After the Confederate defeat at Shiloh, the Union army, now headed by Henry Halleck, marched south at a grueling 1 mile a day due to bad roads and Halleck’s overly cautious behavior. Every night, the Federals dug in in anticipation of an attack and whenever skirmishers began having firefights, the entire army would fall back to favorable positions and dig in. This meant that the Union army took almost a month to advance 20 miles, definately no blitzkrieg. At Corinth, Mississippi, the Confederates waited and made their fortifications. They established a 7 mile arc around the northern and eastern approaches to Corinth. The Confederates were outnumbered almost 2 to 1. Beauregard, commanding the Confederate army, knew just how cautious Halleck was and used this to make up for the numerical imbalance. Beauregard had trains constantly coming and going from the Confederate lines and as the trains passed, the Confederates cheered as if reinforcements were arriving. Reinforcements, however, were not arriving and so Beauregard gave up the city on May 30, 1862, citing contaminated water supplies and overwhelming Union numbers as his reason for fleeing. The Siege of Corinth or the 1st Battle of Corinth was over after a month of little action and brilliant deception tactics on the part of Beauregard.
Following the Siege of Corinth, Halleck was promoted to general-in-chief and Grant was placed back in command of the Army of the Tennessee. The Union army was at this time spread out. The Army of the Ohio was being forced to pursue Braxton Bragg north into Kentucky while Rosecrans’ army was stationed at Corinth and Iuka and Sherman’s Division held Memphis. In agreement with Bragg, Sterling Price was to move his Army of the West northwest towards Nashville. He was caught, however, at Iuka, where he had captured the supply depot and now waited for Earl Van Dorn’s army to meet with him. Rosecrans’ Army of the Mississippi and 3 divisions of the Union Army of the Tennessee, under Edward Ord, collapsed on Price’s few thousand men at Iuka. Ord’s three divisions reached Iuka before Rosecrans and so the detatchment was to wait for the sound of gunfire to attack the Confederates. However, an acoustic shadow stopped him from from hearing the gunfire and so he did not attack or even know of the engagement until after it was done. And so, the battle wound up being a frontal clash between Rosecrans and Price. Heavy fighting ensued. Price retreated the next day, linking up with Van Dorn near Ripley.
After the Battle of Iuka and Price’s successful link-up with Van Dorn, the Confederates struck at Corinth on October 3, 1862. The trenches they had vacated were now occupied by Union troops and were built upon by Rosecrans, creating a formidable line of defenses. The first day saw the Federals withdraw to their stronger inner defenses, just before dark. On the second day, the Confederates opened up with a large bombardment of the trenches, but many of the shells overshot the defences and landed in Corinth itself, killing civilians. The Confederates attacked at 10 a.m., creating a breakthrough, and going so far as to enter Corinth, leading to urban combat. This scared Rosecrans and led him to burn supplies. But, the Confederates were worn out after and had no reserves to continue the fight. To make matters worse for the Confederates, the battle in front of Battery Robinette was lost, leading to many casualties. The Confederates had no choice but to withdraw that afternoon. The Union army did not pursue. The Second Battle of Corinth ended with 3,090 casualties for the Union, and 4,467 for the Confederates. The Union army was now free to move on Vicksburg and to advance the Anaconda Plan.
-By Southern Revivalist