Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor's Center, Shiloh National Military Park & Cemetery, Brices Cross Roads & Tupelo National Battlefields

As I was planning my trips today to Tupelo, I found out that all the park stamps are located in one stop - the Natchez Trace Parkway Visitor's Center just down the street 5 miles from our RV Park.  What luck!  One place to stamp all my locations.
After I stamped my book, I headed over to pick up Scott for our drive into Shiloh, Tennessee to see the Shiloh National Battlefield fought April 6-7, 1862.  It was only 1.5 hours up the road into Tennessee so we had a nice ride in the Challenger getting there.  It was just as hot in Tennessee as it was in Mississippi so we didn't get much heat relief.  The bugs were nearly as bad, so I guess we just have to lump it.  As we entered the military park and drove along the road, we saw the monuments to many of the regiments that fought at this crucial battlefield.
The Shiloh National Military Park is a large battlefield area and has a Visitor Center, separate bookstore and bathrooms.
Visitors Center
Bookstore - The guy who worked there was from Utah at one time, so that was fun.
The Visitor Center has 32-minute film describing the 2-day battle in great detail along with personal accounts of three soldiers and what happened to them after the fighting.  I have cousins who fought at Pittsburgh Landing (more commonly known as Shiloh) so this was of importance to me.  Here are some photos of the great exhibit here at Shiloh Visitor Center.
Union Soldier in Uniform
Confederate Soldier in Uniform
I was intrigued by the 10 year old drummer boy and his story.  I can't even imagine young boy of 10 years in this bloody and scary battle!  What was his mother thinking?!  But, good news.  He survived the battle and retired from the military as a Major General.
Scott reading about the drummer boy
After we finished in the Visitor's Center, we walked over to the gates of the Shiloh National Cemetery.  There aren't a lot of graves here because there were mass graves all throughout the battlefield - some as many as 1,200 in one grave.  It was a quiet and reflective and respectful place.  Food and drink are never allowed in the National Cemetery area.  The deepest respect should be shown a fallen soldier.  The cemetery is also located in General Ulysses S. Grant's HQ right along the banks of the Tennessee River at Pittsburg Landing.
Here's a video of the cemetery.
Next, we got into the Challenger for a driving tour of the 5.2 square mile park and a 12.7 miles drive around the park.  Charles "Case" Bacon, my 1st cousin 3 generations back, was part of the 16th Iowa, Company F and there is a monument to this group of men on the tour road and his regiment was located at stop 12 - Jones Field.  The 16th Iowa came in to save the day because Grant's army was pushed way back to the river and it looked like a defeat for them until the morning of April 7th when reinforcement arrived.  This was the Iowa 16th's first battle and what a battle it was!  Actually, a few months after this he was captured and a prisoner at Andersonville...but that's another post to come...
Stop 5 - Shiloh Church
Stop 12 - Jones Field
We had a nice time learning and experiencing this park even though the deaths of so many where here and must have resembled Armageddon with Union losses: 1,754 killed, 8,408 wounded and 2,885 missing totaling 13,047 men.  On the confederate side, 1,728 killed, 8,012 wounded, 959 missing totaling 10,699.  It must have been gruesome to witness such tragedy.  Grants army was thoroughly defeated except for the arrival of 23,500 fresh Federal reinforcement which turned the tide of this battle; thing could have turned out much differently.

After going to Shiloh, we stopped at Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield (June 10, 1864 battle) just north of Tupelo and stayed briefly.  All that is there is only a couple of remembrance statues of this event.  This is why the Visitor Centers are lumped together into one.  So, it's important to get each park brochure to read and learn the history of each location.  This battle between Sherman, Sturgis and Forrest resulted in a Confederate victory.  USCT (US Colored Troops) fought at this battle.  Before this battle they protected the supply train and served as rear guard for the Federal army.  The USCT held off several Confederate attacks, which allowed the Federals to secure the most advantageous ground for the battle of July 14-15 in Tupelo.
The following day after church in the Tupelo 1st Ward, we drove over to the Tupelo National Battlefield site and took the same kind of photos.  Again, these were just of the small battlefield memorials.  Scott took all these photos.  Tupelo was fought against A.J. Smith of the Republic and Stephen D. Lee for the Confederate on July 14-15th and much of this fight was for the ownership of the Mobile & Ohio Railroad with food and ammunitions that the north wanted to keep and protect.  The battle began at 7:30 a.m. and ended near 5 p.m. on the 15th.  Casualties on both sides and neither side claimed victory of this battle.  Forrest was had a disability and was wounded for three weeks keeping him from action.

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