War of the Rebellion: Serial 024 Page 0458 WEST TENN. AND NORTHERN MISS. Chapter XXIX.

Search Civil War Official Records

my attack. I cut the railroad between Bolivar and Corinth, and no re-enforcements came from Bolivar to the aid of Corinth. Further to cover my design I worked all night on a bridge at Pocahontas and left it unfinished. By the proof in the case it is manifest that I fell upon Corinth defended by less than 15,000 men. The failure to carry the place the first day, and the re-enforcements brought in by the toil and industry and working capacity of an able and indefatigable adversary, whom I had surprised, together with a failure to carry out my plan of attack on the morning of Saturday by one of those contretemps against which no providence can guard, lost the battle of Corinth. My official report explains the causes of its derangements, but as the charges and specifications do not touch the matter I forbear to lay them before the court.

It would be inexcusable in me before this tribunal to notice the remaining accusations made against me. The proof unmistakably and beyond cavil stamps them as untrue. My supplies were more than ample; there were no unnecessary marches or countermarches, and the care of my wounded is affirmatively established beyond the power of refutation.

Outside of the specific charges made by my accuser I have been enabled by this investigation to stamp with infantry the defamatory attack made upon my character as a soldier and a gentleman throughout the length and breadth of this land, by clandestine and cowardly falsehoods, sent on electric currents to the President at Richmond and by wholesale and loud mouthed calumny scattered over my native State. I have been proclaimed an habitual addicted to intemperance, intoxicated on the battle-field of Corinth. You, Generals Price and Maury, members of this court, know and have testified to the intense falsehood of that accusation. Other charges, incapable in their nature of investigation by this court, nearly touching my character as a man, originating among the people of my native State, have had the same widespread circulation. Born of a malice and falsehood, they can escape refutation only by escaping investigation.

Gentlemen of the court, I am a Mississippi by birth. The ashes of my parents repose in her soil. It has been my pride to serve her. Called to an administrative department on her territory against my will, because not fitted by previous experience to discharge the duties of such position, I have taxed every energy of my nature to guard and protect her interests. I remember with what fondness, after long absence, I gazed upon the sky which canopied the spot where I had first seen the light of day. My hopes and my aspirations have been blended with her prosperity and here glory. To aid in advancing both has been my study since I was clothed with authority on her solid. I have spent many an anxious might and travail of mind to discover how best I might beat back the invader from her limits. I struck for here as I would strike for wife or child. My blood has always been ready for her, yet in the midst of my struggles for her my name has blighted by her people. My trust is that the investigation of this court will vindicate it from dishonor.

Gentlemen of the court, these extended remarks are not meant alone for your ears. In this tribunal I know my character is safe; but the accusations against me will take an enduring form my becoming part of the archives of the nation, and the jealousy with which a soldier guards his reputation prompts me to place by their side an antidote to the poison they contain.

EARL VAN DORN.