Shiloh park to expand Corinth unit

Published 10:43 pm Sunday, February 24, 2008

CORINTH (AP) — The Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission and Shiloh National Military Park are working on an agreement for the National Park Service to begin managing 800 acres of Civil War battlefield property even before a formal transfer is completed.

Officials want park rangers to begin maintenance at the properties right away.

The property transferred was provided for by Congress in December in the appropriations bill for the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Email newsletter signup

The transition is likely to take as long as a year.

Details of the property transfer that must be completed before the National Park Service will accept the donation from the Siege and Battle Commission include environmental assessments, surveys, title searches of the properties and other matters that will take a number of months.

Commission Chairwoman Rosemary Williams said local officials are concerned about maintaining the properties at an acceptable level until the property transfer takes place without a costly effort.

‘‘We’ve made all these sites accessible with interpretive signs, benches, bright lights, trash receptacles and walking paths to get to the earthworks,’’ she said. ‘‘The National Park Service will have relatively little work to do to prepare for visitors.’’

Congress authorized the National Park Service to add land to the Corinth Unit, which is 22 miles southwest of Tennessee’s Shiloh park.

Shiloh’s budget was increased by about $400,000 for the added management responsibilities.

Shiloh Superintendent Woody Harrell said he is trying to expedite the necessary agreement for his staff to begin managing and maintaining the properties.

‘‘We are working with our lands office in Atlanta on the scope of work for the cooperative agreement that NPS can sign with Siege and Battle,’’ Harrell said. ‘‘There are new procedures, though, so I don’t know if the process will be quick or long. Our target is to have an agreement in place before the grass starts growing in the spring.’’

According to historians, the railroad junction at the heart of Corinth was considered critical by both Confederate and Union troopers.

In 1861, Corinth had a population of 1,200 and was a mobilization center for Confederate troops.

Seeking to retain control of the Corinth railroads, those troops marched north of Corinth to engage Union troops April 6-7, 1862, in the Battle of Shiloh. The 44,000 Confederate troops fought 65,000 Union soldiers, retreating in defeat and later evacuating Corinth.

In Oct. 3-5, 1862, Confederates sought to retake the city in the Battle of Corinth, considered the bloodiest battle in Mississippi.

The Siege and Battle of Corinth Commission oversees annual reenactments of the battle.