Letter written by Sergeant Miles G. Turrentine of Company I, 1st AR Infantry, to Miss Bettie Waite of Fredericksburg, VA, from Corinth, MS. Turrentine thinks of Waite often, and requests that she reply even though he has heard she is engaged. If he is fortunate enough to survive the war, he plans on visiting her when he returns home. Turrentine then describes the battle of Shiloh in great detail, including the charges against the Hornet’s Nest. The Confederate troops suffered heavy casualties during the battle, including their Lieutenant Colonel. A friend of Turrentine’s was shot through the breast, while a ball blistered his own face. Turrentine writes that he often thought he wanted to be in a fight, but this one satisfied him.
Corinth Miss April 14th 1862
Miss Bettie Waite
Dear Friend. – no doubt you will be some what surprise when you break this Letter and find my name to it. I have taken my Seat more than once to write to you but not knowing whither my letter would be appreciated I could not write, but I have come to the conclusion to write you a few linds to let you know that I have not forgoten you I have often thought of you Since I left Virginia and while I am trying to write to you I wish that I was with you. I made up my mind the day that I left Fredericksburg. to. ask you permission to Correspond with you. but I had but little chance to speak to you about it, & I was informed by Some of your Friends that you was engaged to a Certain young man. & I came to the conclusion that it was asking to much of you, for a Correspondance but at this late hour I Shall ask of you for a correspondance for there is not a Lady living u[nder]
the canopy of the Heavens, that I think more of than you it may possible that you think but Seldom of me, but I do assure you that I often think of you I was verry much disapointed when I was told that we could not go back to Virginia I had made up my mind to enjoy myself with you when I got back but if I should be so fortunate as to live through this horrible war I shall be shoor to pay you a visit for I shall never be satisfied until I See you all again. Well Miss Bettie I surpose you would like to something of the battle of Shiloah near Corinth Miss. Well in the first place on Friday previous to the fight our Regiment was on Picket not fare from the Federals Camps and on Saturday morning we was ordered to strike camp, and on Saturday eavning we camped in sight of the Yankeys fires, and on Sunday morning about six O clock our Brigade was ordered to make the attacke, the ball commence about seven O clockwhen the Yankeys fell back some two miles. when the fight grew verry hot on both sides, about nine O clock we got percession [possession] of the Yankeys camp the Enemy fell
back some two miles, when the fight grew verry hot. our Regiment was ordered to charge on Some Yankeys that was in ambush which we did in good order the Yankeys was well fortified they drove us back with a heavy loss, we was ordered to charge the second time which we did but to no purpose we sustain a verry loss. we was ordered the third time to charge which we did, but my conscience we was repulsed the third time, in the mean time we was reinforsed when we made the fourth charge. we drove them back, but what did I see a sight that I hope never to see agane,, we lost our Leut Carnil [Lieut Colonel] & our major was wounded & two Captains was killed instantly.
we had some fifty men killed not less than 250 Two Hundred & fifty wounded. our little Company had four men killed & thirty one wounded & our Company, got off verry well for what some of the Companys did Capt Martin lost 11 men in less than teen [ten?] minutes & some forty wounded, all of his men was eather killed & wounded but five, Capt Jackson’s Brother-inlaw was verry badly wounded, & poor Thearedon Arnett, is mortally wounded & he is in the Yankeys hands
I was with him on sunday night he sayed that he was willing to die he was shot through the breast he was shot down by me & at the same time a ball blistered my faice. I had two balls shot through my coat & my Gunn shot into. Miss Bettie I have often thought that I would like to get into a fight but this battle has satisfied me. I am willing to play quit with them;
tell Mrs. Hooten that I had five dride vanson hams that I intend to bring her but I had to give them away
when you see miss Kate give her my regards tell her that my brother [Allen A. Turrentine] is with me that I would like verry much for her to see him he is sayed to be much better looking than I am, [in pencil: not that I am good looking] give my love to Miss Mollie & her mother, also to Mr Hooten & Ms Hooten
Miss Bettie I take this liberty in writing to you, if you do not see propper to answer it you will please forgive me.
but I still think that you would like to hear from me if I did not think so, I would not write to you
Miss Bettie you can either make me miserable or you have it in your power to make me happy.
I shall look for a letter from you imeadilly [immediately] write to me at Corinth Mississippi to the care of Capt Little,
write soon to your Friend
1st Reg Ark
Records on Miles G. Turrentine are somewhat conflicted. There is a grave marker for a M.G. Turrentine (1845-1870) at the Atlanta Methodist Church Cemetery, which is associated with a Miles Turrentine of the 1st AR Infantry (Colquitt’s). However, other records such as the 1850 (which can be matched to him by the inclusion of his brother Allen who served in the same company), 1860, and 1870 censuses, list his birth at 1837. Wiley Sword’s records state Turrentine was born in 1837 in VA, though all other documents state GA as his place of birth. If they are in fact the same, then Turrentine enlisted in Company I of the 1st AR Infantry at Monticello, AR on May 8, 1861. He was promoted to sergeant on April 1, 1862, and served through the war. He was wounded in action at Ringgold, GA on November 27, 1863. He was paroled at Shreveport, LA on June 30, 1865. In the 1870 census he is recorded as working as a merchant in Columbia, AR and appears to be married to Demaurice Turrentine and has three children. He dies later that year in 1870.
Allen A. Turrentine was born c. 1840. He enlisted at Monticello, AR on February 22, 1862. He was severely wounded at Murfreesboro, TN on December 31, 1862, and died of his wounds on January 4, 1863.