confab,” our Western boys would easily convince them of their error, and I verily believe Beauregard would be minus an army. But this, of course, cannot be, so our only alternative is to whale’em like the d -- l and treat them well afterwards.
Or Division made a forward movement a few days since, and halting Co. A was thrown out as picket. In running the guard line it passed directly between two farm houses -- the one in the rear being some fifty yards from the line -- that in front some three hundred. Late in he afternoon a woman approached one of the guards and timidly asked to be allowed to pass to the house in the rear8. On questioning her it was ascertained that it was her residence to which she wished to go; she had gone on some errand to the neighboring house early in the morning, leaving a young child at home, intending, of course, to return in a few moments. During that few moments, however, the guard line was run, leaving her on one side and the child on the other. The guard permitted her to pass. In a conversation with this lady she informed me that her child was the only consideration that could possibly have induced her to return to her residence. I asked her why she feared us, and the answer was, that they had all been taught to believe our army was here to devastate the country, murder the men, and steal the negros, ravish the women, and, in short, that "Beauty and Booty” was our motto. When I informed her of the real cause of our being here, and how the "glorious old flag” had, without provocation, been insulted and trampled in the dust by unprincipled men in the South -- and how egregiously those same leaders had misled the Southern people, the tears came to her eyes and she said, "If the soldiers at Corinth knew all that, there would be no more fighting.” This woman’s husband is now in the rebel army, and was engaged in the battle of Shiloh. If he should ever be so lucky to return home I think his wife will convince him of the error of his way. Nearly all the prisoners taken by us, after receiving the treatment of our boys for a few days, acknowledge themselves to have been deceived. The most of them will never be guilty again taking up arms against the Government.
Our Division during the past ten days has done a great deal of lively skirmishing, as well as heavy labor. The first thing preparatory to a change of camp, has been to send a Brigade ahead to clean out the Secesh pickets, most generally occupying the ground desirable to us. After gaining the ground the next thing to do was to secure ourselves on it, and to this end all hands were immediately set to work to throw up fortifications. Several times while busily engaged piling logs and throwing up dirt we have been startled by the fierce rattling of musketry. On occasions of this kind it has never yet required any great effort on the part of officers to get their men into line. -- Instantaneously all tools dropped -- guns were seized, and in the twinkling of an eye a line of battle presented itself. That would have puzzled the Secesh exceedingly to break through.
Company "A” was agreeable surprised the other day by the reception of a couple of large dry-goods boxes marked "Capt. Robbins, 48th Ohio Vol. Infantry, care Sanitary Commission.” On opening the boxes, various packages addressed to individual members of the company, were discovered. If the donors of the respective packages could only have stood by and beheld the joyful expression on the face of each recipient, as his name was called, and the package handed to him, it would have been strange indeed had they not thought themselves well paid for their trouble.
The boys return their sincere thanks to friends at home for sending, and to the Sanitary Commission for delivering their boxes.
Hoping that the war will soon be over, and that piece will once again reign supreme over a happy and reunited country. I am yours truly,
F. M. Posegate
1 Joseph L. Boardman owner/editor of "The Highland Weekly News”
2 Jack Bunsby a character in Charles Dickens’ "Dombe and Son” (1848), Bunsby is commander of a ship who gives confounding advise. He is regarded as an Oracle by Captain Cuttle.
3 Posegate means a colorful written description not a drawing.
4 Brigadier General James W. Denver was Territorial Governor of Bleeding Kansas during the Buchannan Administration. The city in present day Colorado, once in Kansas Territory, is named after him. He spent time in California where he killed a newspaper editor in a duel. James Denver lived in Clinton County Ohio in his late teens and early twenties.
5 Col. Jesse Hildbrand commanded Sherman’s 2nd Brigade that included the 53rd Ohio.
6 The 72nd Ohio, Col. Ralph P. Buckland commander.
8 This story is also in Chapter 6 of the "History of the Forty-Eighth Ohio Veteran Volunteer Infantry Regiment”; http://www.48ovvi.org/chap6.html. In this regimental history the event is listed after May 26 but since Posegate wrote this letter May 25 and says it occurred "a few days since” it is more likely to have occurred during their May 20th advance. It is likely that this newspaper article is the origin of the story in the regimental history.
Occupation of Corinth
Illus. in: Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper, 21 June 1862
Library of Congress
Lt. Posegate’s second letter, written 10 days after the first, describes events the last three days of the siege including the entry of the first three companies of skirmishers, including his, into the rebel works. Unlike the first letter this one has a great deal of detail. It describes his personal observations during this time, including active skirmishing, observations of the confederate camps within the works, talking with a "contraband" (an escaped slave) and talking with townspeople. After the ordeal his regiment went through at Shiloh, Lt. Posegate is happy that Corinth was taken without bloodshed. He defends Gen. Halleck’s conservative, gradual approach with an overpowering force, ending in a siege that Gen. Beauregard’s Army slipped away from. During this period Lt. Posegate was commander of Company A, 48th OVI because Capt. Robbins was sick.
It was common for various regiments to vie for the claim that they were first to enter the works, and there are several regiments along the approximately seven mile long Union line that made that claim. It is possible that some of the others entered at about the same time that the three companies of Sherman’s did but the important point here is that we have observations of what the Confederate camps and works looked like immediately after the Confederates abandoned Corinth, accurately and ably described by an observer that was among the first to enter, before it was disturbed by the entry of large numbers of Gen. Halleck’s Grand Army. Some of Posegate’s information was wrong. He believed that Gen. Beauregard had a number of troops approximately equal to the Union force that opposed him. In fact the Union had just under twice as many troops. This was, however, the prevailing view of the Union leadership, a view successfully cultivated by Gen. Beauregard. The Corinth civilians Lt. Posegate talked to said that the cavalry began to burn the town but panicked and rode out before they complete the job. In fact the cavalry was the last to leave because it was their mission to man the picket lines during the withdrawal, keep campfires going, and maintain the illusion that an army was still within the works. They probably set fire to some of the railroad buildings before they left town but it is unlikely that there was a plan to burn the town.
At the end of May Gen. PTG Beauregard was in a bind. About half his army was on the sick list largely because of the extremely poor water that caused suffering on both sides. ``Gen. Halleck had now approached the railroad on the north, east and west and would soon cut his supply lines and Halleck’s cavalry was making raids in the rear of his position attempting to cut the rail line south. On May 28th the huge siege guns used in the line at Shiloh began to arrive offering Halleck the option of bombarding the rebel camps from a distance.
Faced with having his army trapped in a siege by a vastly larger and better equipped and supplied army Gen. Beauregard made the decision to abandon Corinth. He announced plans to his senior officers May 25th. Gen. Hardee favored evacuation as soon as possible since once Halleck started the bombardment with the siege guns evacuation in good order would be difficult. Withdrawal in the face of a more powerful enemy was very difficult since the Southern forces would likely be soundly defeated if attacked midway through a withdrawal. Gen. Beauregard made an elaborate plan requiring careful timing and an intricate deception of the Union troops by his army. Beginning May 26th, when only his senior officers knew, a plan was hatched. It called for outlying garrisons to be called into Corinth and the brigades to deposit their baggage on the trains and be moved out of town to defined locations while ammunition and ambulances would remain with the troops (May 28th). Evacuation of troops by various routs would be quickly made on trains while the soldiers cheered to make it sound like troops were arriving (May 29th). Skirmishers from each brigade would remain until their brigade was loaded then withdraw. Drummers would be left to beat were left to reveille at usual hour. Cavalry pickets in trenches, would keep fires burning and look like active. When all troops were out, the cavalry were to destroy all bridges and roads. Logs were painted black and these "Quaker guns" were placed as artillery pieces might be.
The elaborate plan ran into trouble when those running the trains proved to be disorganized, delaying the loading and evacuation. The plan was delayed by a day and evacuation occurred on the 30th instead of the 29th. Additional confusion resulted in having to leave a considerable amount of personal baggage and equipment in piles to be burned by the retreating cavalry. The cavalry also kept campfires burning and other activities going as part of the ruse. There were glitches but against all odds the withdrawal was a success. Gen. Beauregard had slipped out of a trap. A bolder general than Halleck might have caught the Confederates in the middle of their withdrawal and captured or destroyed large parts of their army while the overly cautious Gen. Halleck took Corinth with little bloodshed on either side. Gen. Halleck is criticized for not defeating Gen. Beauregard’s army but Lt. Posegate was glad for the nearly bloodless victory.
What FM Posegate observes as he enters the works is a well told description of what he actually saw... an eyewitness account of Corinth immediately after the entry of the first Union Soldiers into the works.
The Highland Weekly News, June 19, 1862 pp. 1&2
Our Army Correspondence
Letter from Lieut. F. M. Posegate9
On Picket, NEAR CORINTH, Miss., May 31, 1862
Dear Boardman10: --- In my last letter I was of the opinion that when it reached you the Union forces would be in possession of Corinth. The telegraph, last night, doubtless wafted you the intelligence that such was the case. The long terrible suspense to which this army has been subjected, was very suddenly terminated yesterday morning, by the discovery that the enemy had fled from his stronghold. All breathe freer now, though many profess to be sadly disappointed that the enemy did not remain and give battle. So far as your correspondent is individually concerned, he is perfectly content to "take things as they are,” and heartily thanks God that He is vouchsafed us a "bloodless victory.” It would perhaps have given greater satisfaction to some in the sensation newspapers of the country, as well as to many of the stay-at-home military critics, if instead of the simple message, Corinth evacuated,” the telegraph had conveyed them the intelligence of a terrible and bloody battle -- if in place of stating that the Union forces marched quietly in and took possession of the Rebel works, it had told them of a magnificent bombardment -- of gallant and brilliant bayonet charges, and unprecedented slaughter of men on both sides.
Now, dear Boardman, let the sensation editors and their hair-brained critics come into the army and pass thru’ one battle such as Shiloh, and I dare say they, with me, will be perfectly content to take "things as they are.” It is one thing to stay at home and read of Battles -- another to be a participant.
I have no doubt many persons in the North will be somewhat dissatisfied at the seeming result of this evacuation, and be inclined to blame Gen. Halleck for not destroying the whole Rebel army at this point. Such persons know little of the trials and tribulations surrounding a General in a country like this, and still less of the actual labor incident to properly moving an army of the magnitude of the one under Halleck. The Southern people can, with more propriety, censure Beauregard for nor capturing the Union army, than can the Northern people blame Halleck for not capturing the rebel army. Beauregard’s army, from all accounts, was equal, in point of numbers, to that of Halleck; his facilities for gaining information of the movements of our army were of course far superior to those of ours for learning the doings of his. In short, he was in a country of friends, and yet, in the face of all these advantages, Halleck has compelled this Napoleon of the South to flee without striking a blow. It is not the work of a day for one army to capture or destroy another of equal numbers, even in a country of friends. How much more difficult and arduous must be the task in the country of an enemy.
I am now fully convinced that it was never the design of Halleck to fight at this place, unless attacked by the enemy, until he had completely blocked up every avenue of escape for the rebel army. That accomplished, it requires no very sage eye to see that Beauregard would then have had to come out and attack us behind fortifications, or very quietly hand his army over to Halleck. Unfortunately for us the rebel Generals learned of the trap set for them just in time to make their escape. But enough of this, and now to some of the incidents of the last two days previous to the evacuation.
Wednesday morning, 28th inst., our Division was ordered to get ready to march immediately. None of us, of course, knew what was up, but supposed that a general engagement would be the natural result of our move. Our regiment had marched, not exceeding three hundred yards from the color-line, when all were startled by the roar of artillery and the somewhat distant rattle of musketry. Our Brigade was immediately formed in line of battle -- the 70th and 72nd Regiments in advance, and the 48th and 53rd in the rear. In this order we marched steadily on through the dense undergrowth, the sounds of cannon and musketry every moment becoming more distinct. A half a mile march, through the woods, brought us to the edge of a large field, on the opposite side of which, on a high ridge, our skirmishers, together with the 4th Indiana Battery, were engaged with the outposts of the enemy. Our Brigade was ordered up to their support, and crossed the field in quick time, expecting every moment to see our skirmishers driven back, our cannon captured, and, perhaps, turned upon us. Before reaching the scene of action. However, the rebels had fallen back and the 70th and the 72nd (we being ordered to halt about the middle of the field) marched up and occupied the ground. By this time our whole Division was moving steadily up in line of battle on our left. When the advance had gained the desired position, the reserve regiments were ordered to "stack arms and rest.” Our boys gladly availed themselves of this order, the tedious through the underbrush having fatigued them very much, and threw themselves down by their guns. Our rest, just then, was of short duration, for only a few moments had elapsed when the crack of our skirmisher’s rifles announced danger. -- The boys sprang to their guns, and were ready in a twinkling, ready to support the regiment in front. Just then loud yells came welling in from the opposite side of the hill. The yelling had hardly reached our ears when our cannon began to belch forth, receiving an immediate response from the rebel guns on the opposite ridge. The shells, round-shot, and grape, came whistling thick and fast over our devoted heads. After the first round all were ordered to lie down and keep as near the ground as possible. Almost before the command "lie down” was completed, your correspondent found himself stretched full length on the ground, his nose in close proximity to the bottom of a corn furrow, and as the next shell came whistling over his prostrate form, he could not repress a chuckle at the thought of thus fooling the rebels. He very soon, however, had reason to think the joke was not so prodigious as he had first imagined, for hardly a moment had elapsed ere a grape-shot came whizzing past, only a few feet above him, sinking itself deeply in a dead oak, immediately in his rear. Knowing that two shots seldom strike twice in the same place, but fearing that the rebels might have the range of that particular tree and feeling assured if they had the next grape would, in all probability, come low enough to graze his "nether parts,” he very coolly decided on performing the very difficult "gymnastic feat of walking on his knees” to a more congenial spot. He had hardly ensconced himself in his new position, when the regiment was ordered forward. Or artillery had proved too much for the rebels, and they had retired to their works about a half mile distant. After gaining the top of the ridge the whole of the Division was halted, where we remained in line of battle till late in the evening, when the order was given to "stack arms and rest.” The boys after investigating the contents of their haversacks, threw themselves down under trees and in a few moments a majority were soundly locked in the arms of Morpheus. About 10 o’clock, P. M., Company A was aroused and ordered to the left of the Brigade lines to commence the work of fortifying. The company had not been at work exceeding 10 minutes when a scout came in and reported that the enemy were planting guns on the hill immediately opposite where we were working. This, of course, was an effectual incentive for the boys to work, and right lively did they pitch dirt. We were relieved in the course of a couple of hours by another company from the regiment, and the boys once more sought their leafy couches. All were confident that daylight would let loose the rebel cannon on us. For some reason, however, the enemy retired their cannons during the night, leaving us in peaceable possession of the hill, with the exception of occasional skirmishing between the pickets. Our loss the day before was four wounded; that of the rebels is said, by prisoners taken, to have been some twelve or fifteen killed, and double that number wounded. Our Division was engaged during Thursday in strengthening the position, our attention being frequently arrested by the fierceness of the fighting between the pickets. Four o’clock Friday morning found us in line of battle behind our breast works. While resting upon our arms, we were startled by loud and long explosions, and immediately afterward, dense columns of black smoke could be seen rising over the tops of the timber in the direction of Corinth. Conjectures were now rife as to the meaning of all this. Some were of the opinion that the enemy were evacuating -- others that our forces had gained the railroad and were blowing up the bridges. The latter appeared to me to be the most probable supposition. Our regiment was now ordered to stack arms and prepare breakfast. The anxiety to learn the cause of the explosion was intense, and about 8 o’clock we were ordered into line and told that, in company with the 72nd, our regiment was to go forward and ferret out the mystery, the boys, one and all, sent up a yell indicative of their willingness to go. When outside the breastworks, Companies A and B, of the regiment, together with one company from the 72nd, were deployed as skirmishers, and ordered to make their way directly toward the rebel works. Company A was under the command of your correspondent and Lieut. Cyrus Hussey11, Captain Robbins12 being unwell. Cautiously we advanced, farther and farther into the woods, passing places where, only the night previous, considerable skirmishing had occurred, and yet not a shot was fired -- it seemed inexplicable. -- On we went, however, until suddenly our company came upon an open field, in full view of the rebel works. A halt was immediately called, and curious indeed were the eyes that looked out from behind the trees upon that formidable array of earthworks, not more than two hundred yards from them. After a short reconnaissance, the command forward was given, and away went the three companies on the double-quick across the field. All seemed to vie with each other as to who should reach the desired goal; and even your correspondent’s short legs, after they had really ascertained that the rebels were not in their trenches, made excellent time, and enabled him to be along with the company when it, almost as one man, mounted the works. Our company, having the advantage of ground, was the first to reach the works. And to it belongs the honor of having first entered the enemy’s fortifications on the extreme right. (their left) By this time the 48th and 72nd Regiments had emerged from the woods, and were coming up beautifully in line of battle. It was a sight worth fighting for to see that glorious old flag, supported by such a body of men, moving majestically towards us and all three of the companies, with one accord, greeted it with three loud and hearty cheers. As soon as the regiment came up, we were ordered on still further as skirmishers. -- In this order we passed through nearly a mile of the enemy’s camp, when it became evident that the rebels had made good their escape, we were ordered to fall into our regiment, and in that order marched into Corinth. In simply passing through camps as skirmishers, we could not, of course, have much opportunity to investigate matters. We saw enough, however, to convince us that the rebels had left in a great hurry. Everything was left just as it had been used. Pots and kettles were on the fire, containing half cooked victuals. In some of the officers’ tents tables were ready set -- the plates and everything in their places. Clothing of all kinds was scattered precariously over the ground. Quartermaster’s stores were piled up in heaps as though ready for the incendiary torch. Half-burned were found all along the road, and in fact everything indicated that a panic had suddenly seized the late occupants of the camp, and that they had fled in utmost confusion. Their guns were, however, all carried off. The fortifications, over which we passed, were simply earth-works, occupying a commanding position. Of the works in general cannot speak, not having had an opportunity to examine them.
Corinth is a beautiful little place and contained at one time a population of perhaps three thousand. We found it almost deserted -- only a few citizens remaining. From the citizens we learned that Beauregard had left a strong force of cavalry to destroy the town by fire, but after a few homes they became panic-stricken and left. From a captured contraband we learned that the regiment with which he was connected had no intimation of an evacuation until about 10 o’clock the night previous. At that hour the regiment was called into line and an order read to them that they must immediately make their escape or they would all be cut off. According to his say it did not take long to make their escape, as the whole regiment left the camp on the double quick.
After remaining in Corinth all day we returned to the camp we had left in the morning, where we now are.
As I write the heavy booming of cannon, seemingly far away, is distinctly heard. What it is I cannot imagine. There is a rumor in camp that Pope was in close pursuit of the fleeing rebels13. It may be his forces engaging them; but we shall see what we shall see,” and until then more anon.
Yours, Truly, PEDRO.
10 Joseph L. Boardman owner/editor of "The Highland Weekly News”
13 Gen Pope’s Wing of the army was pursuing Gen Beauregard’s retreating Army at this time. See: T.B. Smith, "Corinth 1862: Siege Battle, Occupation" (2012), University Press of Kansas. pp 97-98
* George C. Barns "Denver the Man" (1950) Shenandoah Publishing House, Inc., Strasburg, VA, p. 308.
Highland Weekly News
In 1837, James Brown established what was to become the Highland Weekly News at Hillsboro as the Ohio News with a goal to "promote the Interests of the Whigs" and provide a much sought-after alternative to the Democratic Hillsboro’ Gazette, for which there had been no rival publication since its establishment in 1818 as the Hillsborough Gazette, and Highland Advertiser. In 1847, the Ohio News became known as the Highland News until 1852 when it changed its name to the Weekly Highland News, before finally settling on the Highland Weekly News in 1853. Soon afterward, the paper began to support the newly formed Republican Party and considered itself to be a "fearless defender of every principle of moral reform in the interest of religion and good government."
Ownership of the paper changed only a few times, first in 1852 when James Brown sold the News to Joseph L. Boardman and J.C.D. Hanna. In 1857, Boardman became the sole proprietor editor of the Highland Weekly News until 1878 when his son, Edward L. Boardman, took over the paper. Under the Boardman family’s leadership, the News reached strong circulation numbers; by 1880, there were 1,500 subscribers throughout southern Ohio. The "family journal devoted to News, Politics, Literature, Agriculture, &c." printed local, state, regional, national, and international news. In addition to offering poetry, a youth section of Enigma (puzzles), and, during the Civil War, correspondence from the battlefront, the paper included a special temperance column that was edited by the Women’s Christian Union of Hillsboro.
In 1884, Edward L. Boardman sold the Weekly News to George W. Barrere who purchased the Saturday Herald the following year and consolidated the papers to form the News-Herald. In 1973, the News-Herald became the Hillsboro Press Gazette, which has been published as the Press Gazette since 1985.
Provided by: Ohio Historical Society, Columbus, OH
Recommended reading: Timothy B. Smith Corinth: Siege, Battle, Occupation (2012) University Press of Kansas, 441 pages.
JOHN RICHARDON’S LETTERS FROM CORINTH