Friday, June 1, 2012

Restoring Rails and Roads

The Seventeenth remains in the city on this day of massive reorganization, while a detachment from General Pope's Army of the Mississippi adds a decisive punctuation mark to the story of Halleck's Siege of Corinth.

Honorable E. M. STANTON.
Corinth, June 1, 1862.

A brigade of cavalry, under Colonel Elliott, cut the enemy's line of retreat at Booneville, 20 miles south of Corinth, captured three pieces of artillery, 600 infantry, and a squadron of cavalry, and destroyed a large quantity of quartermaster's and commissary stores and a part of the railroad. The enemy is hard pressed for food, and has released all prisoners, rank and file, taken at Pittsburg.


Buell receives his new orders to repair and rebuild the railroads from Corinth to Decatur, in eastern Alabama.  This will become the operating area of the Seventeenth for the next few months.  The importance of this stretch of railroad lies in the currently shallow waters at Muscle Shoals, Alabama which hinders navigation in this part of the Tennessee River.

HEADQUARTERS, June 1, 1862.
Major-General BUELL:

Locomotives and cars at Paducah ordered to be shipped to Florence. Hand cars ordered to be sent here. I am informed that no ferry-boat could be taken over Muscle Shoals above Florence. One might be found or constructed in Upper Tennessee, near Decatur.
Road should be repaired as soon as possible from Columbia to Decatur. If General Mitchel can cross a locomotive and train at Decatur, it would very much facilitate our operations. I am daily expecting a railroad agent here from War Department to direct these matters. He was to report by 1st instant [to-day] without fail.


Buell advises Halleck to consider other possibilities.

HEADQUARTERS, Near Corinth, June 1, 1862.
General HALLECK:

If not a good ferry-boat, at least a light-draught steamer can pass the shoals, which would be better than anything that can be made there. Such a steamer, used in connection with a couple of barges, would make a very efficient ferry. ...

Buell goes on to caution Halleck of the work to be done in middle Tennessee, reminding him of the problems encountered in the Army of the Ohio's movement from Nashville to Savannah in March.  Rebuilding the road from Columbia to Decatur (approximate path of modern I-65) will not be accomplished quickly.  His men had rebuilt these bridges once already.

...The work from Columbia will be heavy. The bridges over Duck and Elk Rivers are some 600 feet long, besides several other considerable ones.
I have inquired of General Mitchel whether the Chattanooga road cannot be put in order with less labor.


*ORE correspondence courtesy of my Favorite Link, Ohio State's eHistory

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