“He charged the fort three times,” says collector Allen Wandling in his interview with WTVA’s Allie Ware. “[He did so] twice with his horse, and the last time he picked up the Texas flag, he had his sword in his hand. He charged the fort and was shot 11 times.”
“He” was Colonel William Peleg Rogers (1819-1862): “During the fall of 1862 the Confederate attempt to retake northern Mississippi and western Tennessee hinged upon Gen. Earl Van Dorn’s ability to use his army of 22,000 southerners, including the Second Texas Infantry, in dislodging Gen. William S. Rosecrans’s firmly entrenched force of 23,000 men at Corinth, Mississippi, the region’s most strategically vital railroad hub.
“On the morning of October 4 an impatient Van Dorn called for a series of headlong frontal attacks against the enemy’s heavily fortified position. Colonel Rogers’s divisional commander, Gen. Dabney H. Maury, who later described the Second Texas Infantry as ‘one of the finest regiments I have ever seen,’ ordered Rogers to lead the vanguard of the assault on Battery Robinett, a small fort anchoring the center of the Union line. After one bloody repulse, Rogers led a second desperate charge. Remaining on horseback in the face of a barrage of cannon and musket fire, and finally carrying the regimental colors himself, Rogers reached the deep trench fronting Battery Robinett, dismounted, and led several hundred Texans and Alabamians down into the trench, up the steep embankment, and into the fort. Suddenly federal reinforcements closed in from both flanks. Rogers shouted, ‘Men, save yourselves or sell your lives as dearly as possible.’ A few seconds later he was struck by multiple rifle shots, killing him instantly.”
After the battle, Union General Rosecrans ordered that Rogers’ burial be attended with full honors, which was normally reserved for Confederate general officers.
In the immediate aftermath of the battle, Rogers’ sword and scabbard had been stripped from his body by Union souvenir hunters. This past weekend, they returned to Corinth for the first time since the battle as part of the Corinth Civil War Relic & Militaria Show and Sale at the Crossroad Arena.
We have yet to hunt down an actual image of the sword, but will add it as soon as we find it.