||Battle Flag of the 18th Alabama Infantry
By Virgil Robinson
Special to Booneville OnLine
The Union army occupied Corinth and the Confederate army was beginning
to reorganize at Tupelo, Guntown and Baldwyn. However, the withdrawal from
Corinth was slow and stretched out over many miles. On May 30, General
Beaureguard at Reinzi, having learned of the attack
on Booneville had ordered the remaining troops to go via Blackland,
the road through Booneville being too dangerous. The Eighteenth Alabama
Infantry was bringing up the rear at Blackland.
At Farmington, on June 4th, 1862, Colonel Washington L. Elliott and
Colonel Phillip H. Sheridan readied their respective units, the Second
Iowa Cavalry and the Second Michigan Cavalry, the "Twin Seconds" as they
were beginning to be called. With Colonel Edward Hatch commanding, the
brigade with four guns from Powellís battery set out to scout the Rebelís
Henry Mortimer Hempstead of the Second Michigan recorded in his diary
the events of the day:
"A short rest has put us in fighting trim again, and this
morning our brigade with a four gun battery were ordered out, my horse
being still unfit for duty not having recovered from the effects of the
raid (Booneville). I borrowed one from one of our sick men.
Captain Marshall P. Thatcher, in his book A Hundred Battles in the West,
wrote in 1885:
"We passed the fortification of Corinth which appears to have been
strong and passing below Reinzi leaving Booneville to the west of us we
struck the enemy at or near Blackland. We drove their rear across a deep
muddy creek, dismounted and deployed through a thick swamp, our battery
taking a position behind the creek opened a brisk fire which was soon replied
to by a battery of the enemy, which opened so near us that we thought it
was our own guns but were soon undeceived and attempted to penetrate to
the battery but found it supported by a force far exceeding our own and
reserves constantly coming up.
"We were ordered back, on approaching the creek we found we were
in some danger as the bridge was swept by their battery and we, being the
last to cross, were ordered to tear up the bridge. I stopped and aided
by Corporal Daníl Murdock and Henry Woodruff, we soon stripped the plank
from several feet of the bridge and then fell back.
"Two men of the Iowa Regt. were struck by a cannon shot near the
bridge, one of them was not quite dead and he was put in an ambulance and
carried back. The other we left for our enemies to bury. We then repaired
to the place where we left our horses and I found mine lying dead with
a six pound shot through his body.
"The balance of the horses with the men had gone, and after a hard
run of a mile or two, I caught the command. When Capt. Dickey sent one
of the men forward to the Iowa Regiment and procured the horse of one of
the men who were killed, which I gladly mounted, we returned unmolested
to camp with the loss of four killed, five or six wounded and two or three
captured. Rumor fixes the enemyís loss at thirty killed and forty-six wounded.
"With my horse, I lost my fatigue suit, canteen, (which was struck
by the shot and so large a hole made that the "commissary" whiskey which
I was carrying for the company all leaked out) and my haversack with rations
was also left."
"On the fourth of June we passed the still smolders fires
of Booneville, and saw the ground covered with shot and unexploded shell
thrown from the cars, the explosions of which it is said led the Confederates
to believe that they were attacked in force, and it really did sound like
a fierce engagement with artillery and musketry. Had they but known we
were a mere handful; had we but know how near we were to Beaureguardís
main army, how different the result might have been for the 'Twin Seconds!'
Thatcher also wrote about the Blackland battle:
"A very close call was that for Colonel Sheridan, who, when
the enemy opened with shell, had his hat knocked from his head by a piece
of broken shell, and as an orderly handed it up--'Rather a close call,
Stephenson' -- was his only remark, and few were aware how near we came
to losing our Colonel at the beginning of his career."
Reverend Edgar W. Jones in his "History of the 18th Alabama Infantry Regiment-CSA"
"Preparations were going on to vacate Corinth. The enemy
had been too badly punished to push on in a hurry, hence we had considerable
time to prepare for our departure. One thing we did to fool the Yankees.
We got any number of small black-jack trees and put them on old wagon wheels,
having blackened the ends so as to make them look like the ends of cannon.
"After everything was in readiness we started on the retreat to Saltillo
and Tupelo, Miss. The enemy followed, but only once did they make an assault.
This was near a small village called Blackland. The 18th was in the rear
when the enemy made a dash upon our rear guard. The 18th faced about and
received the enemy with a volley which caused them to retreat in confusion,
leaving three or four dead and wounded. No one was hurt in the 18th.
"For this act of gallantry, the general ordered that Blackland be
inscribed on our flag just under Shiloh (See photo above). The 18th
had the distinction of being the only infantry engaged in the spirted little