the Diary of Clara Solomon:
Battle of Shiloh
Tuesday, April 8th,
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.
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
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....
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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