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Perry Cuskey

Hike Report (with video): Sherman's Outposts

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For the anniversary hikes this year, my plan (hope?) was to videotape some of the hikes, then post them here as hike reports. The bad news about that is that I only got a handful of the hikes on video, and the quality isn't the best. Chalk most of that up to inexperience and lack of preparation on my part. The good news though, is that one of them turned out fairly decent. And this is it. :)

As an FYI, there are a total of seven videos in this post, along with some accompanying maps and pictures. With one exception, each of the videos is less than eight minutes long. The one exception is only about 8:30 or so. Total viewing time for all seven videos combined is roughly 50 minutes. The quality isn't always the best, which is on me, but Bjorn did a typically outstanding job leading this hike, and I think these videos will give you a good idea of what the anniversary hikes are like, and why they are quite popular.

Our Fearless Leader

This late afternoon hike on April 5th began at Shiloh Church, and dealt with the subject of why the Union army failed to detect the presence of a Confederate army less than two miles from their camps. More specifically, it dealt with why Sherman, more than anyone else, seemingly refused to see what was almost literally right in front of him. The hike was led by former park ranger, expert on the battle, and of course the most important qualification - SDG member(!) - Bjorn Skaptason.

Here's an overview map of the entire hike route, starting at the church and ending at Rea Field. Red x's indicate the seven approximate stopping points, where the videos were taken. Stopping points were in Fraley Field (three stops here), Seay Field, the stone bridge on Reconnoitering Road, Peabody's camp, and Rea Field. The map below is a screen-shot using the Google Earth plug-in for Google Maps...


I arrived late for the start of the hike - did have a good excuse, but I was still late - and missed Bjorn's introduction to the hike. So I'm afraid there's no video of this segment, and I can't give an accurate overview. But, again, as a general overview, the purpose of the hike was to explore the reasons for the Union army's failure to truly be on the alert.

Far Down to Fraley

I arrived almost at the same time everyone headed out from the church, so I just fell in with the column. Not sure how many people were along, but I'd rough-guess the total at between 80 and 100. Which would have made it one of the smaller groups for the anniversary hikes this year. (Have we mentioned that the groups this year were really, really, really big?)

We headed off down the Main Corinth Road and turned down Beauregard Road, an historic trace present at the time of the battle, leading off toward the southwest. Our destination was the north end of Fraley Field. Here's a map of the first leg of the hike...


When we arrived in north Fraley Field, Bjorn began by telling us about how Sherman's pickets would have been established, and included a little show & tell. If you've ever wondered how a Civil War army typically set up their outposts, you're about to hear an excellent explanation. This sets the stage for what happened to Grant's army at Shiloh....

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/sntQmhDTEjo?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

(As a side note, the sneezing and coughing you hear on the videos can be explained by two words: leaf dust. It was awful for the entire weekend and caused everyone fits.)

A link to a free copy of the outpost training manual that Bjorn mentioned in the video will be found at the end of this post, courtesy of Google Books.

From this point, we moved a little ways south across the field before stopping again. Here's a map. The stopping point is approximate...


It was a gorgeous view on a gorgeous afternoon, and Bjorn mentioned how he and Jeff Gentsch, on a practice run the day before, had paused to take in the view. Understandably so. He then returned to the subject of Sherman's outposts, and the events of April 5th, 1862....

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/fPBRVFBs0_M?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

From here we moved toward the south once more, near the marker for Hardcastle's picket post at the corner of Wood and Fraley Field.....


At this point, Fraley Field took on a new identity, temporarily standing in for a field that witnessed an important and completely unexpected clash that took place on April 4th, a few miles south of the Union camps. Bjorn explains....

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/C5Wp81JCe_U?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Over the creek, across the bridge, through the woods, and on to our next stop, over in Seay Field....


Bjorn now goes into the aftermath of Buckland's encounter with Cleburne's men on April 4th, Sherman's seemingly inexplicable reaction to it, and also, in a remarkable example of bad timing, why he was without any cavalry during the exact 24 hour period when he needed it the most. (Note - bad wind noise at the start of the video, but it clears up quickly....)

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/zRk-gSmiVyQ?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Our next stop takes place at the picturesque little stone bridge along Reconnoitering Road.....


At one point here, Bjorn talks about the woods along the north side of the road. In 1862, the south end of Rea Field extended almost all the way down to this road, and the woods in this area were more open than they are now. So from near this spot you would have been able to see into Rea Field, and vice versa. Here's a modern-day map showing the approximate outline of the historical field (red 'x' is roughly the location of the bridge)....


In this next video, you are facing toward the northeast, with Seay and Fraley Fields behind you, and Rea Field off toward your left. We now hear about Colonel Jesse Appler of the 53rd Ohio, as well as some guy named Everett Peabody....

<iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/ZN-CloqIhVU?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

After a good little stroll along beautiful Reconnoitering Road, we arrive at the site of the camp for the 25th Missouri, near Peabody's headquarters....


At this point, we learn about how the odds in the coming battle, seemingly so tipped in the Confederates' favor, were about to start tilting back toward even, thanks to Colonel Peabody. We also briefly enter into the raging debate over how to pronounce the good colonel's name. (Note as well Bjorn's reference to the question of exactly where David Moore's patrol went, and whether it may have gone down the Eastern Corinth Road. A nod on his part to a subject that some of us have discussed here on the board....)

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/e_Ezt4mlVFo?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

From here it was down Peabody Road to Rea Field for our final stop.....


Here, as Bjorn tells us, Sherman finally has his eyes opened to the truth on the morning of April 6th. Early in the video Bjorn makes mention of the historical wood line of Rea Field compared to the modern-day field. Although not perfect, this picture, looking toward the south, gives you an idea of what the modern view is like from near where we were standing. In 1862, as Bjorn mentioned earlier, the wood line extended much further south than today, extending almost to Reconnoitering Road....


And now Bjorn brings us to the end of our hike, and to the brink of the battle 150 years ago....

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/RB_vnwSRB-4?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

A seriously big thank you to Bjorn for a great hike, and an excellent learning experience. Despite all the leaf dust, and even if he isn't pronouncing Peabody's name correctly. ;)

Here's a link to that training manual that Bjorn mentioned in the first video. Just click on the image over near the right that looks like a little gear, and choose the pdf option to download it to your computer. Or if you wish, you can simply read it online. Even though it's over 130 pages long....



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Armchair Shiloh hikes! What more could anyone ask for (although I did have to pause one video in order to replenish my coffee cup). That long legged Ranger seemed to be wearing his followers out. By video #5, Mona can be seen attempting to get comfortable on the stone bridge and in video #6, Dave has downright plopped down on the ground! I also noticed Perry failed to show the bodies left strewn through the woods on the hike, nor tell us how many actually lived through it.


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You also don't see me all but running to keep up with everyone between stops. I typically hang out near the back of pretty much any group hike I'm on. Not from lack of effort so much as lack of ability. I think my legs should have been counted as a casualty of the weekend. :lol: But, it was worth it. Bjorn, Jeff, Chris, Charles, and the other hike leaders do an outstanding job. And as those of us who have been there done that already know, if you're gonna join Bjorn on a hike, you better be ready to hoof along!


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Nicely done maps, explanations and videos. Watching Bjorn's hike brought back many good memories of my own visit to Shiloh several years back (minus the coughing and wheezing from the leaf dust). Excellent job!


As someone who was raised in the same state as Everett Peabody, it is so refreshing to hear someone correctly pronounce the good man's last name! Whenever Perry mispronounces it, I always think he's talking about Rocky and Bullwinkle's co-cartoon characters of Mr. Peabody and Sherman exploring another Improbable History episode. (Then again, what to you expect from a Lakers' fan?!)

The Manassas Belle

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I only learned the New England pronunciation myself a minute before the video started recording. That's why I kept going back and forth. We also laughed at the fact that this program featured a history lesson about Mr. Peabody and Sherman, along with the fact that the actor who voiced those classic roles was named after Edward Everett who delivered the keynote address at Gettysburg before President Lincoln made his "few appropriate remarks."

Goes to show both the age and maturity of the SDG Regulars on this very serious anniversary! ;)


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Fantastic job on the videos and maps. This is great for those of us who can no longer get out and walk the fields and woods as we once did.


Great job!


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Heh, rear flank shots. :lol: That's a product of my straggling. Usually by the time I made it to the next stopping point there were about 100 people standing in front of you, so I had to maneuver around to one side for a clear shot. Wasn't till the next day that I tried standing in back of the groups and extending my monopod above everyone's heads. You did a pretty good job of spinning around and facing toward the camera from time to time though. ;)

Grandpa, you're right about Bjorn. He has a way of painting word pictures and making the story come to life. Don't tell him I said that though. ;)


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Perry, I'm glad you were late. As the hike was about to begin, I found myself wandering around, checking faces in the crowd, trying to determine how on earth I was going to figure out which ones might belong to my SDG friends. Then... as Bjorn was leading us down the road, I saw a guy get out of a PT Cruiser with Oklahoma license plates. I didn't luck out like that with the other SDGers. Didn't find Jim and Dave until they introduced themselves to me at lunch on Saturday--even though I spent parts of Thursday and Friday with Dave and was at the reenactment with Jim.

Next year... do you think we could get Bjorn to let us know in advance which hikes he's leading so we can sign up for them--or does he always lead the same ones? (Obviously, this was my first time on the hikes.) He really did breathe some new life into Sherman's Outposts and the Dawn Patrol.


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T-shirts? We don't need no stinking t-shirts!

Sorry, the Blazing Saddles fan in me there. We might be able to arrange something involving t-shirts.

John, on the hikes that Bjorn leads next year, I don't think the park posts who is leading what hike anymore, and while I can't make any promises, we might be able to get a little inside information. ;)


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