Maj. Gen. Earl van Dorn, CSA
Rosecrans had the Army of the Mississippi against the Army of West Tennessee. Union losses were about 2,400 while Confederate losses were double that.
After the Battle of Iuka, Maj. Gen. Sterling Price's Confederate Army of the West marched fell back south, and joined Maj. Gen. Earl van Dorn's Army of West Tennessee. Van Dorn was the senior officer and took command of the combined force numbering about 22,000 men. The Rebels marched to Pocahontas on October 1, and then moved southeast toward Corinth.
They hoped to seize Corinth and then sweep into Middle Tennessee. Since the Siege of Corinth, in the spring, Union forces had added to the Confederate fortifications, erecting an inner and intermediate line to protect Corinth, an important transportation center. As the Confederates approached, the roughly 23,000 Federals occupied the outer line of fortifications and deployed outposts.
Van Dorn arrived within three miles of Corinth at 10am on October 3, and moved into some old Confederate fieldworks dating back to the siege. The fighting began, and the Confederates steadily pushed the Yankees rearward in brutally hot weather. The Yankees withdrew, but never broke, even when (about 1pm) the Rebels sliced into a gap between two Union brigades. The Confederates continued to drive the Federals back; the Union retreats were futile efforts to close the gap. Price then attacked and drove the Federals back further to their inner line of defenses.
By evening, van Dorn was sure that he could finish the Federals off during the next day. This confidence--combined with the heat, fatigue, and water shortages--persuaded him to call off further operations that day. Overnight Rosecrans and van Dorn regrouped their men for another day's battle. Van Dorn planned to attack at daybreak, but Brig. Gen. Louis Hebert's sickness postponed it till 9am.
As the Confederates moved forward, Union artillery swept the field causing heavy casualties, but still the yelling Rebels charged. They stormed over Battery Powell and closed in on Battery Robinett, where desperate hand-to-hand fighting ensued. A few men clawed their way into Corinth, but Union counter-attacks quickly drove them out. The counterattack had momentum against the exhausted Confederates; the Union troops recaptured Battery Powell and forced van Dorn into a general retreat.
Both sides were disorganized, and van Dorn had to pull back to the northwest, away from his supply lines. Rosecrans postponed any pursuit until the next day, which let him rest and reorganize his men a bit, but let van Dorn get further away. This was vital for the next day's fighting at Hatchie Bridge.
Content provided by:
American Battlefield Protection Program, Heritage Preservation Services, National Park Service.