Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Savannah, TN to Booneville, MS - 76 miles

We traveled into our thirteenth state [Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi] today -- Mississippi! Wow, the states have just flown by. Tennessee was a very beautiful state. I am looking forward to see what Mississippi has to offer.

A National Heat Advisory is still in effect (weather reports say it will be 101 degrees with a heat index of 120) and several of the riders began worrying about the heat last night even before they began riding.  And yes, the heat was an issue for them today.
We traveled through the town of Shiloh and the battlefield on our way to Booneville, MS. 

The Shiloh National Military Park was established by Congress on December 27, 1894 to commemorate the April 6-7, 1862 battle that raged around Shiloh Church and Pittsburg Landing. Resulting in more than 23,000 casualties, the battle was the largest engagement in the Mississippi Valley campaign during the Civil War.
 




Shiloh National Cemetery
A view from the Union Lines.
  Confederate Monument
The Battle of Shiloh took its name from a small log church that sat on the battlefield. The original Shiloh Church survived the battle but was destroyed in the weeks after the fight. The church is still an active congregation today.
The Battle of Shiloh was also called Pittsburg Landing
Location: Hardin County
Campaign: Federal Penetration up the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers (1862)
Date(s): April 6-7, 1862
Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell [US]; Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard [CS]
Forces Engaged: Army of the Tennessee and Army of the Ohio (65,085) [US]; Army of the Mississippi (44,968) [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 23,746 total (US 13,047; CS 10,699)
Summary: As a result of the fall of Forts Henry and Donelson, Confederate Gen. Albert Sidney Johnston, the commander in the area, was forced to fall back, giving up Kentucky and much of West and Middle Tennessee. He chose Corinth, Mississippi, a major transportation center, as the staging area for an offensive against Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and his Army of the Tennessee before the Army of the Ohio, under Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell, could join it. The Confederate retrenchment was a surprise, although a pleasant one, to the Union forces, and it took Grant, with about 40,000 men, some time to mount a southern offensive, along the Tennessee River, toward Pittsburg Landing. Grant received orders to await Buell’s Army of the Ohio at Pittsburg Landing. Grant did not choose to fortify his position; rather, he set about drilling his men many of which were raw recruits. Johnston originally planned to attack Grant on April 4, but delays postponed it until the 6th. Attacking the Union troops on the morning of the 6th, the Confederates surprised them, routing many. Some Federals made determined stands and by afternoon, they had established a battle line at the sunken road, known as the “Hornets Nest.” Repeated Rebel attacks failed to carry the Hornets Nest, but massed artillery helped to turn the tide as Confederates surrounded the Union troops and captured, killed, or wounded most. Johnston had been mortally wounded earlier and his second in command, Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard, took over. The Union troops established another line covering Pittsburg Landing, anchored with artillery and augmented by Buell’s men who began to arrive and take up positions. Fighting continued until after dark, but the Federals held. By the next morning, the combined Federal forces numbered about 40,000, outnumbering Beauregard’s army of less than 30,000. Beauregard was unaware of the arrival of Buell’s army and launched a counterattack in response to a two-mile advance by William Nelson’s division of Buell’s army at 6:00 am, which was, at first, successful. Union troops stiffened and began forcing the Confederates back. Beauregard ordered a counterattack, which stopped the Union advance but did not break its battle line. At this point, Beauregard realized that he could not win and, having suffered too many casualties, he retired from the field and headed back to Corinth. On the 8th, Grant sent Brig. Gen. William T. Sherman, with two brigades, and Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood, with his division, in pursuit of Beauregard. They ran into the Rebel rear guard, commanded by Col. Nathan Bedford Forrest, at Fallen Timbers. Forrest’s aggressive tactics, although eventually contained, influenced the Union troops to return to Pittsburg Landing. Grant’s mastery of the Confederate forces continued; he had beaten them once again. The Confederates continued to fall back until launching their mid-August offensive.
Result: Union victory
Shiloh National Military Park routinely hosts active and reserve military groups studying the lessons of Shiloh. Called "staff rides" by the army, these study sessions can provide historic lessons learned that can be put into use in today's military.

Also located at the Shiloh National Military Park are the Shiloh Indian Mounds.
About 800 years ago, a town occupied the high Tennessee River bluff at the eastern edge of the Shiloh plateau. Between two steep ravines, a wooden palisade enclosed seven earthen mounds and dozens of houses. Six mounds, rectangular in shape with flat tops, probably served as platforms for the town’s important buildings. These structures may have included a council house, religious buildings, and residences of the town’s leaders. The southernmost mound is an oval, round-topped mounds in which the town’s leaders or other important people were buried.
Shiloh Indian Mounds
This town was the center of a society that occupied twenty-mile-long stretch of the Tennessee River Valley. Around A.D. 1200 or 1300, inhabitants moved out of this part of the Tennessee Valley, perhaps to upriver locations now submerged under Pickwick Lake. Since the Shiloh society disintegrated several hundred years before there were written records to tell us who they were, it is not clear whether or how the Shiloh residents were related to later societies like the Choctaw, Chickasaw, or Creek.
The early inclusion of the mounds area within the boundary of the national military park has protected the site from any modern use. Because the Shiloh site has never been disturbed by the plow, the daub of collapsed walls still stands as low rings or mounds. Shiloh is one of the very few places in the eastern United States where remains of prehistoric houses are still visible on the ground’s surface.
The Corinth Interpretive Center detailed the Battle of Corninth
 



Location: Alcorn County
Campaign: Iuka and Corinth Operations (1862)
Date(s): October 3-4, 1862
Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans [US]; Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn [CS]
Forces Engaged: Army of the Mississippi [US]; Army of the West Tennessee [CS]
Estimated Casualties: 7,197 total (US 2,359; CS 4,838)
Description: After the Battle of Iuka, Maj. Gen. Sterling Price’s Confederate Army of the West marched from Baldwyn to Ripley where it joined Maj. Gen. Earl Van Dorn’s Army of West Tennessee. Van Dorn was senior officer and took command of the combined force numbering about 22,000 men. The Rebels marched to Pocahontas on October 1, and then moved southeast toward Corinth. They hoped to seize Corinth and then sweep into Middle Tennessee. Since the Siege of Corinth, in the spring, Union forces had erected various fortifications, an inner and intermediate line, to protect Corinth, an important transportation center. With the Confederate approach, the Federals, numbering about 23,000, occupied the outer line of fortifications and placed men in front of them. Van Dorn arrived within three miles of Corinth at 10:00 am on October 3, and moved into some fieldworks that the Confederates had erected for the siege of Corinth. The fighting began, and the Confederates steadily pushed the Yankees rearward. A gap occurred between two Union brigades which the Confederates exploited around 1:00 pm. The Union troops moved back in a futile effort to close the gap. Price then attacked and drove the Federals back further to their inner line. By evening, Van Dorn was sure that he could finish the Federals off during the next day. This confidence--combined with the heat, fatigue, and water shortages--persuaded him to cancel any further operations that day. Rosecrans regrouped his men in the fortifications to be ready for the attack to come the next morning. Van Dorn had planned to attack at daybreak, but Brig. Gen. Louis H├ębert’s sickness postponed it till 9:00 am. As the Confederates moved forward, Union artillery swept the field causing heavy casualties, but the Rebels continued on. They stormed Battery Powell and closed on Battery Robinett, where desperate hand-to-hand fighting ensued. A few Rebels fought their way into Corinth, but the Federals quickly drove them out. The Federals continued on, recapturing Battery Powell, and forcing Van Dorn into a general retreat. Rosecrans postponed any pursuit until the next day. As a result, Van Dorn was defeated, but not destroyed or captured, at Hatchie Bridge, Tennessee, on October 5.
Result: Union victory
The Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center sits at the site of Battery Robinett, where some of the most brutal fighting in the Battle of Corinth took place. Today, the battery site contains the graves of a Civil War general, a colonel, and several other soldiers.
We are staying at the Northeast College Inn (formerly Best Western), Booneville, MS.
Tomorrow we are off to Tupelo, MS and Elvis' birthplace!

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