« PreviousContinue »
mailed than their antagonists-and the heavier weight of their fire.
FORT PILLOW AND MEMPHIS.
Fort Pillow was, however, soon after abandoned, in Abandonment of consequence of the operations on the line of the Tennessee River. The troops were withdrawn to Corinth, and the remnant of the Confeder ate fleet went down to Memphis.
From its railroad connections Memphis is the most imStrategical import- portant city on the Mississippi between New ance of Memphis. Orleans and St. Louis. It is the western terminus of the great line communicating with the Atlantic cities. By its branches it connects with the Gulf on the south, and the Cumberland Valley and Ohio on the north. Along the great artery of the Memphis and Charleston Road the Confederacy brought supplies from regions drained by the affluents of the Mississippi River, and from Texas and Arkansas. This system of railroads enabled them to distribute troops and munitions of war in all directions.
Considering that its proper protection was the strong forts on the river above and below, the Confederates had not fortified the town. Its only defense was its flotilla. On the 5th of June Commodore Davis left Fort Pillow with his gun-boats and came down to Memphis. The Confederate fleet was at the levee. It consisted of eight vessels. Four ram-boats, under Colonel Ellet, had joined the national squadron. Soon after daybreak the next morning the action began. In many particulars it recalled the naval combats of ancient times. One of Ellet's rams, the Queen, butted a Confederate ram, sinking her immediately; the Queen, in her turn, was struck by an antagonist and disabled; that ram, in her turn, was struck by the Monarch, and instantly sunk. But among these reminiscences of old warfare
Naval attack on
FALL OF MEMPHIS.
there were realities of a more modern kind. Hot water was scattered on boarders; some of the vessels had their boilers shot through, and their crews scalded with steam. One Confederate gun-boat received a shell that set her on fire; she burned to the water's edge, and then blew up. One was captured; and of all the Confederate flotilla, one only, the Van Dorn, escaped.
There were many thousand persons on the river banks Destruction of the Surveying the battle with intense interest. Confederate fleet. Out of the dense smoke enveloping it came the roar of boilers exploding, the crashing of the rams, the bursting of shells, the rattle of musketry, the inces sant thunder of the cannon. In half an hour the uproar ceased, and when the smoke blew aside, it was found that the Confederate flotilla had been destroyed, and Memphis left defenseless.
THE CAMPAIGN OF SHILOH.-FORCING OF THE SECOND CONFEDERATE LINE.
The Confederates, forced back from their first line, established a second along the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, its strong point being at Corinth, where they concentrated their armies.
General Halleck, using the Tennessee River as his line of attack, landed his army near Shiloh, and placed it under command of Grant.
It was Halleck's intention to join the army of Buell to that of Grant, and attack his antagonists at Corinth. It was their intention to attack Grant before he was joined by Buell. They gained the initiative.
BATTLE OF SHILOH. The Confederates, after making a very brilliant attack, were compelled to retreat. The Memphis and Charleston Railroad was severed by Sherman and by Mitchell, the campaign closing successfully on the national part by the capture of Corinth.
AFTER Grant had captured Donelson, he received a message from Buell asking an interview with him. Ac cordingly, on the 27th of February, he went for that pur
Grant's visit to pose to Nashville. In the mean time HalNashville leck had ordered him to ascend rapidly the Tennessee, then in full water, and make a lodgment on the Memphis and Charleston Railroad about Florence or Tuscumbia, or perhaps Corinth. There was a telegraph from Paducah to Fort Henry, but the secessionists were daily breaking the wires, and communication was continually interrupted. On the 1st of March Halleck had ordered Grant to fall back from the Cumberland to the Tennessee, with the view of carrying his intention into effect. It was at this moment supposed that the Confederates had retreated to Chattanooga.
Orders were likewise transmitted to Sherman to seize all steam-boats passing Paducah, and send them up the Tennessee for the transportation of Grant's army. As
THE CAMPAIGN OF SHILOH.
soon as Halleck heard that Grant had gone up the Cumland instead of the Tennessee, he was very much displeas ed, and telegraphed to him," Why don't you obey my orders? Why don't you answer my letters? Turn over the command of the Tennessee expedition to General C. F. Smith, and remain yourself at Fort Henry."
He also complained to McClellan at Washington that he could get no reports from Grant, whose troops were demoralized by their victory. To Grant he wrote that his neglect of repeated orders to report his strength had created great dissatisfaction and seriously interfered with the military plans; that his going to Nashville when he should have been with his troops had been a matter of so much complaint at Washington that it had been considered advisable to arrest him on his return.
disapproved of by Halleck.
At length came Grant's answer that he had not res Grant's explana- ceived Halleck's orders in time; that he had not gone to Nashville to gratify any desire of his own, but for the good of the service; that he had reported every day, and had written on an average more than once a day, and had done his best to obey orders; that, instead of being worthy of censure for permitting his troops to maraud, he had sent the marauders to St. Louis. He asked to be relieved, and turned over the command to General Smith, who at once commenced the embarkation of the troops to the Upper Tennessee.
Halleck was so far satisfied with these explanations that he requested the authorities at Washington to drop the matter. The order assigning Smith to the command was, however, not recalled.
General Smith put in command.
Halleck, in this perpendicular movement upon the Confederate line, derived at once singular advantages from the Tennessee River. It gave
Advantages of the
him ready communication by his transports and gunboats; the latter, as we shall see, successfully intervened at the very moment of the crisis of the battle of Shiloh.
Early in March, Sherman was ordered by Halleck to The expedition join the Tennessee expedition and report to passes up it. Smith. The whole army steamed up to Savannah, where the dépôt of supplies was established. There were nearly seventy transports, carrying more than thirty thousand troops. The bands were playing, flags flying; it was a splendid pageant of war. Lewis Wallace's division disembarked on the west bank of the river and took post on the road to Purdy. He was ordered to destroy the railroad bridge in the vicinity of that place. A train with Confederate troops narrowly escaped capture; it approached while the bridge was burning. Another division (C. F. Smith's) occupied the town and country beyond; and Sherman was ordered by Smith to take his own division, and the two gun-boats Tyler and Lexington, to proceed farther up the river, and break the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. It noissance. was now known that the Confederate army was concentrating at Corinth, and that it had a battery at Eastport, and another just above the mouth of Bear Creek. On passing "Pittsburg Landing," Sherman learned that there was a road thence to Corinth. A Confederate regiment lying there had fired on the gun-boats. Hereupon he wrote to Smith that he thought it important to occupy "Pittsburg Landing." This was accordingly done, and the place became, in consequence, immortal in American history.
Meantime Sherman passed forward on his expedition for cutting the railroad, but was thwarted by a deluge of rain, which so flooded the country as to render it imprac ticable, many men and horses being drowned in the swol len streams. With great difficulty he got back to his