Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Siege of Corinth, MS

Today, 30 May, 150 years ago, the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi came to a rather quiet end.

The sign to the left refers to the Battle of Corinth that followed in October 1862 The map to the right shows the location of the modern city of Corinth, Mississippi in the state.

In the wake of the Battle of Shiloh, the Confederate Army of Mississippi withdrew south to the area of Corinth, MS, which was a significant rail junction.  This army was under the command of the Louisiana native, CS Gen. Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who had taken command with the death of CS Gen. Albert S. Johnston at Shiloh.  The army of Beauregard was supplemented by the arrival of the much smaller Confederate Army of the West under CS Major Gen. Earl Van Dorn, which had fought at Pea Ridge, AR that spring.  In all, the Southern Confederacy had about 70,000 men to defend Corinth.

File:Pgt beauregard.jpgFile:Henry Wager Halleck - Brady-Handy.jpg
CS Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard (Left) and US Major Gen. Henry Halleck (Right)

The Union force was a Grand Army under the overall command of US Major Gen. Henry Halleck, who was the commander of Union forces west of the Appalachians, and would later serve as General-in-chief for Lincoln.  Second in command of this Grand Army was US Major Gen. U.S. Grant, who still remained in limbo in the wake of the controversial bloodbath of Shiloh.  The Grand Army consisted of those forces engaged at Shiloh: the Union Army of the Tennessee under US Major Gen. George Thomas (this had been Grant's army), and the Union Army of the Ohio under US Major Gen. Don Carlos Buell.  In addition, the Union Army of the Mississippi of US Gen. John Pope arrived to bolster the Union numbers.  In all, perhaps 120,000 men-at-arms stood for the Union.

From 29 April 1862 to the night of 29 May 1862, these two sizable armies stood face to face in northern Mississippi.  Both sides were still reeling from the bloodbath of Shiloh, and sought victory without costly frontal assaults.  Halleck slowly approached the Confederate lines, constructing entrenchments to protect his men.  By the end of May, the Union army was within striking distance of the Confederate lines with their artillery, and at that point, the Confederates determined to withdraw.

Here is a link to a high-resolution antique map of the siege lines:

Beauregard oversaw a masterful evacuation during the night of 29-30 May 1862.  The Confederate retreat to Tupelo took the Union totally by surprise, and brought the siege to a close -- each side having lost about a 1,000 men.

Here is the NPS battle account:

Here is the account, and a mention of happenings in the Shenandoah Valley, from the Civil War Daily Gazette:

The forces involved at the Siege of Corinth would evetually determine the fate of the war in the west: the Confederate Army of Mississippi, now under General Braxton Bragg, would invade Kentucky that summer, with the Union Army of the Ohio following in pursuit.  Those two armies would be renamed later to the Confederate Army of Tennessee and the Union Army of the Cumberland, and tangle for control of Tennessee and north Georgia over the next couple of year, culminating in the Atlanta Campaign.

The Confederate Army of the West would remain in the west Tennessee-Mississippi area, clashing with the Union Army of the Mississippi at the Battle of Iuka and again at the Battle of Corinth that fall.

Finally, the Union Army of the Tennessee would return to US General Grant's control, and after participating in the campaigns of northern Mississippi that fall, began its long, hard goal of capturing Vicksburg, MS, which would culminate in the summer of 1863.

File:ACW Western Theater May - October 1862.png
The Western Campaigns of the Summer and Fall of 1862 began with evacuation of Corinth, MS [which is on the bottom left corner of this map].

Tommorow, however, our attention will turn back to Virginia...

Live well!

1 comment:

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.