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1862 May 28: Latest News on the Peninsula Campaign and Corinth

May 31, 2012

The Hudson North Star published an update on the progress of General George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign and other war news in its May 28, 1862, issue.  The last story about a possible battle at Corinth is exaggerated.  General Henry W. Halleck’s forces were finally in position to begin the siege of Corinth on May 25.

General McClellan Before Richmond.


May 24. }

The driving of the rebels from the vicinity of New Bridge by our military yesterday, was followed to-day by a reconnoissance [sic] camp and of the 6th Michigan, Col. Voodby, and a squad of the 2nd cavalry.

Thirty men of the 4th Michigan succeeded in getting between four companies of the 5th Louisana [sic] and a brigade of the enemy and attacked them unexpectedly, killing 60, wounding 15 and capturing 35.  We lost one killed, one mortally wounded and six slightly.

To-day Stoneman’s [George Stoneman] brigade, together with Davidson’s1 advanced from New Bridge up the Chickahominy to Ellison’s Mills, on Bell’s Creek.  Here they encountered four regiments of rebels with nine pieces of artillery and some cavalry.  The 8th and 9th Georgia regiments, under Howell Cobb, were posted to arrest our advance to Mechanicsville.2

After about 150 rounds from our artillery, the rebels withdrew.  A portion of Davidson’s brigade followed, but night coming on they encamped within 500 yards of the enemy.  At daylight the batteries on both sides opened, but the fire was too hot for the rebels, and they retired.

A despatch from General McClellan to the War Department, says three skirmishes occurred to-day.  We drove the enemy from Mechanicsville, seven miles from New Bridge.

The Fourth Michigan about finished the Louisana [sic] Tigers.3  Fifty prisoners were taken, and fifty killed.  Our loss ten killed and wounded.

Two squadrons of the 8th Illinois Cavalry, under Major Clendenin,4 were sent up the river, and destroyed the bridge of the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad.

Mechanicsville, now occupied by our troops, is five miles from Richmond.

SUNDAY, May 25.—Gen. Negley’s [James S. Negley] brigade is encamped five miles beyond Bottom’s Bridge.  To obtain that they had to engage rebel Gen. Stuart’s [J.E.B. Stuart] brigade.  Our lost two killed and six wounded ;  rebel loss supposed to be about fifty.

Contrabands from Richmond say that the inhabitants are leaving for Danville.  All capable of bearing arms are compelled to remain.

Excitement in Washington.

Washington, May 25.

Gen. McClellan reports that he is in front of Richmond.

Gen. Halleck has been joined by Curtis’s force.

A dispatch received to-night states that Banks [Nathaniel P. Banks] made good his retreat across the Potomac at Williamsport.

General Saxton5 commands at Harper’s Ferry.

The City is intensely excited by the intelligence from the Valley of the Shenandoah.  Banks fought the enemy six hours.  The rebels are understood to be advancing from Winchester to Harper’s Ferry.  Rumors say that Jackson [Stonewall Jackson] is advancing to support Ewell [Richard S. Ewell] and Johnson [Bradley T. Johnson].  It is also stated there is still another force behind him.  Prompt means have been taken to meet the exigency.

Important Presidential Order.

Washington, May 25.

Ordered, by virtue of the authority vested by an act of Congress, the President took military possession of all railroads in the United States, from and after this date until further ordered and directs that the respective Railroad Companies, their officers and servants shall hold themselves in readiness for the transportation of troops and munitions of war as may be ordered by the military authorities, to the exclusion of all other business.

By order of the Secretary of War,
[Signed,]                       M. C. MEIGS.6

Massachusetts Responds.

BOSTON, 26.—The following is published this morning by the Governor and Commander-in-Chief:

The wily and barbarous horde of traitors to the people, to the government and to liberty, menace again the national capital. They have attacked and routed Maj. Gen Banks, and are advancing on Washington.  The President calls on Massachusetts to rise once more for its rescue and defense.  The whole active militia will be summoned by general order issued from the office of the Adjutant General, to report on Boston Common tomorrow.  They will march to relieve and avenge their brethren and friends to oppose with fierce zeal and courageous patriotism, the progress of the foe.  May God encourage their hearts and strengthen their arms, and inspire the Government and people.

Battle of Corinth.

New York, May 26.—A report has been read in this city, but of which the telegraph brings no confirmation, to the effect that a decisive battle has been fought at Corinth, in which the Federal troops gained a brilliant victory.

The report adds that Gen. Halleck now holds that place.  Twenty thousand prisoners were taken.

If such a battle has been fought, we should have had some telegraphic account of it.

Skirmish at Corinth—The Rebels Routed.

BEFORE CORINTH, May 25.—A reconnoitering party, from Pope’s [John Pope] command had a skirmish yesterday, resulting in the complete rout of 13 rebel regiments, with a loss of their knapsacks, blankets and haversacks, and several killed and wounded, and six prisoners taken.  The rest fled in confusion across the [unable to make out].  Our loss, four wounded.

1.  John Wynn Davidson (1825-1881) was a career military officer who graduated from West Point, and served in the Mexican War and on the Western frontier. Davidson commanded the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, IV Corps during the Peninsula Campaign. He fought at the battles of Yorktown and Williamsburg. During the Seven Days Battles (June 25-July1, 1862) he will receive brevet promotions in the Regular Army for his service at Gaines’ Mill (June 27) and Golding’s Farm (June 27-28).
2.  The Battle of Mechanicsville, in case you thought this is what they are talking about here, will not be fought until June 26, 1862, as the first major engagement of the Seven Days Battles.
3.  Louisiana Tigers was a common nickname for infantry troops from the state of Louisiana during the Civil War.
4.  David Ramsey Clendenin (1830-1895) was the major of the 8th Illinois Cavalry from September 18, 1861, to December 5, 1862, when he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. On May 1, 1865, Clendenin was named to the 12-member Military Commission that was appointed to try those accused of the conspiracy to kill President Lincoln. After the War, he remained in the Regular Army after the end of the conflict, and retired in 1891 with the rank of Colonel.
5.  Rufus Saxton (1824-1908) graduated from West Point and was a career military officer. Before the Civil War he fought Seminole Indians in Florida, taught artillery tactics at West Point, and did survey and map work in the Rocky Mountains (on George B. McClellan’s staff) and for the Coastal Survey. During the Civil War Rufus commanded the Union defenses at Harpers Ferry. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his “gallant service” there in May and June 1862. Later in the War, Saxton will be apointed military governor of the Department of the South and directed the recruitment of the first Black soldiers who fought in the Union Army.
6.  Montgomery Cunningham Meigs (1816-1892), a graduate of West Point, was a career military officer and a civil engineer. During the Civil War, he served as the Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army, replacing Joseph Johnston who had resigned to become a Confederate general. Meigs was efficient and honest, something the Union Army needed during the War.

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