Home What's New Contribute
IAGenWeb Project

Iowa History

       An IAGenWeb Special Project


Join the IAGenWeb Team



Annals of Iowa

  Volume Il, No. 1,
Des Moines, Iowa City,
April 1895, Third Series


By The Rev. William Salter, D.D.

Pages 2-20


(First Paper)


John Murray Corse was born April 27, 1935, in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The Corse family were of French Huguenot stock originally from the island of Corsica. 

Major General John Corse John Lockwood Corse, the father of General Corse, was a native of Dover, Delaware, and was born March 5, 1813; he was the son of Hanson Corse, and grandson of Captain John Corse, a soldier of the Revolution.  He learned the carriage making business in Philadelphia, where he married Sarah, daughter of John Murray, whose family was related to that of John Marshall, Chief Justice U. S.  She was a woman of superior worth, blending grace and strength of character in fine proportions. Soon after their marriage they removed to Pittsburg, Penn., where their son was born.  They subsequently resided in St. Louis, Mo., and Belleville, Ill., and in 1842 came to Burlington, Iowa Territory, where Mr. Corse was a prominent citizen all his life. He was a man of industry, enterprise and public spirit, and was engaged for many years in the book and stationery business. Enjoying the respect and confidence of his fellow citizens, he was six times chosen mayor of the city, viz: in 1845, 1846, 1856, 1857, 1866 and 1867, and also served several years as one of the aldermen. He was representative from Des Moines county in the Second General Assembly of that State 1848-50, and in the Fifth General Assembly, 1854-1856.  A warm personal friend of the Hon. A. C. Dodge, United States Senator from Iowa, that gentleman, in 1853, secured an appointment to the United States Military Academy for his son, then eighteen years old.

Mr. James Love, now of Berkeley, California, gives the following reminiscences:

"I first knew the General as a boy in 1853, his father bought Mr. J.F. Abraham's bookstore in the spring of that year. He was a handsome boy; we roomed together for a while over the store.  He had been employed at J. F. Tallant's drug store, and his recollections of the business were not alluring, preparing unsavory tinctures, grinding paints, pounding the heavy iron mortar, or spending hours in the cellar mixing putty. He liked the book business, was fond of study and said that reading fiction seemed a waste of time. He had a large self-esteem, would make speeches before a glass, wrinkle his brow, practice gesture, and told me more than once that he hoped to become prominent in politics. His father was much of a politician, familiar with public men and measures, an ardent democrat, as John was all his life."

At West Point young Corse gave especial attention to mathematical studies and artillery practice, and won proficiency in training and drill. But a cadet's life was not wholly congenial, and after nearly two years at the Academy he resigned and was employed as clerk and afterwards as partner in his father's business. The following year, December 23, 1856, he was married to Miss Ellen Edwards Prince.  They had been pupils together in the school of Mr. David S. Sheldon, a superior teacher, who was afterwards a professor in Iowa College and Griswold College at Davenport. She was a niece of Mrs. Edwards whose husband, James G. Edwards was the founder of "Hawk Eye." She had been brought up in his family, and had been a student in the Monticello Seminary, near Alton, Ill., and a teacher in the North Hill public school in Burlington. A lady of native refinement and grace, she combined the quick intuition of a gifted mind with sweet reasonableness of temper and judgment, and made an ideal home in the dignity and repose which her bright and pure spirit enshrined within it.


Subsequently Mr. Corse was in partnership in a land office agency with Mr. A. T. Hay, since famous for his invention of the "Hat Steel."  In 1859 he served as one of the school directors of Burlington, and took an interest in raising the standard of public education.  He read law in the office of C. Ben Darwin, and attended lectures at the Albany Law School, N.Y., and on the 17th of April, 1861 was admitted to the bar of Des Moines county.


In the political agitation that followed the repeal of the Missouri-Compromise Mr. Corse was an ardent supporter of the policy and measures advocated by Stephen A. Douglas. He was nominated by the State Democratic Convention upon the Douglas ticket for the office of Secretary of State, in the presidential election of 1860; but the vote of Iowa went to Mr. Lincoln, and the republican candidates for state offices were elected.


Upon the outbreak of the rebellion Burlington was in a blaze of excitement. Two military companies were at once organized in that city. They were enlisted for three months. They left Burlington on the 7th of May for the seat of war in Missouri, and bore a brave part in the battle of Wilson's Creek on the 10th day of August, fighting after their term of enlistment had expired. Meanwhile young Corse had offered his services to the War Department at Washington. In the month of June he issued the following advertisement: 


"I am authorized by the War Department to organize "amounted battery for service during the war."

I want one hundred and fifty active, tough, and intelligent men: Seventy-five for drivers, seventy-five for cannoneers, artificers, buglers, etc.
John M. Corse"

This proved to be the nucleus of the First Battery Iowa Light Artillery, which was mustered into service at Burlington on the 17th of August, and was famous for its valor at the battle of Pea Ridge, and in many other engagements under the command of Captain Henry H. Griffith.


At the same time three regiments of infantry were rendezvousing at Burlington. They were wanted for immediate service in the field, and much solicitude was felt for their efficient organization. In company with Mr. T. W. Barhydt, now president of the Merchant's National bank of Burlington, Mr. Corse visited Governor Kirkwood, at Des Moines, who appointed him Major of the Sixth Iowa. The regiment was mustered into the service of the United States on the 17th of July, and embarked on the 3d of August for Keokuk, where a detachment of the regiment was at once sent to reinforce Colonel Moore at Athens, Mo., who had been attacked by a rebel band under Colonel Martin Green. The rebels, however, had been defeated before the arrival of the detachment upon the scene. That was the first Union victory of the war. 


The people of Missouri were divided in sentiment; a majority were loyal, but the "secesh" were more noisy and spirited. In addition to the regularly organized rebel forces, bands of guerillas and bushwackers roamed in every direction, waylaying the friends of the Union, plundering their homes, and obstructing the movements of Union troops by burning bridges, destroying railroads, and wrecking trains. During the fall of 1861 the regiment was employed in guard and garrison duty at railroad bridges, and at Jefferson City, Tipton, Sedalia, and other places, and was with General Fremont in his rapid march from Tipton to Springfield the last days of October. From December 14, 1861, to February 1, 1861, Major Corse was provost-marshal at La Mine Cantonment, and subsequently served as Inspector-general on the staff of General Pope, for three months, first in the district of central Missouri, and afterwards in the Army of the Mississippi. During the winter the regiment was on garrison duty, six companies at Tipton, four companies at Syracuse. Soon after the capture of Fort Donelson, February 15, 1862, the regiment was ordered to St. Louis, and thence by steamer to Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee. Meanwhile Major Corse served with General Pope in his energetic and victorious campaign against New Madrid and Island No. Ten, and had charge of the over six thousand prisoners that were captured. After proceeding down the Mississippi with the object of attacking Fort Pillow, General Pope's army was withdrawn at a point seven miles above the Fort under orders to reinforce General Halleck at Corinth. While these events were transpiring, the Sixth Iowa was at Shiloh in the thickest of the fight on the first day of the battle, April 6, 1862, where this regiment held the extreme right of Sherman's advance line near a bridge over Owl creek, and held the position till all support had been driven back, when it retired through a murderous fire, still fronting the enemy, and dealing upon him heavy blows. Of the 650 men of this regiment who went into the engagement, the casualties were: 64 killed, 100 wounded, 47 missing.


Major Corse arrived at Pittsburg Landing with the army of General Pope on the 22d of April. General Pope took part in the siege of Corinth, where the enemy was strongly entrenched under Beauregard. Soon after the battle of Farmington, a small town four miles east of Corinth, May 9, 1862, Major Corse was relieved of staff duty, at the request of General Sherman, and promoted May 21st, Lieutenant-Colonel, and given command of his regiment. Referring to that occasion years afterwards in a letter to an old comrade, he said:

"Never shall I forget the warm welcome you gave me on my return from Pope's staff, the day Sherman was drilling you on the Shiloh field. My joy was only tempered by the thought how many brave men had but a few days before laid down their lives for the great cause. That was a gallant fight at Shiloh, and how proud we were that the Sixth held its own that livelong day and was part of the little band that saved Grant's army"

After the evacuation of Corinth by the rebels, May 29th, the Sixth Iowa was sent with a detachment of the army on a reconnaissance in northern parts of the state of Mississippi. Near Coldwater it had a skirmish with rebel cavalry under Forest, July 2d. From Holly Springs the regiment marched to Memphis, reaching that city July 24th, and was employed in guard duty during the rest of the summer and most of the fall.


In November the regiment marched with the forces under General Grant in pursuance of the plan he had then formed to move overland upon Vicksburg. The movement proved unsuccessful, and was abandoned for one by the river.


Lieutenant-Colonel Corse was promoted Colonel on the 29th of March, 1863. During the siege of Vicksburg the regiment occupied a position at Haines' Bluff, upon the Yazoo river, ready to keep off any rebel force that might appear in that direction, or to assist the invading army at any point needing assistance.


Immediately upon the surrender of Vicksburg the Sixth Iowa moved with the expeditionary army of General Sherman in search of the rebel army under General J. E. Johnston. The regiment crossed the Big Black river July 6th, supported the Forty-eighth Illinois in driving the rebels from Queen's Hill on the 7th, and marched to within four miles of Jackson on the 8th and 9th, where the enemy was strongly entrenched. Colonel Corse was places in command of the skirmishers of the First Division Sixteenth Army Corps. In reporting their operations, he says:

I was ordered to move on the enemy's works along our entire front for the purpose of ascertaining the strength and position of their batteries."

After describing the disposition he made of his troops consisting of the Sixth Iowa, Fortieth and Forty-eighth Illinois, Ninth-seventy Indiana, and Forty-sixth Ohio, and describing the heroic services of the four last named regiments, he continues:

"I assumed command of the line formed by the Sixth Iowa Infantry, and at the designated signal the men dashed forward with a shout, met the line of the enemy's skirmishers and pickets, drove them back, capturing eighteen or twenty, and killing as many more; clearing the timber, they marched out into the open field across the railroad, over the fence, up a gentle slope, across the crest, down into the enemy's line, when two field batteries of four guns each, fronting west, opened a terrific cannonade.  The enemy were driven from two pieces at the point of the bayonet, our men literally running them down. In rear of the batteries were two regiments, and at our approach they opened fire, causing most of the casualties in this regiment. With such impetuosity did the line go through the field that the enemy, so completely stunned were they would have fled had they not been reassured by a large gun battery nearly six hundred yards to our right, which enfiladed the railroad line of skirmishers. Startled at this unexpected obstacle, which was now in full play, throwing its this unexpected obstacle, which was now in full play, throwing its whirlwind of grape and canister about us until the corn fell as if by an invisible reaper, I ordered the bugler to sound the "lie down." The entire line fell in the corn rows, and I had the opportunity to look around, knowing my men were safe. On my right and front I saw two more guns projecting through embrasures in direct range and in my front was a field battery of four guns, from two of which the gunners had fled, and my men were lying around them.  In their rear I saw to flags and a line of men, I supposed about two regiments. On my left was another field battery and another line of men.

To pass through the batteries, cross the regiments in our front, ascend the hill and get inside their main works was more than I could accomplish with the slender, yet gallant line lying on my left and right. Feeling that I had obtained all the information I could I ordered the "rise up" and "retreat," which was done in the most admirable manner under the fire of at least three regiments and seven guns, three of these enfilading my line. But few of those who had so gallantly charged the battery got back. I cannot speak in too extravagant terms of the officers and men of the Sixth Iowa on this occasion. They obeyed my commands with a promptness and rapidity I could hardly have expected from them on a parade.  If they challenged my praise at the impetuosity of their advance, they awakened my admiration at the coolness with which they retired, returning the incessant firing of the enemy as they slowly fell back."

The general commanding the division issued the following congratulatory order:

"Headquarters 1st Division 16th A. C., In Front of Jackson Miss.,

July 16, 1863.

Colonel Corse, Commanding Sixth Iowa Infantry:


The valor of your noble regiment has been conspicuous, even amidst the universal good conduct that has marked the operations of all the troops of the First Division during our advance upon Jackson, and since our arrival here.


I cannot too highly commend the gallantry you have displayed in the successive charges you have made. The true heart swells with emotions of pride in contemplating the heroism of those who, in their country's cause charge forward under the iron hail of half a dozen rebel; batteries and exposed to a murderous fire of musketry from behind strong entrenchments, capture prisoners under their very guns.


Such has been the glorious conduct of the Sixth Iowa this morning; and those who shared your dangers and emulate your valor will join me in tendering to you and the brave men under your command my warmest thanks and most hearty congratulations.

Most truly yours,

William Sooy Smith

Brig. Geb. Commanding First Div., Sixteenth Army Corps."


The enemy evacuated Jackson the following night and the Union forces occupied the city the next day. During the month of August Colonel Corse was stationed at Oak Ridge, to scour the country on the northeast of Vicksburg, and guard against raids by the enemy's cavalry, who were hovering about Black river. "Don't collect cotton," said General Sherman, "Unless it is in your way; don't make it the object of an expedition." He was authorized to supply destitute families with necessary provisions, and also to organize a batch of negroes who collected around him into a kind of outlying picket.  Writing in a vein of pleasantry to General McPherson, in command at Vicksburg, a few weeks later, General Sherman said: 

"There are about one hundred negroes fir for service enrolled under the command of the venerable George Washington, who mounted on a sprained horse, his hat plumed with the ostrich feather, his full belly girt with a stout belt from which hangs a terrible cleaver and followed by his trusty orderly on foot, makes an army on your flank that out to give you every assurance of safety from the exposed quarter. Should, however, the "secesh" be rash enough to gobble up that picket I still think we could survive the loss, for behind then is General Buckland's picket of four companies."
General William T. Sherman, Union Army

On the 11th of August, Colonel Corse was appointed Brigadier-General, on the 21st took command of the Fourth Brigade, Fourth Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, and on the 1st of September took temporary command of the Fourth Division, as intimated in the following from General Sherman:

"Sherman's Headquarters
August 30, 1863."


Colonel Corse, Oak Ridge:


I send this morning for the two prisoners claiming to belong to Pinson's regiment. I contend the confederates must uniform their combatants, else the non combatants must suffer the legitimate fruits of the war.


My orders are out for the merging of your brigade with the Second and Third of the Fourth Division, and as soon after the 1st of September as Buckland can relieve you by a brigade you will take command at Messinger's.


The Fourth Division at this time consisted of the following troops: 6th Iowa, 26th, 40th, 48th, 90th, 103rd  Illinois, 15th Michigan, 12th, 97th, 99th, 100th Indiana, 46th, 53rd, 70th Ohio, and companies F and I 1st Illinois Light Artillery, with Cogswell battery, Illinois Artillery. Pursuant to orders from General Grant, September 28the Fourth Division moved to Vicksburg for transportation to Memphis.  To facilitate transportation the First Brigade was employed to haul wood for use of the steam boats to the river bank at Griffith's Landing. Low water impeded navigation. October 10th General Sherman wrote General Halleck from Memphis:
"My Fourth Division is not all up yet, and in consequence of the constant interruption of the railroads I will cause it to march all the way, relieving it of baggage by the railroad. Every mile of the railroad, save a few fortified points, can be cut by the enemy any night.  The enemy is vastly superior to us in cavalry who retire before us, but come back the instant possession is withdrawn."

The next day General Sherman and staff left Memphis by rail with with a small battalion of regulars. Eight miles out they passed Corse's division on the march. At Collierville, twenty-four miles out, they found General Chalmers with his rebel cavalry demanding the surrender of the post. General Sherman got his men off the cars in time, and sent messages to hurry forward Corse's division. Afterwards the rebels cut the wires, tore up rails, opened with artillery, and knocked to pieces the locomotive and some of the cars. Fighting continued for three or four hours, when "we observed," says General Sherman in his Memoirs, "signs of drawing off, which I attributed to the rapid approach of Corse's Division, which arrived about dark, having marched the whole distance from Memphis on the double quick." General Corse, on hearing the distant roar of guns and guessing the cause, had directed his men to strip themselves of blankets and knapsacks. His movements are explained in the following dispatches:

"Germantown, October 11, 1863

Major-General Hurlburt Memphis:


I have just loaded a battery and a regiment on the train you sent and started three regiments and another battery by the road to Collierville. As fast as the balance of the command arrives they will push on to Collierville.







"Collierville, October 12, 12:00 M.


It was the trains from Corinth that came down this way to La Fayette, but turned back on hearing the firing and spread the report that I was gobbled up. General Corse is here with one Brigade, and his other Brigades close at hand. I think I will try and make Chalmers feel he cannot attack us unpunished. We gave him more than he expected yesterday, and will try to treat him so that he will remember it as long as he lives. All well with us now."



La Fayette, October 12.


"Arrived here safe, several trains here from the east; will push them forward at once, road all appears clear. Tomorrow will be a good day to load the trains with forage and rations, and send to us. Sent General Corse's Division (at 11 o'clock) to Mt. Pleasant; he will be there tonight and swing around to La Grange or Saulsbury."



"La Grange, October 12, 3:30 p.m.


I advise you two days before I left that the true move was for you to send a brigade to Byhalia, and I understood that it was done. I cannot turn Corse back to Byhalia. I must move my division forward to the Tennessee river at once."


Circular Orders Brigadier- General Corse, Headquarters Fourth Division, Fifteenth Army Corps:

Collierville, Tenn., October 12.

This command will move immediately on the Mt. Pleasant road. the Third Brigade in advance, the Second Brigade in the center.


The division train will go between the Second and First Brigade.


The First Brigade will follow in rear of Division and furnish necessary guards for division train.


Colonel Cockerill, commanding Third Brigade, will throw out flankers and skirmishers, and take all necessary caution against surprises, and will camp at or near Mt. Pleasant, wherever water can be had.


"Mt. Pleasant, Miss., October 12, 1863

This command will move on the LaGrange road. The Second Brigade in advance will clear the road by daylight. The First Brigade will follow thirty minutes after. The Third Brigade will close up the rear, taking charge of division train and furnish a strong guard.


The attention of brigade commanders is called to the necessity of using every precaution to prevent the indiscriminate firing that characterized the conduct of the troops this day."



"Corinth, October 13.

I am now here. Chalmers attacked me at Collierville, but I repulsed him. Corse's Division marched from Memphis same day, and hearing the enemy's cannon hurried, and the leading Brigade reached me at dark, after the enemy was gone. I sent the whole Division in pursuit, and I hear they had fighting last night and this morning at Mr. Pleasant.



Saulsbury. October 14, 1863.

"In consequence of the rain I cannot make Corinth before day after to-morrow; roads very slippery. Division all right. Spooner is with me with three of his regiments. The other two are with Sweeney." 



Corinth, October 15.

" All right; come along in good order, and without too much haste.



Pocahontas October 15.

"The roads are execrable. Troops much wearied, but I will try and force three brigades into Corinth by to-morrow night.  The rear brigade in charge of the Division train will have to remain here to-night, as the bridges across Muddy are very bad." 



Pocahontas October 15, 4:00P.M.

"After the most arduous labor I have got Spooner across the Muddy, and he will camp across the Hatchie to-night. Cockerill will camp on this side; it will be impossible to get Hicks and Loomis across the Muddy to-night.  Three little bridges on the causeway over the Muddy is the occasion of all the trouble. The bridge across the Hatchie at Davis is destroyed. Hence why I cross here." 



Corinth, October 15.

"Don't fatigue your men. There is no urgent necessity for your arrival here to-morrow. Keep all in good order, and make the march according to the road and weather. We are at work ahead, and can put in the time by pushing forward our stores to Iuka."



Pocahontas, October 16.

"Spooner crossed last night. I ordered him to go to Corinth to-day. Cockerill crossed this morning early, and one of his wagons broke the bridge. I have just got it repaired. Hicks is now crossing. Loomis will cross soon, and we will be in to-morrow. I will wait till the last is over." 



Corinth, October 18.

"Corse got here last night." 


Headquarters 15th Army Corps:

" Iuka, October 20, 1863."

"General Ewing, commanding 4th Division will take command of all matters in and near Iuka. (The Division halted at Iuka for a week and partly built a fort.)


He will dispatch General Corse with one regiment and three days' rations in wagons, to Eastport to reconnoiter, and with instructions to collect forage and meat: to find and collect at Eastport all boats in and near the mouth of Bear Creek, and secure them for our future use. At or before the end of three days General Corse will report to these headquarters the result of his observations.

By order of

Major-General W. T. Sherman." 




"Headquarters 4th Division 15th A.C., Department and Army of the Tennessee:

Waterloo, Alabama, October 28, 11:00 a.m.

"I crossed here last night with Cockerill's Brigade: I move with it immediately to Gravelly Spring where Corse promises to close on us this evening. To-morrow at daylight I will move with the two Brigades to Florence, and at dark start a messenger to General Grant. The passage of the Tennessee proves more tedious than anticipated." 



"Headquarters 4th Division, 15th A.C.

Elk River, November 5, 1863.

"The river is nor formidable for loaded teams, but will be by morning. Corse has found a lower ford, which I will try, but doubt if we can get our wagons over this evening. I have ordered Corse to strip his infantry and wade over with two days' rations, and can put them into Athens by the hour designated, 9:00 a.m. to-morrow." 



"Headquarters in the Field 4th Division, 15th A.C.

Trenton, Ga., November 18, 1863.

"The head of my column reached here at 10:30 a.m.  I have camped the rear Brigade on the mountain overlooking the town: Cockerill and Corse in town. We threw a few shells at some cavalry, who retreated down stream. Distance by the route we came, Gordon's Mills, 23 miles: road steep and good. I have sent down to communicate with Hooker's pickets. Should have been here last night, but waited for rear to close up." 


On the 15th and 16th of November General Sherman conferred with General Grant at Chattanooga, and was assigned his part in the coming drama.  His command was to make a lodgment on the terminus of Missionary Ridge, where the enemy under General Bragg was strongly fortified, but first a demonstration was to be made against Lookout Mountain near Trenton.  The latter movement was a feint to distract the attention of the enemy by creating the impression that Lookout was to be attacked from the south. General Sherman ordered Ewing's division, to which this work was assigned, to be prepared to turn quickly, and follow him to Chattanooga.


The "Official Records of the War of the Rebellion" afford a graphic account of the march of events. They are contemporary documents, which are always the most reliable materials for the making of history.  The following extracts are from Series I, Vol. 31, Part 2 -- Reports:

" On the 18th (November) Cockerill's Brigade, followed by that of Corse, descended and drove out the enemy. Two Brigades of Stevenson's Division, under General Brown, came down Lookout by the Nickajack trace and threatened us, but marched back at dusk.  -- General Ewing, p. 630."


"Bridgeport, November 18.

"The Fifteenth Corps is destined for Chattanooga for offense, but an object is gained by threatening Trenton, as though this corps meditated to attack the enemy on Lookout by ascending at Trenton; but as soon as the other Divisions have passed Whiteside's I will send you order quietly to retire and follow the other Divisions. In the meantime act as though you were the head of a strong column waiting for the rear to close up. By this device the enemy will strengthen that flank and weaken the other, of which we propose to take advantage. Do what you can to accomplish this end, using the head of your column, but leaving the rear at the head of the mountain by which you descend to Trenton, and make plenty of fires on the mountain, as though a heavy force were collecting behind you.   Be ready to reverse your column to move via Whiteside's and Wauhatchie, to Chattanooga. -- p. 584.



Trenton, Ga., November 19, 11:00 a.m.

"Loomis built ectensive fires on the edge of the mountain last night which showed well. Corse camped above town, looking up the valley. -- p. 584" 



Trenton, Ga., November 19.

"You will take position near Johnson's Crook Gap, sending a detachment to show its head on the top of Lookout Mountain, and a second, half way up the ascent, both to demonstrate by fires, chopping, etc. taking care not to be cut off. Your main force with the artillery front up stream, covering your communications with Trenton and your detachment. Feel well in all directions with mounted men, and fall back on the 1st brigade (Loomis) if necessary.-- p. 585" 



"On the 19th Corse moved up the valley 15 miles, drove the 9th Virginia through Johnson's Crook, up and over Lookout Mountain, leaving a strong detachment, the 6th Iowa and 46th Ohio, on the summit, and camping his main force in the valley. At night extensive fires were built at the two gaps on Raccoon, on Lookout. In the Crook, in the old camp of Corse and the camps of Loomis and Cockerill."


"On the 20th the 4th Tennessee Cavalry ascended from McLemore's cove to drive the Union troops from the mountain. General Corse charged them with forty mounted infantry, led by Captain Nunn, supported by infantry, and drove them beyond their camps in the Cove, in flicking a heavy loss in killed, wounded and prisoners, and capturing arms, horses and equipment.-- pp. 630, 631, 638.



Chattanooga, November 20, 1863.

"To-morrow morning I had first set for your attack. I see now it cannot possibly be made then, but can you not get up for the following morning?  Order Ewing down immediately, fixing his time for starting so that the roads and bridges will be full all the time.  I see no necessity for his moving by a circuitous route, but you can bring him as you deem proper, reflecting that time is of vast importance to us now that the enemy is undeceived as to our move up to Trenton.



Trenton, Ga., November 20..

"Our pickets camped on the summit of Lookout at Johnson's Crook Gap last night, and mounted scouts felt out over the mountain, but as far as heard from found no enemy. Corse drove a few up the mountain last evening. The enemy were watching us all day yesterday from Lookout.  We have spread out boldly, and made an impression, I think, with little risk. Deserters and refugees say that our force "in the valley and back on Raccoon" is estimated at 30,000. U intended Corse to seize the pass boldly, but to draw back if attacked in force. I had great lines of fires on Raccoon last night, representing an army corps at least, and made a fine show in the valley. ..pp. 586-7." 



Trenton, Ga., November 20..

"If the enemy approach in any force, draw your detachment quickly down the mountain, and, if followed, fall back on Loomis, who has orders to move to you if attacked. Our purpose is not to bring on an engagement. Keep a bright lookout in all directions. Set parties to work at once to undermine and destroy the stocks and machinery of all iron works in your vicinity, but do not burn or blow up: do it without noise. --p. 587.



Trenton, Ga., November 21, 12:40 a.m..

"Your dispatch received. The detachments of Corse are ordered in. The Division will move at daylight with all possible dispatch. The train and rations will be promptly attended to.." 



near Chattanooga, November 21.

"Every available man fit for duty in the 15th Corps, now present, will at once be prepared for an important movement. Each man will carry a blanket or overcoat, three days' cooked rations, and as near 100 rounds of ammunition as possible including that in cartridge boxes.  The camps and transportation will be left in charge of those unfit for duty.  The ambulances will follow their respective divisions as far as the river, but await further orders before crossing. --pp. 588-9.


"General Corse left the mountain on the morning of the 21st, and marched down the valley a distance of 20 miles, the leading Brigade camping within the lines of Hooker, and the rear below Nickajack Gap. This was a very difficult march.  It rained during the day and night before, swelling the mountain streams so that the men were compelled to wade in the water waist deep, and the roads were very muddy. pp.631-638." 



Chattanooga, November 22.

"Owing to the late hour when Ewing will get up, if he gets up at all to-night, and the impossibility of Wood's researching in time to participate to-morrow. I have directed Thomas that we will delay yet another day. -- p.39.




Chattanooga, Tenn., November 22.

"The bridge at Brown's Ferry (at the base of Lookout) being down to-day, and the excessively bad roads since the last rain, will render it impossible to get up either of his two remaining divisions in time for the attack to-morrow morning. p.40" 



Camp Opposite Chickamauga, November 23.

"I received your letter and immediately made the orders for the delay of twenty-four hours. I need not express how I felt that my troops should cause delay.  But Ewing is up. No cause on earth will induce me to ask for longer delay. We will move at midnight, and I will try the Missionary Ridge to-morrow morning in the manner prescribed. -- p. 41


"The 23d was spent by the chief officers in examining the plan of battle and studying the ground from the heights.


On the 24th the 15th corps crossed the Tennessee in boats at the mouth of the Chickamauga. -- pp. 630-631"


Chattanooga. November 24, 1:00p.m.

"Sherman's bridge was completed at 12 m., at which time all his force was over except one division. That division was to cross immediately, when his attack would commence.  Your forces should attack at the same time, and either detain a force equal to their own, or more to the left to the support of Sherman, if he should require it. --p. 43." 


"At 1 p.m. we marched from the river in three columns en echelon, the left, Gen. Morgan L. Smith; the center, Gen. John E. Smith; the right, Gen Ewing.  A light drizzling rain prevailed, and the clouds hung low, cloaking our movements from the enemy's tower of observation on Lookout. We soon gained the foot hills, and at 3:30 p.m. we gained with no loss the desired point. We found ourselves on two high points with a deep depression between us and the one immediately over the tunnel, which was my chief objective point. -- Gen. Sherman, p. 573."


"On this day (24th), the position of the brigade commanded by General Corse was upon the right of the division, and numbered 920 effectives. The brigade took possession of the first range of hills in front of Missionary Ridge with but little resistance, the enemy, some 200 or 300 strong, retiring hastily and in disorder behind his batteries on the main ridge. In the evening the enemy threw a few shots from his guns, which were soon silenced, leaving the brigade to rest for the night in quiet. -- p. 636"



Chattanooga, Nov. 24.

"You will attack the enemy at the point most advantageous from your position at early dawn to-morrow morning, 25th inst. -- p. 43.


"The sun had hardly risen on the 24th before General Corse had completed his preparations, and his bugle sounded "the forward." The same bugler with the same bugle that sent the six hundred forward at Balaclava sounded the advance of Corse's brigade. This bugler was Jimmy Burk, of the 15th Michigan Infantry. The line advanced to within about 80 yards of the entranced position, where General Corse found a secondary crest which he gained and held. To this point he called his reserves, and asked for re-enforcements which were sent, but the space was narrow, and it was not well to crowd the men, as the enemy's artillery and musketry fire swept the approach to his position, giving the enemy great advantage. As son as General Corse had made his preparations he assaulted, and a close, severe contest ensued, lasting more than an hour, gaining and losing ground, but never the position first obtained, from which the enemy in vain attempted to drive him.  The fight raged furiously about 10 a.m. when General Corse received a severe wound the was knocked senseless by a cannon ball that fractured his right leg above the ankle, and was brought off the field, and the command of the brigade of the assault at that key point devolved on that fine, young, gallant officer, Col. Walcutt, of the 46th Ohio, who filled his part manfully. He continued the contest, pressing forward at all points."


"Col. Walcutt's report adds the following particulars:

 At 7 a.m. Gen Corse gave orders  for the 40th Illinois, Major Hall and Companies A.F. and B. of the 103rd. Illinois, under Major Willison, to be deployed as skirmishers, with the 46th, Ohio, under my command, in reserve, for the purpose of charging the enemy intrenched on the ridge between us and Trenton Hill. This charge the General led in person, driving the enemy before him and finally from his works to the protection of his guns on the opposite hill. After the brigade had taken position on this ridge, our cager General gave orders too, was led by our gallant General. The advance was sounded, and the several lines rushed over the brow of the hill under a terrific fire.  Being in easy canister and musket range, it seemed almost impossible to withstand it, but so eager were the men to take the position that they charged through it with a fearlessness and determination that was astonishing. In this charge our brave General fell badly wounded. Once only did the line waver, and that was when he was being borne from the field, but they were soon rallied. I must say of Gen. Corse that he is one of the bravest and best men I have ever saw, and an Officer of distinguished ability. He enjoys the highest confidence and respect of every man in his brigade, and that he is not dangerously wounded, and will soon return to us is our greatest satisfaction. -- pp. 636-7."



Chattanooga, Tenn., Nov. 25, 1863, 7:25 p.m.

"Although the battle lasted from early dawn till dark this evening, I believe I am not premature in announcing a complete victory over Bragg. Lookout Mountain top, all the rifle pits in Chattanooga Valley and Missionary Ridge entire have been carried, and now held by us. I have no idea of finding Bragg here to-morrow. -- p. 25"



President Lincoln sent, Dec. 8, 1863, a congratulatory letter to Gen. Grant. Congress voted a gold medal to him, and a resolution of thanks to him and to the officers and soldiers who fought under his command, and a resolution of thanks to Gen Sherman and the officers and soldiers who served under him for their gallant and arduous services in marching to the relief of the Army of the Cumberland, and for their gallantry and heroism in the battle of Chattanooga, which contributed in a great degree to the success of our arms in that glorious victory.


General Corse did not recover his consciousness until the following morning, November 26, when he found himself in a hospital. In his "Personal Memoirs," vol. 2, p. 77, General Grant says: "Corse, a brave and efficient commander, was badly wounded in this assault."   In the course of two weeks he was removed to his home in Burlington and gradually recuperated in season to take part in the great campaign of 1864 under General Sherman.



back to History index