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the most part without complaint or defence. He could fight battles with sword against an open and fair foe, but could not waste precious time or afford to compromise his self-respect in idle battles of words with secret and unprincipled enemies. To one who had denounced him unsparingly he did venture to say: "Your paper is very unjust to me, but time will make it all right. I want to be judged by my acts."
In noting his disposition and demeanor amid these rivalries and daily attacks on character, another correspondent says: "When the army began to creep forward I messed at Grant's headquarters with his chief of staff, and around the evening camp-fires I saw much of the General. He rarely uttered a word on the political bearings of the war; indeed, he said little on any subject. With his eternal cigar and his head thrown to one side for hours, he would silently sit before the fire or walk back and forth with his eyes on the ground. At almost every general headquarters one heard denunciation of rival commanders. Grant was above this mischievous, foul sin of chiding. I never heard him speak unkindly of a brother officer."
Nor was Halleck's method of handling the army calculated to give a peaceful turn to affairs. The sentiment was largely abroad among both officers and men, that the fruits of the victory of Shiloh were being lost by failure to make a bold push after the retreating Confederates. To lose time was to give them opportunity to strengthen Corinth and stand boldly again in the way of Federal advance. To move promptly was to make sure of this strategic point almost without serious engagement, considering the then shattered condition of the Confederate forces.
But as open expression of this sentiment would have appeared like insubordination, there was surface acquiescence and as much rivalry in promptly executing Halleck's orders as if all had been in accord with them at heart. There was to
be no vigorous pursuit, but an approach to Corinth only by slow steps and amid painful precautions. The ways were to be carefully chosen and fortified, the approaches fully mapped and studied. Everything was to be done on the basis of regular siege operations and in accordance with approved engineering formula. Reinforcements and materials of all kinds were hurried from the North; for, owing to misconception of the entire situation, Shiloh was for a long time regarded rather as a defeat than a splendid victory. Thus Halleck's force was soon swelled to something like one hundred and twenty thousand men, and yet he ventured nothing against a broken foe, except under cover of entrenchments and slow siege approaches to Corinth.
He consumed six weeks in digging and shoveling his way along over a space of fifteen miles, the enemy all the while failing to make a single offensive movement, but were, on the contrary, taking advantage of the time to construct defences far more elaborate and sturdy than those behind which Halleck was making his tardy advance.
Beauregard was thought to have had from fifty thousand to seventy thousand men. The Federal officers were anxious to test the superiority of their numbers without so much provoking delay. Grant broached the opinion that Beauregard was actually dividing his forces, with a view to marching the greater part away from Cornith, leaving only a remnant there to keep up appearances. All the shrewder officers coincided with this view. He ventured to suggest to Halleck that an attack on the Confederate left, where their defences appeared weakest, would turn their
line, and that then a movement stretching toward his own
left would enable him to sweep the field. Halleck scouted the idea, and intimated that Grant's opinion need not be given till called for. Thenceforth his mouth was sealed in front of Corinth, and he was more than ever the subject of misrepresentation. Galled by a condition of affairs as aggravating as if he had been in actual disgrace, he thought of resigning, and did ask for leave of absence that he might escape the embarrassments of his luckless position. But Sherman and others counselled him to remain, and fortunately for the country he finally concluded to do so.
On May 30th, Halleck announced that the enemy intended to attack his left that morning, and his great army was drawn up in defence. It was only a little feint, under cover of which the entire Confederate force evacuated Corinth, leaving their wooden guns and barren defences to impose as long as possible on their enemy. The trick was soon discovered, and the Federal forces marched over the harmless entrenchments into the deserted town. Beauregard had been striving to elude Halleck ever since May 9th, and had given orders for the work of evacuation to begin on May 20th. Ten days left the town empty. Soon after entering the town Grant rode out to the Confederate left, and fully satisfied himself that it was by far the weakest part of Beauregard's lines, and could have been easily broken by a determined assault, with the probable capture of a great part of the enemy's forces.
The evacuation of Corinth settled the certainty and magnitude of the victory at Shiloh, though its importance could have been greatly augmented by a brave, persistent push on the part of Halleck. The Confederates abandoned the object of their campaign-viz., holding Corinth, the central point of their new strategic line, without a fight. They had fought for and lost Corinth at Shiloh.
And now came another period of inaction, or rather profitless action. Beauregard had a fine start southward, it was
The roads were
supposed, and along the line of a railroad. good and the country well watered. There was no spirited pursuit. Pope and Buell were sent as far as Booneville and Blackland, but with numbers quite too large for expedition. By June 10th all hope of catching up with the enemy or forcing a battle was abandoned, and the splendid army at Corinth. was about to be severed into parts for operation against other points which were rapidly springing into strategic importance. All this took place with Vicksburg lying within easy reach and practically defenceless, and with Chattanooga, at the other end of the strategic line, which could have been taken possession of, fortified and held, thus saving to the country the expense and disaster of two campaigns for its capture.
Buell's army was sent from Corinth toward Chattanooga. Grant retained command of the district of West Tennessee, with headquarters at Memphis, which had surrendered to the Federal fleet on June 6th. The Confederate Bragg had succeeded Beauregard, and was pushing his way to Chattanooga with a view of beating Buell in the race for this strong position. Early in July, General Pope was ordered to Virginia, and on the 17th of the month Halleck was called to Washington, as McClellan's successor, and as commander of all the armies. Thus this magnificent force was dissipated in the face of grand possibilities, and the visions of coherent action and further victory which had inspired officers and men after Shiloh faded into nothing.
Halleck's first order touching Grant was a snub and insult. His headquarters were ordered back to Corinth, and his command tendered to Colonel Robert Allen, who declined it, whereupon Grant was allowed to remain. Then came further stripping—a “pepper-box" policy as it was called at the time. Four divisions of Thomas' command were ordered to Buell, who was slowly making his way toward Chattanooga through Eastport and Decatur. This subtraction of force threw Grant
entirely on the defensive, and made it exceedingly difficult for him to hold Corinth and the lines of railroad which centered there. He was in the face of an enemy whose force equalled his own, and who knew he could not assume the offensive. Further he was open to attack in any one of three or four directions, and regarded the cutting of the railroad north of him at Bolivar or Jackson as fatal. Memphis was safe enough with Sherman there, and the river at that point and above under control of the Federal gunboats. Grant very justly regarded the position he was in as one of the most unsatisfactory and trying of the whole war.
Leaving sufficient force at Memphis, Grant concentrated all the troops he could spare from guard duty at Corinth, at Jackson on his north, and at Bolivar on his northwest, all important railroad places, and the first two, centres of railway systems. For eight weeks he addressed himself to newly fortifying Corinth on a scale suited to his small force, and to garrisoning Jackson and Bolivar, all the while confronted by the Confederates under Van Dorn and Price, who threatened him continually.
Things were not going well with the Union armies. In the East, battles had been lost, and heart-burnings and bickerings existed among the generals, which led to frequent removals and disastrous successions. Bragg was fast proving that he was more than a match for Buell in quick marching, for he not only struck Chattanooga first, which threw Buell north to Murfreesboro, and even to Nashville, but had actually made arrangements for assuming the offensive with a view of regaining Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky, and thence threatening Ohio and the North.
Van Dorn by this time, September 10th, 1862, felt himself strong enough for a diversion. He sent Price with twelve thousand men toward Iuka, twenty-one miles east of Corinth, as if he were to reinforce Bragg, and with the hope that Grant