The capture of Corinth terminated the offensive portion of the campaign. Our army occupied the line of the Memphis and Charleston Railway from Corinth to Memphis, and made a visit to Holly Springs without encountering the enemy. A few cavalry expeditions were made into Mississippi, but they accomplished nothing of importance. The Army of the Tennessee went into summer-quarters. The Army of the Ohio, under General Buell, returned to its proper department, to confront the Rebel armies then assembling in Eastern Tennessee. General Halleck was summoned to Washington as commander-in-chief of the armies of the United States.
CAPTURE OF FORT PILLOW AND BATTLE OF MEMPHIS.
The Siege of Fort Pillow.—General Pope.—His Reputation for Veracity. —Capture of the “Ten Thousand.”—Naval Battle above Fort Pillow.—The John II. Dickey.—Occupation of the Fort.—General Forrest.—Strength of the Fortifications.—Their Location.—Randolph, Tennessee.—Memphis and her Last Ditch.—Opening of the Naval Combat.—Gallant Action of Colonel Ellet.—Fate of the Rebel Fleet.—The People Viewing the Battle.—Their Conduct.
While I was tarrying at Cairo, after the exodus of the journalists from the army before Corinth, the situation on the Mississippi became interesting. After the capture of Island Number Ten, General Pope was ordered to Pittsburg Landing with his command. When called away, he was preparing to lay siege to Fort Pillow, in order to open the river to Memphis. His success at Island Number Ten had won him much credit, and he was anxious to gain more of the same article. Had he taken Fort Pillow, he would have held the honor of being the captor of Memphis, as that city must have fallen with the strong fortifications which served as its protection.
The capture of Island Number Ten was marked by the only instance of a successful canal from one bend of the Mississippi to another. As soon as the channel was completed, General Pope took his transports below the island, ready for moving his men. Admiral Foote tried the first experiment of running his gun-boats past the Rebel batteries, and was completely successful. The Rebel transports could not escape, neither could transports or gun-boats come up from Memphis to remove the Rebel army. There was a lake in the rear of the Rebels which prevented their retreat. The whole force, some twenty-eight hundred, was surrendered, with all its arms and munitions of war. General Pope reported his captures somewhat larger than they really were, and received much applause for his success.
The reputation of this officer, on the score of veracity, has not been of the highest character. After he assumed command in Virginia, his “Order Number Five” drew upon him much ridicule. Probably the story of the capture of ten thousand prisoners, after the occupation of Corinth, has injured him more than all other exaggerations combined. The paternity of that choice bit of romance belongs to General Halleck, instead of General Pope. Colonel Elliott, who commanded the cavalry expedition, which General Pope sent out when Corinth was occupied, forwarded a dispatch to Pope, something like the following:—