Friday, August 1, 2008

Bullets Like Hornets

By sunrise, I was out the door. I had planned on driving to southwest Tennessee. TC took me there via extreme northern Mississippi. I have never been to Mississippi. While I was only 10 miles or so inside the state line, I was there. Now I can say I have been to Mississippi! 39 states down. Only 11 more to go! After a brief stop at the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center a brand new National Park Service facility, I made my way to Savannah, Tennessee for grub and bed. After dinner, I had some time before I lost daylight, so I did something, I have never done before: I walked a Civil War battlefield at sundown. In this case, Shiloh National Military Park.

The battle of Shiloh was a boondoggle. Basically, General Grant was caught with his head in dark place, (not a bottle). 44,000 thousands Confederate troops snuck up on his men (how do you do that?) and whipped them back to the Tennessee River. Overnight, he received thousands of reinforcements and, in turn, beat the Confederate butts the following day. When all was said and done, 23,000 were dead or wounded, making it the 7th bloodiest battle of the Civil War. “Shiloh”, by the way, is Hebrew for “Place of Peace."

Walking the roads that still exist and looking at the stones in the cemetery sends chills up your spine. Visualizing thousands of Union troops massed along the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing? Wow. There are several Confederate Burial Trenches in the park. Its one grave, but it contain the remains of hundreds of soldiers, whose identities will forever be unknown. The Chuck-wills-widow calling by the cemetery was creepy. Lots of widows after April 7, 1862. As the sun set, bats come out in force (no, they didn’t get in my hair) and Wood Frogs were calling at Bloody Pond (it was red with blood by the end of the battle).

The sun setting across the field by the "Hornets Nest" was very peaceful. It was said that the intensity of Confederate bullets entering the woods where the Union had set up defences were so thick it reminded one of a swarm of hornets. The picture here is actually as viewed by the Union (the "Nest" is to left out of view). This open field is where the Confederates crossed multiple times in attempt to eliminate the position.

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