the Diary of Clara Solomon:
and Friends Lost in the Battle of Shiloh
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,
...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
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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