Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/540

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59
CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY.

The greatest loss during the retreat occurred between Booneville and Corinth, at Cypress Creek, where Confederates themselves had burned the railroad bridge, cutting off the way for seven trains mostly loaded with supplies of all sorts. Charles S. Williams, assistant superintendent of the Memphis & Charleston railroad, himself ordered the destruction of the locomotives and sixty-two cars, and his orders were carried out.

The truth about Beauregard's "frantic" retreat was that he made such a stand on the way to Tupelo that Pope dared not attack him, and though reinforced by Buell, did not venture further than Booneville. Beauregard, after reaching Tupelo, finding himself undisturbed, turned his command temporarily over to Bragg, and on account of poor health went to Mobile.

Col. Wm. Preston Johnston, aide-de-camp to the President, who was sent by Mr. Davis to interview General Beauregard and obtain information regarding the situation, reported that the field return of the army prior to the evacuation of Corinth showed an effective total of 52,706, and the field return at Tupelo an effective total of 45,365, the reduction being caused in part by the detachment of Breckinridge's corps. "General Beauregard in his conversation with me referred me, for further and more detailed information of the events and circumstances attending the retreat from Corinth, to his subordinates. The information derived from them and their concurrent opinion fully sustains his view as to the necessity of the evacuation of Corinth at the time it was performed. Another day’s delay might have proved fatal to the army. The letter of General Hardee, approved by General Beauregard, expresses the well-settled conviction of the most intelligent officers of the army. Bad food, neglect of police duty, inaction, and especially water, insufficient and charged with magnesia and rotten limestone, had produced obstinate types of diarrhoea and typhoid fever. No sound men were left. The attempt to bore artesian