CORINTH INFORMATION DATABASE Version 1.3 © 1995 Milton Sandy, Jr.

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FROM CORINTH, MISS.

            Corinth, Miss., April 10th, 1863.

                 Introductory

DEAR MESSENGER:

     You people of the North, who live in fine houses and fare
sumptuously every day -- who toy with soft tresses, immaculate
dresses, Paris moustaches and childhood's fair hair -- who are so
eager (yet satiated with war-news) that an engagement loses all the
force and circumstance of a battle, unless the laureatic wreath of
victory is found bathed in the gore of ten thousand victims -- who
think a General is no General; except he, like Samson of old, slays
his thousands and tens of thousands (and, perhaps, the same instrument
would be preferable) and who are foolish enough to imagine that a
residence in this "fair land of Dixie," at this particular time, is a
much-to-be coveted luxury, can scarcely form an adequate idea of the
monotonous and unfavorable existence, which is daily led by both
officers and men within the narrow confines of this "District of
Corinth."

     It is true that there are some who live well, and, perhaps,
happily -- who sport fast horses and tolerable looking vehicles, who
have all the necessary contrabands to wait on them and more; too, and
who not only "cavort" around pretty wives and interesting daughters,
but evince quite a degree of satisfaction at being able to do so, (to
the discomfort, at times, of certain young and romantic bachelors).

     But by far the greater portion of our officers are only blessed
(?) with drills, reviews and reconnaissances, raids, runaway horses,
fevers, broken heads, quinine, "not granted" leaves of absence,
contrabands and whiskey. Now, after witnessing such sights for a very
long time past, it is not strange that your correspondent should
attempt to find something new to relieve the ennui that was making him
"a used-up man." Consequently I honored the august U.S. Grant,
commanding this department, with an application for a leave of
absence. In a few weeks it came back with an ominous endorsement in
Arnold's carmine, "not granted." I was not to be discomfited to
easily, taking it for Granted that Grant would not Grant me a leave. I
consequently took a circuitous path, avoided red-tape, obtained a
leave, (how, it is nobody's business) and in twelve hours thereafter
one of U.S. Grant's "as a class" friends was speeding homeward.

                           Spring Time

     I will not bore you with a diary of my trip and brief sojourn in
the Empire City; suffice that "Veni-- Vidi"--FUGIT--I came, I saw, I
left--("nary" a conquer) and am back again at my post of duty (?) to
inform the readers of the "Messenger" how I found things on my return.
In my absence, Spring had made its debut. The trees are budding, wild
flowers are opening, and the grass has grown green again. The weather
is delightful, which, after as much rain as has fallen here, is highly
appreciated. On these balmy moonlight nights our slumbers are often
agreeably broken by the harmonious strains of our truly charming band
of music. How vividly they recall the scenes of just one year ago,
when this great army was collecting for the grandest of modern
battles! [Shiloh]

                    A Chapter on Money Making

     The army furnishes an excellent field of operations for various
classes of speculators and tradesmen. To say nothing of official
huckstering (of which, I think, I can say, the portion of the army
composing this garrison, has furnished little) and of the vast cotton
operations which have disgraced our management of the conquered
territory, and enriched a class of speculators generally of doubtful
loyalty, there are many means of gathering money which are unknown or
unenjoyed in the land of peace at home.

     Chiefest, for certainty, though not for brilliancy, are the
regular sutlers. Them we have always with us. When the Paymaster
delays his visits, their fabulous accounts are entered on the sutlers'
books to be cancelled at "next payday." For the necessaries, and many
of the luxuries of camp-life are furnished by these accommodating
salesmen, who, having but little, if any, competition, are left to
place their own prices on goods. Councils of administration or any
other authorities, seldom interpose to regulate their prices. A
hundred per cent on imperishable goods is quite common profit, and on
many articles two or three hundred per cent is made.

     Artists -- picture-takers -- positively coin-money, if that
expression is permissible in this age of "greenbacks." It is true that
they suffered a fearful probation, while the Paymasters were yet a
great way off. But no sooner had the first Regiment been supplied with
their "spondoolux" than their studios were thronged with officers and
soldiers in full uniform and armed, to have the magic sunshine fix
their lineaments for the benefit of "friends at home." Day after day,
the busy artists are engaged to the full extent of their abilities,
and then are obliged to turn many away. Cartes de visite are furnished
at the moderate cost of six dollars per dozen, or four dollars per
half dozen--such as Brady or Anthony would ask two dollars per dozen
for. Common ambrotypes that in New York cost 25 cents, are put up in
Corinth for one dollar and fifty cents. Cases sell proportionately
high.

     In this line, somewhat, may be included the stage, which, strange
as it may appear, has been eminently successful at Corinth. There is
now a regular troupe engaged nightly at "Corinth Music Hall,"--an old
frame building, formerly used for storing forage -- in showing to the
admiring military population of this garrison the wonders of
sleight-of-hand, negro minstrelsy, jig dancing, comic and sentimental
songs, etc. The admittance fee of fifty cents will admit you to the
luxury of a front seat, which is a rough pine board, supported about a
foot from the floor, all innocent of any back or railway whatever. The
front seats fill the foremost half of the room. For twenty-five cents
you can enjoy (!) a back seat, which only differs from the front seat
in position, and in being about three feet higher. A night or two
since, another "theatre" opened to a crowded house in front of the
"Tishomingo Hotel." It is somewhat to the credit of the discipline of
the troops here, that no bad effects are traceable to these nightly
amusements.

     Newsboys are another class of army followers that make it pay.
The craft will understand this when I inform them that one newsboy
frequently sells a hundred papers per diem, at a clear gain of from
five to six dollars. Papers, though received here only the fifth day
after publication, sell at ten cents apiece, good, bad, or
indifferent.

                          Domestically

     We are preparing to "make a garden." An officer has been sent to
procure a large supply of garden seeds. It is intended to have the
large number of women and children of the contraband species of this
place, make themselves useful by raising vegetables for the use of the
garrison, as well as for themselves. This is an excellent move, as the
want of a proper supply of vegetables, especially as anti-scorbutics,
is severely felt here in the summer. There will be no difficulty in
finding enough land to employ them all.

                Dissipation Among the Corinthians

     Yes, though it may cause a laceration of the feelings of the
tax-payers, and old Abe may shake his head disapprovingly, yet let it
be known that in Corinth balls are gotten up, balls are attended, and
dancing progresses night after night into the "wee sma' hours of
morning." Much to the chagrin of those lovers of the Terpsichore, who,
on returning to camp find themselves detailed for picket duty for the
ensuing twenty-four hours. The latest and best ball of the season here
occurred last Tuesday evening, being given under the direction of the
military authorities, in commemoration of the Anniversary of the
battle of Shiloh; it was well gotten up, and, together with the
supper, passed off very pleasantly. Another military ball, under the
auspices of the officers of the Ohio Brigade, is on the tapis, and
promises to be a fine affair.

     It is only by thus methodically annihilating time, that we can
dispel the home thoughts which are ever crowding our minds, giving us
the blues to such an extent as to make us feel decidedly
uncomfortable.

                                         J.C.C.

[Comment by the editor of The Jewish Messenger] We are pleased to hear
once more from our esteemed correspondent, and hope that we will favor
us regularly with his excellent letters.


Source: Bryan Boyle's Bronx Bulletin Board


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