What’s so civil about Civil War? Visit Shiloh!

Yeah, I know, battlefields are a pretty sombre place and if you aren’t particularly into history, why would you want to visit one? Take Shiloh National Military Park for example. On the Tennessee River and near the intersection of two major railways at Corinth, Mississippi, this site commemorates one of the first major battles in the western theatre of the American Civil War. It has been in the National Park system for 123 years!

Four reasons to visit Shiloh National Military Park:

1. Location

It is a gorgeous location … set on the scenic hills along the Tennessee River where Indians once lived in towns along the high bluffs. This is one of the few places in the United States where there are visible remains of a pre-historic culture 800 to 2000 years old. The 1.1 mile interpretive loop trail takes you through the village site and it is a lovely walk with views of the river from the bluffs.

2. Cycling / Running

If you like to ride a bicycle or run, battlefields are the place. Typically one way roads, lightly traveled, winding through forrest and parkland. What bet ter place for a peaceful ride or run? Shiloh offers 13 miles of paved road, as well as many dirt roads. There are no bike lanes but there isn’t much traffic and the roads are lovely.

3. Monuments

The monuments are amazing! So often people think they need to go to Europe to see history – statues, museums, cathedrals – when there is so much of it at your back door. There are some absolutely amazing monuments at Shiloh. The Tennessee Monument is just one of many. As you drive (or bicycle or walk) through the park, stop at each one and look at the details. Take a picnic and spend some time in the park!

4. Civil War History

The history is fascinating. Even if you aren’t a Civil War history buff, you’ve probably heard of places like Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. But Shiloh hosted a pretty incredible battle. Think 110,000 troops – brothers against brothers – fighting for two days, much of it in hand-to-hand combat, resulting in 23,746 casualties. It is hard to imagine the conditions – smoke and blood everywhere, no visibility, guns so inaccurate you have to be in close range to even hope that you hit what you are aiming at. Why here? Union troops came down the Tennessee River to Pittsburg Landing intent on disrupting Confederate supply lines. Twenty three miles away, Confederate troops were protecting Corinth, a major rail location where east-west and north-south rails intersected, and vital transportation and communication link – one they felt they couldn’t afford to lose. We won’t tell you the history here. You can experience it yourself! Be sure to watch the movie at the National Park Visitor Center in Shiloh and visit the Corinth Battlefield Unit.
"What's so civil about Civil War, anyway." Source: Axel Rose, rock band Guns N' Roses

National Military Parks

Shiloh is just one of 25 National Park Units where the National Park Service preserves and interprets the military history of our country. Drop back to our blog to hear more about our visits to these other amazing park units. Comment on this post to share your experiences.