Page:Confederate Military History - 1899 - Volume 7.djvu/541

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wells had failed." "With an aggregate of 112,092, the effective total had wasted away to 52,706 men. The sick and absent numbered 49,590, including officers. No sudden epidemic had smitten the camp; the sickness was the effect of causes evident from the day of the occupation of the position, and increased with an accelerated ratio. The value of Corinth as a temporary base from which to attack the enemy was vast; but as it was untenable for permanent occupation on account of its unhealthfulness, it seems unfortunate that the army should have been retained there until a wreck only remained, to be crowded out by the steady pressure of the advancing but cautious foe. There was a time when the experiment of Shiloh might have been repeated with success. Our army had suffered at Shiloh, but they had won back their former prestige. The demoralization of troops flushed with victory could not have been so great as that of the retreating columns which were gathered at Corinth, and precipitated on the Federals with such splendid results on Sunday, April 6th.

"When General Van Dorn's army arrived, his effective total was estimated at 17,000 men, which, added to the 32,212 then reported, made an army of nearly 50,000 effective Southern soldiers. If this army, one-third larger than that which fought at Shiloh, had been led against the disintegrated and demoralized battalions of the enemy before he recovered from the shock of Shiloh or received his reinforcements of reserves and took his subsequent intrenched position at Farmington, his columns might again have been compelled to huddle under cover of their gunboats. When this opportunity had passed no other occurred. The enemy refused the offer of battle, preferring his own plan of campaign, by which he slowly, but surely, forced us from our chosen position. It appears evident, therefore, that Corinth could only be held by beating the enemy, and that as soon as he was allowed to take position at Farmington in such manner