This area is steeped in Civil War history. Our plan to stay at Grand Harbor a few days allowed us to take the courtesy van to tour Shiloh National Memorial. It is the site of the 3rd bloodiest battle of the Civil War which took place on April 6, 1862. Nearly 110,000 American troops clashed in battle that resulted in 23,746 casualties (wounded, died, missing) Two Union Generals who fought at Shiloh became future presidents –General Grant and General Garfield.
We chatted with the Park ranger, and explained that we had passed by on the river in our boats several days prior to coming to visit. He was impressed and said we had arrived via the Union approach! Grant had come via the river and landed at Pickwick Landing in 1862.
Nineteen different states were represented at the Battle of Shiloh, of these 15 states have erected monuments of the battlefield in memory of their sons who fought and died at Shiloh. Our group had folks from Texas, Minnesota and Michigan- we found state monuments and took pictures- plus Iowa as we didn’t find one from Minnesota!
The historical battle field is plotted out along various roads- we only had the courtesy for 4 hours and ran out of time to see the whole tour. Both the Union and Confederate sides are honored.
The cemetery reminded me somewhat of Snelling in St Paul. The cemetery holds 3584 Union Soldiers, 2359 of them Unknown. (All but two of the Confederate dead are unidentified ; and only a third of the Federals are identified).
Immediately after the battle; the dead were buried in mass grave trenches. The Union dead were removed to Shiloh National Cemetery in 1866. The Confederates, who were not then considered American servicemen by the Federal government, were left in their original burial trenches on the battlefields They remain there to this day. It is a somber place to visit.
We had borrowed the courtesy car from the marina, and realized we would barely make it back in our allotted time; so had to cut our tour short. There were several roads leading around the battle fields and it would have been interesting to spend more time.
It lead to lots of questions and discussions on the way back to our boats. One topic was why didn’t we pay closer attention in our history classes?