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Perry Cuskey

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Posts posted by Perry Cuskey


  1. Okay folks, we have our subjects set for our Epic Trek with historian Tim Smith on November 2nd. This year we're returning to our original format of examining two different subjects rather than just one, and I hope you agree that they're good choices. More details will be posted soon, but here's an overview for now:

    Our morning hike will focus on Union General Benjamin Prentiss and his controversial role in the battle and its aftermath. Did Prentiss save Grant's army, as we often hear, or is there more to the story? And was he responsible for alerting the Union army to the danger that morning, or was he, like Sherman and Grant, taken by surprise when the attack hit? We'll delve into these issues, and visit several sites around the battlefield associated with Prentiss, including his defensive position in the legendary Hornets Nest. (We may also have a chance to recreate a late 19th Century photograph that included the General.)

    After a break for lunch, our afternoon hike will be a subject suggested by SDG member Jim Franklin - we'll follow the Confederate approach to Grants Last Line, examining the challenges they faced and discussing the controversy that erupted after the battle over this aborted attack. Did Beauregard make the right call here, or should the Confederates have continued the attack? See the terrain in person and decide for yourself. A big thank you to Jim for the excellent idea!

    Again, more details will be posted soon. I'm already looking forward to the hikes, and seeing some familiar faces and hopefully some new ones as well. As always, feel free to post any questions you might have.

    Perry

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  2. Sad news to share with the group. Long-time member C.D. Rickman passed away earlier today after a long bout with cancer.

    Many of us had the chance to get to know C.D., and came to realize that he was a man with some exceptional qualities. He had a strong passion for people and things that mattered to him, and would not hesitate to take an active role and get involved. His love for Shiloh is evident in his active involvement not only with our group, but also as an officer in the Friends of Shiloh.

    He played a leading role in the establishment of the touchingly beautiful Savannah Veterans Park, something I think he was justifiably proud of. You'll find C.D.'s name there, on the monument to the 101st Airborne, along with his fellow veterans from that famous unit. He was also the local coordinator for Wreaths Across America, which raises money to place wreaths on the graves of veterans. 

    Simply put, he cared, and if you ever spent any time talking to him, you came to understand that about him. C.D. was a good man. He'll be missed.

    Perry

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  3. Hello everyone. This is to let you know that we're ready to go with our next Epic Trek, with historian Tim Smith. This will be our seventh consecutive year with Tim, and it promises to be another great experience. Here are the details:

    Price: $30 per person. Payable on the morning of the hike. 

    Date: November 3rd, 2018.

    Location: Shiloh National Military Park 

    Start Time/Place: 8:00 a.m. at Ed Shaw's, just south of the park. (Not completely set in stone just yet on Shaw's, but Mona or I will keep you posted.) If you're not sure how to get there, don't worry, we've got you covered. :)

    Focus of this year's hike: We're going to be following in the footsteps of the Confederate army's Alabama troops, and learning about their experience at Shiloh. (See professionally drawn map, below.)

    Overview: We'll be heading out from or near Ed Shaw's, and head off toward Spain Field with the Alabama troops of Gladden's Brigade. From there we'll reinforce John K. Jackson's Bama boys as they navigate their way through the ravines east of the Peach Orchard and help encircle the Union soldiers trapped in the Hornet's Nest.

    Then we'll re-up with some of Gladden's men and plunge into the Canyon of Pittsburg Landing, better known as Dill Branch Ravine. Then on to lunch near the visitors center.

    After lunch it's off to the west side of the park, across Canyon Jr. (Tilghman Branch), to the site of Ketchum's Alabama Battery. Then we'll begin working our way back to the south along the April 7th battle lines, and our starting point at Shaw's.

    Total distance for this hike looks to be roughly nine miles, with terrain ranging from easy to most definitely not easy.  We should finish up between 4:00 and 6:00, based on previous hikes. As always, sturdy hiking footwear is strongly recommended.

    Here's that (not quite) professionally done map, outlining our basic route through the park:

    388704802_2018Map.png.2735050b1b4c12bcdfaa657128f0b3ae.png

    Check back here for updates, and feel free to ask questions either here, via Private message, or by email @pcuskey@gmail.com. Hope to see everyone in November. 

    Perry

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  4. On 12/20/2017 at 6:13 PM, hank said:

    I needed a break from my continuing and relentless efforts to crush the Shiloh revisionism malarkey of the last forty years or so and decided to see if I could answer this quiz.

    I don't think we could find a more dedicated defender of Benjamin Prentiss than you've proven to be, Hank, even though I don't see him the same way. But I think he'd probably appreciate your standing up for him. 

    As for the, um, "revisionism malarkey" at Shiloh, I'll have more to say on that subject, as well as on Prentiss, when the time comes. For now though, I'll add my own little trivia question - who was one of the earliest revisionists of the battle of Shiloh?

    I don't want to give away his name, but here's a hint: his initials are Benjamin Mayberry Prentiss. 

    Perry

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  5. Here's a link to the original poem, below, including stanzas that weren't included in the song when first published in 1872 by a British composer named John Baptiste Calkin. Even though two stanzas are missing and the others rearranged in the musical version, the spirit of the original poem is maintained. I think that video has the most beautiful version of the song I've ever heard.

    http://www.hwlongfellow.org/poems_poem.php?pid=40

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  6. Sometimes from the depths of anguish and despair emerges something beautiful and inspiring. Such is the case with a Christmas song that started out as a poem, written in the middle of a seemingly endless war by a man who was no stranger to either anguish or despair. I'll let the video below tell the rest of the story. It's very much worth a listen.

    However life may find you as we near the end of 2017, I wish you better days ahead, and a truly wonderful 2018. Merry Christmas, folks.

    Perry

     

     

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  7. Just a reminder that we're meeting in the visitors center parking lot at 7:30 on Saturday, and we'll head out to Crump's Landing once we've got everyone checked in and paid.

    Right now it looks like our good-weather luck is going to hold for another year, with a projected high in the 60's and only a slight chance for rain on Saturday. So keep your fingers crossed. 

    Perry

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  8. Got all of you marked down, so thanks. Look forward to seeing you in November. 

    Also, if anyone else is having problems getting a hotel room near the park or looking for an alternative, you might look into AirBnB as an option, if you don't mind staying in a private residence. There were several options available near both Savannah and Corinth last time I checked, although it's been a little while now. The price ranges were also pretty varied, ranging from not bad to I don't think so. :)

    Perry


  9. Sorry for the long delay, everyone. Here's the information for our upcoming Lew Wallace hike with historian Tim Smith (Please note - if you plan on joining us, please post a reply here, or send me a PM or an email, so we can get an idea of how many to expect. Thanks.) -

    Date - Saturday, November 11th, 2017.

    Starting time - 7:30 a.m.

    Meeting place - Shiloh National Military Park visitors center parking lot. 

    Price - $30 per person. (See below for payment information.)

    This two-part hike will focus on Lew Wallace at Shiloh. The morning portion of the hike will cover Wallace's ill-fated April 6th march to the battlefield from the Crump's Landing/Adamsville area, and will be a combination of driving and walking. We'll meet at the visitors center parking lot, get everyone paid and checked in, then carpool out to our starting point at Crump's Landing. 

    From there we'll be stopping at various locations to cover on foot some of the actual route that Wallace and his men took in 1862, including areas that are not usually accessible to the public. Tim is one of the few people to re-trace the route in its entirety, and will have some great insights about this controversial march. 

    We'll end this part of the hike back at the visitors center parking lot, where lunch will be provided once again courtesy of Mona. You might consider bringing along a fold-up chair of some sort that you could leave in your car, unless you're okay with eating while sitting on the ground or on a curb. :) 

    The afternoon part of the hike will re-trace Wallace's division in their advance across the western portion of the battlefield on April 7th, as they continually outflanked the Confederates and forced them back, in conjunction with the rest of the combined Union armies. Though lacking the same level of attention as the April 6th march, there is still some controversy surrounding Wallace's April 7th advance, and we'll be delving into that as we cross this section of the battlefield.

    We will probably end this hike in the vicinity of the church, so we'll make arrangements to carpool back to the visitors center from there. We'll plan on ending around 5:00, although it may be somewhat earlier or later than that. (Last year's Fort Donelson hike ended early, and we all remember the flashlights from 2012.) :) 

    As is normally the case, this two-part hike will cover quite a bit of ground, but will also include less walking compared to our previous hikes. We will likely be traversing Tilghman Branch Ravine during the afternoon hike, the second-largest ravine in the park, but overall, this hike probably won't be on the same "strenuous scale" as some of our previous outings. (Like say, the Chalmers hike.) :) On an easy-to-difficult scale, I'd probably classify it as moderate overall, with some moderate-to-difficult sections on the afternoon hike. But it will certainly hit the mark on the "great learning experience" scale, and the "getting to see things most folks won't see" scale. 

    I think we'll handle the payments the same way we did last year at Fort Donelson - so everyone just plan on paying on the morning of the hike. We don't take checks, but we do take cash. :) Payment must be made prior to leaving the visitors center parking lot, and is non-refundable once the hike actually begins. 

    I hope you can join us for what should be another great day of Epic Trekking with Tim at Shiloh. If you have any questions, feel free to post them here, or contact me via PM or email. Looking forward to seeing everyone in November. :)

    Perry

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  10. This topic is closed to further replies, and the subject is not to be revived anywhere else on the board. It states very clearly on the main page under the Campfire Forum that modern-day social or political issues are off-limits for discussion. The initial notice about the cancellation is fine, but that's where it needed to end. 

    Perry


  11. I'm not sure I understand the emphasis on Grant and Sherman being aware of the Hamburg-Savannah Road. Has it been suggested somewhere that they weren't aware of it?

    I think the Sunken Road's selection was more a matter of circumstances than accident. (Which is also how I'd characterize the choice of the Hamburg-Savannah Road late on the 6th as part of the final defensive line.) The troops from Wallace's & Hurlbut's divisions were on the way to help Prentiss and Sherman, but the situation had quite clearly changed before they got there, especially on Prentiss' front, making a continued advance rather senseless.  (You can't see Prentiss's position from the Peach Orchard/Sarah Bell Cotton Field area today due to the intervening woods, but contemporary accounts make it clear that they could do so at that time.)The common-sense decision was made to stop and form a new line, the only question being where. The Sunken Road made for a natural choice for Wallace's men under the circumstances, and Hurlbut, after initially setting up in Sara Bell's Cotton Field,  eventually aligned  his Peach Orchard front along approximately the same axis. What was left of Prentiss's division became a good way of connecting those two divisions, and making the new Union line more or less continuous, even though there were still gaps to fill.

    So even though it wasn't a line that was formed by design, I don't think it was completely by accident. It was a result of circumstances combined with a series of common-sense decisions. 

    As you say though, roads make for logical stopping/rallying points, which is something that Bjorn pointed out on one of the anniversary hikes last April, focused coincidentally on the western section of Grant's Last Line along the Hamburg-Savannah Road. There were several things that went into making it an obvious stopping point for the retreating Union troops at that point in the battle. 

    Perry

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