4/9/14 Wednesday in Middleton,TN (Cherokee Landing-TT)
We spent the whole morning visiting with our neighbors, sharing what we enjoy when using the Microsoft Streets and Trips with GPS to plan and guide us on our trip. The morning was cool so John figured it would be better to go to the Shiloh Park in the warmer afternoon. He was right, once again.
It was another 1 hour trip through the lovely spring Tennessee countryside to Shiloh.
The Battle at Shiloh was fierce – more men died here than in all the wars this country had fought before. 23,746 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. This battle was over the railroad junction at Corinth, MS. Both sides knew that control of that N/S and E/W junction of two of the most important railroads for the South would be critical to who would win in the end. After the Battle at Shilo, Confederate General Beauregard cabled this prediction: “If defeated here we lose the Mississippi Valley, and probably our cause.”
Since both sides knew this was an important site, both made moves to secure it. General Grant and his men came up the Tennessee River in steamers, disembarking at Pittsburg Landing (where the National Military Park is today). They camped nearby. Confederate General Johnston got word of it and decided to leave Corinth to launch a surprise attack on Grant early in his march to Corinth. Beauregard pushed his men, but it took 3 days instead of one because of the major spring thunderstorms making mud of the land and no sleep at night. Grant had been ordered not to attack until General Buell and his unit joined him, so when Johnston’s soldiers started attacking a scouting party of Perkins’ (Union) group, they defended themselves, but Perkins was blamed for fighting. On Sunday, April 6, 1862 Johnston (Confederate) attacked pushing back Grant’s men towards the river, then helping themselves to the tent city the union soldiers had abandoned. A note: this Sunday was April 6th and we were visiting this site almost exactly 152 years later on April 9th. By the end of Sunday night the Union was pretty demolished and beat back so Johnston felt he’d won. Monday was a whole different story. Grant did NOT feel this battle was over and Buell had just arrived so the Union took back their land and more, until the Confederates (under General Beauregard since General Johnston had been killed) retreated – back to Corinth. The battle at Corinth occurred April 29th when Commander Halleck (of the Western Union forces) led 100,000 men against the fortification there until General Beauregard and his soldiers fled.
Below: 1 wooden canteen and 1 metal canteen
Brig. Gen. Prentiss commanded 2,200 Union men at this spot so named by the Confederates because of the stinking shot and shell they faced here in this thicket of brush and trees. Prentiss was able to hold off the Confederates for 8 hours before surrendering. Below is the Confederate’s monument to “Defeated Victory”. In the center South surrenders the laurel wreath of victory to “Death” on her right and “Night” on her left. Death took away the Confederate commander-in-chief (Johnston) and Night, having brought on reinforcements for the Federals stands waiting to complete the defeat. This monument was begun in 1916, dedicated in 1917, about 100 years ago. Click to enlarge. I think it’s beautiful.
Some of the fiercest fighting happened near this Church whose name was given to the Battle. Originally built in 1651, it was destroyed in the battle. The Methodist parishioners and a Confederate Veteran Camp had this one built in 1999 as authentically as possible, with hand-hewn 150 year old logs from nearby trees.
There were over 16,000 wounded soldiers to care for after the battle. Many were sent north on steamships. Others were helped in a field hospital set up on this high ground. Usually each regiment cared for their own wounded but for the first time here was the first consolidated tent hospital – a forerunner of modern military field hospitals
After the battle Federal details quickly buried the dead from both sides right where they were in shallow graves due to the number of men and warm weather. This image is of one of the 5 mass graves of Confederate dead who were not reburied in the National Cemetery in 1866, pictured next.
Shiloh National Military Cemetery