Shiloh National Military Park is more than 350 acres larger than it was last month, thanks to the efforts of Friends of the Siege and Battle of Corinth, Mississippi.
The Corinth Unit of Shiloh National Military Park was established on September 22, 2000, and has an authorized land area of approximately 950 acres. With a land donation made December 8, the park now owns more than 800 acres of the Corinth battlefield unit. Among the donated lands are Battery Robinett, Confederate Siege works, various surviving fortifications, and significant portions of the battlefield landscape, where attacking Confederate forces engaged the Union garrison occupying the town in October 1862.
For six months in 1862, from April until October, the fight to control Corinth’s crucial railroad crossover elevated this town to a military prominence perhaps second only to Richmond, Virginia. During this time, five armies comprising nearly 300,000 men fought for control of the Corinth railroad junction. Soldiers, slaves, and later contrabands moved hundreds of thousands of tons of earth to construct nearly 40 miles of rifle pits, forts, and artillery positions. The surviving earthworks in and around Corinth are rare examples of fortifications constructed early in the Civil War, making their continued preservation important to understanding the evolution of military tactics in the United States.
While the initial fortifications were built by Confederate forces, the vast majority of the fieldworks were constructed by Union forces. The most intense period of fortification was between March and October of 1862, representing four distinct phases of construction.
- First was erection of the "Beauregard Line," named for General Pierre G. T. Beauregard, and built by the Confederates from March thru May, 1862, to defend the vital railroad hub from attack from the north and east.
- Second were a series of extensive siege lines, constructed throughout May 1862 to protect the advancing Northern armies from surprise attacks by Confederate forces occupying Corinth.
- Third was the “Halleck Line,” named for Major General Henry W. Halleck, commander of the western Union armies in 1862. Constructed in June and July of 1862, this line consisted of six forts, fronting west and south of the city, designed to extend the captured Confederate earthworks completely around the city.
- Finally, the “Rosecrans Line,” named for Major General William S. Rosecrans, commander of the occupying Federal garrison during the Battle of Corinth, was comprised of seven forts constructed close to the railroad crossing, making it more realistic for an increasingly smaller garrison of Union soldiers to defend the community.
The properties were originally acquired by the Friends of the Siege and Battle of Corinth, Inc., a nonprofit entity that assists the community and the National Park Service by raising public awareness of the importance of these sites. Since 1993, the Friends of the Siege and Battle of Corinth, Inc., has counted on the generosity of individuals, businesses, and non-profit foundations, such as the Civil War Trust, to raise funds in support of a variety of projects and land acquisition efforts that benefit the preservation of these significant sites. This donation culminates more than a decade of work by the friends group.