War of the Rebellion: Serial 024 Page 0455 Chapter XXIX. CORINTH.

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on the preliminary question, whether I should have waited for the arrival of the returned prisoners expected from Jackson before moving on Corinth.

General Price favored the policy of waiting for their arrival, and I at one time before our junction acquiesced in that idea and wrote to him to that effect. Increase of force was mutually and greatly desired by us both. In reply he writes to me from Baldwyn:

Whether we wait for the returned prisoners or not it is better that the junction of our forces should at once take place.

Subsequent reflection and additional information received by me before our junction at Ripley on September 28 satisfied me that the blow on Corinth could not be struck too soon. From scouts in the service of the army, from my own cavalry pickets, as well as from Federal papers, I learned that Rosecrans would be sent to the column of Corinth in place of Grant, who had gone North, and that the enemy were re-enforcing Jackson and Bolivar from Columbus; and from my knowledge of the capacity and character of Rosecrans I was convinced that Corinth would be strengthened by the charge of its commander. Besides, the uncertainty of Bragg's position became every day more manifest, and his retirement from Kentucky into Tennessee more probable. It became, very obvious, also, that General Bragg was deceived in regard to the force of the enemy in Western Tennessee and North Mississippi. In addition, my constant and unremitting efforts to have the returned prisoners forwarded to Holly Springs even were unavailing, and from information received from General Tilgham, charged with their equipment and organization, the difficulty of procuring full transportation for them, and the delays attendant upon the exchanges, I became satisfied that if I waited for their reception all opportunity of striking Corinth with a reasonable prospect of success would be lost. The junction of our armies at Ripley increased the force of these convictions. The fact of junction could not be long concealed from the enemy, and the knowledge of that fact would have stimulated the enemy to strengthen his defenses and augment his forces. His resources to re-enforce were greatly superior to our own, and I am aware of no reason to suppose that he would not have used them. The testimony of General Tilghman establishes the correctness of my conclusion. The expectation entertained by us in September that the returned prisoners would be received by this army in a few days was a military illusion. The few days became an indefinite period. In greatly diminished numbers, it was not until October 14 that they came, and up to the present time, November 20, after the most active and energetic exertions, they are not yet furnished with transportation for the field.

Second. Was the attack on Corinth made without consideration or forethought, on a plan crude and undigested?

It was supposed by my accuser that the attack on Corinth was a sudden thought of mine; that it was not only a new idea but one antagonistic to purposes long entertained by me; that I was resolved not to sacrifice soldiers by moving them against fortifications, and that in some unexplained way I had determined to maneuver the enemy out of the fortified places held by them in Mississippi and Tennessee. So strong was his conviction of my hostility to marching against fortifications, and the suddenness of determination to make Corinth on exception, first communicated to him at Davis' Bridge, on the Hatchie River, that he sees in everything the want of preparation, crudeness, and confusion, which are apt concomitants of newly-born pur-