78 HISTORY OF THE SEVENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT O.V.V.I.
THE SIEGE OF CORINTH.
ITS EVACUATION – THE APPEARANCE OF THE TOWN – THE REBELS PURSUED – REBEL VANDALISM – EIGHT-DAY MEN – A SERMON FOUND IN CORINTH.
At Shiloh, where our men had been encamped for weeks before being attacked by General Johnston, our Generals were guilty of unpardonable neglect in having done nothing for the defense of the place and their camps, by establishing a line of fortifications. After the battle, and the arrival of General Halleck, the army commenced their labors with the axe, the pick and the spade, and constructed and built line upon line of works from Shiloh to Corinth. Day and night the troops were engaged in digging.
The Seventy-Eighth was still retained in Lew. Wallace's Division, which was the extreme right of the army. It was very important that the right flank be well guarded, as here important highways led to Corinth and Purdy, which made a convenient and ready communication to our army. In consequence many scouting parties had to be sent out daily to watch the movements of the enemy and to guard the flank of the army. This imposed heavy duty upon the Seventy-Eighth regiment. Colonel Leggett being known as a man of great energy, was generally selected for difficult and dangerous enterprises.
The siege was fairly inaugurated on the 30th of April, and ended the morning of the 30th of May. During this time the regiment seldom slept two nights in the same camp. During the night they would build works; the next morning they would move forward to a new position and go through the same operation. Almost a constant cannonading was kept up along the whole line from right to left. Corinth at length became almost encompassed by our army, and but one avenue was left the rebels for escape, which was the Charleston Railroad, and it would seem that General Halleck intended this to be left open for that purpose, of which opportunity they availed themselves the morning of the 30th of May.
The two armies were now about equal in numbers, and despite the boast that one rebel is equal to two Yankees, the Southern Generals again declined to fight us when nearly of equal strength and advantage. Although protected by entrenchments in commanding positions, and capable of being made next to invulnerable, Corinth has been added to the long list of strongholds which have fallen into our hands without much bloodshed since the commencement of the present year. Manassas, Yorktown, Norfolk, Bowling Green, Nashville, Columbus, Little Rock and Corinth – each capable of a lengthened defense, yet all captured with but little resistance. Corinth was indeed a stronghold, and its importance could not have been overestimated. It is the key that unlocks the cotton States, and gives us command of almost the entire system of Southern railroads, and nothing but despair could have prompted its abandonment. While there was a hope for the Confederacy, policy would have compelled the insurgents to hold the town.
ON THE MARCH.
About half-past six in the morning orders to march were received, and at seven the greater portion of the men were outside their works, cautiously feeling their way through the dense under-brush which intervened between our fortifications and the defenses of Corinth, but after advancing half a mile they came to an open space, and the enemy's works, abandoned and desolate, burst upon their astonished gaze;
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