Located in Corinth, Mississippi, the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center is located within the Corinth Battlefield Unit of Shiloh National Military Park and commemorates the city’s strategic 1862 siege by Union forces during the American Civil War. The city of Corinth, Mississippi was founded in 1853 as Cross City, as it marked the junction of the Mobile & Ohio and Memphis & Charleston Railroads.
Its name was changed to Corinth upon suggestion by local newspaper editor W. E. Gibson, who pointed out the city’s similarities to the crossroads town in Greece of the same name. As a major commerce and transportation center in the American Southeast, Corinth’s location along the banks of the Tennessee River made it a strategic Confederate headquarters during the American Civil War and a primary target for the Union Army’s campaign in the South. Following the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh, which saw nearby Pittsburg Landing fall to the Union Army, Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard made a retreat to Corinth, which was soon followed by Union Major General Henry W. Halleck. Due to the extremely violent nature of the Battle of Shiloh, Beauregard made the choice to abandon the town upon Halleck’s strategic approach, which involved the cautious construction of entrenchments around the city for more than a month prior to seizure. Due to Halleck’s approach strategy, the Union occupation of the city has become known as the Siege of Corinth. Later Confederate attempts in October of the same year to recapture the city, which proved unsuccessful after two days of fighting, are referred to as the Battle of Corinth.
Following the American Civil War, Corinth was established as the county seat of Alcorn County and grew into a small urban area, though the surrounding landscape of streams, hills, and open farmland has not been changed significantly. In December of 1894, nearly 4,000 acres of the area surrounding Corinth and Pittsburg Landing was preserved as part of Shiloh National Military Park, commemorating the Battle of Shiloh and Siege of Corinth. Control of the park was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933, and in 1966, the park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 2004, the 15,000-square-foot Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center was opened inside the park’s Corinth Battlefield Unit area.
Permanent Exhibits and Attractions
Today, the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center serves as an entrance point for Shiloh National Military Park’s Corinth Battlefield Unit, located near the historic Battery Robinett. As one of two extant earthwork entrenchments constructed by the Union Army following the Siege of Corinth, Battery Robinett is highlighted as part of a permanent exhibit on the grounds of the Interpretive Center, reconstructed to display its condition during the October 1862 Battle of Corinth. A number of monuments and interpretive displays detail the events of the Siege and Battle, and broken equipment and bronze replicas are presented to mimic the battery’s battle condition. An obelisk stands nearby in tribute to the 2nd Texas Infantry and Colonel William P. Rogers, the Confederate forces who attempted to seize the battery, and several gravestones mark the burial sites of Union and Confederate soldiers.
Nearby, the living sculpture Stream of History commemorates two centuries of American history, using water flow to depict the flow of time from the American Revolution through the present day. Cut stones within the sculpture list key Revolutionary and Civil War battles in chronological order, structured as building blocks meant to resemble the nation’s construction and shaping through military conflict. The water sculpture travels downward symbolically, tracing the events leading up to the nation’s split with the secession of the Confederacy.
Inside the Center, a 75-seat auditorium shows several orientation films, including the award-winning “Shiloh: Fiery Trial” and short films about the occupation and Battle of Corinth. A public research library is available for visitor exploration, and a small gift shop and bookstore sell Civil-War-themed memorabilia. Museum exhibits include interactive multimedia displays, focusing on the city’s role in the Western Theater of the Civil War. Particular focus is given to the city’s role in African-American history through the Corinth Contraband Camp, which served part of an escape route for plantation slaves seeking Union protection. A life-sized diorama also showcases the complete network of earthwork constructions leading to the Union’s seizure of the city.
Though no formal tours of the Corinth Battlefield Unit are offered through the Center, two driving tour brochures are available at the information desk, highlighting major sites connected to the Siege and Battle of Corinth. A tour map of historic downtown Corinth sites and living history museums is also offered. A Junior Ranger program presented in conjunction with the park’s Shiloh Battlefield Visitor Center offers participation badges and certificates to young visitors upon completion of educational park activities.
501 W Linden St, Corinth, MS 38834, Phone: 662-287-9273
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