Thursday, October 4, 2012

October 3, 1862

October 3, 1862: Western Theater

Battle of Corinth


Day 1:
Gen. Van Dorn, Confederate commander of the combined armies, makes a feint to Pocahontas, Tennessee, but turns to attack Corinth, Mississippi, and catches Gen. Rosecrans, the Union commander, somewhat by surprise. Rosecrans has been sent to Corinth in anticipation of just such an attack, and he has about 23,000 men, in 10 infantry brigades and 2 cavalry brigades. Van Dorn has about 22,000 men—also in 10 infantry brigades and 2 brigades of cavalry. However, the Federals have better artillery and more of it.

Early in the morning, Van Dorn’s vedettes begin driving in the Union pickets from several miles northwest of town, as the Rebels advance quickly. Van Dorn lines up all three of his divisions for attack: Hebert to the north, Maury to his right—both under Gen. Price—and then Lovell to the extreme right. But the ground is heavily timbered and uneven: it takes several hours to get his men into position. Rosecrans had Hamilton, Davies, and McKean, from right to left, in the old siege earthworks to meet the Rebels. Lovell opens the attack by a frontal attack on McKean’s division, hoping that Rosecrans would move troops from the right to the left—and then Price’s divisions would attack the Federal right. The Federals hold, and then throw the Rebels back. Lovell re-forms and comes again–and again. The Northern line holds, although it is getting thin: really, most of the defensive fighting is done by only one of McKean’s brigades. Maury then strikes Davies on his left flank, and the Union line begins to fall back. Hebert, the Creole from Louisiana, finally moves forward, up a steep ridge to hit Davies’ right flank. As the Rebels begin to push back the Union line, McArthur joins in from reserve—and Rosecrans by mid-afternnoon orders Hamilton to change division front and prepare to attack the Confederates in the flank as they sweep forward toward the retreating Yankees. But the broken ground and confusing forest thickets prevent Hamilton from being ready until dark: the attach is delayed until darkness makes in unfeasible. During the night, Rosecrans concentrates his lines by pulling them closer into town.

—The Richmond Daily Dispatch publishes an editorial and that argues the Emancipation Proclamation will not survive, since its implications endanger Yankees’ most cherished principles---namely, profits and commercial prosperity:
Unless the Conservative party of the North accept Lincoln’s proclamation as an empty menace, never intended to be carried into effect, they must recoil from the farther support of the war as from their own destruction. If it could be accomplished, the whole object for which the war has been begun and is carried on by the Northern capitalists, viz: Southern commerce and trade, would be utterly destroyed. Without slave labor, no cotton, rice, nor sugar, and very little tobacco, is a proposition which commands as universal assent among the money men of the North as the planters of the South. Without the staples raised by slave labor, what becomes of the commerce of the United States? Without the labor to cultivate the soil, how can the Federal Government make the South pay the cost of the war, even if it could reduce it to subjugation?

These are questions which must present themselves with fearful significance to all Northern men who have money embarked in the war, and to that large and influential class which is seeking to restore the trade and commerce of the Union. What the South would become, if the object of the proclamation could be accomplished, no one need be told. . . . But the whole South would become a St. Domingo, overrun by a race of negro barbarians, who would in ten years blot out from the entire landscape every vestige of productive industry, and every sign of civilization. . . .

If the North, or any part of it, except the ultra Abolitionists, is willing to prosecute the war for such a purpose, it must be given over to that madness that goeth before destruction. . . . We present the question only as one of profit and loss, and submit it to Northern calculation.

—Pres. Lincoln continues his tour and visit of the Army of the Potomac. He has a meeting with General McClellan, and they pose in the General’s tent for a photograph.

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