Page images
PDF
EPUB

and Stewart. His line of battle extended about a mile on the right of the village of Kernstown, and a mile and three-quarters on the left of it. The village lay on the road between the rebel right and centre. There is a mud road branching from the turnpike a mile or so from Wmchester to the right of the road going towards Strasburg. Tab road passed through the left of the enemy's centre, and was one of their points of defence. Beyond that is a grove of trees, and farther on, a ridge of hills with a stone wall about breast-high running along its summit. This was the rebel line of offence and defence on the right of the Union line.

The most advanced regiment on the Union side was the Eighth Ohio, of General Tyler's brigade. The rebels made a furious onslaught about half-past ten o'clock, A. M., on Thursday, with the intention of turning the right flank. The Ohio Eighth met them with a deadly fire of rifles. Five times did the enemy emerge from the woods and from behind their stone parapet with vastly superior numbers, and strive in vain to accomplish their object. The Union left wing, consisting of the Thirteenth Indiana, Seventh Ohio and a battery of the Fourth regular artillery, under Captain Jenks, had a feint made on it, while the real attack of the enemy was being directed against the Union right wing. The feint on the left was a heavy fire of artillery posted on both sides of the village and the turnpike, which, however, did trifling damage. The Union battery replied, silencing those of the enemy, though the firing was well maintained for a long time on both sides. The Union centre consisted of the Fourteenth Indiana, the Eighth and Sixty-seventh Ohio, and the Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania. Two artillery batteries belonging to the First Ohio artillery, and the cavalry, consisting of the First Michigan and First Ohio, were drawn up in the rear. The Union right wing was made up of the Fifth and Eighth Ohio regiments and a battery of the First Virginia regiment. The reserves consisted of the Twelfth Indiana, the Thirty-ninth Illinois and a squadron of the Michigan cavalry. General Shields was unable to appear on the field in person, and the command consequently devolved upon Acting-Brigadier Kimble, who led the centre. The right was commanded by ActingBrigadier General Tyler, while Colonel Sullivan directed the operations on the left.

The battle raged along the whole line with great fury from eleven A. M. till half-past two p. M., when General Shields, who received accounts of the progress of the fight on his couch, ordered the right, where the contest raged the hottest, to charge upon the enemy. That was an awful charge. The left of the enemy prepared desperately to repel the gallant troops, but their rush was irresistible. Previous to this the Union line of battle had been somewhat changed. The Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania reinforced its right, and also a battery of artillery. The whole Union force now engaged was about six thousand men, while that of the enemy was at the lowest estimate eight thousand. The rebels had also changed their line, and extending both their wings, presented a concave front. They had reinforced their left wing, and the charge to be made by the Union right was all important in its consequences. On it, at three o'clock, depended the fate of the entire battle. Tyler led the charge, sword in hand. The rebels fired from the woods with artillery and small arms, while the Federals advanced against their murderous showers of lead and iron, returning few shots and reserving their fire.

[graphic]

SPLENDID CIIARGE OF THE RIGHT WING, UNDER GENERAL TrLER.

Up to this time the armies had not been much nearer to each other than three hundred yards, unless in some few instances. The wood was soon cleared at the point of the bayonet, the Unionists discharging their pieces at twenty and even five yards distance from the rebels, and then dashing at them with the bayonet.

The rebels fought well. They contested the ground foot by foot, and marked every yard of their retreat with blood. They retired behind the stone wall, on the ridge, but the Unionists jumped over, and drove them in the greatest confusion and with fearful slaughter upon their centre. The panic was contagious. Kimble ordered a charge along the whole line, and for a short time the fighting was desperate. The roar of the cannon was no longer heard, unless in occasional bursts, but the rattle of musketry was more deafening than ever.

The rout of the rebels had fairly commenced; two of their guns and four caissons were taken, and though many of them turned and fired

again and again at the pursuing host, many more threw away muskets and bayonets without hesitation. Darkness and the extreme fatigue of the Union troops, however, saved them for the time, and the Federals retired about two miles and bivouacked.

At daybreak General Shields ordered the rebel position to be attacked, and the enemy, after replying by a few shots from his artillery, continued his retreat. Meantime General Banks, who had been at Harper's Ferry, arrived, and taking command of the troops in person, continued the pursuit with about ten thousand men, and pressed the rebels beyond Middleburg, cutting off many stragglers. The pbject was to capture his whole force, if possible. General Williams, with his forces, arrived on the field, too late to participate in the action. They joined in the chase.

The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded was six hundred. The number of prisoners taken was three hundred.

The Union loss in killed was one hundred, and about four hundred wounded. Though the enemy had a much larger force, four pieces of cannon more than the Federals, the selection of fighting ground, and every other advantage, yet all the trophies of the occasion belong to the Union army.

The rebels had an Irish battalion of one hundred and fifty men, of whom forty were killed on the field, and many of the rest wounded. Their commander, Captain Jones, was captured, having lost both eyes by a bullet.

The loss on the Union side was heaviest in the Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania regiment. Of the five companies of three hundred men, in all, engaged, they lost Colonel Murray, a brave officer; one captain, one lieutenant, twenty-three privates and non-commissioned officers killed, and sixty-three wounded. The loss in the Eighth and Fifth Ohio regiments was about seventy-five and sixty, respectively, killed and wounded.

Lieutenant-Colonel Thorburn, of the Third Virginia, was among the wounded. These were the only field-officers killed or wounded in the Union forces.

The battle-field after the struggle was a terrible sight. The night was dark and cold. After the battle the ambulances were busily engaged removing the wounded. The enemy carried off most of their wounded and some of their dead. The wounded were intermingled with the dead, and their sufferings before they were removed to the hospitals were heart-rending. The next day was spent in burying the dead. The ghastly aspect of the field after the wounded were removed, and before the dead were interred, was appalling.

BATTLE OP PITTSBUBG LANDING.

April 6-7, 1862.

When the surrender of Forts Henry and Donelson reached Washington and Richmond there was depression among the secessionists and great rejoicing at the North. The news of these events was followed directly by the capture of Nashville and New Madrid, and it became certain to the Confederate leaders that Island No. 10 must soon surrender. Under these, untoward events it became imperative that a new strategic point should be at once established beyond reach of the gunboats, that had already produced so much mischief. Beauregard, then in command, selected Corinth as the most promising point for his operations, and a position which would render any attempt of the Federals to cut him off from western Tennessee, or the eastern and southern States, extremely difficult of success. He called on the Governors of Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama for help, and a prompt response was made. First came Polk from Columbus, then Bragg from Mobile and Pensacola, followed by General A. S. Johnston from Murfreesborongh, who took command. After selecting their new line of defence, they commenced fortifying it and diligently concentrated their forces. Generals Hardee, Breckinridge, Sterling Price and Hindman soon came in, and the fortifications made rapid progress.

Corinth is a very important strategical point. 'It is situated in a branch of the Apalachian range, which diverges from the Alleghany mountains, and forms the uplands and gold-bearing regions of Georgia and Alabama. The village is nearly surrounded by an irregular circle of hills, rising in the north, about four miles distant, with the State line between Tennessee and Mississippi crossing their summit. The Mobile and Ohio railway intersects this ridge through a cut seventy-five feet in depth. Similar cuts, of lesser depth, penetrate the hills on the east, west and south, where the railways enter. Beyond these hills, in the direction of Pittsburg and Savannah, the ground becomes more level, and is generally low and swampy. The topography of the region renders Corinth susceptible of strong defences. The village was formerly called Farmington, and is so mentioned in the gazetteers. It is a post Tillage of Tishomingo countv, Mississippi, distant two hundred arid sixty-two miles north-east from Jackson, the capital of the State. There were not half a dozen stores in the village, and its population was relatively small. Tishomingo county forms the north-eastern extremity of Mississippi, bordering on Tennessee and Alabama. The Tombigbee river rises in the county; the Tennessee flows along the north-east border, and it is drained by Tuscumbia creek. A large portion of the county is covered with forests of oak, hickory, walnut and pine.

The principal military value of this place consists in the fact that the railroads from Memphis on the west, Columbus, on the north, and Mobile on the south, cross at this point.

About the middle of March Grant's victorious army at Nashville was sent by Halleck to occupy first Savannah, and then Pittsburg Landing, preparatory to the arrival of Buell's Kentucky army, when Halleck intended himself to take the field and move on Corinth.

Pittsburg Landing is situated in Hardin county, Tenn., on the west side of the Tennessee river. It is in itself of little importance, being close to Savannah, which is a flourishing post village of Hardi% county, situated on the eastern side of the river. The Landing is about one hundred and twenty miles from Nashville; nearly one hundred miles from Columbia, on the Nashville and Decatur railroad ; by a turnpike road, crossing the river at a ferry, about twenty-five miles from Corinth. The country is very wild, the surface rising on both sides of the river in a gradual ascent.

Savannah is the capital of Hardin county. Previous to the rebellion it had been a place of considerable business note. The population in 1853 was only eight hundred, but it had been greatly increased. The area of the county is about six hundred and fifty miles. The Tennessee river flows through it, dividing it into nearly equal parts. The river is navigable for steamboats through the entire couuty, which has a population of over ten thousand persons, nine-tenths of whom are free.

General Grant proceeded at once to Savannah, where his headquarters were established. The divisions of his army were sent gradually to Pittsburg, and had not all arrived when the assault was made. No defences had been erected, and the possibility of an attack from the Confederates had not been for a moment entertained. On the 5th of April BuelHeft Nashville and arrived at Savannah the same day. The division of his army under Nelson was on the battle field on the sixth, at five P. M.

The Confederates had for some time intended to attack Grant before Buell could join him, and on hearing of his near approach they hastened the action, without waiting for their own reinforcements. This bold movement was made just one day too late.

POSITION OF THE FEDERAL TROOPS.

Pittsburg Landing is simply a narrow ravine, down which a road passes to the river bank, between high bluffs on either side. There is no town whatever. Two log huts comprise all the signs of habitation visible. Back from the river is a rolling country, cut up with numerous

« PreviousContinue »