First Mississippi Black School
The Tishomingo Hotel, My School and Other Incidents
"Our bed consisted of two cots placed together, with an army blanket to each for covering. The nights were cold, and we would have suffered bad had not my mother arisen through the night and replenished the fire. There was large stove in the room and we had a plentiful supply of wood. The hotel was used as a hospital, although it was not full at the time, there being a number of vacant rooms. I remember but one nurse here a Miss Johnson. We were great friends and I spent as much time in her room as in our own. I frequently took walks with her about town. I went with her one morning to call on Dr. Norman Gay and family in Columbus, Ohio, who had roomed for a time at the hotel, but who afterward rented furnished rooms in a private house in another part of town. On our way we passed the Iuka House and several stores. I had not been long in the Tishomingo House until I made the acquaintance of the cook, a curly-headed young fellow whose name was John Storms, of Ohio.
"Part of the time we took our meals in the dining room with the doctors and officers. By 'we' I mean my mother and myself; my father not being able to leave the room. Those who ate in the dining room were: Dr. Gay, wife and son, Dr. Spicer, Dr. Huntington, Captain Pemberton, Chaplain Esterbrook, Miss Johnson, ourselves and many other comers and goers, whose name I cannot recall.
"From among the children of the refugees I organized and taught a school on the upper veranda of the Tishomingo, which was situated at the crossing of the Memphis and Charleston and the Mobile and Ohio Railroads. The pupils were all girls, some older and some younger than myself, and as far as I have ever been able to learn to the contrary, this was the first crude, little contraband school organized in the great state of Mississippi and humble though I was, I feel very proud of my share in it. I taught them the alphabet, and how to make a few figures. Our text books were the heads of newspapers, and cards with figures numbering the rooms, which we tore off the doors. Many trains passed our schoolroom daily and each whistle that pierced the air was signal to suspend lessons, and teacher and pupils alike would scramble to the front and leaning over the rotten railing would wave and cheer at the blue-coated soldiers being borne onward to victory or defeat, life or death, God alone knew.
"But the time came all too soon when the Tishomingo House was ordered evacuated as it was to be again used for hospital purposes. We received instructions to go to Jackson, Tennessee, 60 miles north and one sunny Sabbath morn we boarded the train for that place and it was many a day before I ceased to regret my dusky pupils and playmates.
"It was with sad hearts we left Corinth. We had been here so long it had become like home to us, and we were much attached to the place, the nurses and our soldier friends. But the fortunes of war are many and varied and there is no sure abiding place in the Army."
Miss. Maude Morrow