So, it has been a while since I last posted. The month of May is one of the most busy times for a teacher. We had state testing for a week, finals, end of the year activities, and then in-service days just to name some of it. Then I had my wife's 30th birthday, my sister's wedding, and my grandparents' 90th birthdays. May was nuts. Even posting on Instagram and Facebook became sparse at times.
But at the beginning of the month, I was able to spend another day at Shiloh with some new friends and a couple of my favorite authors. The group had already been at Shiloh for a few days previous, and had traversed and studied in detail a good portion of the battlefield, especially the actions on the first day. Author and historian David Powell (You might have seen his Battle of Chickamauga volumes) led the group on Thursday and Friday, and then was able to enjoy the tour for himself on Saturday. The plan called for two unique experiences on that Saturday, so we covered the Confederate defensive line on April 7th, and Lew Wallace's march to the battlefield on April 6th.
Tim Smith was our guide on Saturday. He is a former ranger at the park, and has authored multiple books, including Shiloh: Conquer or Perish, which is probably my favorite book on the battle. He does the second day of Shiloh more justice than any other book I've read on the battle, and one thing you will come away after reading it, or being on this hike, is that they Confederate Army was definitely not brushed away so easily as it has been made out to be. The first day of Shiloh gets so much of the attention, and rightly so, but the second day has generally been skimmed over as a quick Union mop up operation. When you see the ground for yourself, and take into consideration the terrain that both sides were dealing with, victory was anything but certain on April 7th for the Union, even with Buell's reinforcements. The Confederates launched ferocious counterattacks and stubbornly held their position for hours until they were outflanked by...Lew Wallace, the seemingly black sheep of the Union Army after the battle.
I wanted to be able to share as much as possible from the trip, so I recorded as much as could, and when my phone would allow me.
After lunch, we had our vehicle caravan drive to Crump's Landing, where Lew Wallace had his division encamped a few miles north of Pittsburg Landing. He had one brigade at the landing, one brigade at Stony Lonesome, and his third brigade at Adamsville. When artillery was heard on the morning of April 6th, the division concentrated at Stony Lonesome. That's where things get tricky. Did Lew Wallace get "lost," intentionally defy orders, or was just slow in marching to the battlefield is explained much better below by Tim Smith.
We then were able to see some of the original Shunpike that his men used on April 6th. These things are now on private property, and are super rare for anyone to see. It was amazing to take in history that is hardly seen or even known about. Definitely a hidden treasure for sure.
As you can see from the above image, I was able to ride in the same vehicle as Tim, while he narrated the history to the other vehicles through the walkie-talkie. My wife asked me if I was fan girling...I guess I kind of was.
Overall, this was a great day. I was able to learn from some of my favorite historians, and even better, I met some great people and made new friends. Thanks to Darryl for inviting me along. It was a a blast! If you are ever able to do a guided hike, do it! Walking on hollowed ground with an expert and being able to ask them questions about all the little details adds to the experience in a great way.
Next week I have a post coming on some family connections I found at Shiloh, and I also have a potential guest writer posting in the near future as well. I'm super excited for the writing opportunities during the summer break, like ACTUALLY finishing my book, and posting what I hope are quality articles. Be sure to follow my Kentucky Civil War Facebook Page. You can follow that directly from my home page here on the site. As always, thanks for reading, and thanks for being patient with my brief hiatus!