The Civil War – Northeast Mississippi and Virginia battles

Submitted by C.J. Johnson

Union troops under the command of Major General Henry Halleck continued their march from Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing) to the railroad crossroads town of Corinth. Confederate troops had regrouped there following the defeat at Shiloh in early April. Corinth was a critical city to control because of the railroads, hence, supply lines and troop transports. By today’s timetable, it is a short twenty minute drive between these two locations. However, in the spring of 1862, it was a difficult twenty-two mile march, which took much more time than expected, due in part to the heavy spring rains. The terrain was also difficult – dense woodlands, rugged countrysides, and low lying, swampy areas. Many soldiers fell ill with dysentery and typhoid, which were both nasty and painful diseases of the intestines or digestive system, and were relatively common in the South in those days. Both Union and Confederate troops were sick, in significant numbers. Diseases, not shot and shell, were the major cause of death on both sides during the Civil War. In spite of bad weather, tough terrain, and illness, Union forces were about half-way to Corinth by early May. According to the Associated Press at the time, “…Confederate rivals began unleashing sporadic, small-scale attacks. Union forces would repeatedly dig and settle into trenches as they advanced mile by mile — expecting to eventually approach Corinth…Until then, more than 40 miles of earthen trenches and breastworks would be built in the area during the weeks of confrontation.” In the eastern theatre of the War, on May 4, Yanks and Rebels engaged in fighting in the vicinity of Williamsburg, Virginia. The Confederate Army was protected by heavily fortified works. When Union troops began testing and probing those fortifications, they encountered Confederate cavalry. Associated Press reported at the time that the Yanks were “opened upon by a deadly fire from the artillery posted behind the [Confederate] works. When the Confederate cavalry charged, Union forces counterattacked and in more instances than one it was a hand to hand encounter with the enemy’s cavalry.”