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38th Tennessee diary

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The 8th Tennessee (Looney's) had a convoluted beginning: initiated in September 1861, the infantry regiment was ineptly utilized by High Command (somehow failed to get significant assignments, i.e., "fell through the cracks.") Following loss of the substantial Confederate force at Fort Donelson, there arrived an urgency to "get men from any- and every-where" and the 38th Tennessee was organized from the core of the 8th Tennessee... and the unit's first significant action was Shiloh.

This diary was written by John D. Thomas of Memphis, recruited to the 38th Tennessee on March 6th 1862. Written over the course of three days in July 1862, while he was camped near Tupelo, this work could better be described as a "thoughtful memory," or "a letter never sent." Detailed and descriptive, the diary is noteworthy for:

  • description of Memphis & Charleston Railroad in March 1862 (required three days to travel by rail from Memphis to Jackson, Tennessee)
  • impression of General PGT Beauregard by men-in-ranks;
  • "We were transported to the most miserable town of Corinth" [page 6]
  • "After helping build fortifications at Corinth, our orders arrived..."
  • pages 10-12 describe Thomas' experience at Shiloh Day 1, including 38th Tennessee involvement in capture of General Prentiss;
  • pages 12-13 discuss Day 2, and the two-day slog back to Corinth through knee-deep mud;
  • page 14 mentions the evacuation of Corinth on May 28th, and Thomas' elevation to Brigade Ordnance Sergeant.

Only 15 pages long, this diary contains detail not found anywhere else.

(Another gem introduced by David "Ole Miss")


References:  http://clio.lib.olemiss.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/civil_war/id/2803/rec/1  John D. Thomas' diary

http://familysearch.org/wiki/en/38th_Regiment,_Tennessee_Infantry_(Looney's)_(8th_Infantry)   History of 38th Tennessee

http://tngenweb.org/civilwar/38th-tennessee-infantry-regiment/  38th Tennessee (accurate except regiment organized March vice May 1862)



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