Voice from the Past: “Terrible Tales of the Scenes in Corinth”

In honor of Shiloh’s sesquicentennial, we bring you the following voice from the past. Taken from the April 9, 1862 diary of Kate Cumming, it recounts the battle’s deadly aftermath.

…The train was filled with wounded. All told terrible tales of the scenes in Corinth, which only served to make us more miserable. We have had a frightful battle. It was fought on the 6th and 7th inst. The first day our army drove the enemy back near the Tennessee River, within range of their gunboats. On the second they were heavily reinforced, and we retired. Nearly every state in the Confederacy is draped in mourning for the loss of their loved ones, and the whole country has to weep over the death of the good and great general, Albert Sidney Johnson [Johnston], who was in command. His loss is a sad one. His place can not be easily filled. I have been told that it was his death that caused the last day’s failure. He had planned the battle, and there is no doubt that, had he lived, he would have succeeded in executing it successfully. He has died the death of a soldier and conqueror, battling for the right. He is doubly a martyr, as he had not only the bullets of the enemy to contend with, but the shafts of envy which were hurled at his fair fame by his own countrymen. They say that he was wounded while recklessly exposing himself. But, ere his noble spirit took its flight, he had the proud satisfaction of seeing the enemy driven back in dismay and confusion. May his soul rest in peace! It has gone where it will be judged, not as man judges, but by the heart alone. Let his faults lie with him in the grave; be it our duty to do honor to his many virtues.
General Gladden of Louisiana is mortally wounded; Colonel Blythe of Mississippi is killed. Mobile has to mourn the loss of some of her bravest and best — Major Armstead, young Maguire, Anderson, Marshall, Spear, Burns, Cummins, Herpin, Ledyard, and others, are names never to be forgotten…

Source: Cumming, Kate. “Diary of Kate Cumming, April, 1862,” in Kate: the Journal of a Confederate Nurse edited by Richard Barksdale Harwell. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1998.


Image Credit: Frank Leslie’s Famous Leaders and Battle Scenes of the Civil War.

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