Corinth, settled seven years prior to the civil war just east of the surveyed intersection of the Memphis and Charleston and the mobile and Ohio railroads, expanded rapidly, by 1861 both railroads were in operation; the population had increased to 1200; five churches, a college for females, at least three large hotels and numerous businesses had been established, and many fine homes graced the area.
During 1961 Corinth was a mobilization center for troops moving to Pensacola. Fla., Mobile, Ala. and Virginia. After the capture of Fort Donelson all confederate troops west of the Alleghenies and from the Trans-Mississippi area were ordered to Corinth to protect Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston's second line of defense (the Memphis and Charleston railroad).
Federal forces, meanwhile, were concentrating at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., Corinth's river depot, in preparation for an attack on the rail junction. Although the Trans-Mississippi armies had not reached Corinth, Johnston decided to strike grant before the federal armies were united; consequently CSA forces left Corinth April 3, 1862, and by April 6 were in position to attack. The two-day battle, named for Shiloh Chapel, ensued. USA Gen. Buell arrived during the night. On the second day the confederates were forced to withdraw to Corinth; but, Grant did not pursue.
Following the Battle of Shiloh, Corinth was a vast hospital center. churches, residences, hotels, warehouses and the college were filled with wounded: and more troops died of sickness and disease than were killed at Shiloh. Prior to the march on Shiloh Gen. Bragg had begun extensive inner and outer field fortifications surrounding the town. Work on these was vigorously renewed. After the arrival of the Trans-Mississippi armies, Beauregard commanded an aggregate force of 112,092; but due to sickness and a high desertion rate, the effective strength was under 90,000.
After Shiloh, Halleck superseded Grant, the federal armies of Ohio, Tennessee and Mississippi, numbering 128,315 effectives, burrowed their way toward Corinth taking over a month to cover 20 miles. Declining battle, CSA Beauregard performed the greatest hoax of the war. While giving the impression he was being reinforced, he slipped away to Tupelo. The federals occupied Corinth (their prime objective) and immediately began extending the double line of fortifications. By October the city was better fortified than any other in the south. The huge federal army was broken up and spread throughout northern Mississippi, western Tennessee and northwestern Alabama. Halleck was ordered to Washington in July; and Grant was again the commanding general. In September we moved to Jackson, Tenn., leaving Rosecrans in command at Corinth.
Confederates Van Dorn and Price determined to retake Corinth despite its strong defenses. On October 3, 1962, they attacked and drove the federals from the outer defense lines back to the inner batteries. Next day Hebert's troops broke the federal lines in two places on the northwest and penetrated the town to the railroad junction. There they encountered federal reserves and hand-to-hand fighting ensued. USA batteries Phillips and Williams reversed their cannons and shot into the melee forcing CSA withdrawal. On the west, Price's brigades stormed battery Robinett, capturing it on their third assault. Again the cannoneers at Battery Williams saved the day for the federals; and the confederates retreated.
Corinth was partially destroyed and abandoned by the federals in January, 1864. Later the same year Confederate John B. Hood used the city as a supply base for his army which was attempting to draw Sherman from Georgia.
Since Corinth was occupied at all times during the war by either confederate or federal troops, at least 200 generals were stationed in or near the city and over 100 skirmishes and/or raids occurred in the area, Corinth witnessed more military activity and strategy than any other town in the confederate west.