Monday, June 9, 2008


I always thought that nothing could match the battlefields that I have already seen – the sheer size and importance of Gettysburg, the beauty of Antietam on a November day, the poignancy of Cold Harbor, the drama of Fredericksburg – but Shiloh is now my new favorite. The battlefield is pristinely preserved, mostly because it is in the middle of the countryside of southern Tennessee. As I already posted, the cemetery is an attraction in itself. While the visitor center isn’t as high-tech as some of the others, it does have some fantastic militaria.
As I drove the battlefield with an audio tour and three maps, it was easy to understand the flow of the battle. The human stories within the battle are fascinating – Johnston’s tin cup, the valor of the Federals holding the Sunken Road, the horrible scene that must have taken place at Bloody Pond, and many more. For the first time, I focused on the specific role of the Wisconsin regiments engaged in the battle, making the experience more personal to myself (and hopefully my students). It was also fun to narrate some video tours of a few of the sites on the battlefield.
I’m not sure why I am so drawn to these battlefields and cemeteries. I keep pondering that as I walk around the hallowed ground, and I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the human stories, or the “ordinary doing the extraordinary”, or the historical significance. I always wonder what I would have done if I were in a soldier’s shoes (or brogans) …
If you ever get a chance, Shiloh is worth the effort. It’s only about two hours outside of Memphis, and with Corinth (3o minutes away), it is a full day of Civil War love.


Anonymous said...

hey mr. taft,
we just arrived in england this morning, and i spontaneously decided to check your blog because i remembered that you were going to Vicksburg today. I also listened to the audio cast! It will be really cool to see pictures of that. We thought the battlefield was awesome too. Our favorite was the main Illinois monument. Did you hear about the controversey over the new monuments? Can't wait to see the pictures. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

my dad just asked if you heard about the top falling off the wisconsin monument when it was struck by lightining? we also think that the steps to the illinois monument stood for each regiment...? we are not sure though. It was either Wisconsin or Illinois.

Mrs. Nosbusch said...

Looks like you're having a great "grant experience." Can't wait to see how you incorporate all of this historic-ness into your classes!

Mrs. Nosbusch said...


You MUST have beignets at the Café du Monde!!! Have one for me.