While we were staying at Florence Marina in Florence Alabama we rented a car and drove to the Shiloh National Military Park. The battlefield tour started with a 32-minute video to introduce the battle and the impact it had on the outcome of the Civil War.
We were given a map that highlights the troop movements of the armies before and during the two-day battle.
2 Day Battle
Shiloh Battle lasted just 2 days.
April 6, 1862 starting at 4:55 am and ending April 7 at 5:30 pm. The total number of casualties was 23,746.
You will notice on this sign that the time of the surrender is 5:30 pm. As we followed the map in our car to the 20 separate stops highlighting troop movements we were amazed at the precise recording of the time and location of each event, battle or troop movement.
The explanation is this battlefield Park was established and marked by men who actually participated in the battle, on both sides. After the Civil War this area was declared a Military Park in the 1890’s.
Defeated Victory Monument
This monument, designed and sculptured by Frederick C. Hibbard, was erected in 1917 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in memory of all Southern troops who fought in the battle.
In the center of the massive pedestal is carved the bust of Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, the Confederate commander who was killed during the afternoon of the first day.
At the extreme right, the figure in front represents the Confederate infantryman who has snatched up his flag in defiance of the Northern army. The figure to his rear is the artilleryman, who is calm as he appears to gaze through the smoke of battle.
To the left, the figure in front represents the cavalryman. His hand is spread, indicating frustration. He is eager to help, but cannot penetrate the heavy undergrowth. The figure back of the cavalryman represents the officers of the Confederate army. He has his head bowed in submission to the order to cease firing when, it seemed, had it not been given the first day, there might have been a Confederate victory.
The central group represents a "Defeated Victory." The front figure, representing the Confederacy, is surrendering the laurel wreath of victory to Death, on the left, and Night, on the right. Death came to their commander and Night brought reinforcements to the enemy, and the battle was lost.
The panel of heads on the right represents the spirit of the first day. How hopefully and fearlessly the 11 young Confederates rushed into battle! The panel of heads on the left represents the second day of the battle and the sorrow of the men, now reduced to 10, over the victory so nearly won and so unexpectedly lost.
Shiloh Meeting House
This is the Shiloh Meeting House, the log Methodist church that gave the battle its name.
The original building was destroyed so this building was built using trees from the area and using tools that would have been used to build the original church.
As we followed the map the battle came alive to us. It was sobering. This is hallowed ground and you can feel it. The countryside probably looks the same as it did in 1862.
The trees and rolling hills are still there. But we could imagine the sounds of the fighting and the smoke from all the cannons in this small patch of land.
We agreed we are very glad we went but it was a sobering visit.
Tim and I started our Great Loop Adventure on 9-11-2017 in Ottowa, Illinois. We put the boat on a trailer and drove 9 hours from our home in South Dakota to Heritage Harbor Marina in Ottowa to put her in the water. Tim's brother, Dan, drove the truck and trailer back to our house. Thanks Dan!