Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 19.djvu/201

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Recollections of General Earl Van Dorn. 195

fleet, put the place in a good condition of defence, occupied Port Hudson, and there erected such works as enabled us for a year longer to control the Mississippi river and its tributaries so as to keep open free intercourse with the trans-Mississippi, whence large supplies for the armies on this side were drawn. He organized an expedition against Baton Rouge during this time, which but for the cholera, which swept off half of the force, and the untimely breaking down of the ram Arkansas' engine when almost within range of that town, would have been a brilliant and complete success.


After this Van Dorn urged General Price, who had been left at Tupelo with the Army of the West when Bragg moved to Chatta- nooga, to unite all their available forces in Mississippi, carry Corinth by assault, and sweep the enemy out of West Tennessee. This, un- fortunately, Price, under his instructions, could not then do. Our combined forces would then have exceeded twenty-five thousand effectives, and there is no doubt as to the results of the movement. Later, after Breckenridge had been detached with six thousand men and Price had lost about four thousand on the luka expedition (mainly stragglers), the attempt on Corinth was made. Its works had been greatly strengthened and its garrison greatly increased. Van Dorn attacked with his usual vigor and dash. His left and centre stormed the town, captured all the guns in their front and broke Rosecrans' centre. The division comprising our right wing remained inactive, so that the enemy, believing that our right was merely making a feint, detached Stanley with six thousand fresh men from his left and drove us out of the town.

Never was a general more disappointed than Van Dorn; but no man in all our army was so little shaken in his courage by the result as he was. I think his was the highest courage I have ever known. It rose above every disaster, and he never looked more gallant than when his broken army in utter disorder was streaming through the open woods which then environed Corinth and its formidable de- fences. However much depression all of us showed and felt, he alone remained unconquered, and if he could have gotten his forces together would have tried it again. But seeing that was impossible, he brought Lovell's Division, which not having assaulted was un- broken, to cover the rear, and moved back to Chewalla, seven miles west of Corinth, encouraging officers and men to reform their broken organizations as we marched along. No sooner did he halt at Che-