Siege of Corinth
The Siege of Corinth (also known as the First Battle of Corinth) was an American Civil War battle fought from April 29 to May 30, 1862, in Corinth, Mississippi. The town was a strategic point at the junction of two vital railroad lines, the Mobile and Ohio Railroad and the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. The siege ended as the Confederates withdrew. The Union forces under Ulysses Grant took control and made it the base for his operations to seize control of the Mississippi River Valley, and especially the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg.
Following the Union Army victory at the Battle of Shiloh, Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck amassed three Union armies —the Army of the Tennessee, the Army of the Ohio, and the Army of the Mississippi— for an advance on the vital rail center of Corinth, Mississippi. Made cautious by the staggering losses at Shiloh, Halleck embarked on a tedious campaign of offensive entrenchment, fortifying after each advance. By May 25, 1862, after moving five miles in three weeks, Halleck was in position to lay siege to the town. Confederate morale was low and Beauregard was outnumbered two to one. The water was bad. Typhoid and dysentery had felled thousands of his men. At a council of war, the Confederate officers concluded that they could not hold the railroad crossover. Sickness had claimed the lives of almost as many men as the Confederacy had lost at Shiloh.
Confederate commander General P. G. T. Beauregard saved his army by a hoax. Some of the men were given three days' rations and ordered to prepare for an attack. As expected, one or two went over to the Union with that news. The preliminary bombardment began, and Union forces maneuvered for position. During the night of May 29, the Confederate army moved out. They used the Mobile and Ohio Railroad to carry the sick and wounded, the heavy artillery, and tons of supplies. When a train arrived, the troops cheered as though reinforcements were arriving. They set up dummy Quaker Guns along the defensive earthworks. Camp fires were kept burning, and buglers and drummers played. The rest of the men slipped away undetected, withdrawing to Tupelo, Mississippi. When Union patrols entered Corinth on the morning of May 30, they found the Confederate troops gone.
Of Halleck's wing commanders John Pope proved to be the most aggressive during the campaign. Pope led the army's Left Wing and was furthest away from Halleck's headquarters. On May 3 Pope moved forward and captured the town of Farmington only a few miles from Corinth. Instead of moving the Center Wing under Don Carlos Buell forward, Halleck ordered Pope to withdraw and realign with Buell. General Pierre G. T. Beauregard ordered Earl Van Dorn to attack Pope's advanced wing on May 9. Pope made a successful withdrawal and rejoined with Buell.
John Pope, whose aggressiveness exceeded his strategic capabilities, remarked in his memoirs that Halleck's cautious campaign failed to take full advantage of a glittering array of talented Union officers, including "Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas, McPherson, Logan, Buell, Rosecrans and many others I might mention." A Confederate army led by Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn attempted to retake the city in October 1862, but was defeated in the Second Battle of Corinth by a Union army under the command of Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans.
- Kennedy, p. 52.
- Kennedy, p. 56.
- Smith, 2012
- "The First Battle of Corinth: May 30, 1862
- "Determining the facts: The Siege of Corinth", National Park Service
- History.net:Siege of Corinth by Henry Halleck in 1862
- Farmington, May 3
- Farmington MS
- Cozzens & Girardi, p. 75.
- Kennedy, Frances H., ed. The Civil War Battlefield Guide. 2nd ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1998. ISBN 0-395-74012-6.
- Pope, John. The Military Memoirs of General John Pope. Edited by Peter Cozzens and Robert I. Girardi. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8078-2444-5.
- Smih, Timothy B. Corinth 1862: Siege, Battle, Occupation (2012)
- "National Park Service battle description". CWSAC Battle Summaries. Retrieved June 1, 2005.
- "Reading 1: The Siege of Corinth". Teaching with Historic Places. Retrieved June 1, 2005.
- CWSAC Report Update
- U.S. Army & Heritage Education Center: Description and map