Y’know, no matter how many times I try to replay it, the Confederates always lose the battle of Shiloh. There are so many “what ifs” involved with the armies on the first day that volumes and volumes can and have been written about it. So I won’t re-cover that ground…not today anyhow.
I first went to the Shiloh National Military Park around the age of 7. The Centennial fever was probably still high then, and my parents—finding themselves not far from the battlefield—decided to take us there. I remember being in awe at the rows and rows of cannon and The Bloody Pond. To this day, I can almost hear the cannons when I think of Shiloh. The last time I went to Shiloh, I think, was when Brittany turned 7. Her birthday is on the anniversary of the first day of Shiloh (April 6). We were there when the Hunley visited.
So it was with great excitement that I signed up to go with Brett—who is 9—and his Boy Scout troop to a camp and hiking trip to Shiloh. Brett anticipated the trip for weeks! Our group made the trip up to Tennessee on Friday night and camped out at a State park not far from Shiloh. I heard quite a few of the boys playing soldier or army that night.
Next morning, up and at-’em and on to Shiloh. The National Park was having a living history in association with the anniversary and the boys were anxious to see the soldiers. I was anxious because I thought members of the unit which I have reenacted with would be there. Indeed they were, and in a position of great honor: the color guard. The boys enjoyed watching the infantry march around maneuvering and firing their weapons.
After the demonstration, we grabbed lunch and headed out for one of the many official Boy Scout hikes. We made our way to The Bloody Pond and then over to the Indian Mounds. One of the coolest things happened on the way to the Mounds—We saw a Bald Eagle, in its nest, right there on the property. I gotta admit, that was pretty cool. It was a huge nest, too! One of the scouts informed me that Bald Eagles construct either the biggest bird nests in the world, or in N.America. Either way, it was very cool.
Once we’d seen the Mounds, which was actually the first time I’d ever even been to that part of the park, we made our way back to the Park HQ and watched the 60 year old movie they show. Brett bought some souvenirs and then wanted to see where the Confederates were buried. As I was telling him that the Confederates were NOT buried in the “National Cemetery,” some of the parents overheard me and were both surprised and angry. I’d learned long ago that most Southerners don’t realize that “our” soldiers are NOT buried in the “National Parks.” At Shiloh, they were dumped into five mass graves. So much for reconciliation, I guess. Brett wanted his picture taken at the mass grave…and then we retreated home.
All in all, a very fun—and tiring—trip!