Some 22,000 Confederate soldiers converged on Corinth, Miss., 150 years ago this week in the Civil War, intent on snatching back a key Southern railroad hub from Union control.
Fighting on Oct. 3, 1862, saw Confederate soldiers battering the Union troops on their outer defenses ringing Corinth. The Associated Press reported the fighting was pitched when the Confederates opened up with an attack six miles northeast of Corinth. "The engagement became general, and a fierce and sanguinary battle was fought," AP's correspondent wrote in an Oct. 8, 1862, dispatch. That account reported how Union soldiers "were forced slowly backward, fighting desperately" as they were hemmed in by the onslaught of the Confederate troops. AP added: "The Confederates pushed forward with determined obstinacy" but then sunset brought an overnight pause to the fighting.
Combat resumed the morning of Oct. 4, 1862, but by then the Union forces had regrouped. Union artillery raked the attackers. AP reported the fighting was fierce. "The federal batteries opened a destructive fire upon the exposed ranks of the Confederates, mowing them down like grass. Their slaughter was frightful," the account stated. At times the battle appeared to seesaw, AP noted. But "the Confederates wavered and then fell back" in full retreat. It was a strategic victory for the Union to retain Corinth, one of the most important Southern rail junctions, which had been seized earlier in the year. Corinth afforded the Union a springboard for federal gunboat operations down the Mississippi River to Vicksburg and for exerting control over much of middle and western Tennessee.
The Union victory at Corinth — shortly after Lee was thwarted in his first invasion of the North at the Battle of Antietam in September 1862 — was the second of two important setbacks for the Confederacy at a crucial moment in the war.