June 1, 1862: Halleck repairs the rails

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Having taken Corinth, an important rail junction, Halleck needed to repair the railroads destroyed by the fleeing Confederates and proceed up the Tennessee River to Decatur, Alabama. Muscle Shoals lay between Corinth and Decatur as an obstacle to river traffic, so rail was the best route, even with the bridges that had to be rebuilt.

From the Official Record:

HEADQUARTERS, June 1, 1862.
Major-General BUELL:

Locomotives and cars at Paducah ordered to be shipped to Florence. Hand cars ordered to be sent here. I am informed that no ferry-boat could be taken over Muscle Shoals above Florence. One might be found or constructed in Upper Tennessee, near Decatur.

Road should be repaired as soon as possible from Columbia to Decatur. If General Mitchel can cross a locomotive and train at Decatur, it would very much facilitate our operations. I am daily expecting a railroad agent here from War Department to direct these matters. He was to report by 1st instant [to-day] without fail.


HEADQUARTERS, Near Corinth, June 1, 1862.
General HALLECK:

If not a good ferry-boat, at least a light-draught steamer can pass the shoals, which would be better than anything that can be made there. Such a steamer, used in connection with a couple of barges, would make a very efficient ferry.
The work from Columbia will be heavy. The bridges over Duck and Elk Rivers are some 600 feet long, besides several other considerable ones.

I have inquired of General Mitchel whether the Chattanooga road cannot be put in order with less labor.


HEADQUARTERS, Near Corinth, June 1, 1862.
General HALLECK:

My Engineer Regiment started this morning to commence work on the bridges near Corinth.

General Wood’s division marches to-morrow morning. One brigade of it will halt, to furnish working parties and guards at the first bridges. The other two brigades will proceed at once to Bear Creek, to commence work there. It will take some time to bridge at Decatur, and an efficient ferry would perhaps answer every purpose.

A commodious light-draught ferry-boat ought to be sent up at once.

I have telegraphed General Mitchel to know whether he cannot transfer rolling stock across to Decatur.


Brigadier-General WOOD,
Commanding Sixth Division:

In compliance with orders from General Halleck, the Memphis and Charleston Railroad from Corinth to Decatur is to be put in order by the troops of this command.

Your division is assigned to the duty and will march to-morrow morning, and will furnish the necessary working parties and guards. One brigade should be left to-morrow at camp on the railroad about 9 miles from Corinth, which will place it about half way between the first and second burnt bridges, and it can aid in the repair of both. The remainder of the division should continue its march to Bear Creek Bridge and halt there until the work at that point is completed. You should march with five or six days’ supplies, or what you now have on hand, if more, and afterward draw from Eastport to you. You will at all times surround yourself by all military precautions against surprise, and will post your command judiciously for defense, intrenching if seriously threatened. It will be best for you to move your camp entire.

Brig. Gen. W. S. Smith is detailed as superintendent of the work, so that your duties will be those only of military commander. You will of course answer promptly General Smith’s requisition for fatigue parties, and will, without further detailed instructions, give all orders necessary to accomplish the speediest repair of the railroad and secure the Government interests. The regiment of Michigan Engineers and Mechanics is engaged on the work for fatigue purposes, but everything else connected with the expedition comes of course under your general direction.

I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel and Chief of Staff.

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