Second Corinth, wargame played 12/7/18 based on Day 1 of the Second Battle of Corinth, October 3, 1862
October 3, 1862 broke gray as the noncoms kicked and prodded the soldiers of Rosecrans’ Army of the Mississippi. Orders had come to move out of their entrenchments near the railroad junction of Corinth, Mississippi and meet the invading Confederate Army of West Tennessee under General Earl Van Dorn. A hasty breakfast of hardtack and cold bacon – the lucky ones got the dregs of coffee from the sentries – and off they marched, north into the wet, open woods, and scattered hardscrabble farms toward Dawson Creek and the old Confederate works.
The Confederates had been in motion since early morning, skirmishing with Union cavalry pickets and marching south along the Chewalla Road. Just north of Dawson Creek they deployed, Mansfield Lovell on the far western flank with Dabney Maury next, then Martin Green’s division.
Union deployment was a bit offset from the Confederates with Thomas McKean’s division on their far western flank but overlapped by Lovell further to the west, then Thomas Davies’ division, and finally, the cavalry division of John K. Mizner, beyond Green’s flank to the east. Unfortunately for both sides, neither took advantage of their flanking position. Mizner was paralyzed by the idea that John K. Jackson’s rebel cavalry brigade could be even further east and Mansfield Lovell, inexplicably, failed to urge his men on with any sort of vigor.
McKean reached the creek first and immediately dressed his lines and steadied his mostly veteran command into place. John McArthur’s brigade held the left, in the air as it were. In McKean’s center was John Oliver’s brigade and the right and reserve were the veteran Iowans of Marcellus Crocker. The line was ably supported by three batteries of Napoleons, 16 cannon in all.
Davies was still 600 yards from the creek when the ball opened, with Silas Baldwin’s brigade on his left, Richard Oglesby on the left, and Pleasant Hackleman’s brigade in support. Davies also had three batteries, all rifles, 12 guns in all.
On the Confederate right (west) Dabney Maury’s division of veterans came crashing through the woods with Charles Phifer’s brigade of dismounted Texas cavalry on the far right, expecting Lovell to cover their flank, and William Cabell’s Arkansas brigade on the left. John Moore’s brigade was in support. Rapley’s Battery of rifles and McNally’s Battery of Napoleons supported the assault.
The Confederate left, Martin Green’s division, was under the watchful eye of Sterling Price, “Old Pap”, with Earl Van Dorn, the overall commander, observing from Price’s side. Green advanced with Elijah Gates’ brigade of Missouri veterans on the right, Bruce Colbert’s brigade in the center and the Mississippi brigade of John D. Martin on the far left (west). Martin’s brigade had ignominiously run at the recent battle of Iuka and were held in low regard by the army. Deployed in support was William Moore’s brigade. Dawson’s Battery and Wade’s Battery, both of Napoleons, supported the main attack.
Maury developed his attack with precision and deliberation, bringing steady, intense pressure to bear on the bluecoats. Stirman’s Battalion of sharpshooters took first blood then the 3rd Arkansas (dismounted) charged over the creek, the 21st Missouri suffering 40% losses to the withering assault. A bit further along the line, the 18th Wisconsin was forced back after a similar 40% loss, surrendering their bloodied ground to the 21st Arkansas.
But it was not all glory for Maury, as the 6th Texas (dismounted) suffered mightily from repeated blasts of double canister from the Napoleons of Battery F, Illinois Light Artillery and Rapley’s Battery was forced to withdraw one section due to losses to the crews from the heavy fire of the 18th Missouri (Union).
In all Maury suffered 443 killed, wounded and missing, McKean roughly twice that.
Green and Davies raced each other to the creek and, especially to the small farm of Cyrus Burton. Burton’s small 10-acre spread was surrounded by a stout stone wall and it was this small open space and its surrounding wall and rough-hewn buildings where the hardest fighting of the day was to occur.
Gates threw the 16th Arkansas at the farm and Colbert supported the attack with the 14th Arkansas and Dawson’s Battery. Baldwin countered with the 14th Missouri (Birge’s Sharpshooters) and the 57th Illinois. The bluecoats got to the farm first but the extra weight of the cannons, in the end, won the day. 225 Confederates and 190 Federals fell in the small farm.
In the center, just west of the farm, at the only bridge over the creek (though it was low enough to walk over at all points) both armies threw their reserves. Crocker’s veteran Iowa troops blocked the road for the Yankees while elements of Gates’ and Cabell’s brigades attacked. Behind the front piles up the Confederate brigade of William Moore and the Union brigade of Pleasant Hackleman. No decision was made here. The Union was forced to withdraw based on Maury’s attack and the events on the far eastern flank.
There, Martin’s disgraced Mississippians and the 37th Alabama angled into the air where Mizner was supposed to be. Hackleman tried to slow the rebels by deploying Battery D, Missouri Light Artillery but the Alabamians and the 38th Mississippi advanced relentlessly, capturing two guns. In desperation, and in contradiction of his orders to support Baldwin, Hackleman redeployed the 2nd and 7th Iowa, but by the time they arrived it was too late, and Martin threatened to cut the Federal route back to Corinth.
Rosecrans ordered a general withdrawal to the inner works which was done in good order, as losses in Davies division, except at the Burton Farm, had been relatively light.
Van Dorn clapped Price on the back as the Federals pulled back and congratulated him on a “brilliant victory” and ordered the troops stop for dinner. The next day, Van Dorn hurled the same troops at Rosecrans’ works with another two Federal divisions joining their comrades. Again Lovell would fail to attack aggressively and the Confederates would be forced to ignominiously retreat back across the Mississippi, never to again cross east.
We use Mr. Lincoln's War and 15mm figures.
Diatribes are simply often humorous recountings of the games played by the Long Island Irregulars. We play with toy soldiers and are unabashedly happy to have never lost this part of our childhoods..