Robertson (Thomas Chinn) Papers, 1862
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Copyright: The copyright of these letters is held by Navarro College Archives, Navarro College, 3200 W. 7th Ave., Corsicana, Texas. Internet: archives@navarrocollege.edu.

Cite As:Thomas Chinn Robertson Papers, 1862, Pearce Civil War Collection, Navarro College, Corsicana, Texas

Forms Part of: Pearce Civil War Collection

Location: 1-S2

Transcription(s): Yes

Scanned Copies on File: Yes

Accession Number: 2002.335

Processed by: Julie Holcomb, December 2001

Reproductions of original materials and transcriptions may be available. Please contact the archivist for further information.

Abstract: One letter (April 9, 1862; 16 pages) and one printed work (April 6, 1912; 10 pages) describe the battle of Shiloh. The letter (April 9, 1862; 16 pages) written by Thomas Chinn Robertson, Fourth Louisiana Infantry, provides a graphic description of the fighting at Shiloh, Tennessee. Robertson’s letter was later reprinted in a pamphlet (April 6, 1912; 10 pages) privately published by Robertson’s sister, Mrs. Lee Robertson Harris, who was a member of the Louisiana Daughters of the Confederacy.

Biographical/Historical Sketch

Thomas Chinn Robertson, born in 1842 to Judge William B. Robertson of West Baton Rouge Parish, was enrolled at Centenary College in Jackson, Louisiana when the Civil War started. Robertson initially enlisted in the Hunter Rifles, which was composed of students from Centenary College and commanded by Captain John Hilliard. Robertson later resigned from the Hunter Rifles and enlisted in the Delta Rifles of West Baton Rouge Parish. The Delta Rifles were attached to the Fourth Louisiana Infantry. The Fourth Louisiana fought in the battle of Shiloh, Tennessee (April 6-7, 1862). Robertson was later promoted to brigade quartermaster and served the Confederacy until General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in April 1865. Robertson returned to cotton farming after the war, but died suddenly in 1866. His wife Emily M. Hiltzheim Robertson, whom he had married during the war, died a short time later.

Mrs. Lee Robertson Harris, sister of Thomas Robertson, served as Corresponding Secretary of the Louisiana Division of the Daughters of the Confederacy. In 1912 on the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, Mrs. Harris published her brother’s letter describing the fighting at the battle of Shiloh.

Scope and Content Note

One letter (April 9, 1862; 16 pages) and one printed work (April 6, 1912; 10 pages) describe the battle of Shiloh. The letter written on captured Union stationery by Thomas Robertson provides a graphic account of the battle shortly after the battle’s conclusion. Of the famous clash at the “Hornet’s Nest,” Robertson writes: “the enemy reserved their fire untill we were within about twenty yards of them and then the whole line simultaneously with their battery loaded with grape. opened on us again mowing us down at every volley we still pressed on until the undergrowth prevented us from going farther. and bisides we did not have room to form in two ranks and our men in the rear killed a great many of those in front. I cannot imagine how I escaped being killed, as I was in the front rank all the time. we remained in this “slaughter pen” about five minutes when Gen Bragg seeing the dreadfull havoc ordered us to fall back and told us that he would carrry us where we could see our enemy.” Robertson’s father Judge William B. Robertson published his son’s letter in the local newspaper, Sugar Planter.

In 1912, to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the fighting at Shiloh, Tennessee, Mrs. Lee Robertson Harris privately published the letter in a small pamphlet (April 6, 1912; 10 pages). In addition to the letter, the pamphlet contains a short introduction written by Mrs. Harris giving a brief biographical sketch of Robertson’s life and service to the Confederacy. The introduction concludes: “I take pleasure as his sister, in furnishing a document so full of historic memories of particular interest in this semi-centennial year of that great victory for the South on April 6, 1862, and now the whole nation unites in commemorating the names of those brave men who survive, as well as to honor the memory of those who fell in defense of the homes of the Southerland [sic] and for the protection of their loved ones.”


The copyright of these materials is managed by the Navarro College Archives on behalf of the Navarro College Foundation, 3100 W. Collin St., Corsicana, Texas 75110. Phone: 903-875-7438. Internet: archives@navarrocollege.edu.