dill branch ravine is stop eighteen on the auto tour. u.s. gunboats the lexington and the tyler were anchored at the mouth of dills branch ravine to support general grant's defence of pittsburg landing.
pittsburg landing is stop twenty on the auto tour. pittsburg landing was the site of general grant's headquarters and the landing point of general don carlos buell and general lew wallace's reinforcements during the night of april 6 th.
the shiloh national cemetery is located next to the visitor center near pittsburg landing. the shiloh national cemetery was established in 1866 for the internment of union troops who died at the battle of shiloh. there are 3,500 union and two confederate soldiers buried here.
reconnoitering road is stop eight on the auto tour. in the morning of april 6 th prentiss' division was deployed along a low ridge near reconnoitering road to try to halt the confederate onslaught. after fierce fighting the union was pushed back toward shiloh church.
There are 5 marked confederate burial trenches in the park - Union soldiers dug these trenches to bury nearly 2,000 confederates who were killed during the battle. These are some of the most likely spots in the park to cause quiet reflection, as you are looking at mass graves of the men who died here.
Right across from the visitor center at the beginning (or end) of the auto tour is the national cemetery of Shiloh. Established in 1866, there are 3,500 (2,300 of which are unknown) Union soldiers buried here. There are also markers showing where Grant's headquarters were located. A small path winds through the cemetery, a fitting way to end the tour of a sobering battlefield.
The auto tour through Shiloh is just under a 10 mile loop, but there are also a handful of roads that cut through the park that you can take side trips along to see some other sites. For example, right before stop 10, you can hang a left on Peabody Road to see Rhea Springs, although you then need to follow the one way road back to where you came from. Generally, there are pullouts near the auto tour stops, and for the first half of my trip, I had no issues. Then I got behind several trucks worth of students, who were climbing on monuments, draping themselves on placards, etc., which did push me to move a little more briskly than I would have liked through the park.
Per usual for the major Civil War sites, there are plenty of roadside markers and monuments to look at in addition to the tour stops. Please see my travelogues for some of these.
This was the most somber site in the park for me, as I read how soldiers from both sides of the war would come here to drink and try to cleanse their wounds. Cleaning of the wounds, as well and men and horses dying on the banks and in the water allowed so much blood to flow into the pond that it turned a dark red by the time the battle was over.
I was alone at this stop - the quiet mixed with the images that came here were stunning.
The third stop along the auto tour, where 3 Union divisions were located along an oak forest line. The Union held off a number of attacks all day before ultimately surrendering the line. At the stop, you can walk along the sunken road here and look out into the open field to get the vantage point of where the Confederates would have been attacking from.
Pittsburg Landing is a small town at the edge of the Shiloh Battlefield. This was the main Union Army base during the battle and it was their point for receiving the reinforcements that led to the huge victory on the second day of the battle. On the night of April 6-7 General Buell’s Army of the Ohio landed some 18,000 fresh reinforcements that turned the tide in favor of the Union.
The Shiloh Indian Mounds mark the site of an ancient Indian town that at alongside the Tennessee River. The small site existed until about 800 years ago, and it is marked today by six platform mounds and some 30 to 40 small house mounds. This is said to be the best preserved Native American Mound Builder relics in the Tennessee River Valley.
Each of the one foot tall house mounds had one large house, 10 to 20 feet across with a central fireplace. The walls were constructed to wooden posts and branches covered in mud. The entire town was surrounded by a palisade wall, of which remnants remain to this day.
The Tennessee River Museum in Savannah has further information about the discoveries on this amazing site.
Shiloh Meeting House stood on the Confederate side of the battlefield. It was a Methodist church in a simple log cabin, and the source for the South's name of the battle (the North referred to it as Pittsburg Landing, after the site of the Union forces' landing). The church was the site of Beauregard's headquarters after General Johnston died.
Today here is a replica of the original Shiloh Meeting House alongside the historic cemetery. The more modern Shiloh Methodist Church stand along the road on the main visitors route. Though privately owned, visitors are welcome to wander the grounds.
The plaque in front of the modern church reads:
"Shiloh United Methodist Church
In 1851 John J. Ellis donated 4 acres to the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, for a house of worship. The original house was constructed of rough hewn logs and was about 25 by 30 feet in dimensions. The name Shiloh, from which the Civil War battle received its name, means "House of Peace. " During April 6-7, 1862, the church was the scene of heavy fighting between Union and Confederate forces. The church was destroyed soon after the battle. After the war, worship was resumed in a brush arbor. About 1875 a wood frame structure was erected on the original site. The present structure was begun with native stone in 1929. Construction was discontinued due to lack of funds. It was completed and dedicated in 1952."
Shiloh National Cemetery was created in 1866, and its 20 acres contain 3,584 Union graves as well as two Confederate graves. From it creation, it was administered by the War Department, but in 1933 operations shifted to the National Park Service.
This Union cemetery was created near Pittsburg Landing along the Tennessee River, just to the rear of the Hornets nest where the majority of Union soldiers probably died.
The cemetery is within easy walking distance from the main visitors center and museum.
Bloody Pond is located at the southern end of the Sunken Road and the Hornet's Nest. It is said that soldiers of both sides came here during and after the battle to drink or wash their wounds, turning the small pond's water crimson.
Nearby is Sarah Bell's Peach Orchard, famous for the white peach blossoms that fell like snow during this battle in April.
Just a little ways further south on the Hamburg-Savannah road is the memorial marking the site where General Albert Sidney Johnston was killed. He was the highest ranking Confederate killed during the entire war.
When the southern armies retreated, the north held the battlefield and began the gruesome task of burying the dead. The 1,728 Confederate soldiers that were killed were buried in five known mass graves mostly to the north and west of the battlefield. The one we visited is said to have the remains of about 700 soldiers, and is the largest of the burial trenches.
Most of the Union soldiers who were killed were reburied in 1866 at Shiloh National Cemetery near Pittsburg Landing.