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From the Diary of Clara Solomon:

The Battle of Shiloh

 

Clara Solomon


Tuesday, April 8th, 1862

7 A.M. ...[Yesterday morning, while] sitting down here on the sofa, writing my history, the sounds of "Extra Delta", "True Delta", & "Picayune" fell upon my ears. Simultaneously must it have fallen upon that of many others, for such a slashing & crashing of windows, slamming of doors, whistlings & "hurryings to & fro" convinced me of the fact....

...[This newspaper article was written] 5 miles from Monterey [Tennessee] & dated April 5th, & read as follows:

Our army is advanced to within 5 miles of the enemy's line -- Skirmishing has taken place all the morning -- There is no probability of a fight to day as the enemy shows no disposition to advance. But the battle must certainly take place tomorrow by the advancing of one or the other party. P.S. -- Sunday, April 6th A.M. -- Fighting has commenced!

This left us in great suspense & we momentarily expected to hear something thro' the day & I was so very nervous. Nothing was heard until 2 [p.m.] when A. [my sister Alice] sent home an Extra.... Hark to the soul-stirring news it contains:

Battle of Monterey. Glorious victory -- Corinth, [Mississippi] Apr. 6th -- The great battle for some days anticipated commenced at sunrise this morning by our attacking the enemy all along the line. We have captured a large number of pieces of artillery, & killed great numbers of men. The battle is still raging with tremendous violence & everything indicates a glorious victory. The enemy was surprised. Let's all rejoice.

General Beauregard 4 P.M. The battle commenced at 6 this morning. We have taken camp after camp, & battery after battery. The slaughter was immense on both sides -- The battle is still raging furiously. Cheer after cheer rending the air as our men advanced -- Later -- The battle is still raging. The enemy has been driven back to within 3 miles of the Tenn. river. Many prisoners have been taken. The slaughter is immense. [Confederate General Pierre Gustave Toutant] Beauregard, God bless him, is wherever the fight is hottest & hardest. He says he has the enemy, & will make a sure thing of it. Our loss in killed & wounded will be heavy, but the men are fighting bravely & gloriously. We shall capture the entire army of the enemy.

5 P.M. -- The enemy are in full flight -- We have thousands of prisoners. It is a glorious and complete victory -- Beau. says it is better than [the Battle of First] Manassas. He calls it the battle of Shiloh from a place on the river, near the engagement. Gen. A. Sidney Johnston, I deeply regret to say, is among the slain. [Union General Benjamin] Prentiss has been taken prisoner. 'The WA. [Washington Artillery] in the fight'. Your noble WA. were in the engagement & fought bravely. Two are among the slain & others wounded. N.O. [New Orleans] should rejoice over this victory as it has been won by her generals & her men.


This was sufficient tidings to awaken feelings of the most intense joy even in the hearts of those in whom the flame of patriotism is not brightly kindled. We had achieved a glorious victory over the vandal hosts, one which probably will do much to decide our destiny, for can you imagine the sentiment which would have pervaded our city had it proved a defeat. The despondent would have grilled entirely & we would have been constrained to discern truth in the assertion of the croakers that "we were gone".

The Battle of Shiloh at Pittsburg Landing

Beauregard will live forever in the hearts of his countrymen & future generations will be taught his right to their love & gratitude. He will arise the second Washington, the second preserver of his country....

...This morning the paper states:

The day is ours. We have achieved a glorious victory. Our loss is supposed to be 1500 killed, enemy's 3 times that number -- It was the hardest fought battle ever on this continent....

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The Battle of Shiloh (or Pittsburg Landing) began on the morning of April 6, 1862, when the Confederates under the command of General Albert Sidney Johnston caught General Ulysses S. Grant's troops off guard near the Tennessee River in southern Tennessee. While leading a charge, Johnston was wounded and killed that afternoon and his command was passed to General Pierre G. T. Beauregard. On the following day, the Federal forces rallied and by late afternoon Beauregard's weary soldiers retreated towards Corinth, Mississippi. This battle was the greatest ever fought on American soil to that date, resulting in the Federals' loss of more than 13,000 troops, and the Confederates' loss of more than 10,000.


The Civil War Diary of Clara Solomon: Growing Up in New Orleans, 1861-1862, edited by Elliott Ashkenazi, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, LA, 1995, pp. 321-322.

Images: Clara Solomon care of Alice Dale Cohan; Major General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, from a carte de visite; detail from the pencil sketch "The Battle of Shiloh at Pittsburg Landing, TN, 4/6-7/1862" by Lieutenant Francis Titcomb, Alabama Artillery (from The Smithsonian Institution's American History Museum, photo by CNO).

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