Corinth, Ms And Shiloh, Tn: Planning A Civil War Historical Vacation

This article discusses the Civil War historical significance of Corinth, MS and Shiloh, TN, and planning a trip to that area.

Often, when people think of Civil War historical sites, Gettysburg, PA or Appomattox, VA come to mind. Other Civil War enthusiasts may think about the battlefields at Manassas, VA, the Wilderness, or other sites. If Mississippi is mentioned, the Battle of Vicksburg immediately comes up.

However, two of the most important sites of the early Civil War battles are those at Shiloh, TN and Corinth, MS. Corinth is about 20 miles from Shiloh and both sites figured prominently in the early years of the war. Confederate Gen. Albert Sydney Johnston housed a large garrison of troops in Corinth, and they marched north to Shiloh in April, 1862, to stop the Union advance.

Corinth and Shiloh are linked by proximity, and also by purpose. Two railroad lines intersect in downtown Corinth. In 1862, these were the primary means of moving men and materiel in and out of the South. The army controlling that vital rail intersection controlled that side of the war. The Battle of Shiloh was Johnston's attempt to keep the Union forces out of Corinth, away from that rail intersection, and off that end of the Tennessee River, as well.

The battlefield at Shiloh is on a bluff overlooking the river, and is sometimes called the Battle of Pittsburgh Landing, since that was the name of the ferry landing there. The battle, however, takes its most frequently-used name from the church in the area "" the congregation is still active, and the church was used as a battlefield hospital.

Shiloh Military Park houses a National Cemetery, bookstore and museum, as well as the majority of the battleground area. The battleground is marked with tour stops, detailing the action that went on at each point. Visitors can visit the museum, see a short film about the battle and pick up a map listing all the stops on the tour. The tour is suitable for driving or bicycling "" it is a little long to walk all in one day, although it could be broken into a couple of days. The park admission is good for seven days, so the visitor can go back to anything he missed the first time around.

The battlefield is beautifully maintained and its rural setting means that visitors experience a quiet serenity that seems somehow appropriate, considering what happened there.

Park officials are extremely knowledgeable about the battle, and the area in general, and can recommend more historical sites, the Tennessee River History Museum nearby, or a good place to eat in Savannah, TN, Corinth or Iuka, MS.

Savannah is about seven miles from Shiloh, and has the usual assortment of fast food restaurants. About 15 miles to the west is Adamsville, home of the late Sheriff Buford Pusser of "Walking Tall" fame. There is a museum in Adamsville dedicated to his memory.

Twenty-five miles or so to the south of Shiloh is Corinth, MS. Corinth is still a small town, but is growing. The city has a history steeped in Civil War lore and the visitor is sure to find numerous sites of interest here.

Corinth is also home to a National Cemetery and a new Civil War Interpretive Museum that operates as a branch of the Shiloh Military Park. It is built around the area of earthworks built by Union soldiers after they finally occupied the town, to withstand the Confederate onslaught. Battery Robinett, as this one was called, provides an excellent setting for the museum. Admission is free and the visitor can walk through a series of galleries explaining the history behind the Civil War, Corinth's role and what the town was like under occupation. Excerpts from diaries and letters are used to personalize the experience. There is an extensive research library at the museum, along with a book and gift shop.

Corinth also boasts many antebellum homes, some of which were officers' headquarters during the Civil War. Downtown features stops for a Civil War walking tour, and visitors can pick up maps at the tourism office. Corinth also has an intact, thriving downtown, and many of the buildings were standing at the time of the battle, or were built shortly after the war. Don't miss Borroum's Drugstore, the oldest in the state, and the old-fashioned soda fountain there.

There are several locally-owned restaurants to suit every taste, and the usual fast food suspects on U.S. 72, south of town. However, downtown Corinth offers many delights, not the least of which are beautiful homes and churches surrounding the square.

Visitors can also see the Corinth Depot, and the famous rail line intersection that made the town such a strategic goal during the Civil War.

A visitor could stay in a chain hotel in Corinth "" there are several "" but seeking accommodations in one of the town's bed and breakfast inns is a good way to stay. The General's Quarters is in two houses and features a hot tub, beautifully restored rooms and a tasty breakfast. The Samuel D. Bramlitt House is another area B&B noted for its beauty, good food and warm hospitality. The home was built in 1892 and has also been restored.

Corinth sits on U.S. 72, the main road east from Memphis. It is a pleasant 90-minute drive from Florence, AL, and the historical sites and good shopping there, and about two hours or so from Memphis. Shiloh is more rural, but since it is within easy driving distance of Corinth, this is not such an issue.

The Shiloh/Corinth area may not be the most-visited Civil War sites, but they are well worth a trip, for the Civil War history, or for a weekend away.

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