Perry Cuskey

Then (2012) and Now (2013)

11 posts in this topic

I thought i'd post a a couple of pictures that give an idea of the difference in the park between last year's anniversary and this year's. First, here's a picture I took of the 13th Tennessee marker on April 5th, 2012. The marker is located in the woods just to the east of the monument to Waterhouse's Battery, overlooking Rea Field.....

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Now compare that picture to this one, below, taken from nearly the same spot exactly one year later...

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Quite a difference, eh? It was like that throughout the entire park. The foliage was quite a bit heavier last year. As a result, you could usually see farther through the woods this year compared to last year, giving a little bit better feel for what the area looked like at the time of the battle, at least as far as sight-lines are concerned. Not perfect, but better than last year at this time, and better than what you will ever get during the summer.

As mentioned before, there has also been some spiffing up around the park, including new paint jobs for some of the markers. One of those new paint jobs belongs to the 13th Tennessee marker we're looking at here. Here's a couple of close-ups, to make it easier to see. First, the 2012 image....

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And the new & improved 2013 version....

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What might look like dark lines on the marker there are actually just tree-branch shadows. This particular marker isn't really that far off the beaten path, but still, it's off in the woods a bit, and partway down a ravine, and I seriously doubt it gets very many visitors as a result. So it's nice to see that it wasn't forgotten when spiffy new paint jobs were being handed out.

Perry

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Great post. It is amazing in the amount of foliage in 2012 compared to 2013. I've been to the park during the summer just once and never thought about line of site. I need to dig through those pics for some comparison.

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Wow, that is remarkable. It is amazing how one spot can be so green one year and one year later on the same day almost void of anything green. Really makes me wonder what Shiloh looked like during the battle. Personally, I think it was neither of the extremes in these pictures, but somewhere in the middle.

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Stan, most of the reports I read stated that the fruit trees were in blossom, so I would tend to think it was closer to the green picture. Due to the farming that was going on at the time and the burning up by the soldiers of the deadfall, the undergrowth was probably a lot clearer during the battle than now.

Jim

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Hello Jim,

My info tends to support the opposite. As to the trees, they were thinner at the time of the battle because they had been cut for fuel for the steamboats. I suggest the fruit trees may have been late to blossom because of the cold weather and the heavy rains. Maybe the blossoms had started coming out but paused due to the weather. As to the undergrowth, the farmers used the hedges and other forms of undergrowth as fences to keep the animals out of their planted fields. Yes, some fields had been cleared as camp grounds for the northern aggressors but much of the undergrowth was still present. The farmers should have been plowing but stopped when Sherman's troops landed at the landing in March. In fact, some of the farmers had fled their farms before the battle. I vote for picture Nbr 2 as best representing the Shiloh area at time of battle.

Ron

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This is Stacy Allen's description of the area at the time of the battle, from his article for Blue & Gray....

"In general the plateau was covered with an old growth open forest of oak, gum, and hickory, with frequent pockets of thick undergrowth and an occasional cleared field of the nearly forty farms in the area. Some of the larger farms had fields of about twenty to thirty acres, while the smallest were three to five acres. Numerous log farmhouses and barns sat inside the fenced fields. Winter's grip on the Tennessee Valley was beginning to break, and in the high forest canopy, a touch of green could be seen. One sign of the emerging spring was that several of the farmers' orchards were in bloom, along with thousands of dogwoods." - Page 10.

I think I've seen him describe it elsewhere as a late winter/early spring landscape, or words to that effect. The rangers I think usually describe it the way Bjorn did in his presentation on Henry Morton Stanley, as being mostly open woods at the time of the battle, with areas of thick underbrush.

Probably the main point in all of this is that you could see farther in 1862 than you typically can now in the modern-day park. With the exception of the Hornet's Nest, and maybe a few other areas. Even including a few weeks ago during the anniversary. These pictures give a little better feel for the 1862 battlefield I think, but only to to an extent. They don't really duplicate the open-woods nature of the 1862 landscape. In that sense, probably the second picture comes closest to that landscape. But, you'd also probably need to toss in some flowering dogwoods and a little more green here and there, and we did see that during the anniversary. Although off-hand I only remember seeing one or two dogwoods in bloom.

Mona was telling me that they had a fairly cold and wet winter, so if the cold weather lasted a little longer than last year, that might explain the stark difference in the park from last year to this year.

Anyway, I'll be posting a few more pics from the park here in a bit, including another then-and-now from last year. If anyone else has some, by all means toss em out there.

Perry

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Okay, here's another then-and-now from 2012 to 2013. This one shows Prentiss' position along the Sunken Road in the Hornet's Nest. Here's the 2012 image....

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And it's 2013 counterpart....

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Obviously the first one is zoomed in a little more and cuts off some of the background, but aside from that, wow, huh?

Here's a couple of more shots from the Hornet's Nest. This one is from behind the Union position, looking toward the south. Hickenlooper's battery and the 8th Iowa monument are peeking out from behind the trees in front of you, and the first marker for Prentiss's line is just visible on the left....

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This next one is along the line of the Confederate attack toward the Union position in the picture above. The marker is for Shaver's Brigade. If you look beyond the marker to the left, just above the end of the downed tree branch, you can make out the white of the Arkansas Monument in the background, through the trees. Last year you could not have seen the monument while standing next to the marker....

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The monument marks the spot where Colonel John Dean of the 7th Arkansas was killed during an attack on the Sunken Road position. And as you can tell by the marker, not all of them have received their new paint jobs just yet.

Two more shots, and we're done. This one is of Johnston's mortuary monument from in front of the 9th Illinois monument, on the next ridge line to the north....

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And here's the monument to Waterhouse's battery as seen from in front of the campsite marker to the 53rd Ohio, in Rea Field....

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That last one is zoomed in some to make the monument easier to see, but you could see it pretty plainly while standing out there, without a zoom lens, binoculars, or anything else. Normally you'd have a hard time seeing either monument from these respective locations.

That's pretty much how it was around the entire park. Not really open woods in the 1862 sense, but better sight-lines than what we often get anymore, unless we visit the park during the winter. Or unless we have a late spring. :)

Perry

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Perry, great post and observations. I usually come to the park once in February or March, and again for the anniversary, for two reasons. The ticks seem to love me after April 1, and you can see so much deeper into the woods in February or March. Of course, as your photos show, this year was an exception.

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Maybe this will give some perspective on the discussion of spring 2012 vs. 2013. The spring of 2012 was a highly unusual one in Tennessee. This time of year, I measure time in terms of the development of my blackberries. For 14 of the last 15 years, they have hit each milestone pretty much within a range of a couple of days either way. The first blossoms open near the end of April. They're in full bloom on Mother's Day weekend. The first berries are ready to pick about June 24. We're always done picking by July 11.

Last year is the one year that was different out of the last 15. In 2012, my blackberries were 4 weeks ahead of schedule. They started blooming in early April and were in full bloom the weekend of April 14-15. We finished picking on June 16. My place is in Middle Tennessee, pretty much due north of Fayetteville. It's a few miles farther north than Shiloh and a slightly higher elevation. So, spring arrives here a week or two later than it does at Shiloh. However... my observations at Shiloh last year matched my observations at my place. Shiloh area blackberries were heavy with blooms when I was there for the reenactment on March 31. They weren't quite to full bloom but were well on their way.

This year, my blackberries are back on schedule. They're covered with buds. I expect to see the first blossoms this weekend.

John

P.S. Thanks to everyone for posting photos, videos and comments about the anniversary. I wasn't able to be there and really appreciate the opportunity to see parts of it.

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I think Wordpix John is correct. I think the lush green of 2012 was somewhat of a fluke. Most of the greenery works like clockwork. Guess that just potentially adds more to the speculation of what it "really" looked like at Shiloh in '62.

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Amazing photos Perry. I think spring is later everywhere this year. I can see you will have more award winning photos for the CWT photo contest this year. :)

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