April 28 – May 30, 1862
Four days after the battle of Shiloh, Gen. Henry Halleck arrived at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., and took comand of the Union forces that had been suprised and nearly defeated there. He removed the commander of the forces, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant from duty and made him second in command, a position with few duties or responsibilities.Halleck also called in massive reinforcements and soon had an army of 120,000 men in 15 divisions and more than 200 guns. His target was the 70,000 Confederate soldiers commanded by Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard who were camped 22 miles to the southwest at Corinth, Miss.
On April 28, all was ready, and the ponderous blue army set out slowly and cautiously to capture the strategical important railroad center at Corinth. There was skirmishing almost every day, and at each occurrence and also every night Halleck would have his entire army entrench. He was determined that he would not be caught off guard as Grant had been–even if it meant the army moved less than a mile a day.
The Rebels at Corinth were in bad shape. After their agonizing journey back to Corinth following their near victory at Shiloh, they used the time Halleck gave them to strengthen their formidable earthworks. But the monstrous Union army approaching was only one of their problems. Since they had been back to the unsanitary camp at Corinth, more soldiers had died of disease than were killed at Shiloh. Food and ammunition were running low, their wat supply was contaminated, and the reinforcements they received barely made up for the soldiers stricken by the rampant epidemics.
Beauregard could not hope to hold Corinth given the condition of his army and the size of the enemy. So, when Halleck’s men finally arrived within cannon range of the Rebel lines on May 28, Beauregard decided to evacuate, an exercise that was completed flawlessly and without the Yankees’ knowing, during the night of May 29.
Fascinating Fact: Beauregard’s evacuation from the disease-ridden camps was carefully planned and executed. When the Union troops marched in on May 30, they found , “not a sick prisoner, not a rusty bayonet, not a bite of bacon–nothing but an empty town.”