I won't bother you with facts about the battle of Shiloh. If you're curious, I encourage you to read the excellent summaries of Ironcladd and Krial.
Shiloh was the very first Civil War battlesite to which I have ever been. As a Civil War reenactor, I was eager to finally see one of the most researched places in American history. My family was in awe at all the monuments, tables, stone markers, and plaques to the hundreds of people and regiments that fought in the battle. Here, in the middle of the forests of Tennessee stand cut stones in the nooks and crannies of a lawn of cut grass. It was eerie.
Surprisingly, I learned that my great great grandfather had fought at the Battle of Shiloh, and this knowledge made the experience even more surreal. We located the markers and tablets of the 61st Illinois Infantry, and I was able to retrace my relative's footsteps.
The serene landscapes, lush foliage, and the gently rolling slopes of the park (which is expertly maintained by the Park Service) give little hint to the terrible events that happened at that spot 139 years ago. Walking the entire park would require days, I think, so taking the driving tour and stopping at the designated "hot spots", which are numbered for the visitor's convenience, is the logical and preferred way to see the park. (The so-called "hot spots" are historically significant points of the park, such as the Sunken Road, Bloody Pond, and the glen where Johnston fell. They have pull-off points and numbered plaques beside them.)
The movie in the museum is slightly outdated, but gives good information about the battle. The Park Rangers, of course, are very knowledgeable, and the museum has a nice display of artifacts and a huge collection of facts.
Please visit the National Graveyard, too, as it is a somber reminder of the Battle.
**Not to discredit anyone else's reviews, but be careful with the reenactment information. They are rarely held at battlefields, and the only living history demonstrations at Shiloh (for the most part) will be done by a single ranger giving a talk.
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Best time to go: March-May
Recommended for: Familes
Review Topic: Overview