The Seventh Illinois in the Battle at Corinth — Causes of Dissatisfaction in the Army — What the Soldiers Demand.
CORINTH, Miss., October 29, 1862.
EDITORS JOURNAL: As the smoke and dust of our last battle has died away, I have concluded to write you a few lies, and let you know how the bloody Seventh gets along.
In looking over the columns of the Cincinnati Commercial, we came across the correspondence of some person calling himself W. D. B., who does not give a very good account of the performance of Gen. Davies' Division, of which we formed a part. He says that Hamilton's division did all the fighting, and that we ran and acted disgracefully; all of which is an unmitigated falsehood, as any decent man knows. It is hard to be called cowards, after leaving our homes in the defense of our country, by a pusillanimous puppy, who was too cowardly to enlist, and who has not got patriotism enough to see anything honorable outside of Ohio. All the boys are boiling over with anger and mortification to think how they have been traduced. I have heard several say, "if I could only draw a bead on the lying pup, I would show him who ran."
The first day of the fight we of course run, but not till we received orders to that effect. We were not ordered to fall back until we were flanked on both sings. We then fell back, in good order, considering that we were half dead for want of water, and on account of marching on the "double quick" from our camp to the scene of action, which was five or six miles — the dust being ancle deep and the thermometer being about 90 in the shade. After falling back a half a mile or so, we were ordered to halt and form in line of battle, which we did, lying down to hide ourselves and gave them "the best we had in our shop." After firing a few times, we charged on their "meat shop" and drove them back half a mile. They were reinforced, however, and we in turn fell back to Corinth, at dusk, having fought almost all day without any dinner and scarcely enough water to wet our lips.
The next day we were placed behind our breastworks, after marching around all night. At about ten o'clock the ball opened by the secesh charging on us in good order, and with a bravery worthy of a better cause. Through the night we were reinforced from Bolivar and Jackson, till we numbered sixteen thousand strong; while they had at least fifty thousand. They were adverse to attacking this place, but Price placed his cannon behind them and told them that they had to face the Yankee cannon or his, he didn't care a d—n which. Whether he meant what he said, or whether he wanted to learn them to take a joke, "deponent saith not," but, anyhow, the ragamuffins resolved to face ours. They had to come through a bottom covered with fallen timber. When about one hundred yards from the breast works, we opened on them, both artillery and infantry; but as fast as we mowed them down more stepped into their places. On they came like so many devils, and as their line of battle was longer than ours, they flanked us and poured a volley down the ditch, killing and wounding many brave fellows. We then fell back, taking refuge behind horses, trees, and everything else that would afford shelter. They sealed our forts, killing a great many horses. The reserve then came up and opened on them, and our brave Colonel Rowett ordered us to form in line of battle, which we did amid a shower of bullets, grape and cannister. Gen. Davies said that regulars would not have done better.
The land pirates could not stand our fire and fled in all direction. Price and Van Dorn, however, rallied them again. The second time did they flank us and drive us back; and twice did we rally and dispute the ground inch by inch. They had to retire, however, leaving the ground covered with their dead and wounded. They retreated in hot haste, going all night, followed by part of our forces, while the rest of us took care of the dead, wounded, and prisoners.
I am sorry to say we lost some of our bravest officers and men; Capt. Ward and Lieut. Estabrook are deeply regretted by the Seventh; besides a great many others who were killed at their posts, fighting bravely for their country. Gen. Rosecrans complimented us for our bravery, and so did Davies. Does that look like retreating disgracefully? I think now. The lost in the sixth division (the second then) was over one thousand — one-third of whole loss. That shows who runs.
The next day being Sunday, we rested by starting after the enemy, who had the start by fourteen hours. We chased him four days, but could not catch him. We found the ground covered with tents, wagons and everything else in the military line. We got as far as Russellville, forty miles from Corinth, and turned back, being eight days on the chase.
We are now camped in an open field two miles form Corinth, standing picket, building breastworks and hauling our own water, which keeps us busy, as we have to do as much as a full regiment. I hate to tell it, but we are getting tired of the war. McClellan, with his army, is doing nothing but eating the Government out of house and home, while Buell is the best friend the secesh have. Jealousy, selfishness and weakness is the order of the day with the officers, and the troops don't care a fig which side whips. Another winter is at hand, long and dreary, and no forward move is even talked of. Some of the boys will desert by scores when pay day comes, while a great many are getting transferred to the regular army. This is allowed by the Government, and it is taking advantage of the brave boys, for if they enlist in the regulars, the get the pay that is coming to them, and are allowed a furlough for sixty days.
This is not allowed them where they are, although we have not got any pay for four months. This goes to prove to me that the "powers that be," think that the war will last for years, and that unless they do this they will lack for troops after the time of enlistment of volunteers is out, for they have seen enough and will not enlist again. We have begun to think that the South is a match for us, the way our Generals act. All we want is Pope, Major General, with orders to do something, and Sigel, Fremont, and those that are kept in the back ground, to take the place of Buell, McClellan, and the incompetents that have prolonged the war. We want a forward movement and that soon. Just let us get marching orders for Vicksburg and Mobile if you want to hear some tall yelling. But, Alas! I am afraid we will have to go into winter quarter, some say here, some at Columbus, but there is nothing certain.
I wish secession, slavery, and their sympathizers in the North were in Guinea. Good-bye.
Company G, 7th Reg. Inf.