HEADQUARTERS POPE’S DIVISION (LEFT WING,)
Army of the Mississippi, Six Miles North-East of Corinth, Miss., May 14, 1862.
MR. EDITOR: So many rumors are put in circulation in the camps, and so many sensation articles are published by news mongers – of which there are scores in the different divisions of the army – which are totally without foundation in fact, that I am determined to write nothing which is not well authenticated. Many items have already appeared in print concerning the army – or rather armies – for it is published both of the Union and Rebel armies – that are utterly false. The Rebel army has evacuated Corinth – the Union army has occupied – the Rebels have gone to Grand Junction – to Jackson, Mississippi, and the Union army is in full pursuit, etc., with a thousand other rumors equally reliable. Now the truth is that up to the present writing, there is no truth in any of these statements. Both armies occupy nearly the same positions they did three weeks ago. They are drawing a little closer together and skirmishings are frequent between the pickets and outposts; and last Friday one took place, which, in the absence of so numerous an army, might well pass for a battle. Fifteen thousand men were engaged, and the loss to the Federal army was about fifty killed and one hundred and sixty wounded. The Rebel loss is not known, except that one field officer and his horse are known to be killed. Rumor says he was Gen. Bragg. He rode out in front of the rebel line some twenty rods. The 42d Illinois was in the border of the woods, with quite an undergrowth in front of them which completely hid them, they lying flat on the ground, and the Rebel officer seemed to be endeavoring to discover their whereabouts. Two members of company D, of that Regiment cocked their guns, when the rebel officer cried out, “For God’s sake don’t shoot me;” but by the time the words were out of his mouth he fell, and his horse fell on him. I received this from two of company D, 42d Illinois who were wounded in the skirmish. Major Course, of Gen. Pope’s staff, confirms the report. Twenty-six of the wounded were brought into Hamburg on Saturday last. All this took place three days before I came here. Since I came no skirmishing has taken place. All is quiet, and for aught that appears to the contrary to the casual observer, is likely to continue so. But the death struggle will begin soon. Some firing in front to-day. An advance has commenced. Several batteries, with all their camp equipage have passed my quarters to-day to the front.
Our troops are in possession of Farmington – three miles a little north of east of Corinth. The deadly conflict will probably commence to-morrow. From all appearance the preparations are all complete. Our line of battle is sixteen miles long, in the form of a crescent. General Pope is on the left, Sherman on the extreme right, Thomas and Buell occupy the center. General Halleck’s headquarters are at Montgomery near the center. These places do not appear on the maps, nor have I any data from which to locate them accurately. It is reported that General [Mitchell] has been ordered to move down with his force to our left, probably to cut off the enemy’s retreat on the Mobile railroad, or south to Jackson. We shall know in a day or two for the great battle, so long expected is just at hand. Gen. Pope, I think, will be honored with bringing it on. I shall go to the right wing to-morrow.
H. M. ROBERTS
– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, May 24, 1862, p. 1