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Union soldiers stand outside the railroad station and Tishomingo Hotel at the crossing of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad and the Mobile and Ohio Railroad in Corinth, Mississippi. Library of Congress photo.

Whether in blue or gray, your Civil War ancestor may have enlisted in the military, as so many young men did, seeking travel, adventure and excitement. The adventure and excitement they found was probably quite different from what they expected.

No doubt this was true for John F. Poore, the second oldest of the three Poore brothers in gray. In March 1862, 19-year-old John followed the example of his older brother Francis and enlisted in the rebel army. Recruiters signed up John and other recruits for the Jasper Avengers infantry company at Garlandsville, a Jasper County town not far from the Poore family’s Newton County farm.

Mustered into service at Enterprise in Clarke County, John and the other infantrymen boarded boxcars and flatcars on the Mobile and Ohio Railroad for the trip northward to the town of Columbus on the Tombigbee River. Here military officials organized the Jasper Avengers on April 28, 1862, as Company H of the 37th Mississippi Infantry Regiment.

The men of the 37th Mississippi joined the flood of Confederate reinforcements flowing toward Corinth in the northeast corner of Mississippi. Two of the Confederacy’s most important railroads met in Corinth: The Mobile and Ohio and the Memphis and Charleston. The Yankees wanted this vital railroad junction. With Corinth in Union hands, the Yankees could move against Eastern Tennessee and cut off rebel forces in Arkansas from the rest of the Confederacy.

Hardened veterans, let alone new recruits such as John and his comrades, would have recoiled from the scenes of suffering that greeted them as they entered Corinth. Normally just 2,800 people lived in the town. Now thousands of wounded men from the Battle of Shiloh crowded into the village.

Every large building served as a hospital. Yellow flags flew above many and warned passersby of disease within. Disease at Corinth killed as many soldiers as had bullets in the fighting at Shiloh.

Human and animal waste fouled water sources. Typhoid fever and dysentery abounded. Mosquitoes bred in the nearby Dismal Swamp and along the many slow-moving creeks in the area. The mosquitoes spread malaria. By late April when John and the rest of his regiment arrived, many of the 80,000 soldiers crowded into Corinth were sick with one illness or another.

John saw little action around Corinth, but the campaign would leave him with serious health problems.