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(1861-1865) Civil War Battles (Western Theater)
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Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4071

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/3/2019 10:26:43 AM

Not given sufficient prominence in the war’s popular annals, this fierce affair deserves more than mention.

Being that this is the 157th anniversary of the two day battle, I pitched this hoping to start some discussion .


In terms of numbers engaged and casualties, it compares with Franklin.

Rosecrans , the union commander, earned a heroic reputation here : controversially so, since he also received criticism for failing to pursue and exploit success. We’ve seen that before, haven’t we ?

The battle also produced what I believe are the only photographs of battlefield dead from the war’s western theatre.

The battle was vividly depicted on screen in a recent film, The Free State of Jones.

Regards, Phil

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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Michigan Dave
Muskegon, Michigan
MI USA
Posts: 5490

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/3/2019 11:18:31 AM

Hi Phil,

Great idea to discuss the Battle of Corinth on the 150th Anniversary, here is the official website on the event, click on the bottom links for more!?

[Read More]

[Read More]

It would be great to be there!
MD

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"The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract."
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4071

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/3/2019 3:14:46 PM

It wasn’t much fun being there in 1862, Dave !

I allude here to the squalour of the place : notoriously unhealthy, with polluted water and associated diseases which took so many lives.

When the rebels retreated there after Shiloh, the conditions became unspeakable. The wounded were crowding out the town. There was a particularly notorious improvised hospital at the unforgettably named Tishomingo Hotel, where, according to folklore, eighty per cent of amputations resulted in death. I would love to investigate that name “ Tishomingo “ ! What’s the provenance ?

There was an outbreak of water borne disease there that disabled thousands with diarrhoea and dysentery .

When the big battle was fought there six months later, there must have been appalling human - and animal - debris left from all this mortality, and the fighting of early October must have compounded it.

I have compared Corinth with Franklin in terms of bloodshed. A tall claim, I know. When the Yankees returned to Franklin a few weeks after the battle in the last days of 1864, their commander, General Schofield, reported that the graves of 1,750 southern dead were counted on the field. After Corinth, Rosecrans, in a congratulatory address to his troops, told them that they had killed and buried 1,424 confederates. To appreciate the full toll, we must remember that thousands of wounded and prisoners were to be reckoned with, in addition to the dead. We must, of course, be circumspect about the claims of commanders when it comes to casualties inflicted on the enemy. The yankees reported 2,326 total casualties at Franklin and 2,520 at Corinth.

As a railroad hub, Corinth was the equivalent of Nashville or Chattanooga : great strategic importance.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4071

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/4/2019 7:16:13 AM

Further to my comments comparing the similarity between Confederate casualties at Corinth and Franklin, I note that, in both battles, the rebel commanders - Van Dorn and Hood - abandoned tactical sophistry and insisted on direct frontal assaults on entrenched positions, with consequential slaughter of their men.

At Corinth, Van Dorn had initially sought - and attempted - envelopment, but on the crucial second day, he was reconciled to head on attack. Likewise, Hood, thwarted at Spring Hill, insisted on the notoriously fatal attack at Franklin .

Is it fair to depict Lee’s resolute ordering of the PPT assault at Gettysburg in the same vein ? And, might we add Grant’s debacle at Cold Harbor ?

Corinth doesn’t get the notoriety it might deserve here.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 977

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/4/2019 10:05:22 AM

Phil,

If memory serves Van Dorn only had 22-23,000 troops and the casualties were a little over 4,000 with about 1,800 captured. Hell I think there were only about 400 KIA. If I'm right on the captured we are talking what 10-12% KIA and WIA.

I think you are grasping at straws in the comparison.
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 977

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/4/2019 10:19:02 AM

Phil,

"Tishomingo" was the name of the Chickasaw Indian Chief who signed the treaty that sent his tribe on the "Trail of Tears." I believe he died on the Trail and is buried in either Miss or Ark. Its right there on the Miss River I just can't remember which side.
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4071

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/4/2019 10:52:42 AM

John,

Thanks for explaining the provenance of Tishomingo.

As for my tentative comparisons of Corinth and Franklin in their respective casualty figures, you’re right about the official confederate return for Corinth : about 4,250 total casualties, with just under 500 posted as killed.
I would emphasise that the figure for missing - in the region of 1,750 - included many who were killed. This often happened when armies abandoned the field, through retreat or rout. If memory serves me, rebel officers lamented this fact in their reports, explaining that many of the men they reported missing had been killed or wounded and abandoned to the enemy. I would be wary of Rosecrans ‘s claim that 1,424 enemy dead were counted and buried ; but I would bet my bottom dollar that the official return of jet under 500 killed was well short of the mark.

Hood was adamant that his loss at Franklin was 4,500. Perhaps he was clutching at straws, or, more likely, an opium vial !

The 4,500 figure bears an uncanny similarity to the Corinth return, as does the federal toll for the two battles.

Always be circumspect about the fate of the missing, especially in a retreat or repulse.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 977

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/4/2019 2:50:14 PM

Phil,

Checking my numbers I was light. 467 KIA, 1,987 WIA, 1,789 POW for a total of 4,243 but Confederate returns showing 4,807 less men in the ranks so that leaves 564 MIA.

How many men do you think the Confederates used in the charge at Franklin? Lee's Corps and Forrest's Cavalry weren't in it and there was very little artillery on the field. So you had 2 Corps of 6 Divisions that had maybe 2,500 each with straggling and previous skirmishes of the march. 4,500 casualties from that is a bloodbath.
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4071

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/4/2019 4:06:34 PM

Quote:
Phil,

Checking my numbers I was light. 467 KIA, 1,987 WIA, 1,789 POW for a total of 4,243 but Confederate returns showing 4,807 less men in the ranks so that leaves 564 MIA.

How many men do you think the Confederates used in the charge at Franklin? Lee's Corps and Forrest's Cavalry weren't in it and there was very little artillery on the field. So you had 2 Corps of 6 Divisions that had maybe 2,500 each with straggling and previous skirmishes of the march. 4,500 casualties from that is a bloodbath.



John,

You’re alluding to 1,789 prisoners in the confederate returns. That figure, I believe, is for missing in action, and it would include both prisoners and many who were killed or wounded. It’s a legitimate assumption, I think, that three hundred or so of those missing were killed, or left to die on the field. Several hundred more of them were wounded and left to the care of the yankees. Perhaps half of them were unwounded prisoners. In the day or two after the main battle, hundreds more were captured, especially at Hatchie River, on October 5th. Including this affair, the rebels reported 505 killed, 2,150 wounded and 2,183 missing in action, for a total of 4,838. The corresponding Yankee figures were 401 killed, 2,334 wounded and 355 missing: a total of 3,090. You can see from these figures that the yankees were better able to account for their dead, and this is reflected in the great disparity in the proportion of missing. Rosecrans suggested, in his address, that the rebel loss was approaching nine thousand killed , wounded and captured: a virtual doubling of the actual number, which was bad enough in reality.

The great bulk of the confederate loss at Franklin was borne by about 13,500 infantry in the initial attack. Lee’s troops suffered several hundred casualties in futile attacks as darkness fell. Forrest’s cavalry added some more. Schofield reported 1,750 confederate grave sites on the battlefield, and 3,800 wounded left in the hospitals when he returned to the scene at the end of the campaign.
He also referred to 702 prisoners who were taken, and the aggregate figure of 6,252 is the usually cited total of confederate casualties for the battle. Hood was on the record as stating his total loss at Franklin at 4,500.

The confederate cemetery nearby contains just under fifteen hundred dead.

A nightmare of intense slaughter in a small area in a very short time. The fatality of six confederate generals there says it all.

Editing : my figure of 13,500 for the initial rebel attack at Franklin is too low. A more accurate figure of 16,075 has been pitched in the notes to Hay's history of Hood's Tennessee Campaign. It was Johnson's division of Lee's corps that was sent in after dark. All told, Hood put about twenty thousand infantry into the battle, of whom one fifth were only engaged in the later fighting. I should think that up to one third of the initial charging infantry column of sixteen thousand was killed or wounded in a couple of hours.

The yankees counted 2,326 casualties in this battle, of whom nearly half were posted as missing. Here again we have an army that abandoned the field, and it's undoubtedly the case that many of those missing union soldiers had been killed. Only 189 had been confirmed as killed in action, but I would bet that the true total was 300 plus.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 977

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/4/2019 5:46:42 PM

Phil,

The POW figure is from the numbers given to the "exchange commission." My total is only 31 less than yours and I'm saying that a large percentage of the 564 MIA were KIA. As reported from when Van Dorn and Priced joined forces the total number was 4,807 less at the end of the retreat.

I think you are closer with the 13,500. Hood pushed Stewert's and Cheatham's Corps hard to get them to Spring Hill and they were straggling big time. Then add in the loss at Spring Hill. I'm just not so sure that any book I've read on this factors that in to their strength figures for those two corps. Your saying he used 20,000 infantry total and I'm not sure he had more than 23-24,000 infantry total and the 3 divisions in Lee's Corps were his strongest. Plus add in that Cleburne was a brigade short in the attack, his strongest numerically, the GA "Militia" Brigade attached during the battles around Atlanta.
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4071

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/5/2019 2:36:17 AM

John,

Your citing of the “ exchange commission” impresses me : that’s certainly a first rate primal source for reckoning the numbers of POWs.

I have argued that post battle casualty returns often contained very large proportions of missing. When an army held the field, and was able to recover and account for its dead and wounded, these missing men were almost entirely prisoners . The yankee missing at Gettysburg, Shiloh and Stones River , for example , were prisoners. But, when defeat entailed retreat or rout, these large numbers of missing were bound to include large proportions of dead and wounded, even if the majority were prisoners . I would have thought that this applied to the confederate return of missing at Corinth.

If Rosecrans was claiming that about nine thousand rebels had been killed, wounded and captured at Corinth, then it seems he doubled the true toll inflicted ; I would estimate that his figure of 1,424 confederate dead reflects a true total of 700 plus, double the 355 Yankees who were killed October 3 and 4. That would equate with your suggestion of a large part of the 564 missing in action ( about half?) being added on to the 473 who were posted as killed.

It always intrigues me to see how much the various commanders exaggerated the loss inflicted on their enemies. I think that the western theatre was more extreme in this respect than the eastern.

Editing : surely one of the best examples of what I’ve been emphasising is the record of Pickett’s casualties at Gettysburg. Close to three thousand casualties returned ; only 232 posted as killed, but fifteen hundred missing. Fewer than half of the missing were unwounded POWs, but 265 of them were found, by Busey’s research, to have been killed in action. Hundreds of others had been wounded and left in enemy hands. The total fatalities came to 731 killed or died from wounds : more than three times the initial return of killed in action. Worse still, and in addition, of the fewer than seven hundred unwounded prisoners , 161 perished in captivity This is an extreme case, and I would not use that as a yardstick for Corinth ; but it serves to illustrate my point. Hancock’s division at Fredericksburg reveals a similar record with the missing, and there are plenty of others.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 977

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/5/2019 9:13:32 PM

Phil,

Another point about Corinth if I may. I don't think your being fair in your description of the battle and decision making. Once Rosey is in the fortifications the flans are anchored on prepared fortifications and can't be "enveloped." There is no other way to attack than a frontal attack against a prepared position. The Confederates drove them out of the outer works and were dam close to doing the same on the inner line when 5,000 reinforcements under McPherson arrived and lead a counterattack. It was a hard fought nasty battle and both sides showed their metal well.

I think this comes from the Union planting intel that the main defensive fort of the inner line was incomplete and therefore vulnerable. It wasn't but that was where the Confederate main attack went in.
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4071

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/6/2019 2:55:31 AM

John,

Excellent points, fully taken.

Wasn’t Van Dorn blamed for being reckless with the lives of his men ?

I’ll check where I read this ....maybe I’m just imagining it.

He was walking on thin ice, on account of his behaviour with the ladies.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre
PA USA
Posts: 977

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/6/2019 1:04:46 PM

Phil,

I think the bottom line with Van Dorn like too many North and South is that they were promoted above their ability and or out of their element. That had nothing to do with his being a "terror to ugly husbands."
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A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country. "to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"
Phil Andrade
London
 UK
Posts: 4071

Battle of Corinth,October 1862
Posted on: 10/6/2019 2:37:42 PM

John,

Apart from an enthusiastic pitch from Dave, you’re the only person who’s joined the party here....thanks for lending support to the thread.

On revisiting books on my shelves, I read that there are eye witness accounts of the battle that do have a kind of “ Franklin-esque “ quality.....the grand sight of thousands of Confederates tramping forward towards the union works, terrific fire cutting them down, the rebels coming to close quarters and meting out punishment to the yankees , who counter attack .....as you say, a nasty hard fought business with both sides proving their metal.

I note that there was inordinate sacrifice by Price’s infantry : they had a justifiable grievance because Lovell’s contingent suffered relatively little. In fact, eighty five per cent of all the southern casualties in the battle were attributable to Price’s infantry, who amounted to about half the total number of confederates engaged. One third of all Price’s infantry were casualties, compared with one tenth of their counterparts in Lovell’s ranks.

It seems that Lee in the East was singularly successful in getting all his men into the big battles he fought : the spread of bloodshed was far more even across his force.

There is a story that a woman in Corinth had sent a message out to Van Dorn, advising him that the yankee earthworks and redoubts were not properly constructed in certain areas around the town. The message was intercepted by Ord who was able to ensure that the deficiencies were remedied : he was busy seeing to this, while making sure that the lady’s message was allowed to reach Van Dorn. A kind of intelligence coup for the yankees.

Regards, Phil



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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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