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Ozzy

Diary of the March to Corinth

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On September 13th 1861, Corporal Jacob Harrison Allspaugh began this diary (and managed to record the drunken party of the night before.) On this day, the 31st Ohio Infantry moved south, out of Ohio and into Kentucky, where it set up tents at Camp Dick Robinson. And almost immediately, misfortune strikes Corporal Allspaugh: while showing a friend a revolver, he shot himself in the hand. For the next several weeks, the diary entries revolve around attempts to "extract the bullet," until finally Jacob Allspaugh was sent away for specialist care, and the bullet removed (in November.) Recovering quickly, Corporal Allspaugh rejoined his regiment, in time for the Battle of Mill Springs (but the 31st OVI was late getting orders, and missed the fight.) Marched to Louisville, the 31st Ohio boarded a steamer and cruised up the Cumberland River to Nashville (where Allspaugh witnessed one American flag, many looks of contempt, and too many "hissing women.") 

From Nashville, the 31st Ohio Infantry began "that march" south and west to join Grant's Army at Savannah. Corporal Allspaugh describes the small, neat towns passed; the former cotton fields (now planted in wheat); and the mostly friendly country people (despite their politics.) Being near the tail-end of the line, the 31st Ohio was only delayed briefly by the rebuilding of "that bridge" over Duck River; but seriously delayed by baggage wagons of the divisions ahead of the 1st Division. The 31st OVI arrived at Pittsburg Landing on April 20th (Allspaugh describes the appearance of the battlefield, two weeks after the contest; and sketched the "grave" of Albert Sidney Johnston.)

On April 24th, Corporal Allspaugh recorded hearing the sound of a skirmish in the direction of Corinth; he recorded hearing "firing in the direction of Corinth" again on the 28th. On April 29th, "the expedition of 90,000 men started for Corinth." And for the next several pages, Corporal Allspaugh records the daily, distant sounds of skirmishes; advancing short distances (followed by picket duty or digging); and the rumors... (On April 29th, they heard about the Capture of New Orleans, but nobody believed it.) On May 1st, they "heard that McClellan was dead." And on May 8th, the rumor circulated "that Corinth had been evacuated." Despite the daily skirmishes somewhere on the line, the 31st Ohio managed to avoid contact... until May 21st (when Corporal Allspaugh records "taking his first shot at a Rebel (but without knowing the result.") Continuing to close the distance to Corinth, Allspaugh records the arrival of Jacob Thompson under flag-of-truce to exchange prisoners; the sudden shortage of fresh water (beginning May 17th); and the daily rumor: "The attack is tomorrow."

Finally, there were the sounds of explosions on the morning of May 30th, announcing that Corinth had been evacuated. The 31st Ohio was marched to Farmington, and joined the pursuit of the fleeing Rebels south -- as far as Rienzi, Mississippi -- before being recalled to Corinth in early June.

The diary of Corporal Allspaugh is mostly legible, cursive handwriting (with a typed transcript at bottom of each page.) Every-other page begins a new series of diary entries (with the pages in-between devoted to "more in-depth details of the events found on the previous page.") The observations of Smithland, Fort Donelson (under Union occupation), Clarksville and its bridge, Nashville and Columbia are perceptive and precise. Conditions of roads, the country marched over, and the weather each day are described. In all, this diary offers a good summary of the march from Nashville to Savannah; and a detailed description of one Ohio soldier's March to Corinth.

Cheers

Ozzy

http://128.255.22.135/cdm/ref/collection/cwd/id/6494  Diary of Corporal Allspaugh, 31st Ohio, courtesy Iowa Digital Heritage Collection.

 

 

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