Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bad Press

The claims and counter-claims made by generals during and after battle always provide insight into the character of the gentlemen involved. In the case of Corinth, Pope on the left and Sherman on the right were initially credited with the distinction of being first to arrive. Recalling that, in this blog, the Seventeenth under General Nelson was credited with being the first to plant their  regimental flag at Corinth, the reader might well be confused. Did not Pope claim that his men (arriving from the east) were the first to enter the city and raise the flag at the post office? Is that necessarily in conflict with Nelson's claim of being the first to plant the flag at the Corinth fortification, which was on a hill overlooking the city?  In the next few days,attempts to correct the record will be presented.

Bivouac at Smith's Cross-Roads, June 7, 1862.

SIR: The newspapers which have during the last three days arrived in the camps of the armies assembled here contain numerous telegraphic accounts of the occupation of Corinth. Whatever merit there is, if any, in that movement is claimed particularly for the troops under the command of Major-General Pope and partially for the troops of Major-General Sherman.
These dispatches, which cannot fail to attract your eye if you look at the newspapers, are prominently put forth, and as newspaper reporters are not permitted in camp and dispatches proceed from some military headquarters, they are received as official. These dispatches, it is true, nowhere have dared to state in so many words that the troops of either of the above-mentioned generals entered Corinth before the division I have the honor to command, but it is the evident intention to convey that idea to the public, which seems to have been successfully done.
I have to request that you will lay before General Halleck this my declaration that the Fourth Division of the Army of the Ohio, under my command, was in possession of Corinth more than half an hour before any troops of General Pope or General Sherman entered the enemy's works. I do not attach extraordinary importance to this circumstance, but a systematic attempt to give prominence to an act will unavoidably give to it in the minds of the public the character of merit or demerit, and thus a stigma or an honor may be as effectually fixed as though an unworthy action had been denounced or a worthy one claimed. In this manner precisely injustice has been done to my division, and I complain that the official telegraph has been made the medium of the wrong.

Very respectfully,
Commanding Fourth Division, Army of the Ohio.*


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