J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

The Battle of Shiloh

The next two days, April 6 and 7, mark the 149th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh. The battle took place on the banks of the Tennessee River, and near a small country church named Shiloh, which means “place of peace” in Hebrew.

In two days of battle, the Confederate army sustained more than 10,500 casualties, while Union casualties exceeded 13,000. At that point in time, it was the bloodiest battle of the war. The first Confederate general to die in the War Between the States, General Albert Sidney Johnston, did so during the first day of battle when he bled out from a wound to his femoral artery while retaining command on his horse. General Grant was driven back to Pittsburgh Landing, but General Beauregard, who took command after Johnston’s demise, failed to attack him, so the Union general managed to join forces with General Buell. The increased size of the Union army gave them the advantage to pursue the Rebels further south into Mississippi.

Special locations within the park include the National Cemetery, the Confederate mass grave sites, the enormous monuments, and Pittsburgh Landing on the Tennessee River. The peach orchard has been replanted to replicate the original, and Bloody Pond still emits a strange, reddish coloration, but strangely, supports wildlife. An original cabin (although not one that was there during the actual battle) is near the orchard, and a reproduction of Shiloh Church stands on the site of the original church. Up until fairly recently, treasure hunters were allowed into the park to dig for artifacts. The battlefield is a fascinating, albeit eerie reminder of what occurred 149 years ago.

This weekend, reenactors will converge on the park to demonstrate what the battle was like. Participants will include cavalry, infantry, artillery, and hospital reenactors. The event will be filmed, and (hallelujah) the recording will replace the ancient film that is now being shown in the park’s museum.

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