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Halleck and the glorious capture of Corinth

Posted March 12th, 2013 at 09:14 AM by Stefany
Updated March 14th, 2013 at 08:18 AM by Stefany

After the battle of Shiloh, General Henry W. Halleck decided and capture Corinth, Mississippi.
He gathered an army of 120,000 men and wired Washington: "I will be in Corinth tomorrow" That "tomorrow" turned out to be 4 weeks.

The weather turned out to be rainy and the army was advancing really slowly. Halleck, being the needlessly careful general he was, made the soldiers dig entrenchments on nearly every advance, so the mood was horrible and the soldiers were basically constantly marching, digging and cursing.
The only general who didn't seem to mind all this chaos was William T. Sherman who was really happy being just promoted and waiting for his stars as a major general to arrive. He called the entire campaign "A magnificent drill" and was in an awesome mood.

Meanwhile, deserters kept coming from Corinth reporting that the PGT Beauregard has gathered 200,000 men. At the same time, Pope was reporting that trains were constantly coming into the city and were received with happy salutes, so he concluded that must be more reinforcement coming.

So when Halleck finally arrived, no one was there at Corinth, save a few big sacks full of straw behind a few cannons and a band marching forward and backward plus fires lighten up.

So where were PGT and his 200,000 soldiers?

Turned out that the Confederate general actually had 52,000 soldiers and 18,000 on the sick list so he really wasn't in a position to fight. So he and his generals all agreed to evacuate the town by the train. Beauregard sent a couple of deserters with false information to the enemy, with careful instructions exactly what to say when questioned and before he started evacuating his soldiers, he gave them 3 days of rations and told them they are going to fight with the Union forces the next day. Of course, a few coward men quickly deserted and told the enemy that yet again false information, so Halleck and the Union command had absolutely no idea they were being tricked.
So PGT left Corinth completely undisturbed and tricked Henry Halleck and his generals.

Halleck had promised his troops a glorious battle where they will be the victors, but instead here they were in a city, with only 2 families left and with no glory at all. In a desperate attempt to bring the glory he had promised, he sent Pope to "proceed to feel the enemy on the left" All Pope could do was to capture a train with 200 wounded Confederates and he thought that was an amazing achievement and wired Halleck with this information. However, somehow, Halleck misunderstood Pope’s dispatch and here is what he wired Washington:

"10,000 prisoners and 15,000 stand of arms had been seized because of the boldness of Pope's pursuit"

I have no idea how on earth one can confuse 200 captured Confederates with 10,000, but oh well, when it comes to Halleck, everything can be expected.
The result of the campaign was awful, all the generals were in a dreadful mood, even Sherman who finally received his stars were anything but happy. The newspapers were even more unhappy than the soldiers themselves:
"General Halleck ... has achieved one of the most barren triumphs of the war," the Chicago Tribune asserted.

Another newspaper, the Cincinnati Commercial said "Beauregard has achieved another triumph"

Source for the facts and some text seized: Shelby Foote, [I]The Civil War: A Narrative[/I]
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  1. Old Comment
    Viperlord's Avatar
    I would presume that Halleck didn't misunderstand; he was probably just lying through his teeth, like usual...
    Posted March 14th, 2013 at 07:22 AM by Viperlord Viperlord is offline
  2. Old Comment
    ^^ Haha, I agree, and later on he wondered why Lincoln called him a "little more than a first rate clerk"...
    Posted March 15th, 2013 at 07:50 AM by Stefany Stefany is offline

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