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 My only complaint is the outdated movie shown in the museum, which depicts the battle.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.

1 comment:

Jim Miller said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the movie. I've visited the battlefield numerously, and will do so again in a couple of weeks, and I have seen their film once, and once was enough. I'm told the updated orientation film is shown at Corinth's visitors center. The staff at Shiloh, are very proud that their film is the oldest in the national park system, but the film is a joke. To any who are interested in visiting Shiloh, I highly recomend skipping the film and spending more time on the battlefield, you won't regret it.