Battle reports concerning the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, October 3-4, 1862:
From the O.R., Series I, Volume 27, Part 1, pages 385-392.
Report of Maj. Gen. Sterling Price, C.S. Army, commanding Army of the West, including engagement at Hatchie Bridge and operations September 27 - October 5.
MAJOR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of this army connected with the several engagements at Corinth and Davis’ Bridge of the 3d, 4th, and 5th instant:
Having arranged with Major-General Van Dorn to unite my forces with his for active operations I joined him at Ripley on the 27th ultimo. My force at this time consisted of 10,498 effective infantry, 2,437 effective cavalry, 928 effective artillerymen, and 44 guns, including two 24-pounder howitzers and four rifled pieces of .3 5/8 caliber. The infantry was divided into two divisions, commanded by Brigadier-Generals Maury and Hébert. Maury’s division consisted of three brigades, commanded by Brigadier-General Moore and Acting Brigadier-Generals Cabell and Phifer. Hébert’s division consisted of four brigades, commanded by Brigadier-General Green and Colonels Martin, Gates, and Colbert. The cavalry, except such companies as were on detached service, was under command of Acting Brigadier-General Armstrong. The artillery was apportioned as follows: With Maury’s Division, Hoxton’s battery (Lieutenant Tobin commanding), Bledsoe’s battery, McNally’s battery (Lieutenant Moore commanding), Bryan’s battery, Lucas’ battery, and Sengstak’s battery. Hoxton’s and Sengstak’s batteries were held as reserves, under command of Lieutenant Burnet, acting chief of artillery of the division. With Hébert’s division were Wade’s, Landis’, Guibor’s, Dawson’s and King’s. The cavalry force under General Armstrong reported to the major-general commanding the combined forces and afterward acted under orders direct from him.
On the morning of the 30th ultimo we took up the line of march in the direction of Pocahontas, which place we reached on the 1st instant, and from which we moved upon the enemy at Corinth, bivouacking on the night of the 2d instant at a point nearly opposite to Chewalla, having left one regiment of infantry and a section of artillery with the wagon train as guard.
At 4 o’clock on the morning of the 3d instant we resumed the march, my command moving on the main Pocahontas and Corinth road in rear of General Lovell’s. At a point about 1 1/2 miles from the enemy’s outer line of fortifications my command made a detour to the left, with instructions to occupy the ground between the Memphis and Charleston and Mobile and Ohio Railroads. This done, my line -- Maury occupying the right and Hébert the left, with Cabell’s and Colbert’s brigades in reserve -- fronted the enemy’s works in a southeasterly direction, the right resting upon the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. While these dispositions were making General Lovell engaged the enemy upon our right.
All being now ready for the attack my line was ordered forward at about 10 a.m. Almost simultaneously with the movement the opposed armies became engaged in desperate conflict along the whole extent of my line. My command had scarcely cleared the position of its first formation when, entering an abatis of more than 300 yards, it became unmasked before a position naturally exceedingly formidable and rendered trebly so by the extent of felled timber through which it must be approached and the most approved and scientifically constructed intrenchments, bristling with artillery of large caliber and supported by heavy lines of infantry. My troops charged the enemy’s position with the most determined courage, exposed to a murderous fire of musketry and artillery. Without faltering they pressed forward over every obstacle, and with shouts and cheers carried in less then twenty minutes the entire line of works, the enemy having fled, leaving in our hands many prisoners and two pieces of artillery, one a 4-inch Parrott gun, the other a 24-pounder howitzer.
Our loss in this attack was comparatively small. This is attributable to the impetuousity with which the charge was made and the works carried.
It becomes my painful duty in this connection to revert to the distinguished services of two gallant officers who fell in this engagement -- Col. John D. Martin, commanding a brigade of Mississippians, and Lieut. Samuel Farrington, of Wade’s (Missouri) battery. Colonel Martin fell mortally wounded while leading the charge against an angle in the enemy’s works exposed to the fire of enfilading batteries. The gallant bearing of this officer upon more than one bloody field had won for him a place in the heart of every Mississippian and the admiration and confidence of his superior officers. Lieutenant Farrington was struck and instantly killed by a shot from a rifled gun while bringing one of the guns of his battery into position. This gallant soldier and courteous and chivalric gentleman, forgetful of personal interest and mindful of the necessities of the service only, resigned a lieutenant-colonelcy in the service of his State for a lieutenancy in the Confederate service, and gave up his life a glorious sacrifice upon the altar of his country’s honor in the seventh of the battles in which he has been conspicuous for cool, determined, and effective bravery. Though young, his country mourns no more valiant defender, his command no abler commander, his friends no worthier recipient of their affection.
The outer works being in our possession my troops moved forward in pursuit of the retreating enemy until within about 1 mile of Corinth, where the enemy was encountered in position and force. The necessary disposition being made, my whole line again moved forward to the attack at about 3 p.m. Here the fighting was of unparalleled fierceness along the whole extent of my line. The position of the enemy along the entire length of his lines was covered by fencing, heavy timber, or thick underbrush, while portions of my troops advanced through open fields, exposed to a deadly fire of batteries operating over the enemy’s line of infantry. Here, as in the assault upon the outer works, we had little artillery in action, it being impossible to procure such positions for my batteries as would enable them to cooperate effectively with the infantry. After continuous and most desperate fighting along the whole extent of my line of nearly two hours’ duration, the enemy, notwithstanding his lines had been trebled by reenforcements, was driven from his positions and forced to take refuge in his innermost works in and around the town. The troops of my command, having nearly exhausted their ammunition in the heavy fighting through the day, were withheld from immediate pursuit, and the delay in procuring the necessary supplies of ammunition forced us to close the fight for the day. My troops were withdrawn for cover and laid on their arms during the night in the position from which the enemy had been driven.
About 4 o’clock on the morning of the 4th three batteries of my command were placed in position and opened fire upon the town, under the immediate orders of the major-general commanding. About daylight orders were received to advance my whole line. In the execution of this order a delay was occasioned by the illness of Brigadier-General Hébert, commanding a division. He was necessarily relieved from duty. The command devolved upon Brigadier-General Green, who moved forward as soon as he could make the necessary disposition of his troops.
It was after 9 o’clock when my line became generally and furiously engaged with the enemy in his innermost and most formidable works, from which his infantry and artillery could jointly operate against my troops. Here, as in the previous actions, my artillery could not be effectively brought into action and but few of the guns were engaged. The fighting by my command was almost entirely confined to the infantry. My men pressed forward upon the enemy, and with heavy loss succeeded in getting into his works, having driven him from them, capturing more than forty pieces of artillery and forcing him to take refuge in the houses of the town and in every place that would afford protection from our galling fire. He was followed and driven from house to house with great slaughter. In the town were batteries in mask, supported by heavy reserves, behind which the retreating enemy took shelter, and which opened upon our troops a most destructive fire at short range. My men held their positions most gallantly, returning the fire of the enemy with great spirit until portions of them exhausted their ammunition and were compelled to retire. This necessitated the withdrawal of the whole line, which was done under a withering fire. The attack was not resumed and we fell back to our supply train, the men being almost exhausted from exertion and want of food and water. General Villepigne’s brigade moved over to our assistance but did not become engaged, as the enemy was too badly cut up to follow us. We fell back, in order to obtain water, some 6 miles from Corinth, where we bivouacked for the night, bringing off all of our artillery and arms save one rifled piece, which had been inadvertently driven into the enemy’s line while going into battery before daylight in the morning and had been left. We brought off also the two guns captured at the outer line of fortifications on the 3d.
It is impossible for me to do justice to the courage of my troops in these engagements, nor can I discriminate between officers or commands where all behaved so nobly. This is the less necessary, as the operations of my command were under the immediate observation of the major-general commanding.
For minute details of the actions, and particularly of the artillery, of the 3d and 4th instant, as well as for instances of personal and distinguished gallantry, I beg leave to refer the major-general commanding to the reports of the commanding officers, herewith inclosed.
On the morning of the 5th instant, we resumed the march in the direction of Pocahontas, my command moving by divisions, Maury’s in front, each in rear of its ordnance and supply train, except Moore’s brigade, which constituted the advance guard. After crossing the Tuscumbia Moore’s brigade was hurried forward to protect Davis’ Bridge across the Hatchie, which was threatened by an advance of the enemy. It being found that the enemy was in force, the remainder of Maury’s division was ordered forward, and finally I was ordered to move up the whole of my command. Moore’s brigade, with a section of the Saint Louis Battery and Sengstak’s battery, were thrown across the Hatchie, but the enemy having possession of the heights commanding the crossing, as well as the position in which these troops were placed, and it being found that he was in very heavy force, it was deemed advisable to cross the Hatchie by another road, and these troops were withdrawn after serious loss to the east side of the Hatchie, where, being joined by Cabell’s and Phifer’s brigades, and, assisted by the batteries of McNally, Hogg, Landis, and Tobin, they effectually checked the advance of the enemy. Green’s division, which had been delayed by passing the wagon train that had been parked near the Tuscumbia, arriving on the ground, was formed in line of battle, but the enemy making no further effort to advance the whole of my command were moved off by another route, General Lovell’s command being in our rear. This was our last engagement with the enemy.
In this engagement we lost four guns, occasioned by the killing of horses. Our whole wagon train came off without molestation or loss, except a few wagons that were broken down and had to be abandoned.
The history of this war contains no bloodier page perhaps than that which will record this fiercely contested battle. The strongest expressions fall short of my admiration of the gallant conduct of the officers and men under my command. Words cannot add luster to the fame they have acquired through deeds of noble daring which, living through future time, will shed about every man, officer, and soldier who stood to his arms through this struggle a halo of glory as imperishable as it is brilliant. They have won to their sisters and daughters the distinguished honor, set before them by a general of their love and admiration upon the event of an impending battle upon the same field, of the proud exclamation, “My brother, father, was at the great battle of Corinth.”
The bloodiest record of this battle is to come. The long list of the gallant dead upon this field will carry sorrow to the hearth-stone of many a noble champion of our cause, as it does to the hearts of those who are to avenge them. A nation mourns their loss while it cherishes the story of their glorious death, pointing out to their associate officers in this mighty struggle for liberty the pathway to victory and honor. They will live ever in the hearts of the admiring people of the Government for the establishment of which they have given their lives.
Of the field officers killed were Colonels Rogers, Second Texas Infantry, who fell in the heart of the town of eleven wounds; Johnson, Twentieth Arkansas, and Daly, of the Eighteenth Arkansas; Lieutenant-Colonels Maupin, First Missouri Cavalry (dismounted), and Leigh, Forty-third Mississippi; Majors Vaughn, Sixth Missouri Infantry; Dowdell, Twenty-first Arkansas, and McDonald, Fortieth Mississippi.
Many of my ablest and most gallant field officers are wounded, several mortally. Of this number are Colonels Erwin, Sixth Missouri Infantry; MacFarlane, Fourth Missouri Infantry; Pritchard, Third Missouri Infantry; Moore, Forty-third Mississippi, and McLain, Thirty-seventh Mississippi; Lieutenant-Colonels Pixlee, Sixteenth Arkansas; Hedgpeth, Sixth Missouri Infantry; Terral, Seventh Mississippi Battalion; Lanier, Forty-second Alabama; Hobson, Third Arkansas Cavalry; Matheny, Twenty-first Arkansas; Campbell, Fortieth Mississippi, and Boone, Fifteenth Arkansas Infantry; Majors Senteny, Second Missouri Infantry; Keirn, Thirty-eighth Mississippi; Slaton, Thirty-seventh Alabama; Timmins, Second Texas; Jones, Twenty-first Arkansas; Russell, Third Louisiana; Yates, [Thirty-sixth Mississippi], and McQuiddy, Third Missouri Cavalry.
For other casualties in officers and men I beg leave to refer to lists* inclosed.
I cannot close this report without recognizing the eminent services and valuable assistance of Brigadier-Generals Maury, Hébert (whose services I regret to have lost on the morning of the 4th by reason of his illness), and Green, commanding divisions. I bear willing testimony to the admirable coolness, undaunted courage, and military skill of these officers in disposing their respective commands and in executing their orders. Through them I transmit to Brigadier-General Moore and acting Brigadier-Generals Cabell, Phifer, Gates, and Colbert my high appreciation of their efficient services on the field. Their skill in maneuvering their troops and promptness and gallantry in leading them through the most desperate conflicts elicit my highest admiration; and of my troops as a body I can say no juster or more complimentary words than that they have sustained and deepened and widened their reputation for exalted patriotism and determined valor.
To my personal staff I return my thanks for their promptness in the delivery of my orders and their gallant bearing on the field.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
MAJ. M.M. KIMMEL,
Assistant Adjutant-General, Army of West Tennessee.
Report of Brig. Gen. Martin E. Green, C. S. Army, commanding Third Brigade and First Division, including engagement at Hatchie Bridge.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by that portion of the army under my command in the recent engagement at Corinth:
On the morning of the 3d instant, being in command of the Third Brigade, of the First Division, commanded by Brigadier General Hébert, I was ordered to take position on the left of the Fourth Brigade, forming a line in front of and 300 or 400 yards from the enemy’s outer breastworks. Scarcely was the line formed when the enemy opened upon us with great fierceness a fire of shell and grape, doing us, however, but little harm, wounding a few men.
About 12 o’clock we were ordered to advance. Our skirmishers, being in front of our lines, soon drove the enemy’s skirmishers inside of the fortifications, where they endeavored to make a stand and opened upon us with musketry. We continued to advance rapidly. The enemy fled and we took possession of the fortifications. The order being still to forward, we moved in line until we came to an open field, where the enemy opened upon us a murderous fire from two batteries placed upon a hill beyond. I halted the brigade and ordered Captains Landis and Guibor, with their batteries, to take position and fire upon the enemy. We here had a brisk artillery fight, which lasted about three-quarters of an hour. Our batteries having driven those of the enemy from their position I then advanced my brigade until I came to another field, where I found the enemy in line under the cover of a fence on the far side of the field, waiting our approach. Here we saw danger ahead, with a battery and a line of infantry firing upon us from the left and a heavy fire in front. We moved forward at double-quick across the open field to meet the enemy. Here was unceasing fire of musketry for about one and a half hours, and as we would break the lines of the enemy they would bring fresh troops. I sent to Colonel Gates, whose brigade was not engaged, to try and relieve us of the cross-fire on the left, which he did by sending to my support the Second Missouri Infantry, Colonel Cockrell commanding. We then soon succeeded in driving the enemy from the field, but not until we had lost many brave and gallant officers and soldiers.
During this engagement I was enabled to see the whole length of my brigade, consisting of Third Missouri and Second Mississippi Regiments, * and I am proud to say there was no faltering, but all seemed eager for the combat, and nobly did they sustain it. No troops could have done better; nor could I distinguish between the regiments which behaved the most gallantly. Each did vigorously the work assigned it.
In this charge we lost largely in officers. Colonels Erwin and MacFarlane and Lieutenant-Colonels Terral and Hedgpeth were wounded. Colonel Terral fell while urging his men forward. He was at least 20 yards in advance of his command. I fear he will never again be able to take the field. In him we lose a gallant officer. Lieutenant-Colonel Leigh, of Forty-third Mississippi, fell while gallantly leading his wing of the regiment. Major McQuiddy was severely wounded. Major Vaughn, of the Sixth Missouri, was killed while leading the charge. Several officers of the line were killed, among whom were the following: Captains Taylor, McKinney, and Graves.
After the enemy fell back and the firing ceased we gathered up the wounded and advanced our line some 200 yards beyond where the enemy had fought us and slept upon our arms all night.
About daylight, leaving our skirmishers out, we fell back about 100 yards under cover of the hill in order to get some refreshments. Before we were done eating the enemy opened their batteries upon us most furiously.
Just at this time I received a message from General Hébert, informing me that he was unable to take the field and that the command of the division would devolve upon me. In a few minutes I received an order from General Price placing me in command. The command of the Third Brigade now devolved upon Colonel Moore, of the Forty-third Mississippi Regiment.
At the time of assuming command I found the brigades placed as follows: The Third Brigade on the left of General Phifer, its left resting near the Mobile and Ohio Railroad; First Brigade (Colonel Gates) on its left, fronting the railroad; the Fourth Brigade (Colonel McLain) on its left, and the Second Brigade (Colonel Colbert) in reserve. I immediately sent for the Second Brigade and placed it in line where the Third was and held the Third in reserve. In this position we skirmished for a short time with the enemy. Receiving word from Colonel McLain, commanding Fourth Brigade, that there was danger of his left being turned by the enemy, and that if attempted he would be unable to prevent it, I ordered the Second to move to the left of the Fourth, placing the Third in its original position. I then ordered a forward movement, directing the Second and Fourth to move forward en echelon, throwing their left forward, so as to come to a charge at the same time of the right. At the time I ordered the forward movement I sent for re-enforcements, believing that we would need them, for I could see the enemy had two lines of fortifications, bristling with artillery and strongly supported by infantry. Our lines moved across the railroad, advancing slowly and steadily, our skirmishers constantly fighting with those of the enemy, driving them back. When within 200 yards the command was ordered to charge at a double-quick. The whole line now moved forward with great rapidity. Officers and men all seemed eager to be foremost in reaching the fortifications, but it was a hard road to travel, climbing over logs, brush, and fallen timber, while masked batteries of the enemy opened upon us at almost every step with great slaughter, but, nothing daunted, the division pressed forward. The First Brigade, Colonel Gates commanding, arriving at the fortification, drove the enemy from their intrenchments, taking about forty pieces of artillery. The Fourth and Second Brigades having worse roads and the distance being greater, only a portion of them were able to reach the intrenchments, and the left, being in danger of being outflanked, fell back.
Lieutenant-Colonel Maupin, of the First Missouri Cavalry (serving as infantry), fell while gallantly leading his regiment in the charge on the enemy’s fortifications, bearing his regimental colors.
Colonel Moore, I fear, was mortally wounded while leading the Third Brigade on a charge in town. He fell near the depot and was left on the field.
Colonel McLain, commanding Fourth Brigade, was severely wounded in the charge.
Major McQuiddy, who was wounded on the day before in the arm, but would not leave his command (Third Missouri Cavalry), was severely wounded in the thigh.
Major Yates, of Thirty-sixth Mississippi, was also severely wounded, as was also Colonel Pritchard, of the Third Missouri Infantry.
Re-enforcements again being sent for, General Cabell came up with his brigade, but before he could get to the fortifications Colonel Gates’ ammunition was exhausted and he fell back. The fire then became terrific. General Cabell was unable to retake the fortifications, and the whole line fell back on the hill in the rear of the batteries. Here I received orders to move the division back on the hill beyond the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Before reaching that point I received an order to continue the march until further orders. We encamped early in the evening on the right of the road opposite.
Sunday morning I was ordered to resume the march, marching in the rear of General Maury’s division. Before reaching the Hatchie I received an order to push forward; that General Maury’s division had engaged the enemy on the Hatchie and needed assistance. I pushed forward as rapidly as the men could possibly travel. When we arrived, however, we found General Cabell’s force falling back in good order. I was ordered to form on the left of the road in a field behind the fence. We threw out skirmishers, who soon engaged those of the enemy and drove them back. The Fourth Brigade came upon a body of the enemy’s skirmishers; charged and repulsed them. We here lay still for about half an hour, the enemy in sight every minute expecting to move forward, but instead we received orders to fall back, which we did without any interruption of the enemy, though they still continued throwing shells, as they had been doing all the time. Here I had 3 or 4 men slightly wounded. I was then ordered to move my division out on the Bone Yard road.
At the crossing of the Hatchie I received orders to proceed to the Ripley road and bivouac for the night, which I did in line along the road toward Pocahontas, throwing out pickets to give notice of the approach of the enemy.
The next morning I resumed the march in good order toward Ripley.
During the fight and on the retreat both officers and soldiers have shown themselves as brave as the most sanguine could desire. All did their duty well, and were I to particularize I would not know where to begin. I cannot, however, refrain from acknowledging my obligations to Capt. William B. Pittman for his promptness in conveying an order through the field when the very atmosphere seemed filled with shot, shell, grape, and canister; also to Maj. Theo. Johnston, who acted as volunteer aide, and who conveyed orders with great dispatch through the hottest firing regardless of danger.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Notes on the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, Oct. 3-4, 1862 taken from (1) Peter Cozzens’ book The Darkest Days of the War. The Battles of Iuka and Corinth (1997), pages 140-252; (2) Monroe F. Cockrell’s book The Lost Account of the Battle of Corinth and The Court Martial of Gen. Van Dorn (1991), pages 17-78; and (3) Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Volume II, pages 737-760:
The largely ignored battle of Corinth, Mississippi fought on Oct. 3-4, 1862 saw the 17th Arkansas Infantry, commanded by then Lieutenant-Colonel John Griffith, within the brigade of Colonel W. Bruce Colbert. This brigade, as described above in the O.R. reports above, was also known as the Second Brigade of the First Division (Brigadier Generals Louis Hébert, then Martin E. Green) within Major General Sterling Price’s Army of the West, also known as Price’s Corps. This Army of the West was within the Confederate Army of West Tennessee and under the overall command of Major General Earl Van Dorn at the battle of Corinth.
The 17th Arkansas Infantry, reduced in numbers after the battle of Elkhorn Tavern (March 7-8, 1862) and Iuka (Sept. 19, 1862) was placed in Colbert’s Second Brigade along with the 14th Arkansas Infantry, 3rd Louisiana Infantry, 40th Mississippi Infantry, 1st Texas Legion, 3rd Texas Cavalry (dismounted), Clark’s Missouri Battery, and the Saint Louis Missouri Battery. Since almost all of these units were involved in the heavy fighting at Iuka on Sept. 19, it appears that Brigadier General Hébert may have intentionally placed Colbert’s Second Brigade behind the other three brigades in his First Division during Day 1 (Oct. 3) at Corinth. Hébert’s First Division contained approximately 6,602 men to start the battle; Major General Price had in his Corps/Army of the West a total of 14,363 men -- about two-thirds of Van Dorn’s total force.
Price’s Corps easily overran the outer Federal lines in about 15 minutes; this initial assault by about 9,000 men took place at approximately 11:00 a.m. on Oct. 3. At about 2:30 p.m. that same day, Major General Price, under orders from Van Dorn, sent the brigades of Green, Phifer, Cabell, Gates, Martin, and Colbert on a course S-SE between the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and Memphis and Charleston Railroad tracks. As directed by Brigadier General Hébert, the 17th Arkansas Infantry under Lt.-Colonel John Griffith was bringing up the rear directly behind the brigades of Gates and Martin. The regiments within Green’s Brigade were deployed as skirmishers in front of the other three brigades in Hébert’s First Division as they descended upon the Federal brigades of Brigadier Generals Richard Oglesby and Pleasant A. Hackleman. Also defending the position held by Oglesby and Hackleman astride the Memphis Road and adjacent to the White House, were 11 cannons (mostly Parrotts with some howitzers) of the 1st Missouri Light Artillery and the 250 men of the Iowan “Union Brigade” that had been decimated at Shiloh. This patched-together defense of approximately 1,780 Yankees had been feverishly assembled by Brigadier General Thomas A. Davies as they retreated from the Rebel breakthrough earlier that morning. The location of this Federal position near the White House was approximately 1/2 mile northwest of Battery Robinett, which still stands today.
An intense artillery duel between the advanced batteries of Guibor, Landis, Wade, and Bledsoe (20 guns) and the Federal cannons at General Davies’ White House line then took place starting at around 3:00 p.m. and lasting for about 30 minutes. The vanguard of Green’s Brigade then made the first of three charges upon the Federals at their White House position. The parched, desperate Federals counterattacked at around 4:00 p.m., being led by Colonel James Baker and the 2nd Iowa Infantry. Both Generals Oglesby and Hackelman, personal friends of President Abraham Lincoln from Illinois, received serious wounds and left the field in the same ambulance. By 4:30 p.m. desperately needed reinforcements arrived from Federal General Mower’s Division for General Davies’ beleaguered men -- the 8th Wisconsin and 11th Missouri Regiments replaced the 7th Iowa, 2nd Iowa, and 52nd Illinois infantries in the rapidly degrading White House line. These drained troops retreated back to Battery Robinett where they had their first water in several hours. General Green’s rebs still came on, startling the 8th Wisconsin and 11th Missouri soldiers with their energy; this assault was enhanced with the fresh addition of General Gates’ brigade. It is not known just how far behind this renewed action was Colbert’s Brigade and the 17th Arkansas Infantry commanded by Lt.-Colonel John Griffith.
At about this time, the famous bald-eagle mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry, “Old Abe” was rudely disturbed by a minie-ball that cut the tether cord holding him to his perch. Another ball nicked a few feathers from him, eliciting a squawk and a panicked flight along the line of battle. No doubt the aroused Rebels were aiming at this symbol of the hated Federal government as Old Abe flew by and his handler from the 8th Wisconsin chased after him. Old Abe was captured by his handler and then retreated with his regiment back towards Battery Robinett as the victorious Confederates of Green, Gates, and Phifer emerged from the southern edge of the woods adjacent to the White House. At this time, about 5:00 p.m., the final onslaught seemed imminent to the cornered Federals in Battery Robinett, but Major General Sterling Price convinced his brigade commanders and his superior, Major General Van Dorn, to halt for the day. Although concerned by the fatigue of his men, Price was apparently more concerned about the relative lack of progress by General Lovell west of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad; he argued to Van Dorn that without Lovell’s support, it was not possible to successfully finish their assault before nightfall. Van Dorn reluctantly agreed and the Confederate assault was finished for the day. Both Colbert’s and Cabell’s Brigades formed a battle line protecting the rear of Van Dorn’s army and skirmished with Federals until dark. Confederate success seemed assured in the morning.
Both Major Generals commanding the Confederate and Federal forces, Van Dorn and Rosecrans, made their preparations for a renewal of the battle the next morning. Federal Brigadier General Charles Smith Hamilton reinforced the defences around Battery Powell, approximately 1 mile NE of Battery Robinett while the Confederate commanders planned the next morning’s assault. Unknown at the time, Battery Powell would be the focal point of the attack by Hébert’s Division and Colbert’s 2nd Brigade the next morning -- Lt.-Colonel John Griffith and his men in the 17th Arkansas Infantryslept that night beneath a clear and starry sky according to records made by battle participants. Van Dorn’s instructions to Price were that the attack would begin at dawn, preceded by an artillery barrage from batteries in Maury’s Division at 4:00 a.m. Brigadier General Hébert would initiate the attack with his division and turn the right flank of the Federal army. Once his force was heavily engaged, the divisions of Maury and Lovell would then strike directly at the town of Corinth.
On 4:00 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 4 the Confederate artillery barrage began, startling awake the Federal defenders with light and noise in the darkness. By 7:00 a.m. no Rebel attack had materialized; at that time Brigadier General Hébert came to Van Dorn’s HQ and reported himself sick, asking to be relieved from duty. Once excused by Van Dorn, Sterling Price then put Brigadier General Martin Green in command of Hébert’s Division -- Green would now lead the left wing of the Confederate army against the Federal’s right flank anchored by Battery Powell. Not surprisingly, General Green took a while before he got things organized enough for his unexpected role as Division commander. He aligned his brigades along the Mobile and Ohio Railroad tracks where they crossed Elam Creek in the following order, from north to south: Colbert’s (including Lt.-Colonel John Griffith’s 17th Arkansas Infantry), McLain’s, Gates’, and W.H. Moore’s. Cabell’s Brigade was in support, initially behind Moore’s Brigade. They would advance in a great wheeling movement towards the east and south, Colbert’s Brigade having the greatest distance to travel and hopefully passing the end of the Federal right flank. The belated attack finally began at 10:00 a.m., several hours after the original plans, and Green’s Division crossed the tracks of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and marched east.
Almost immediately the brigades of Colbert and McLain lagged behind the brigades to their right and could not be seen by members of Gates’ and Moore’s Brigades. The 25 Federal cannons (6th Wisconsin and 1st Missouri Light Artilleries) supported by the 2nd Iowa, 52nd Illinois, 80th Ohio, and 10th Iowa Infantries were deployed in and on both sides of Battery Powell. The 9th Illinois, 12 Illinois, and 81st Ohio were reserves immediately behind the battery earthworks. The Yankee guns opened almost immediately on the Confederate attackers, Gates’ and W.H. Moore’s Brigades taking a horrendous beating as they crossed the Purdy Road -- Moore’s force veered south of Battery Powell while Gate’s men hit it head-on. Gates’ men actually punched a 1/4 mile-wide hole in Rosecran’s line and captured 13 cannon before being repulsed by Federal infantry and cannons during a vicious counterattack. By 11:00 a.m. both McLain’s and Colbert’s Brigades had succeeded in passing the original right flank of the Federal line, manned by the 10th Iowa Infantry. The entire right side of the Federal infantry north of Battery Powell retreated before the onslaught of both McLain’s and Colbert’s Brigades as they emerged from woods just north and east of Battery Powell. The men of the 17th Arkansas Infantry were no doubt encouraged by the fleeing Federal soldiers running before them.
Unfortunately for the men in McLain’s and Colbert’s Brigades, a Federal counterattack now came under the direction of Federal Brigadier General Hamilton -- a total of 16 cannons (12th Wisconsin, 1st Missouri, and 11th Ohio Light Artilleries) were supported by the 56th Illinois, 10th Missouri, 48th Indiana, 59th Indiana, 5th Iowa, and 26th Missouri Infantry Regiments; both the 17th Iowa and 4th Minnesota were reserves. Roughly between 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., the brigades of McLain and Colbert battled Brigadier General Napoleon Buford’s First Brigade approximately 400 yards east of Battery Powell. At a range of about 600 yards, the Federal cannons opened upon them; at a range of 75 yards, Buford’s 1,800 infantrymen stood and fired a volley that staggered the stunned Confederates, but did not break them. For somewhere near 45 minutes, Colbert’s and McLain’s soldiers absorbed the fire from Federal guns and the carnage mounted -- Colonel McLain had one leg removed by a solid shot while the 3rd Louisiana Infantry, already weakened from Iuka, lost 1/3 of their men at this time. McLain’s Brigade hesitated when their commander went down, then broke and ran for safety. The 48th and 59th Indiana Infantries ran after them, apparently capturing 132 members of Colbert’s Brigade; Lt.-Colonel John Griffith and the 17th Arkansas Infantry also retreated from the counterattacking Federals and moved back towards safety. Buford’s Brigade kept after the fleeing Rebels until recall was sounded at about 11:30 a.m.
Gates’ Brigade left 300 dead or wounded against the ramparts of Battery Powell; another 100 surrendered rather than run back through the Federal firestorm. Lovell’s and Maury’s Divisions fared no better, suffering high casualties as well. Lt.-Colonel John Griffith and the 17th Arkansas Infantry suffered 1 killed, 13 wounded, and 6 missing during the two-day battle of Corinth; it is not known exactly how many effectives they had on the field those days, but they were an understrength unit following Iuka and Elkhorn Tavern (Pea Ridge), so their 20 casualties may have been a relatively high percentage of their manpower. Also according to figures given in a table reproduced in the O.R. (page 382), Colbert’s 2nd Brigade of Hébert’s First Division suffered a total of 11 killed, 129 wounded, and 132 missing. Peter Cozzens records that total Federal casualties at Corinth were 355 killed, 1,841 wounded, and 324 missing of approximately 22,000 (casualty rate of about 10%); total Confederate casualties for Major General Sterling Price’s Army of the West are estimated at 428 killed, 1,865 wounded, and 1,449 missing (casualty rate of about 35%).
Supposedly sometime after the Confederate repulse on Oct. 4, Major General Rosecrans walked over the bloody and torn ground in front of Battery Powell. He encountered a badly wounded “Arkansas Lieutenant” (supposedly a member of Cabell’s Brigade but possibly a member of the 16th Arkansas Infantry from Gate’s Brigade) with a mutilated foot. The Federal commanding general offered the wounded Arkansan some water and made the comment to the Rebel soldier, “It was pretty hot fighting here.” The unbowed Arkansan defiantly replied, “Yes, General, you licked us good, but we gave you the best we had in the ranch!”
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