May 30

This Day in History

Civil War

May 30, 1862:

Confederates evacuate Corinth, Mississippi

On this day, the Confederates abandon the city of Corinth, Mississippi. After the epic struggle at Shiloh, Tennessee, in April 1862, the Confederate army, under the command of P.T. Beauregard, concentrated at Corinth, while the Union army, under Henry Halleck, began a slow advance from the Shiloh battlefield toward the rail center at Corinth. Halleck had no intention of taking on Beauregard's army directly; he was more concerned with controlling the railroad junction.

Beauregard was in a difficult position. Halleck, the commander of Union forces in the West, had at his disposal Ulysses S. Grant's Army of the Tennessee, Don Carlos Buell's Army of the Ohio, and John Pope's Army of the Mississippi. With these forces, he had a more than two-to-one advantage over Beauregard.

Nearly a week before the evacuation, Beauregard assessed his situation with his lieutenants. Although he considered the city to be vital to the Confederacy, he also worried that his entire command could be captured or cut to pieces if a retreat was delayed. So he crafted a clever withdrawal from Corinth: His troops deployed a number of logs painted black ("Quaker guns") along his front lines to fool the Yankees into thinking they were facing substantial artillery. Meanwhile, he had his troops cook extra rations and cheer the arrival of empty boxcars to lead the Union troops to believe the Confederates were preparing for battle and receiving reinforcements.

On the night of May 29, Beauregard began slipping his forces out of Corinth. On May 30, the remainder of the army left the city and burned any remaining supplies. Halleck's men entered a deserted Corinth later that day. Although an important city had been forfeited to the Union army, Beauregard's army remained intact and, with it, Confederate hopes in the West.

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