Friday, August 1, 2008

Unconditional Surrender

I got aI got a bite at the local diner. Brains and eggs were on the menu. As a biology guy, I had to ask the waitress: “Whose brains are they?” “Pig. Are you going to get some?” “No. Sounds gross.” “Good, I don’t like serving them…..”

After a quick, brainless breakfast, I was back at the battlefield. I wanted to make sure I saw the location where Confederate General Johnston died. He was a brilliant leader and had the habit of leading his troops into battle in front (as opposed to ordering them from behind and following them in). He was shot and bled to death while his staff frantically tried to find the wound. The artery in his leg was severed by a bullet that entered the backside of his knee while his knee-high boots hid the wound and captured the blood. Hmmmmmmmm, in the front of one’s own troops but shot in the back of the leg. Yes, indeed, he was accidently killed by his own men. A tourniquet was in his pocket.

At one point, I accidently flushed an Eastern Bluebird. It had built a nest in a barrel of a piece of field artillery.

As always, I took some time As always, I took some time to the check out the interpretive center. I watched a video on the battle (even though I had a good idea of what was going on). Oh my, they need a few bucks in their budget for some updates. The film was from 1956 and looked every bit of it.

It was here
that a peculiar thought struck me. John Wesley Powell enlisted with the 20th Illinois Volunteers. At Shiloh, he was injured and lost his arm. That did not stop him from being one the greatest explorers in the American West, including the Grand Canyon (by boat). He ultimately went on to be a director for the US Geological Survey. What is so peculiar about that? It marks another time where I have visited some of the same places as key people in history. Powell was at Shiloh and the Grand Canyon. Me, too. Wyatt Earp, the famous lawman, spent some time in Tombstone, Arizona, and Nome, Alaska. I’ve been to those places, as well. I have been to the Wright Brothers Bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio and Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina. Just connecting dots, I guess…

From here, I opted to head back south into extreme Northern Mississippi and re-visit the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center. Yes, I was there the day before, but I literally got there when it was closing. Now, I had a chance to check it out. Very new and very well done. In the back, they had what I would simply call a water sculpture. It was very similar to the one at the Franklin Roosevelt Memorial in Washington DC. It has undisturbed flowing water in the beginning of the “timeline”, followed by a jumble of rocks and then peaceful calm waters again. The jumbled rocks were labeled with all the major battles of the civil war. Pretty neat.

I also took a few minutes and checked out some of the remaining civil war fortifications. Scattered around Corinth, one can still see the earth embankments that had been constructed by the Union in 1862 after they captured Corinth. From a distance, they just look like small woodlots. Enter the woods, and the walls and pits are obvious.

From here, I shot due north to Fort Donelson National Battlefield. The picturesque bluffs over the Cumberland River were the site of two day engagement in February of 1862. It was here that Ulysses S. Grant uttered those famous words: "No terms except an unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted." U.S. Grant? Unconditional Surrender Grant? Get it? The fall of the fort (the first Union victory of the war) led to further invasions of Tennessee, ultimately leading to Shiloh and Stone’s River. From a bird standpoint, it was here that I located Osprey and Bald Eagle; the river is perfect for them. The hotel where Buckner surrendered to Grant still stands. It is near the Cemetery. The trenches used as defensive positions of the Confederates are still very clear. This battle field is much smaller, but still very impressive.

still had time in the day, I headed off to Nashville. Totally forgetting that Nashville attracts people from all around wtih kitch, sequined boots, and family groups singing bad music, I struggled with lodging. I landed a KOA again. Ugh. Oh but they had a concert in the music hall! Where’s my barf bucket?

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