Tuesday, April 6, 2010
The Battle of Shiloh
The next two days, April 6 and 7, mark the 148th 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 Pittsburg 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.
Over the years, the battlefield has gone through renovations, such as new peach trees being planted where the original peach orchard stood. 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 148 years ago. My only complaint is the outdated movie shown in the museum, which depicts the battle. (This filmstrip is at least 50 years old!) It will truly accentuate the park and its visitors’ experience if the movie is brought up-to-date, just as Fredericksburg National Park has done.