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April Anniversary Hikes and Talks

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Date: February 19, 2008

Shiloh National Military Park
April Anniversary Battlefield Hikes and Talks
April 6-8, 2008


Shiloh National Military Park Superintendent Woody Harrell is pleased to announce the park will offer in-depth hikes on Shiloh battlefield on the actual anniversary dates of the battle, April 6th, 7th, and 8th, 2008. "We are excited to be able to offer visitors detailed battlefield hikes on the actual ground where the events occurred at the actual times of day they occurred, only 146 years after the fact," Harrell stated. Experienced historical guides will lead five hikes on Sunday, April 6th, three hikes on Monday, April 7th, and one hike on Tuesday, April 8th. "These hikes will give visitors a deeper understanding of what occurred here," Harrell commented, "and provide rare opportunities for visitors to access park personnel for extended periods of time on the battlefield. Chief Park Ranger Stacy Allen added, "These walking tours will allow visitors to experience portions of the park most people never take the opportunity to visit. Park Volunteers will guide hikers into areas difficult to get to and routinely not visited." For the visitors who participate in the anniversary hikes, the park entrance fee will be charged. The entrance fee is $3.00 per person, or $5.00 per family, and is valid for seven days.

To participate in one or more of the hikes, please call Park Ranger Joe Davis, Park Ranger Charlie Spearman, or Park Ranger Chris Mekow at the Shiloh National Military Park Visitor Center at (731) 689-5696. Registered participants should meet the volunteers at the appointed times for each hike and are encouraged to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and food and water, especially if partaking in more than one hike.

The following is a list of hikes, with times, lengths of programs, and distances included:

Sunday, April 6, 2008 Battlefield Hikes

5:15 a.m.
Fraley Field: The Battle Begins

Meet at Shiloh National Military Park Visitor Center at 5:00 a.m. Join Park Volunteers Bjorn Skaptason, and Jeff Gentsch on a two-hour battlefield hike which will introduce visitors to the events surrounding the opening shots of the battle on the actual ground it occurred at the actual time of day. After meeting at the park’s Visitor Center, hikers will divide into two groups. One group will drive to Tour Stop #10, where their hike will begin. This group will retrace the route of the Federal reconnoitering party sent out early on the morning of April 6, 1862. The other group will drive to Ed Shaw's Gift Shop, where their hike will begin. This group will retrace the Confederate skirmishers trek and take their position in Fraley Field. The two groups will encounter one another at daylight in Fraley Field, just as the Union and Confederate soldiers did on that historic morning of April 6, 1862. The Federal side will require a two-mile roundtrip hike while the Confederate side will require a one mile roundtrip hike. Both of the hikes will be on moderate terrain.

Sunday, April 6, 2008 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. ---- In the Footsteps of Henry Morton Stanley, 6th Arkansas Volunteer Infantry

Meet Park Volunteer Bjorn Skaptason at Tour Stop #10, Invasion of the Union Camps
Hiking Distance: 2.5 miles
Terrain Conditions: Moderate, with level ground but heavy woods and some underbrush.

Henry Morton Stanley made history as a journalist, and as a famous colonial explorer of Africa. However, long before he set off in search of Dr. David Livingstone, Henry Stanley fought at the Battle of Shiloh as a nineteen year-old Confederate private in the 6th Arkansas Infantry Regiment. Years later he wrote a gripping chapter on Shiloh in his memoirs that is used by most modern historians to illustrate narratives of the battle. This program will follow Private Stanley across the Shiloh Battlefield, using his memoirs to tell the story of one young soldier’s experience in the battle. At the same time it will give visitors a picture of the Confederate attempts to carry the first two lines of Union camps. What was the experience of Civil War combat like? What did the shock of battle do to the psyche of naïve young men? What, exactly, did happen when the Confederates surprised the soldiers of the First and Sixth Divisions of the Army of Tennessee?

Sunday, April 6, 2008 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. ---- Flooded Streams and Dense Vegetation: The Bloody Landscape of Shiloh

Meet Park Volunteer Dr. James Gentsch at Tour Stop #7, Shiloh Church.
Hiking Distance: 2.5 miles
Terrain Conditions: Moderate to difficult.

Tactics, which is the attempted marriage of mobility and firepower, is greatly influenced by the landscape, and nowhere is this any more evident than during the Battle of Shiloh. From the beginning, Confederate units lost unit cohesion attempting to cross flooded areas, significant elevation changes, and pass through dense vegetation. Walk in the footsteps of General S.A.M. Wood’s Brigade and the 4th Tennessee Infantry Regiment of General A.P. Stewart’s Brigade as they began their assaults along the Hamburg-Purdy Road at 11:00 am. As this fighting is interpreted, you will be able to understand how these Confederate units were already trying to take advantage of geographic factors in order to overcome the Northern forces natural advantages of fighting from defensive positions.

Sunday, April 6, 2008 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Fierce Battle in the Ravines: To Turn the Union Left Flank

Meet at Tour Stop # 13, The Peach Orchard. Hiking Distance: 2 miles
Terrain Conditions: Difficult, with deep ravines, thick underbrush and streams to cross.

Join Park Volunteer Bjorn Skaptason as he discusses Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston’s plan of battle and his directive to his senior officers “to turn the left flank of the enemy so as to cut off his line of retreat to the Tennessee River,” and thereby destroy the Union army. In order to accomplish this task three Confederate brigades attacked to the east of the Hamburg-Savannah Road, attempting to pry Union defenders from their positions. A patchwork line of Union regiments was established in the sector to stop the attack, utilizing a series of deep ravines to make their defensive line. How did the Confederates eventually drive the Federals from their strong positions? What role did the forbidding terrain play in the battle of Shiloh. The participating visitors will explore some of the roughest terrain of the battlefield, and see where crucial hours were lost to the Confederate army.

Sunday, April 6, 2008 4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. --- The Impenetrable Thicket: The Center of the Sunken Road

Meet the Park Ranger at Tour Stop #3, Hornets Nest
Hiking Distance: 2 miles
Terrain Conditions: Moderate

Join Park Volunteer Dr. Jeff Gentsch on a two hour led hike to explore the center of the Union line of the Sunken Road. Being on the defensive, Union forces enjoyed many geographic advantages that were not shared by their Confederate counterparts, who lost unit cohesion as they passed through dense vegetation that diminished the firepower that could be deployed against the Union line. Union forces also enjoyed elevation advantages and were also aided in their defense by cultural geography, such as the open line of fire provided by Duncan Field. Until the right and left flank of the center folded, this position held fast against repeated Confederate assaults. Hike through the same underbrush of the Hornet’s Nest as the Confederates pushed through on April 6, 1862.

Monday, April 7, 2008 Battlefield Hikes

8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.The Bloody Struggle Renews: Shiloh’s 2nd Day the Impact of the Union Camps on the Southern Army

Hiking Distance: 3 miles
Terrain Conditions: Moderate to Difficult.
Meet Park Volunteer Dr. Jeff Gentsch at the Visitor Center.

Join Park Volunteer Dr. Jeff Gentsch for the first program of the day, as the interpretation of the second day of battle is offered. The Army of the Tennessee’s Union camps were a major factor in the Confederate movement from Corinth, Mississippi, but they were also a source of supply that impeded Confederate progress on April 6th. However, the quest for food and ammunition in the Union camps on the stormy night of April 6th was an organizing factor that allowed a large portion of the Confederate army to start from a common point on the morning of April 7th, although geography and combat had fragmented and compartmentalized its order of battle the day before. Hike with Dr. Gentsch as he discusses the Union deployment on the far right of General Grant’s Northern line, and view the elevation changes by looking over the valley of Tilghman Branch toward Jones Field. Hear the battle interpretation of the struggle over Jones Field from 9:00 a.m. till 10:00 a.m., and hear the discussion of how the Union campsites affected Confederate unit cohesion on the morning of April 7th.

Monday, April 7, 2008 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. ---- That Body of Brave Men: The United States Regulars at Shiloh

Hiking Distance: 1.5 miles
Terrain Conditions: Moderately difficult, with small ravines, streams, and forest with underbrush.
Meet at the black and white gate west of the Michigan State Monument.

Park Volunteer Bjorn Skaptason will lead this two hour hike which will look into the actions of the regular army at the Battle of Shiloh. The Civil War was fought almost entirely by volunteers, men who joined local units “for three years or the war.” However, the Union armies also benefited from small forces of professional soldiers who could form a trustworthy “iron column” that a commanding general could count on in emergencies. Three battalions of United States Regulars fought with General Don Carlos Buell’s Army of the Ohio on April 7th, 1862. These gallant and highly disciplined men held the right of Buell’s line and linked with General Grant’s Army of the Tennessee. Their advance brought them into conflict with some of the best soldiers in General P. G. T. Beauregard’s Southern army, including elements of the famous Kentucky Orphan Brigade. How did the United States Regulars differ from other soldiers who fought at Shiloh? What role did these small but proud battalions play in pushing back the Confederates on April 7th? This program will explore the service of America’s professional soldiers at Shiloh by following the advance of regiments that are still on active duty today.

Monday, April 7, 2008 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. ---- The Confederate Last Stand: Hamburg-Purdy Road

Hiking Distance: 2 miles
Terrain Conditions: Easy
Meet at the gravel loop of the Hornet’s Nest.

Join Park Volunteer Dr. Jeff Gentsch as he interprets the last stand of the Confederate army before they withdraw to Corinth, Mississippi. Even though tired and facing fresh troops, Confederate forces put up a spirited defense using physical geographic factors and a new cultural one – the transformation of an agricultural community into a battlefield, which influenced the deployment of both armies. This determined resistance was crucial in protecting the weakened Confederate army at a time when any army is most vulnerable, which is during a withdrawal.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. ---- Forrest at Fallen Timbers: The Last Fight of the Battle of Shiloh

Terrain Conditions: This program is a car caravan tour.
Meet the Park Volunteer at the Visitor Center.

Join Park Volunteer Bjorn Skaptason for an extended tour to discuss the fight at Fallen Timbers. The Battle of Shiloh ended when the Confederates withdrew from the Union camps on the evening of April 7th, 1862. Yet there was still fighting, and much more suffering to take place. The Union camps had been converted into a charnel house of death. The roads leading from Shiloh to Corinth were littered with dead and dying men and animals, and tons of once useful machinery of war. On the afternoon of April 8th, elements of two Union divisions embarked on a reconnaissance in order to determine if the Confederates had really retreated, or if they were reforming for another attack. A few miles from their camps the Federals encountered a screen of Confederate cavalry, and suffered a “check.” This car caravan will lead visitors to several locations outside the Shiloh National Military Park that are important to the story of the battle. Participants will get to see the location of the important fork in the road that delayed the Confederate advance on April 5th; they will see the location of the engagement at Fallen Timbers and they will visit the location of Mickey’s Farm, where thousands of Confederate wounded received treatment, and where many are buried. This program will address important questions regarding the outcome of the Battle of Shiloh.

Did You Know?

Lew Wallace

Major General Lew Wallace commanded a Federal division at Shiloh. He later gained more fame as the author of Ben Hur.