J.D.R. Hawkins

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

Archive for the tag “Battle of Shiloh”

Remembering the Battle of Shiloh

The following articles were written by a tour guide who works at the Shiloh Battlefield in Tennessee. This being the 160th anniversary of the battle (April 6-7, 1862), I thought it only appropriate to share.

I re-found this postcard among my many saved pictures. This is of course the 2nd Tennessee Monument, just South of Shiloh Church, and the Louisiana Crescent Regiment monument on the Hamburg-Purdy Road, across from the Davis Wheatfield. I do not know what year this is. I was amazed by how far back the tree lines are here.

The 2nd Tennessee monument today sits in a fairly small field. The Crescent regiment marker has a tree line to within 10 feet of it. I know the tree lines at Shiloh were kept pretty close to correct up to World War II. The war sucked all the men into the army, or into war vital jobs. I understand the Park Service was somewhat gutted until the late 1940’s, and the tree lines at Shiloh were just left to grow, during the war, and up to about 1950 or so.

These look like colorized photos. Perhaps they had slightly, or largely, different backgrounds painted in? The Tennessee monument background looks fairly correct, showing Shiloh Branch back to the left.
Starke Miller
Miller Civil War Tours

This is straight out of the book, Old Guard in Gray, which is a collection of biographies of Memphis, and Shelby County, Tennessee Confederate Veterans.

Late on the afternoon of April 7, which was the second day of the battle of Shiloh, the Confederate Army had been beaten and was in retreat. The wagons with the wounded were the last to get off the field, just South of the Shiloh church, at a small creek crossing at Shiloh Branch. There was only one small bridge there, and the wagons were bunched up there, trying to get away from the pursuing Union Army.

Confederate General Cheatham, seeing this, ordered the 38th Tennessee Infantry back to the top of the hill, and into the small cemetery around Shiloh Church. Colonel Looney of the 38th told General Cheatham that they could not do much because they averaged only one round of ammunition per man. General Cheatham told Looney to Crescent buy the wagons all the time that he could. The lieutenant colonel of the 38th Tennessee was Hugh D. Greer. He was an 1856 graduate of the University of Mississippi.

Some 3 to 400 hundred brave men of the 38th Tennessee, and several other regiments, spread across the church yard and cemetery, and out into the woods, determined to hold back, at least for a while, the Union pursuit. Those men formed in line of battle in a cemetery, waiting to die there, if need be, in order to save some of their friends. They fixed bayonets and waited.

They let the Union skirmishers practically walk on top of them, until the main Union troops came into sight. Then they raised up, fired one volley, and made a bayonet charge with a Rebel yell on the Union troops! It is said they drove those blue bellies nearly a quarter of a mile back to the crossroads area. Greer’s men were then able to form up, and retreat in good order, all the Confederate wagons having successfully gotten across the bridge to safety.

Hugh D. Greer, in his telling of this charge, stated that the colonel of the regiment, Colonel Looney, sat behind the line of battle on his horse, encouraging the boys the whole time! Lieutenant Colonel Greer apparently led the charge, was wounded in the head, and captured on the field. Greer may have had some feelings about the colonel not participating in the charge.

Colonel Looney was a Shiloh Battlefield Commissioner from 1895 to his death in 1899. Greer said that as a prisoner, Union General Sherman asked him why his men had only fired one round, and then made a bayonet charge. Greer told him the truth, that most of his men only had one round. Greer said Sherman grasped his hand warmly and shook it, congratulating him on being a member of such a gallant command.

Hugh D. Greer was exchanged from the Union prison Camp in the summer of 1862. He later became the colonel of the 38th Tennessee, and he survived the war. He was run over and killed by a train, at what was
Buntyn, Tennessee in 1899. Buntyn is now part of Memphis, and is the old train station near the University of Memphis. Greer was one of the 109 University of Mississippi students and alumni who fought at Shiloh, in 20 different southern regiments. I love them all. The University has turned out some brave, fine men.

If you ever go to Shiloh with me, I will stand with you there at Shiloh Church, in the small cemetery, and I will tell you this story, and just a few others.
Starke Miller
Miller Civil War Tours

(Articles courtesy of The Southern Comfort, publication of the Private Samuel A. Hughey Camp 1452 Sons of Confederate Veterans and the President Jefferson Davis chapter of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars, volume 46, Issue #4, April 2022 ed.)

Women of the Confederacy (Pt 2.)


Belle Edmondson


More than one Southern lady stepped up to the plate to do her share in preserving the Confederacy. Such is the case of Belle Edmondson, a Memphis belle who risked her life to do her part.

Born to Mary Ann and Andrew Jackson Edmondson on November 27, 1840 in Pontotoc, Mississippi, Isabella Buchanan Edmondson was the youngest daughter of eight children. In 1849, her father was elected clerk of courts in Holly Springs, Mississippi. “Belle” and her sisters attended Franklin Female College nearby. In 1860, the family relocated to a farm in Shelby County, Tennessee, eight miles southeast of Memphis on Holly Ford Road, which is now Airways Boulevard.

Once the countryside became engulfed in the Civil War, it wasn’t long before the Edmondson’s got involved, because they were staunch supporters of the Confederacy. Two of Belle’s brothers enlisted for the Southern cause. They both fought at the Battle of Shiloh, and Belle tended to wounded soldiers as a nurse.

When Memphis fell in June 1862, Belle’s family farm became located between opposing lines. Pickets and scouts from both sides patrolled the area. The Rebel army was less than 30 miles south.

Finding herself in a position to assist the Confederates, Belle passed information she gathered in Memphis during the day, and risked her life to transport it to the Rebels at night. She also delivered needed supplies, such as medicines and amputation tools, in her petticoats, and letters and money in her bosom, knowing that Union soldiers were reluctant to search women.

At one point, she met with Generals Forrest and Chalmers. In an entry to her diary dated February 27, 1864, Belle wrote:

Annie Nelson and myself went to Memphis this morning – very warm, dusty and disagreeable. Accomplished all I went for – did not go near any of the officials, was fortunate to meet a kind friend, Lucie Harris, who gave me her pass – ‘tis a risk, yet we can accomplish nothing without great risk at times. I returned the favor by bringing a letter to forward to her husband, Army of Mobile. I sat up until 8 o’clock last night, arranging mail to forward to the different commands. It was a difficult job, yet a great pleasure to know I had it in my power to rejoice the hearts of our brave Southern Soldiers … God grant them a safe and speedy trip.

On March 16, she wrote:

At one o’clock, Mrs. Facklen, Mrs. Kirk and I began to fix my articles for smuggling, we made a balmoral of the grey cloth for uniform, pinned the hats to the inside of my hoops – tied the boots with a strong list, letting them fall directly in front, the cloth having monopolized the back and the hats the side. All my letters, brass buttons, money, etc. in my bosom – left at 2 o’clock to meet Anna at Mr. Barbie’s – started to walk, impossible that – hailed a hack – rather suspicious of it, afraid of small-pox, jumped in, with orders for a hurried drive to corner Main & Vance … arrived at pickets, no trouble at all, although I suffered horribly in anticipation of trouble. Arrived at home at dusk …

Her diary entry of April 16, 1864, reads:

Another day of excitement – about 30 Yanks passed early this morning, only six came in for their breakfast, they did not feed their horses – they behaved very well, and seemed to be gentlemen, in fact we so seldom see gentlemen among the Yankees that we can appreciate them when they are met with.

Belle’s frequent trips back and forth across the opposing lines soon attracted the attention of Union officials. General Stephen A. Hurlburt issued a warrant for her arrest. When Belle learned of this, she wrote an entry in her diary dated April 21, 1864:

…(Hurlburt) would be compelled to arrest me if it came to him officially, but as my father was a Royal Arch Mason, and I a Mason, he would take no steps, if I would be quiet.

And on April 25:

…I am so unhappy about the trouble I have got in – oh! what is to become of me, what is my fate to be – a poor miserable exile.

Belle fled south to avoid arrest. She traveled through Tupelo, Pontotoc, and Columbus before arriving at Waverly Plantation in Clay County, Mississippi on July 14, where she remained until the war ended.

When the war finally did end, Belle returned to Memphis, but details of her life after this are sketchy. In the early 1870’s, she befriended President Jefferson Davis and his family. She was engaged twice, but both of her fiancés backed out of their commitment. After announcing her third engagement to a mysterious “Colonel H,” Belle died two weeks later in 1873 from one of three epidemics that swept through the city. She was only 33 years old. Family legend dictates that “Colonel H” was a Yankee officer.

Belle’s memory lives on through her diary. She is buried at Elmwood Cemetery in Memphis with her parents.

Shiloh (“Peaceful Place” in Hebrew)


This weekend marks the 151st anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee. Last year was the big event, with over 10,000 spectators and reenactors in attendance (myself included). Although nothing as monumental is slated for this year, the Shiloh National Military Park will still hold discussions and tours of the battlefield.

ImageLast year, a week of events to commemorate the terrible battle took place, including two separate reenactments. Opening ceremonies included an appearance by Miss Tennessee, as well as reenactors portraying generals who fought there: Grant, Hardee, Albert Sidney Johnston (who was killed), Beauregard, Buell, Wallace, and Prentiss, to name a few.


Simultaneous battles took place before several hundred spectators. A ladies tea and soiree, followed by an 1860’s fashion show, were held under a big tent, surrounded by food vendors and sutlers selling any era item imaginable.


On Saturday evening, a period ball was held in the big tent, which was so filled with reenactors that it was difficult to move about. However, dancers still had a very enjoyable time. Music was performed by the 52nd Regimental String Band. Sunday morning began with a period church service. Officers spoke about the roles they played during the battle, and then another reenactment took place before the event came to a close.


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