Bloody Shiloh National Military Park

Lady on Iowa Memorial
Lady on Iowa Memorial

Who is this woman showing her breast, her nipple no less, in a national park? Now that I have your attention…

I’m at Shiloh National Military Park in southwest Tennessee, almost on the Mississippi border. This gracious lady is writing on the Iowa Civil War memorial, one of the tallest memorials in the park. Even the World War I statues of women on Le Chemin de St. Jacques in France weren’t as exposed.

Shiloh was the first real bloody battle of the Civil War. In just two days, April 6 and 7, 1862, there were 23,746 casualties. On the first day, it didn’t look too good for General Ulysses S. Grant’s forces as they were pushed back toward the river by the Confederates.

Shiloh Confederate Memorial
Shiloh Confederate Memorial

That night, fresh Union reinforcements arrived to attack the Confederates the second day. This is the Confederate Memorial to the left.

As in Stones River, which I visited yesterday, the Confederates retreated.

The 45-minute movie at the visitor center went through every movement of both sides. I really got a good feel for the chaos of the bloody battle but the detailed tactics were lost on me.

Shiloh was protected in 1894, the second military park placed under the Department of the Army. Over 6,000 acres were set aside as one of five battlefields for the five Union armies. At the time, veterans pushed for protection of these battlefields. In particular, the speaker of the house in the 1890s was a Civil War veteran, whose brother was killed at Shiloh.

The Army didn’t think about interpretation, I’m sure; they were into commemoration. They wanted to make sure that all battlefields were maintained the same way. A ranger pointed out that the Army had two or three plans for the Superintendent’s house, which all the battlefields parks had to follow. You can’t get details like that from the web; you have to be lucky and interested enough to engage a ranger.

We took the driving tour through the battlefield, stopping at most stations. The highlight was the Shiloh Church, which gave the battle its name.

Shiloh Church
Shiloh Church

The original church was destroyed in the battle but was recently reconstructed. A modern church on the same private inholding is still active.

This is also Walking Tall Country. Buford Pusser was the Sheriff of McNairy County, Tennessee, from 1964 to 1970. Pusser fought corruption and vices such as moon shining, prostitution, gambling, on the Mississippi-Tennessee state-line.

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