Corinth’s Larry Mangus has been collecting Civil War artifacts for about 25 years, since he made his first purchase of $5 in Confederate currency for a total of five greenback dollars. Now the bill is worth roughly $60.
“Ever since then it’s been ‘Watch out Ebay, here I come’,” Mangus said with a big laugh.
Now his collection has grown to approximately 3,000 items, including 2,000 pieces of currency, over 150 different autographs of Union and Confederate generals, war bonds, a couple of guns, and 54 canteens -- many of which have been identified and connected to a specific soldier during the war.
The current exhibit includes a bayonet that belonged to a member of the 2nd Texas Infantry, the unit that attacked Battery Robinett on the second day of the Battle of Corinth. The letters “W.B.” have been scratched into the bayonet’s socket.
“I’ve been able to track down six W.B.’s in the 2nd Texas,” said Mangus.
Another important part of the exhibit is a letter featuring the signature of Albert Sidney Johnston, the general who commanded the Confederate army at Shiloh until he was killed on the first day of battle. The letter is from the pre-war years when Johnston served as paymaster in Texas and includes a reference to another figure important to local Civil War history — Daniel Ruggles, the Confederate general associated with the artillery bombardment of the Hornet’s Nest at the Battle of Shiloh.
Also in the exhibit is a paper signed by William S. Rosecrans, the Union general during the Battle of Corinth; and two small, carte de vista (CDV) soldier portraits made in Corinth, one at Armistead & White photo studio and the other at Armistead & Taylor.
“They were photographed here during the war,” Mangus said. “That was important. Countless soldiers go their pictures taken.”
The exhibits will be switched out every six weeks and will continue for the foreseeable future. The owner of the artifacts said he is happy to be able to share his collection with people who will appreciate it.
“It’s just so nice to be able to share it all, especially the items related to Corinth,” he said. “It’s nice. You have all this stuff and nobody gets to see it. Being able to put it on display where people can see it and appreciate it — it’s nice.”
Located at 501 W. Linden Street, the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center is open every day except Christmas Day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
(For more info about the Interpretive Center call 287-9273.)