Corinth National Cemetery is located in Alcorn County, within the city limits of Corinth, Miss. In 1854, the citizens of Tishomingo County, Miss., invited both the Mobile & Ohio and the Memphis & Charleston rail companies to build track through their jurisdiction. The companies quickly accepted the offer and within a year the surveys were complete. The proposed routes for the new lines crossed at a right angle on a section of property owned by William Lasley. Lasley sold the land and a town quickly grew up around the pending railroad intersection. Originally, the town was pragmatically called Cross City, but the local newspaper editor decided it did not fit the growing community. The name was changed to Corinth with the stipulation that the citizens could change it back in a year should they not like it. The name stuck.
Corinth flourished throughout the remainder of the1850s until the election of Abraham Lincoln, Mississippi’s secession and the beginning of the Civil War. Many Tishomingo County men served in the Confederacy and as early as 1861 Corinth served as an assembly point for Confederate soldiers traveling by rail to various points in Florida, Alabama, Kentucky and Virginia. In spring 1862, Corinth became the focal point in the Civil War's Western Theatre, as both northern and southern leaders recognized the necessity of holding the city because of its valuable rail crossings. Corinth was also in proximity to ports on the Tennessee River, including Hamburg, Eastport and Pittsburg Landing. Whoever controlled Corinth held an important logistical key to the entire lower Mississippi Valley.
The fall of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee, in February 1862 initiated a series of events that led to Union and Confederate advances on Corinth. The Confederates, under the leadership of General Albert Sidney Johnston, saw their trans-Appalachian defense line broken with the capture of these forts by General Ulysses S. Grant. Subsequently, Corinth became the new anchor for a Confederate defense of the lower South.
In early April 1862, federal troops led by Grant camped at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., 22 miles northeast of Corinth. The Confederate Army made a surprise attack upon the federal encampment, and although they had an initial measure of success, on the second day Grant received reinforcements and the Confederates fell back toward Corinth.
While the Confederates were caring for their sick and wounded in Corinth, the Union army began a march on the city. Aware that federal troops were closing in, Confederate commander General P.T. Beauregard made plans to abandon the city. The evacuation was carried out in utmost secrecy and on May 30, Union troops cautiously marched into an empty city. Corinth, once again, became the focal point of the war. On Oct. 4, Union and Confederate forces took part in one of the bloodiest battles in Mississippi. The Battle of Corinth was the last major Confederate offensive in North Mississippi and its failure opened the way to Vicksburg and Union control of the Mississippi River.
Corinth National Cemetery was established in 1866 as a central burial site for approximately 2,300 Union casualties of the Battle of Corinth and similar clashes in the surrounding area. By late 1870 there were more than 5,688 interments in the cemetery—1,793 known and 3,895 unknown soldiers. The dead represented 273 regiments from 15 states. In addition, there are three Confederate interments in the cemetery – one unknown and two known soldiers.
The cemetery was originally enclosed with a wooden picket fence, which was replaced by a brick wall in 1872. The first lodge was a wooden cottage that was replaced in 1872 and again in 1934. Corinth National Cemetery was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1991 as part of several sites associated with the Battle of Corinth; it was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.