Waiting for a battle that didn’t come; but suffering disease that did.
On Friday, the 2nd of May, our division commenced the movement toward Corinth. We advanced seven miles without meeting the enemy. A general engagement was confidently expected, and the regiment was under orders to be ready for action at a moment’s notice.
It is now a standing order for the men to have three days cooked rations in haversacks, as we were liable to be called into action at any moment. Canteens were filled with water. Surgeons always accompanied us with a full supply of instruments for operating among the wounded.
All eyes were now turned in the direction of Corinth. The army, the people, in fact everybody expected that a desperate battle would be fought, and that its results would tell largely toward the future course of the war. But the country seemed to settle down upon the conclusion that Beauregard and his entire force were within the grasp of Halleck, that it would be impossible for him to get away, and that Halleck was waiting his own time to seize upon the coveted prize.
Time passed wearily along, and on the 17th of May our columns were again heading toward Corinth. Our division continued to advance until 8 o’clock p.m., when the lines were formed, and the troops then slept on their arms till morning. In our front was an immense cotton field, more than half a mile wide, and beyond there was a dense forest, extending to the rebel lines. When the works were completed, a camp was selected some two hundred yards in the rear of them. We were now under standing orders to wear our accoutrements day and night, and no man able for duty was permitted to be without them.
On Saturday, the 31st, Wood’s division marched into town, which was almost deserted by the inhabitants, who left with the southern army. Large quantities of commissary stores remained, such as flour, salt, beef, molasses and peas.
(Northern Mississippi, May, 1862)
Excerpts taken from “Annals of the Fifty-Seventh Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry: Marches, Battles, and Incidents of Army Life” written by Asbury L. Kerwood immediately after the war.