Friday, October 9, 2015

New Mississippi Monument at Shiloh Battlefield has Corinth Connection

You have read and heard much about the new Mississippi Monument unveiled at Shiloh Battlefield, 11 a.m. on Saturday, October 10th, 2015. What you likely don't know is we in Corinth have a very close connection with the monument. Its design incorporates two quotes chiseled into the granite base. One of these quotes is from a soldier named Thomas D. Duncan.

Thomas Duncan was from Corinth and is buried in our Henry Cemetery. He is the son of W. L. Duncan, the man who built THE DUNCAN HOUSE! Thomas was one of several brothers who served in the war. At least one sibling was killed (actually struck down as he stood right beside Thomas).

Thomas was only 15 or so when his father finally relented and allowed him to join the Confederate cavalry, which Mr. Duncan felt was “safer” for his young son. Thomas was used as a guide and a scout and fought in many Civil War battles, including Shiloh. He rode with Forrest, and survived several close calls.

Many years later, at the request of his daughters, Thomas Duncan recorded his war experiences. [His daughter, Luella, married Shelby Curlee. Yes, of the same Curlee family as the Verandah - Curlee House and Curlee Clothing Company, all with Corinth roots]. He entitled his work "RECOLLECTIONS OF THOMAS D. DUNCAN, A Confederate Soldier." He starts off by saying "This unpretentious work is not the product of a literary ambition." However Duncan writes one of the most beautiful literary pieces I've ever read.

The quote on the new Mississippi Monument at Shiloh is taken from this book, and describes the April 5th prelude to battle:

"The night came on, and the Confederates lay down in line of battle to rest and slumber, realizing the danger of the coming morn and the certainty that for many the next sunrise would be the last on earth."

So, you can see, as citizens of Corinth/Alcorn County/Northeast Mississippi, we can take a special pride this quote by one of “our own” will adorn the monument at Shiloh.

Although it has been out of print for many years, you will want to read his fantastic book! No problem! Just click on the link below, download and print it out for FREE, or just read it from your computer. It's a fascinating glimpse at an important part of our collective heritage, and you will learn much while you are enjoying Duncan’s story.

Take a moment to consider his introduction below. His words of wisdom about, as he puts it, "our unfortunate civil war" still ring true today.

Thomas Duncan wrote the story of his Civil War experiences while living in his old family cottage, now referred to as The Duncan House. Here is a link to “Recollections of Thomas D. Duncan; a confederate soldier.” His introduction follows:

This unpretentious work is not the product of a literary ambition. Though my story deals with events that will live forever in the records of our country, I have not sought to give it the wings of poetic fancy whereby it may fly into the libraries of the earth.

Within the happy family circle, from which my children are now gone, these oft- recounted recollections became a part of their education. I permitted them to turn the pages of my memory, as the leaves of a book, that they might learn the vanished glory of the old South — the loving loyalty and the sad travail of her people. And I trust that they learned also that our unfortunate Civil War — now, thank God, nearly sixty years behind us — was a clash of honest principles.

That there were wild-eyed agitators and - extremists on both sides, and that each had its scalawags and low-flung ruffians, there can be no doubt (and some of these — alas ! — still live) ; but the masses of the soldiers of both armies, who bore the brunt of battle and suffered the privations of those sorrowful years, were patriots ; and he who speaks or writes to the contrary is an enemy to our reunited country and an element of weakness and danger in the strength of the nation.

My two beloved daughters have prevailed upon me to record my experiences of four years as a Confederate soldier, in the form of a brief printed memoir; and so, impelled by my regard for their wishes, I enter the work for them and for their descendants, without any thought of placing a literary commodity upon the counters of the country; and yet I must so write that, wherever this volume may chance to fall into the hands of a stranger, he may find in it that one essential to such a story as this is — Truth.

- Thomas D. Duncan

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