Banners to the Breeze: The Kentucky Campaign, Corinth, and Stones River

By Earl J. Hess | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE Bloody October

The fighting on Saturday, October 4, began at 4 A.M., when three Confederate batteries opened fire. Fourteen guns split the early morning silence with salvo after salvo. They were about six hundred yards from Corinth on the western bluff of Indian Creek near the cleared space fronting the Federal line. The gunners frequently overshot their targets, sending shells into Corinth and hitting houses. The Tishomingo Hotel was damaged, killing a soldier who had been wounded the day before. In the darkness, Capt. Oscar L. Jackson of Company H, Sixty-third Ohio, found that "the scene was a grand one, a real display of fireworks," but the Federals lost much needed sleep.

The artillery barrage woke Rosecrans, who had slept only half an hour. "I had no time for breakfast," he later recalled. Union artillery sprang into action as Battery Robinett opened fire with three guns under Lieut. Henry C. Robinett of the First U.S. Infantry. Battery Williams opened too with three guns under Capt. George A. Williams of the same regiment. Battery Phillips added its weight to the counterfire with a howitzer and two field batteries. The Federal guns enfiladed the Confederate artillery and silenced it in thirty minutes.

The Rebel batteries withdrew at dawn. One of them had already lost a gun when skirmishers of the First U.S. Infantry pushed forward and found it placed too far in advance and captured it. From then until the time of Van Dorn's attack, only the skirmishers of both armies were active. Price had received and issued orders to advance at sunrise. Hébert was supposed to attack first, followed by Maury and Lovell. The infantrymen managed to get some breakfast at dawn before they were set to waiting for what everyone could guess would be a fierce assault. But time began to slip away with only

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