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From the Diary of Clara Solomon:

Family and Friends Lost in the Battle of Shiloh


Clara Solomon

Clara describes her mixed thoughts and feelings after the Battle of Shiloh (or Pittsburg Landing), the greatest battle to date, fought on April 6-7, 1862. Though the losses of the Confederacy were fewer than those of the Union, historians consider the battle a Union victory, as it resulted in the Confederates' retreat.


Tuesday, April 8th, 1862

...when A. [my sister Alice] came home we had ample food for conversation. Ate dinner [--what we call "lunch" today was often called "dinner" during the Civil War--] & went to School. Employed my time in working my sums. The joy felt on the reception of the news of the battle was accompanied by sorrow almost as intense. For how many brave & noble sons had been sacrificed upon the altar of liberty. But does not our cause demand it.

My heart ached as I looked around & saw the many occupied seats. Many awaiting either to hear the confirmations of the fears respecting dear relatives & friends, while to others the suspense was ended, the sad tidings had been communicated. I felt as though I ought to have had some one in the fight, that my victory was too easily gained, & then I wished to be with some to console them in their time of woe. Every face bore as sorrowful an expression & then did I realize this slaughter of human lives—this, this is war; war, with all its horrors.

My thoughts went to poor Jo [Josephine (Pierson) Hews], & the conflict that was raging in her bosom. I was satisfied that [her husband] Ed was safe, for were he not & being an officer, the news would have been received. No private telegraphs are allowed to be sent, as the lines are appropriated by the government. Mrs. S. [Shaw] was very tearful & Mr. L. [Robert M. Lusher, Superintendent of the Louisiana Normal School] gave permission for the early dismissal of School. I was informed that there would be no graduation of the Seniors this year, but the six girls who had passed the most creditable examinations would be promoted from the Jr. to the Sr. Oh!...that Examination is the spectre which haunts me "in my sleeping or my waking, my pleasure or my pain". I will not be one of the lucky ones....

Met Ma & A. going out. I went over to Mrs. N. [Sarah Nathan's house]. Mr. N. [Sammy Nathan of the "Crescent Artillery," a militia unit] was very tired as the entire Confederate Reg. had been marched a distance of 20 miles to suppress a mutiny among some soldiers.

[I learned that] Capt. Wheat [brother of our acquaintance Major Roberdeau (Robert) Wheat of the 1st Louisiana Special Battalion] fell in the engagement [at Shiloh]. The dear Major's brother! With his wealth of affection & love, how ardent must have been his for a brother. It was but the other evening that Mrs. C. was talking to us of him, & describing his beautiful eye. Alas! the long silken lashes forever droop over the magic blue eye of the noble son of Louisiana.

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. 322-323.

Image of Clara Solomon care of Alice Dale Cohan.


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