AFTER-ACTION REPORT: SHILOH Tour: April 28-30, 2016
A spirited group of 54 men and women, including 2 from the United Kingdom, gathered in Corinth, MS, on Thursday evening, April 28 for the opening gathering of our Shiloh program. Lead historian Timothy B. Smith provided a masterful overview of the campaign. On Friday morning, noted Sherman/Grant scholar John F. Marszalek led off with a discussion of the relationship between Sherman and Grant, concluding that the two men first became close on the night after the first day’s fight at Shiloh when Sherman realized that Grant was a leader who wouldn’t retreat even in the face of seeming defeat.
Then, we boarded the bus and headed to this most beautiful and pristine Civil War battlefield in America, with our first stops at Pittsburg Landing, Fraley Field and Shiloh Church. Tim emphasized the geography of the battlefield as being primary to understanding why the leaders conducted their strategies as they did. After a picnic lunch in the park pavilion, shielded from a soft rain that had begun to fall, we continued around the battlefield spending a little more time on the bus than we might have otherwise – due to the continuing rain.
On Friday evening, many of the attendees stopped by our comfortable hospitality suite to sip refreshments and chat about the tour and future tours such as November’s Great Locomotive Chase tour in Chattanooga.
On Saturday morning, blessed by near perfect weather, we headed out early and stopped first at the site of Albert Sydney Johnston's passing - a solemn setting – where Tim noted that Johnston was the highest ranking general in American history to die in combat. Then, at the Peach Orchard, Sunken Road and Hornet's Nest, brisk walks and lively discussions continued. Tim kept on amazing us with his command of the battle, and every nook and cranny of the field. After lunch, having completed the story of Day One of the battle and some of Day Two, we hiked through the woods to some of the lesser known sites as we played out Day 2 of the battle. We concluded the day and tour back at Shiloh Church.
All told, this tour may have been as comprehensive and detailed as any Shiloh tour ever presented. Everybody learned a great deal, had fun and made new friends. Clearly, Tim Smith is the premier battlefield tour guide and authority on this subject. And he is the same on the Battle and Siege of Corinth about which he has written the definitive book, Corinth 1862 . So when the CWEA comes back for our next Shiloh tour with Tim – likely in April, 2018 - it will be a 3-day adventure, with The Battle and Siege of Corinth added to the program.
During this last tour, upon hearing that Tim has a book coming out on Forts Henry and Donelson, Bob Maher, Tim and I decided that on May 4-6, 2017, the CWEA will present a tour, led by Tim, on Grant Invades Tennessee: the Battles of Forts Henry and Donelson.
Thanks to all who participated in this year’s Shiloh tour. I felt fortunate to be along as a tour manager and can hardly wait to come back. In the meantime, I hope to see many of you in November at Chattanooga - and next year on the Forts Henry and Donelson tour.
Norman Dasinger, Jr