What I love about writing historical fiction is that I get to dramatize the little things that I dredge up in my research. Reading the after action reports on Corinth and heavy note taking I often find little things that tie people and events together. One of them is from the 63rd Ohio’s report and that of Major General Price and Captain Hoxton regarding a mishap that occurs early on the morning of October 4, 1862 in front of Corinth.
General Price was desirous that any and all advantage be gained from the position the Confederates occupied almost surrounding Corinth, close up to the town and under the cover of woods and ridges that shielded them from the incomplete defensive works Rosecrans had ordered built to command the Mobile and Ohio rail line, the Memphis road, the Chewalla road, and the cross point of the Memphis and Charleston rail line; a series of fortified positions that were spread out 800 yards apart containing heavy caliber cannon. Rosecrans never suspected that these would be the positions he’d have to use to defend the town with from a numerically superior force but that the outer former Confederate works would be.
The ground around the town and the cover allowed Price and Van Dorn to marshall their divisions close to the Union positions without being subject to artillery fire. Hoxton and several other batteries were ordered to take positions upon the ridges to the northwest of the town and before first light begin to shell the town and anything that they could engage, as the battle was to be initiated at first light.
Hoxton’s section under the command of Lieutenant Tobin was busily moving his section into place when two companies of the 63rd Ohio blundered into them. Companies B and G were ordered to buttress the skirmishers of the 27th Ohio of Fuller’s Ohio brigade and to push up the Chewalla road up to the trees and ensure that they controlled the road. The two companies were just as surprised as Tobin was to run into the enemy, only that running into a battery in the blind was a prize seized too easily.
Tobin’s section lost a gun and himself and his bugler as prisoners of war and the two companies were soon beset by Price’s skirmishers and the troopers of the 7th Tennessee cavalry who nearly bagged the whole lot themselves.
It is the little anecdotes like this that I love envisioning and dramatizing through the use of historical characters doing what they would have done. This little episode will be features in the third novel of the Shiloh Series, Iuka to Corinth.
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