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In The Life of Albert Sidney Johnston, page 525, it is recorded: 'After the Battle of Pea Ridge, General Van Dorn was ordered to Corinth.'  Bentonville, Arkansas is about 300 miles from Helena (on the Mississippi River), and the battle concluded on March 8, 1862. Calculating an easy pace of fifteen miles per day, Van Dorn's force could have reached Helena by March 28... taken steamers to Memphis, arriving by March 31st... then train ride on the Memphis & Charleston, arriving at Corinth April 2-4. So, why didn't they?

Apparently, much of the 'Van Dorn was ordered to Corinth' (the claim appears in Beauregard's Military Biography, page 346, too)... is a sham. But, let's start at the beginning: the first letter sent to General Earl Van Dorn, requesting he 'join his force with General Beauregard's on the Mississippi River, if possible,' was sent via Governor Isham Harris on March 7, 1862 (while the Battle of Pea Ridge was underway.) [OR Serial 8, page 771]  Van Dorn replied on March 16: 'Your letter did not reach me until just a few days ago, on my return from the battlefield. I will start in a day or two for Pocahontas, Arkansas.' (OR Serial 8, page 784) [No obvious sense of urgency, because no haste was requested -- Ozzy.]

On March 25, Albert Sidney Johnston reported to President Davis: 'Van Dorn has offered to send his force north to assist in the defense of Island No. 10, but I ordered him to Memphis.' [OR Serial 11, page 361]  Meanwhile, Van Dorn directed his Army of the West to assemble at Pocahontas... then Jacksonport... then Des Arc, Arkansas (a port on the White River.) By early April, the gathering of Van Dorn's force was underway; Earl Van Dorn issued 'Special Orders No. 41' on April 7, directing that Sterling Price's Division commence the steamboat ride to Memphis on the morning of April 8 (and Van Dorn made the trip to Memphis, himself, and arrived about April 8... in time to receive the first message that expressed any urgency: 'General Beauregard requests that you hurry forward your command.' [OR Serial 11, page 398: message from Captain John Adams, post of Memphis, dated April 8, 1862.]  On April 9, General Beauregard telegraphed to General Cooper at Richmond: 'Van Dorn may join us in Corinth in a few days with 15.000 more troops.' [OR Serial 11, page 403]  On April 12, Sterling Price told Van Dorn: 'I have sent Colonel Little's Brigade to Corinth, and General Rust's command to Fort Pillow, by order of General Beauregard.' [OR Serial 11, page 414] [What this indicates to me, is the effort to defend the Mississippi River was as important to General Beauregard as the assembly of Rebels at Corinth. And the 'slow movement' of Van Dorn east allowed an opportunity to re-direct Van Dorn north... but the opportunity for Van Dorn to join the build-up at Corinth in a timely manner (before the Battle of Shiloh) was lost -- Ozzy.]  

In effect, Van Dorn had no opportunity to join the Army of the Mississippi, prior to the Battle of Shiloh: he was not tardy; he was never told to hurry, until it was too late.

 

Ozzy

References:  Life of Albert Sidney Johnston, by Preston Johnston

The Military Operations of General Beauregard, by Alfred Roman

OR Serials 8 and 11

 

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As we know, after his defeat at Pea Ridge, Arkansas (also known as Elkhorn Tavern) Major General Earl Van Dorn of the Trans-Mississippi was requested to support the forces of General Albert Sidney Johnston in Tennessee… but there was no apparent urgency in the request. Van Dorn arrived at Memphis about 8 April 1862 and stopped at The Gayoso House.

Also in Memphis was Mrs. Mary Ann Webster Loughborough, whose husband James, was a Captain on the Staff of Brigadier General Cockrell. Mary Webster of New York married James Loughborough in Kentucky a few years earlier; then the couple moved west and established themselves in St. Louis, Missouri (and subsequently gravitated towards the Rebel cause.) In early April 1862 Mrs. Loughborough wrote the following letter to a friend, revealing the presence of notable Confederates in Memphis:

Gayoso House, Memphis, April, 1862.

 

My dear J——:

 

I am just in from dinner; and you would be amused to see the different faces—I might as well say the different appetites; for the Army of Missouri and Arkansas have been undergoing rigorous fasts of late; and the little episode of the battle of Elkhorn and the consequent privations have helped not a little the gaunt appearance of these military characters. All eat, eat rapidly; from General V—— D—— down to the smallest lieutenant, whose manner of playing the epicure over the different dishes ordered, is a study. The confidential consultations with the waiter over them, together with the knowing unconsciousness of bestowing his small change, almost convinces me that he is a brigadier-general, or a colonel, at least. You see streaming in constantly this tide of human beings, to eat, stare at the ladies, talk, and order much wine in the excitement of military anecdotes; for you must understand that a civilian is a “rara avis” amid the brilliant uniforms of the dining room. Yet, amid all this mass and huge crowd, the majority are polished gentlemen, who have evidently seen much of the world, and who are men of purpose and character.

General V—— D—— and staff sit not far from me—looked at rather jealously by the Missourians, as ranking and commanding them over their favorite general. Yet, he always treats the old general with the utmost consideration and courtesy. On the other side sits General P——, with his kind, benevolent face. The poor old gentleman finds at the table his lightest reserves become his heaviest forces: nearly all his staff are about him.

And, as I sit half amused at the expression of some faces, and thinking deeply of the mute, yet determined impress of character on others, two gentlemen come in—one in plain citizen’s clothing, with heavy black beard and high forehead—with stooping gait and hands behind him. I am told he is Governor J——, of Missouri. His face puzzles me—it is thoughtful and singular. By his side, with tall, lithe, slender figure, fully erect, walks General J—— T——. You will scarcely think it possible that this is the so-frequently talked of J—— T——. I thought him an ordinary man, did not you? Yet, this is anything but an ordinary man. The keen dark eye sweeps the room as he enters, taking us all in at a glance—a quick, daring, decisive, resolute face. I can make nothing more out of him. Yet, there is more of thought and intellect than you see at first. He is dressed in full uniform, with sword and sash, and has quite a military air.

There are many Saint Louisians here; you see them scattered around the tables quite plentifully. General C—— is among the number. He sits at some distance, and looks quite worn and sad. You know—do you not?—that he is the father of young Churchill Clark, who was killed at Elkhorn. Have I ever told you his history? It is this: He graduated at West Point in the commencement of the war; and knowing and having a great admiration for General P——, he joined him at once: he was put in command of some artillery; and showing himself a youth of courage and ability—for he was only twenty years old—his command was increased. Throughout the constant trials and sufferings of the campaign, he showed himself equal in courage, daring, and judgment, to many older heads. He was particularly beloved by General P——. At Elkhorn, as ever, his battery sustained itself with coolness and bravery. As the general rode by, he said some cheering words to young Clark, who took off his cap and waved it, saying, “General, we will hold our own,” or words to that effect, when a ball sped from the enemy, and crashed in the young, ardent brain as he spoke.

I have been told that the general was affected to tears. He knelt by his side, vainly seeking for some trace of the strong, young life, but the pulses were stilled forever; and Churchill Clark lay a stiffened corpse in the long, wet grass at Elkhorn. And so his father sits silent and alone, and all respect the grief that none can assuage.

In a few days we leave. The gentlemen all go to Corinth, where a battle, in all probability, will take place before long. Fort Pillow can hardly hold out, under the daily bombardment that we hear from the gunboats; and if it falls, Memphis, on taking leave of the Confederate officers, will usher in the Federal to quarters in the Gayoso.

 

Adieu.

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Since the April 1862 Letter from Mrs. Loughborough seems to have sparked some interest, here is another one, written a few days later by the same author:

Memphis, April.

Dear J——:

Again I write you from the Gayoso House, which still teems with Missourians, and many ladies—some few from St. Louis. General P——’s parlor is filled with ladies from morning until night. I have been told that on one occasion some ladies, who were the reverse of beautiful, were coming in to see him, when he turned to one of his staff officers, and told him that it was his duty to assist him—that here was an opportunity: he must kiss these ladies for him; but the officer was politely deaf until too late.

It is astonishing to see how ladies do flock to see the old general; and all kiss him, as a matter of course. I rode out to the camp of the Missourians with M——, a few mornings since. It is pleasantly situated near the bank of the river. The men seem to be in good spirits; although moving them across the Mississippi has been an unpopular act. The poor fellows are being taken out to Corinth as fast as transportation can be furnished them. The compliment is paid them of being placed in the most dangerous position; for we daily expect an attack from the Federal forces on Corinth.

Would you like to see those you love complimented in this way? You can form no idea of the love and devotion shown by the Missouri troops for their general. I happened to be standing near a window at the end of the hall, last evening, as some regiments passed by the Gayoso on their way out to the depot, bound for Corinth. General P—— stood out on the veranda as they passed by, and shouts and cheers for the old general and Missouri rent the air.

General J—— T—— called on me this morning, and amused me much with some of his adventures in Missouri last winter; among others, he told us of his dash into the little town of Commerce for food. His men were ordered to take a certain amount, lay down the money, and leave. As he sat on a small horse, waiting for them, out came the “heroine of Commerce,” as he called the lady. I have forgotten her name; yet, I think it was O’Sullivan. She walked up to the general, shook her clenched hand in his face, and told him he was a robber and a scoundrel. Her husband pulled her by the arm and tried to make her desist; but she was deaf to his entreaties, standing part of the time on one side of the little horse, and part of the time on the other; first, shaking her clenched hand at him, and then standing, with arms folded, calling him all manner of names. Some of the officers wished General T—— to have her confined to her own house until his departure; but he laughed, and said: “No; let her alone.” She still continued hovering around him, threatening and talking.

He said: “Oh! Mrs. O’Sullivan, you are a modest woman—a very modest woman. Madam, don’t you think your house stands in need of you?” Powerless fell the irony: wherever he went, he was followed by the persistent Mrs. O’Sullivan; stop where he would, Mrs. O’Sullivan was by his side, much to the amusement of his followers; go where he would, up rose Mrs. O’Sullivan unexpectedly at corners—red-faced and bitter—always in the same belligerent, defiant state.

A steamboat was seen coming down the river. General T—— ordered his men to hide behind a woodpile until it came up, expecting to get supplies from it. When they thought themselves disposed out of sight, General T—— raised his eyes, and behold! some little distance up the river, stood the inevitable Mrs. O’Sullivan, violently gesticulating to the boat, and crying, “Turn, turn! J—— T—— is here;” at the same time waving her apron and sun bonnet, in quite a frantic manner. The boat turned indeed; and although the scheme failed, behind the woodpile sat General T——, chagrined at the failure, yet laughing most heartily at the attitude and mal-à-propos appearance of Mrs. O’Sullivan.

The hotel is crowded with military men: many wounded at the late battle of Shiloh, going around with arms in slings; others supported by crutches. The ladies are seemingly having a very gay time: the halls are filled with promenaders, and the parlors with gay young couples, music, and laughter.

Yet, a sudden surprise has come to all: New Orleans has fallen—an unexpected blow to most of the Southern officers. I cannot but think, as I see all the life and bustle around me, of the different scenes a week or two hence, when the fearful battle of Corinth will have taken place. How many that are now happy and full of life, looking forward with confidence to the laurels that may be won, before the struggle is over will be silent forever in death! or, worse, perhaps lamed and maimed for life! General Beauregard’s works are said to be fine; yet, the Federal approaches are said to be greatly superior.

My husband goes to-morrow to Corinth; and I will go to O——, Miss., to await the result of what all seem to think will be a most bloody struggle. I will write on reaching O——; until then, farewell.

 

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Mona

Excellent question... because the above letters, detailing the movement of Van Dorn and Price from Arkansas (ultimately for service at Corinth) are to be found in Appendix at back of My Cave Life in Vicksburg, which was published in New York City in 1864. With the Civil War still in progress, I suspect that author Mary Ann Loughborough attempted to "shield" people and places from unnecessary scrutiny.

For me, it was a surprise to find details of Price and Van Dorn in Memphis... in a book about Vicksburg.

http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/35700?msg=welcome_stranger  My Cave Life in Vicksburg [at Project Gutenberg]

Cheers

Ozzy

 

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