The 63rd Ohio and the Struggle for Battery Robinett
Lying in a hospital bed with a severe wound sustained while defending Battery Robinett, Captain Christopher E. Smith of the 63rd Ohio struggled to describe the carnage he had witnessed on October 4, 1862 at the Battle of Corinth. “Our regiment [63rd Ohio] went into the fight with 250 men, out of which number 30 were killed and 82 wounded. Out of my company, two were killed and eleven, including myself, were wounded,” he noted. “The enemy made three distinct charges upon the battery which we were supporting and were repulsed each time; the last time, however, not until one man, more desperate than others, had succeeded in planting a Rebel flag on the battery, but it did not remain there long.”
The nature of Smith’s wound was such that the Ohioan resigned his commission December 15, 1862. The 63rd Ohio as part of Colonel John Fuller's Ohio Brigade was located within Battery Robinett during the battle and was at the epicenter of some of the most brutal fighting of the engagement. "The Ohio brigade was posted here and well they held their ground, not giving an inch, but standing manfully to their work dealing death to the Rebels with a lavish hand," wrote one veteran of the 27th Ohio. Captain Smith's short letter describing Corinth appeared in the October 17, 1862 edition of the Pomeroy Weekly Telegraph.
October 8, 1862
Could I do so, I would be glad to give you a minute description of the battle of Corinth on the 3rd and 4th instant. I can only tell you what I saw, with a small sprinkling of what I heard. On the night of the 1st instant, our division, commanded by General David S. Stanley, encamped on the Tuscumbia River, five miles from Corinth. At 2 a.m. on the 3rd we received orders to march as soon as practicable for Corinth. At 3 a.m. we commenced moving, but owing to the condition of the road, we were obliged to halt until daylight, at which time we pressed forward as rapidly as possible. Before sunrise, the cannon commenced booming in a northwesterly direction from Corinth. We heard it was the Sixth Division of the Army of the Tennessee engaged with the Rebels. We continued moving in the direction of the fighting to the northwest of Corinth, until 11 o’clock when the Second Brigade of our division was ordered up to support Davies’ division, which was said to have been worsted in the engagement, having been outflanked on both wings, the fighting continued at intervals until about an hour before sunset when it ceased.
At 9 p.m., our brigade [27th, 39th, 43rd, and 63rd Ohio regiments] was ordered up to relieve Davies’ division. To make the matter intelligible, I must describe the position. On the east and west sides of Corinth is a low ridge running north and south. We had two batteries of heavy guns on the west ridge, one rather behind the other, ranging in a northerly direction; on the east ridge we had several batteries at right angles with those on the west ridge. At the left of the battery in front on the west ridge was posted the 43rd Ohio; at the right of the same battery was posted the 63rd Ohio for its support; on our right was the 39th and 27th Ohio Regiments. I understand the batteries on the east ridge were supported by Davies’ Division.
The enemy having got some artillery into position on the same west ridge during the night, not over 400 yards in front of us, opened on us at daylight and continued to play on us until sunrise with some effect, they having our range. When the cannonading ceased, we expected an assault, but nothing occurred except the firing of sharpshooters, some of which we could see in the trees in front of us. The position of the enemy was hidden by the woods until a few minutes before 10 o’clock, when our skirmishers were driven in by a simultaneous and desperate charge being made upon all batteries. The enemy made three distinct charges upon the battery which we were supporting and were repulsed each time; the last time, however, not until one man, more desperate than others, had succeeded in planting a Rebel flag on the battery, but it did not remain there long.
|The Confederate dead lined up for burial in front of Battery Robinett after the battle of Corinth. Colonel William Rodgers of the 2nd Texas lays at far left propped up against a tree stump.|
On the right, the Rebels were successful in capturing one of our batteries, turning our own guns upon us and at one time were in the town. Hamilton’s division, which was held in reserve on the right, soon came to the rescue and the enemy was repulsed with terrible loss. What the loss was on either side I have no means of knowing, and the manner in which the various regiments fought I will leave for the commanding general to describe in his official report. Our regiment [63rd Ohio] went into the fight with 250 men, out of which number 30 were killed and 82 wounded. Out of my company, two were killed and 11, including myself, were wounded. Our forces are still pursuing the enemy; they are said to be commanded by Price and Van Dorn.
|The tattered early war colors of the 63rd Ohio list their battle honors for New Madrid, Island No. 10, Iuka, and Corinth.|
Letter from Captain Christopher E. Smith, Co. C, 63rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, Pomeroy Weekly Telegraph (Ohio), October 17, 1862, pg. 2
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