How Successful Was The Siege of Corinth?

     There has been much to be said about Major General Henry Halleck's only military operation in the field prior to being ordered to Washington City as the new General in Chief. If any of it comes from a positive viewpoint it can hardly be found with a magnifying glass.

     The defense of the city of Corinth, Mississippi was vital to the Confederate Government before and after the engagement at Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. Its railhead splintering off to all parts of the deep south made it vital to its military protection and likewise made it a determined target for federal control.

     When Major General Grant had been attacked along the Tennessee River in April of 1862, it was only his intent to train his green troops to meet the enemy once he determined it time to march south to Corinth and capture that rail center. His troops received their first taste of blood in combat there, but the objective hadn't changed only the commander who would lead it: Major General Henry Wager Halleck.
     The armies moving south had been torturously slow through the woodlands of northern Mississippi. Halleck would lay siege to the city without bringing battle.

     From inside the town, the military outlook on General Halleck's movement selection seemed to have worked however. Despite the Confederate Government's wishes to hold the town at all costs, the military commanders holding on would have had a better understanding as to that success. On the evening of May 25, 1862, Major General William J. Hardee had penned off his view point to General Beauregard commanding the Confederate Forces inside Corinth, Mississippi.
     His correspondence had come straight to the point. He did not feel that their army of maybe fifty thousand stood a chance of attacking an army both commanders felt was twice their size. As was the case at Shiloh with the Federal Army, so it was with the Confederates; they were green and still in need of combat training..

     The situation there was looking more like what Lieutenant Colonel Travis had faced at the Alamo twenty-six years earlier, and evacuation to save the army here was inevitable. He felt the evacuation should be done in an orderly fashion so that their surrounding armies as well as hopeful military forces overseas would look upon it as a planned withdrawal.
     As Halleck's forces continued to close in on both flanks of Beauregard's Army, any delay in evacuation would only create further problems for the Confederates. General Beauregard concurred with his lieutenant's findings and immediately issued the orders for evacuation. The Federal Armies had moved in shortly thereafter, much to the disappointment of the Confederate Government.

     In Henry Halleck's views as General in Chief later on, no one is in better condition to make decisions upon the battlefield than the commander who is in charge. Hardly a government in Richmond could know the tactical situation on the field at Corinth other than their vital railhead had been lost. For this alone, General Beauregard would lose command of his army and be replaced with one of President Davis' favorites, General Braxton Bragg

     Major General Henry Wager Halleck's brief tenure in field command had been a success. Although Confederate Forces would return in October attempting to recapture the town, Corinth would continue to remain in federal control.

Dan (Aldie) Daniel Moran
© 2001

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