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Perry Cuskey

Then & Now - Early 1900's to 2012

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A few then & now photos I tried to reproduce on my visit to the park last month. I originally planned to do a lot more, but, that's what happens when you have way more you that want to do than time in which to do it all. So here's all I've got....

First is an early-day shot of original park commission chairman Cornelius Cadle, on the left, and park historian David W. Reed, standing in front of some crated cannon tubes waiting to be placed out in the park. Behind them you can just make out the cannons and monument for Silfversparre's battery, located along the road in front of the modern-day visitors center. In this image, the building in the background is the cemetery lodge. Member D.K. Smith has previously posted this image under a different topic. The image appears on page 66 of Tim Smith's book, This Great Battlefield of Shiloh.....

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My 2012 version, taken on the morning of April 9th....

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Side-by-side comparison....

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Next is an early-day shot of Peabody's mortuary monument, found on page 36 of Stacy W. Reaves's, A History & Guide to the Monuments of Shiloh National Park....

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The modern-day version, from April 8th. Note that Peabody's name has been added below the right-front pyramid of cannons.....

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Side-by-side....

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Continued on next post....

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Finally, a then & now shot of the Ross headquarters marker in Duncan Field. Here's the early-day version, showing a house, yard, and outbuildings that existed at the turn of the 20th Century. This image is on page 55 of Shiloh National Military Park, by Tim Smith and Brian McCutchen. As you can see in this shot, the monument is literally sitting in the front yard.....

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The modern-day equivalent, from the morning of April 9th. Things look a bit different in 2012.....

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Side-by-side....

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That's all for now....

Perry

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It's fascinating to see the exact same spot "then and now". Looking at the 1900's pictures it's plain to see how much more open the woods were then.

In the second post, I wonder if that house was used for Col. Ross headquarters? Or if it was built after the battle? Interesting to see the trees in the yard are still alive, though that one cedar doesn't look too healthy.

I can see where they put down a mat to get the monument over that rise. I can't imagine how they moved such heavy items with only mules and muscles. And got it perfectly leveled, too.

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Perry.......

I love Then and Now shots. These are great! If you keep this up, you'll be known as the Frassanito of the West! Some modern day digital cameras are equipped with GPS now so those taking Then and Now shots a hundred years from now, will be able to pinpoint the locations exactly.

I see the makings of a good Then and Now Shiloh book here. Keep it coming!

THE MANASSAS BELLE

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Thanks Belle, although I don't think Fraz has anything to worry about. ;) I do love then & now pictures though, as you already know. Just something fascinating about them, comparing what something looked like "back then" to what it looks like now. Plus, you can imagine the earlier photographer standing on that same spot, or close to it.

I hadn't thought about that GPS thing, but I suppose it will probably help. I don't use GPS myself, but I do use a complex scientific calculation method called "This Looks Kinda Close." Sometimes it works, and sometimes it almost works.

DK, you're spot-on about the woods back then as compared to now. You can clearly see in early-day pictures of the park how much more open it was at that time. Which very obviously comes closer to what the area looked like at the time of the battle as compared to now as well.

On the picture of Ross's headquarters marker, I don't believe that house dates to the battle, but there was indeed a house on that site in Duncan Field when the battle took place. One of our board members here, Wordpix John, is a descendant of the Duncan family, and has posted the diary of Elsie Duncan, a little girl at the time of the battle. According the account in that diary, Elsie was supposedly in the house on April 6th, but to the best of my knowledge, and as John has pointed out, this has not been verified. If you'd like to read through the diary, you can find it posted here, thanks to John -

http://shilohdiary.wordpress.com/

He also gives a great back-story there about how it all came about.

Getting back to the house, I do believe that Colonel Ross did make his headquarters in the house on the site prior to the battle. Ross was not present during the battle though, having taken leave of the army following the death of his wife. Through an unusual set of circumstances, command of the brigade thus fell to Colonel Julius Raith on the morning of April 6th, much to his own misfortune as it turned out.

Good eye about the mat in front of the monument. When you blow the image up and look closer, it appears to be made out of metal. I don't know if it would have been used to help move the monument into place, or was there to help deal with possible erosion problems.

Something else that intrigues me about both pictures is the position of the trees. The position of the trees on either side of the house in the early-day image appears to be virtually identical with the trees in the modern-day shot. I don't know that they're the same trees, and they'd have to be pretty old if so, but it might be possible. I looked up the average life-span of cedar trees when I got home from the park, and based on what I found, if the trees in the early picture are cedars, it could be the same group of trees in both images. Again though, I don't know. Could just be wishful thinking on my part.

What intrigues me about the early-day photo of the Peabody monument are the people in the image. I don't know who they are or what their connection might be to Peabody. At first I thought the men may have been First Brigade veterans, but with the possible exception of the man sitting on the far right side of the monument, they don't appear to be old enough. So I'm guessing that they were either just visitors to the park, or possibly local residents and/or park employees. At first glance their appear to be four people in the image, but if you look closely you can see another man sitting on the back of the monument, just below the lady in the covered carriage. Also, the star denoting a brigade headquarters has not yet been placed on the monument.

Well, maybe a little too much information. But I like snooping around in old photographs like that, to see what little extra nuggets might be lurking about.

Perry

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Hey Perry,

Thanks for the link to the Duncan Diary. That will give me something good to read today.

You're right about those "mats". I zoomed in on them and they look like re-bar. I bet the base of that monument is made of concrete. Don't know why I was thinking stone blocks, that would have been really difficult and expensive.

I'm still thinking those are the same trees, though. I'm no tree surgeon, but I bet Eastern Red Cedars can live 2 or 3 hundred years in favorable conditions.

Question about the Peabody Monument, I see his name across the bottom of the monument in the 1900's photo. I wonder if that was typed on the photo itself?

Thanks for the great pictures!

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I think you're exactly right about those trees, DK. That's too much of a coincidence. So unless someone can prove differently, we're going to say the trees in both photos are the same. That's our story and by-golly we're sticking to it.

Another neat thing about that is that using those trees, we can pinpoint the exact location of the house when visiting the park. I tramped around under those trees for a while, looking for clues, but didn't find anything. Didn't really expect to, but you never know.

On the Peabody monument, that threw me off at first when I saw that photo with the writing along the base, but anymore I'm about 99% sure that it was added as part of the photograph and was not on the monument. Speaking of which, I'm not sure I've ever read when it was that the names were added to the various mausoleum monuments and headquarters markers. Another item added to the "Check on That" list.

On the composition of those monuments, yes, I'm pretty sure it's concrete poured into some kind of mold. Based on some of those old pictures showing the various cannon-ball pyramids sitting around near the landing waiting for something to do, I'm pretty sure that the monument bases were put in place first, and the decorations (cannon-ball pyramids, cannons, and brigade stars) were added later.

The design of Peabody's monument is a bit different than the others, being as it designates both a death site and a headquarters. So the monument does double-duty, incorporating design elements of both types of monuments.

Perry

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Brigade stars.....okay, yet another item on the "Check on That" list.

Good question though. Could be they were not all done at the same time, but I'm not sure. For instance, look at the early-day picture of Ross's brigade headquarters marker. The star is on that one. I don't know exactly when the picture was taken though, or the one of Peabody's monument. Just that they're both early 20th Century, and I'd guess the first decade.

Perry

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Hey Perry,

Have you ever tramped around under the trees where the Review House was? I bet that one would be pretty easy to pinpoint.

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DK, on Review Field, yes. In the field itself, there's not a blasted thing to suggest there was ever anything there but a field, or at least nothing that I could spot. If you didn't already know a house and other buildings used to be back there, I don't think you'd ever know it.

In the tree line on the east side of the field though is a different story. There's some sort of concrete base thing over in there, that may have been a foundation of some kind, or may have covered something. It's open underneath, at least in places, and there appear to be a few openings scattered around here and there. Not sure if it was a basement, storage area, maybe a sewer or a well - not both, I'd guess ;) - but whatever it is/was, you can still find what's left of it. If anyone reading this goes in there though, please be extremely careful. I don't know that you could fall through anyplace, but there's a few places you could darn sure break an ankle or a leg if you don't watch where you step.

Something else that caught my attention near that field on this last visit. A big magnolia tree just to the east of the field itself. It may be sitting about where a driveway once was, I'm not sure. C.D., Grandpa, Bjorn, or Tom, could probably answer that. But as for the tree, the thing that I noticed was the fact that even though it sits back from the road a little bit, on the edge of the woodline, the park personnel keep the grass surrounding it mowed, and the brush cleared back from it.So it sort of stands out a little bit. It made me wonder if perhaps there's any kind of significance to that tree, and if it might have a connection of some kind with Reed or someone else who used to live out there. If anyone knows, I'd love to hear about it.

Perry

P.S. - for whatever it's worth, here's a picture of the tree....

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In the area just east of Review Field was the site of the park superintendent's residence. It was a large log house with vertical cannon barrels at the corners. There were a few outbuildings, including, I think, a garage. Park officials probably could furnish pictures of the site.

Grandpa

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Tim has a pretty good photo looking east on the hamburg-purdy road from the rise above the Pa. monument. the magnolia sits where the barn for the horses were, which was later torn down and a garage built. I think the garage was mainly for the fire truck, and a shop as it was approx 150 yards from the supt. residence.

the concrete covers the old well.

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in the shiloh diary elsie was in a house approx 4 miles from the battlefield. her older sister Middie and three children were in the house in duncan field according to Elsie. The house was destroyed in the battle, and rebuilt afterward. in Elsie's diary she tells of the houses that were built. the house in the photo was built in 1875 by joseph duncan's widow.(to the best of my memory it was 1875)it's in the diary.

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Another point on the Duncan Field house photo: to the right of the Ross monument, you'll see a row of something that looks like it could be daffodils lining a walkway to the front door of the house. If you'll go there in late February, you'll see daffodils blooming in approximately the same spot.

I've heard the story of Col. Ross and the Duncan Field house a couple of different ways. Once I was told that he did use the house as his headquarters, but the family complained and Gen. Grant ordered him to vacate the house. At the 150th anniversary, I related that story to Tim Smith and asked if he had ever seen anything that might support it. He said his impression was that the records were somewhat less specific than that. He said some Union officers tried to make their headquarters inside some civilians' houses and that Gen. Grant issued a general order to all of them to vacate civilians' houses.

Welcome to the board, D.K. You've certainly given us something to discuss lately. I especially love it when someone asks an artillery question that generates that kind of detailed response from Ron.

John

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Thanks Sharon. We've done some then & now pictures before on here, haven't we. ;)

C.D., thanks for the information about the house, and the correction about who was supposed to have been in the Duncan house during the battle. Guess I need to re-read that, as it's gotten jumbled together in my mind. Not that this is anything new for me. Jumble and I are old friends.

On the review field buildings, maybe what I came across out there was the remains of the garage foundation and basement, if it had a basement? Do either of you know if that magnolia tree has any significance, or is it basically just a tree they mow around?

Perry

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I like Belle's idea of a then and now book - something for you to keep in mind Perry - or maybe it could be a cooperative effort with others since Mike T. takes such good pictures too. Since there are so few circa 1860's pictures of Shiloh photos from the monument dedication books of various units are a great resource as you well know Perry.

I really wonder how much more open the ground might have been at Shiloh when the battle was fought vs now. Was the tree cover between the fields much less dense which would enable one to see further. Maybe there was lots of mature over story trees and fewer small trees and shrubs.

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The few battle sketches that I have seen show an openness not seen today. These sketches were supposedly made by people who were eye witnesses to the battle. If you remember the famous painting that was an ad for the McCormick Reaper, it shows what would be described as open woodland. Of course, that painting may be strictly the artist's imagination, but it also could be based on conditions that existed in 1862. One thing is for sure; the battlefield was more open after the battle than before, except the ground in the woods was probably littered with freshly fallen limbs.

Heads up everyone! Memorial Day is approaching. Let's all remember what it means.

Grandpa

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Perry, what are the photographic archives at Shiloh? Are they stacks of glass plate negatives or what? How does one go about viewing them?

Maybe if you asked them reaaal nice, park officials would digitize all of them for us.....

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Grandpa and All......

Our Gettysburg Discussion Group did a similar historic photographs project for the Gettysburg National Military Park. We bought a computer for the park, dedicated it soley to scanning all their Tipton photos, and had our volunteers scan, digitize and provided keynames for search purposes. Eventually, they had the photos put on a CD, marketed it and sold it to interested folks. I'm sure you could do something similar on a smaller scale.

The Manassas Belle

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Belle, what does a photographic archive actually consist of? For some reason, I'm imagining stacks of glass negatives. Or is it mostly paper prints? Thanks for your info.

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DK, I'm afraid I can't really answer that as I've never seen them, but I'm pretty certain that they would be prints. Can't swear to this, but I don't think there are very many original glass negatives still around. I could swear I've read something about it one way or the other, but I just don't remember.

I honestly don't know how much of the park's photo collection has been digitized so far, if any of it. One thing's for sure, it wouldn't take long to digitize a searchable record of the Shiloh photos that date to 1862. Sigh....

Perry

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Hey Perry,

I just noticed that the cover of (Images of America) Shiloh National Military Park by Brian McCutchen and Timothy Smith shows the stack of cannon barrels from the "back" side. There was a house across the road. I wonder if any traces of it are still visible?

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