P. G. T. Beauregard: Napoleon in Gray

By T. Harry Williams | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER TEN
Cock Robin Is Dead

A ROUND CORINTH the Confederate defensive line was strong. On a high ridge east of the town the works stretched for three miles from the Memphis and Charleston Railroad on the right to the Mobile and Ohio on the left. From right to left the line was manned by the troops of Hardee, Bragg, and Polk. To the rear and right of Hardee was Van Dorn. Breckinridge's reserve corps was stationed west of Corinth. Even though his position was strong, Beauregard might well have pondered whether either field or permanent fortifications were of much value in the vast Western theater, especially when the enemy controlled the waterways.

Right after the army returned to Corinth, he received the bad news that another supposedly strong point in the Mississippi River defenses had fallen. On April 8 Island No. 10 and its garrison of seven thousand surrendered to the Federals. Its commander, W. W. Mackall, had taken charge late in March, announcing to the officers, "Let me tell you who I am. I am a general made by Beauregard...."After the loss of Island No. 10, Beauregard acted to strengthen the next link in the river chain, Fort Pillow, and directed that works be constructed at Vicksburg.1 Donelson, Shiloh, Island No. 10 -- since February the Confederacy had lost over thirty thousand men in the West. The manpower was going fast, and most of it had been lost in attempts to hold fortified places.

Beauregard's line was designed to protect Corinth and its important rail communications against an expected advance of the Federals from Pittsburg Landing. After Shiloh General Halleck, now departmental commander of all Union forces in the West, decided to take the field in person. Leaving his desk in St. Louis, he came to the Landing and took command of the armies of Grant and Buell. From the Mississippi line he brought additional troops freed by the fall of Island No. 10, bringing his total forces to over a hundred

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1
Roman, Beauregard, I, 365-67, 384-85; Pollard, First Year of the War, 330-32; Bcauregard to Harris, April 21, 25, 1862, in Harris Papers.

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