Monday, November 22, 2010

Shiloh Revisited

It was 3 1/2 years ago that I wrote a little something about the Civil War battle at Shiloh in western Tennessee and about two of my relatives (or rather, one confirmed and one potential relative) who gave their lives in that battle. I have now been to the battlefield at Shiloh (also known as Pittsburg Landing) three times, the most recent being a week ago (November 15th). I'm not sure what keeps drawing me back there. Perhaps it is the spirit of Jacob Berlin and of Ralph Goodrich and of all the other men that lost their lives there. Each visit leaves me with a greater appreciation and sense of awe for those men and what they went through.

The video shown at the visitor center is the same one they have been showing since 1956, according to the ranger on duty last week. And the exhibits on display are the same as the ones the last time I was there in 2003. But this time, I looked a little closer and noticed something that somehow I had missed the last time...

How I missed it, I don't know. But, see those two photographs on the left – the ones of the soldiers standing in their camps? They are of companies of the 9th Regiment and the 44th Regiment of Indiana Volunteer Infantry! It struck me as odd that there would be on display photos of two regiments from Indiana to represent the northern troops... and that those two regiments are the same ones that Jacob Berlin and Ralph Goodrich served with! Jacob was in the 9th and Ralph in the 44th. What are the odds of that happening? Of course, they aren't the same companies that Jacob and Ralph served in, but still. Makes you wonder... I took close-up photos of the pictures and will have those in a couple of future posts.

Some of the relics on display at Shiloh National Battlefield visitor center.
Belt buckles, buttons, knives, bullets, and mini-balls.

Both Jacob and Ralph were in the line of battle along “The Sunken Road” a portion of which was named “The Hornets' Nest” because bullets were flying by so close and fast that it sounded like a mass of hornets buzzing. This realistic diorama shows part of the action along the Sunken Road. A sign alongside it states “At one point in the battle, as the Confederates were trying to break the Union defense line at the Hornets' Nest, the Confederates concentrated the greatest collection of artillery yet to appear on the American continent. Artillery played a major role in the battle, supporting infantry advances, breaking enemy attacks, and causing many of the deaths and injuries.”

I walked along the sunken road, now a wide path through the woods, looking for the monument for the 44th Regiment. I missed the path that veered off to the left toward the monument the first time through but found it on the return walk.

The Monument to the 44th Regiment, Indiana Volunteer Infantry.

Its backside faces the path and the “front” side of the monument faces the direction in which the troops were facing during the battle - south.

The backside of the monument is inscribed with details of the battle:
44th Infantry
Commanded by
Col. Hugh B. Reed.

“This regiment formed in this line Sunday, April 6th 1862, at 8.30 a.m. It repulsed several charges made by the enemy, including four terrific charges by right of Gibson's brigade, which, under orders of Gen. Bragg, was attempting to force this part of the line back. During these engagements the woods caught fire. At 2.30 p.m. regiment fell back to a line with 1st Brigade, then to rear and left of the Bloody Pond, where it charged on enemy's infantry and artillery. Here seven flag- bearers were shot down. At 4.30 p.m. slowly fell back and supported siege guns. Monday, April 7th, regiment fought the enemy till 3 p.m. Number men in action, 478. Casualties: killed, 1 officer and 33 men: wounded, 6 officers and 171 men; missing, 1 man: total, 212." Ralph Goodrich died on April 8th of wounds he received during the battle on the 6th.

The monument to the 9th Infantry was supposed to be in the field just north of the Sunken Road, as marked on the park map by the Ranger, but I never did find it... this website has a photo of it. The inscription reads “Commanded by Col. Gideon C. Moody. This regiment arrived on the battlefield at 9 p.m., April 6, 1862, moved upon the enemy at daylight of the 7th, was hotly engaged at this place 10 a.m. Repulsed a heavy attack from the front (south), and charged with brigade to the right (west), and drove back the enemy. At 12.30 p.m. was sent by Gen. Nelson across the road to the left to the aid of Col. Ammen. Casualties: killed, 1 officer and 16 men; wounded, 7 officers and 146 men; total, 170." Jacob Berlin was among the 16 men killed.

This was in the area of the Hornets' Nest. The monument to the 44th was to the east about a quarter of a mile down the path.

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