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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Some Thoughts on Shiloh

Shiloh Church.  A place of worship.  Pittsburg Landing.  The Tennessee River.  April 6 - 7, 1862.  150 years ago.  Sesquicentennial.  (I so enjoy saying that word.)
A gathering of forces.  Two days of horror and death. The Bloody Pond. The Hornet’s Nest. The Sunken Road.  Statues and monuments.
Battle plans and strategic maneuvers. Lost friends and loved ones.  Tremendous and continuous noise.  Guns and canons.   Horrific screams as bayonets strike home. Thousands killed.   Others wounded or taken prisoner.  Albert Sydney Johnston – a great loss.  W.H.L. Wallace – another great loss.
An insignificant place not quite one hundred miles east of Memphis and only about twenty five miles north of Corinth, Mississippi.  Momentous now.
Forces from Memphis rushing to help soldiers there and at Vicksburg, leaving Memphis vulnerable and easily taken by Union forces only one month later.
Outstanding generals.  Ulysses S. Grant. Lew Wallace. Don Carlos Buell.  William Tecumseh Sherman.  P.G.T. Beauregard.
Oh, how I’ve always loved his name: Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard.  What a delicious mouthful of words.  But it's no wonder he went by P.G.T.  I used to say his whole name over and over to my students so that they would know it, too.  I took those students as often as possible to Shiloh.  How can you understand it if you don’t see it and feel it?
Being there is an awesome and humbling experience. Knowing that you had relatives who fought and even died there brings you yet closer to the uncanny atmosphere that surrounds you as you stand in the quiet groves, and as you read the markers, walk the paths, and view the memorials.
8th graders running around eating ice cream and having fun, but learning, too; a complete contrast to the reality of what happened there so many years ago.
I wrote about relatives who fought at Shiloh on my sassygenealogist blog. Here I only wanted to share bits and pieces of my thoughts and memories.
If you’ve never been to Shiloh National Park, you should go if you can.  You will never feel the same about the Civil War, or the War Between the States, or the War of the Rebellion, or  the War of Northern Aggression…or whatever you care to call it. 
General Sherman summed the name up best in his now-famous statement concerning his advance on Atlanta:  “War is hell.” 
Without a doubt, Shiloh was hell.