by Earl Echelberry By the end of the winter campaign of 1861-1862, Union Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had shattered the Confederate defenses in northwest Tennessee with a combined land and water attack on Forts Henry and Donelson, forcing General Albert Sidney Johnston to abandon his bastion at Nashville and retreat southward. Johnston eventually halted the retreat and began to concentrate his forces at Corinth, Miss., a key railroad junction just south of the Mississippi-Tennessee border. From there he would be able to protect the Memphis & Charleston Railroad while plotting his next countermove. At Corinth, Johnston reinforced his army with 10,000 troops under Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg, coming up from western Florida, and 5,000 more from New Orleans under the command of Brig. Gen. Daniel Ruggles, swelling his army to some 44,000 men. Meanwhile, President Jefferson Davis sent General Pierre G.T. Beauregard west to assist Johnston as his second-in-command. The Next Phase of the Federal Offensive The Confederate withdrawal caught the Federals by surprise, and it took some time to initiate a new offensive. Army politics reared its ugly head after the victories at Forts Henry and Donelson, and the victor of those battles—Ulysses S. Grant—was supplanted by Maj. Gen. Henry Halleck, commander of the newly formed Department of the Mississippi. To make matters worse, Halleck gave Grant’s old command, the Army of the Tennessee, to Maj. Gen. Charles F. Smith, who had no exper


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