A guest post by LTC Charles R. Bowery Jr., Chief, Doctrine Division, U.S. Army Aviation Center.
During a recent visit to Shiloh National Military Park, I had the opportunity to visit the park’s Corinth Interpretive Center. This beautiful facility is located near the site of Battery Robinett, one of the primary Federal defensive positions around the key railroad junction of Corinth and scene of bloody fighting during the October 1862 battle there.
The award-winning Interpretive Center is an exceptional combination of history, memory, and education about the causes and consequences of the wider Civil War, the war in the Western Theater, and the impact of the fighting on the population of this northern Mississippi community. It uses art, multimedia, and artifacts to tell these stories in an engaging and informative way. The building itself and the reconstructed artillery position call to mind the fortifications that both sides constructed in and around Corinth.
The walkway leading to the main entrance features an outdoor installation entitled “Detritus of Battle,” with bronze replicas of soldier equipment scattered on the pavement, walls, and surrounding grass.
This display culminates in a wall-size depiction of soldiers moving to battle on the double-quick.
The museum tells the story of Corinth as a growing railroad town, and then as a strategic crossroads. The carved adjutant’s field desk of the 76th Ohio Infantry and the distinctive battle flag of the 6th Missouri Infantry (C.S.) are among the artifacts on display. A reconstructed army supply boxcar also highlights why Corinth was so hotly contested in 1862.
Corinth was also the site of one of the largest Contraband Camps in the South. The Interpretive Center highlights the town’s place in African-American emancipation and examines the war’s outcome and legacy from various viewpoints.
A water feature in the building’s courtyard, entitled “The Stream of American History 1770-1870,” symbolically depicts the birth and expansion of the United States, the rise of sectional tension over slavery, the Civil War, and reconstruction. The water’s flow originates from the Preamble to the Constitution, flows over the states of the Union and the Confederacy and over blocks inscribed with the names of 117 prominent battles and campaigns, and ends with the three Civil War-era amendments to the Constitution.
Just outside the courtyard, numerous graves of known and unknown Union and Confederate soldiers remind the visitor of he human toll of this turbulent century.
Downtown Corinth contains numerous sites of significance to the war in the West. A small park stands on the site of the wartime Tishomingo Hotel, next to the vital railroad crossing, and contains period photographs.
The Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center should be on any Civil War traveler’s “must-see” list, especially as we approach the 150th anniversary of the battles in and around the city.
LTC Bowery is a former military history instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and has served multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as an Apache pilot, including a tour in Afghanistan in 2010-11 as commander of Task Force Dragon, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade. He has led numerous staff rides of battlefields in Europe and North America and is author of Lee and Grant: Profiles in Leadership from the Battlefields of Virginia. His forthcoming works include a CMH Commemorative Monograph on the War in the West, 1862-1863 and The Army War College Guide to the Richmond and Petersburg Campaigns of 1864-65.