On the morning of October 4, 1862, nearly 20,000 Confederates under Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn launched a massive assault on Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans' 20,000 Federal soldiers defending the interior line of Corinth's entrenchments. Attacking from the north and northwest, the Confederates breached the Union line at Battery Powell. A fierce street battle developed as rebel fought yankee from house to house as the fighting pressed into town.
Here in front (north) of the Tishomingo Hotel, (depicted in the left center of the painting), several hundred Arkansans from Chales W. Phifer's and John C. Moore's Confederate brigades, who had managed to slip past heavily defended Battery Robinett, located to the northwest, joined the Missourians and Mississippians of William H. Moore's Confederate brigade, who had fought their way south from Battery Powell to reach the crossroads. For a brief, triumphant moment the Confederates held the vital rail junction. However, Rosecrans' Federals soon rallied to repel them.
Colonel John V. Du Bois' Illinois brigade, initially driven south beyond the Memphis and Charleston Railroad, hastily reformed to spearhead the Union counterattack. Pressing past the Tishomingo Hotel, the Federals swarmed northward across the tracks to collide with the Confederates occupying the railyard. Colonel William H. Moore (mounted in center of painting) was shot down and killed near the depot, as Du Bois' charge hurled the Southerners back into the town square. Thousands of Union troops, located to the east and west, soon joined the counterattack and converged their fire onto the square.
Overwhelmed by the massive Federal reserves, the Confederates in town were caught in a deadly crossfire. Captain Edward H. Cummins, a Confederate staff officer, sadly reported, "Our lines melted under their fire like snow in thaw." Heavily outnumbered, the Southern troops were driven from the town in disorder, and scores of men gave themselves up rather than run the deadly gauntlet back to their own lines. By early afternoon, Van Dorn's army was in full retreat. The Confederate offensive on the strategic Corinth railroad junction had been defeated. For the numbers engaged, the two-day battle was one of the wars bitterest fights. Union losses totaled 2,359, and Confederate 4,838.
*The flag in the center of the painting is the flag of the Confederate Army of the West, also known as the Van Dorn Corp pattern flag. A red flag, edged with yellow fringe, bearing a yellow crescent in the upper corner next to the staff, with 13 yellow stars distributed on it.