Our Country's Fiery Ordeal

A blog about the American Civil War, written and maintained by historian Daniel J. Vermilya, author of The Battle of Kennesaw Mountain (History Press, 2014) and James Garfield and the Civil War (History Press, 2015)

Dedicated to my great-great-great grandfather, Private Ellwood Rodebaugh, Company D, 106th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, killed at the Battle of Antietam, September 17, 1862.

"And may an Overuling Providence continue to cause good to come out of evil, justice to be done to all men where injustice has long prevailed, and finally, peace, quiet, and harmony to come out of this terrible confrontation and our country's fiery ordeal." -- Albert Champlin, 105th Ohio, Diary entry of June 19, 1864 (Western Reserve Historical Society)

Friday, April 6, 2012

April 6, 1862

150 years ago today, on April 6, 1862, the Battle of Shiloh began. Over the past few weeks, I have done various posts on Shiloh, stemming from my recent visit. I have always been fascinated by this battle, as I was born on its 125th Anniversary (yes, that makes today my birthday). Shiloh has always stood out for me as being a very unique battle. It was the first of the great and terrible battles of the war. One week short of one year into the war, 24,000 Americans lay dead, wounded, or dying on once peaceful fields in Southern Tennessee. There was no turning back for America after Shiloh, as it forever changed the nation. It told all who would listen that the war would not be an easy affair, that the war would not be over quickly, and that with such momentous issues at stake, a great deal of blood would be required to settle the matter of which vision of liberty would prevail.

In Corinth, Mississippi, about 20 miles south of Shiloh, there is a relatively new NPS Interpretive Center. If you get the chance, I highly recommend you go there. Along with the fine museums and interpretive films, the Interpretive Center has a small display behind the building. The display, pictured above, is of a stream, the stream of American history. It starts with the Declaration of Independence; small ripples in the stream are caused by various sectional controversies leading up to the war. The blocks in the middle represent the war itself, with the larger blocks representing the larger battles. I found this to be fascinating because it is an excellent way to understand how these battles impacted history. Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg, and many others were all major events in the stream of American history, causing ripples which are still being felt today. Shiloh led to unforeseen casualties, the rise of a Lost Cause myth, the rise of Ulysses S. Grant, but more importantly, it taught Americans exactly how high the price of freedom truly is. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were documents that were so sacred that in order to either destroy or save them, thousands upon thousands of lives would need to be sacrificed. Those sacrifices, made at Shiloh 150 years ago, still affect our lives today, reminding us of what it means to be a citizen in this great republic.

Because I have written quite a bit about my recent visit to Shiloh, today, in commemoration of the battle's 150th anniversary, I wanted to simply share some of my favorite photos from my visit there (what I hope will be the first of many visits). Let us remember the sacrifices made 150 years ago today in the fields and woods surrounding Shiloh Church. As Lincoln wrote in his December 3, 1861 message to Congress, "The struggle of today, is not altogether for today -- it is for a vast future also. With a reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us."

Here are the links for the posts I have done about Shiloh over the past few weeks. You can find many more Shiloh photos in these posts as well.

Shiloh National Cemetery
Confederate Burial Trenches 
Shiloh's Confederate Memorial
Sherman Arrives at Pittsburg Landing
Battle of Shiloh Begins
Shiloh's Rhea Field
Shiloh's State Monuments
Shiloh's Hornets' Nest
April 3, 1862: Confederate Advance, Union Camps
April 5, 1862: "The eyes and hopes of eight millions of people rest upon you" (Death of A.S. Johnston)

I would be remiss if I didn't put the most important photo first. Going to Shiloh with my Dad made my first visit to Shiloh all the more special. Here is Dad and I along the edge of the Hornets' Nest, with Duncan Field behind us. 

Now, on to my other favorite photos...

Iowa Monument

Iowa Monument

Confederate Memorial

 Tennessee Memorial

 Artillery near Water Oaks Pond

 Sherman's Headquarters sign

 57th Ohio Monument

The Peach Orchard


One of the park's resident Bald Eagles, taken in Cloud Field

 Shiloh at sunset, taken from the Peach Orchard (same for next few)


Shiloh National Cemetery

Graves of Wisconsin Color Bearers overlooking the Tennessee River

Site of Grant's Headquarters on the evening of April 6ht

Shiloh National Cemetery

Confederate Battery Tablet

 Albert Sydney Johnston Death Site

Confederate Burial Trench

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