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Transylvania

Bloody Pond

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On recent trips to the Shiloh NMP, I got the impression that the Bloody Pond was not contemporaneous with the battle, with the first mention of it occurring about fifteen years after the battle.

 

Is it generally accepted now that the Bloody Pond has no historical basis?

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no, the Pond is mentioned in at least two of the grants from 1820's and several firsthand accounts of the battle mention the wounded drinking from what was basically a cattle pond.

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I also believe the pond is original to the Shiloh battlefield.  All of the current books mention the bloody pond, books authoried by Sword, Daniel, Cunningham, McDonough, Steven E Woodworth, Kenneth P Williams, Joseph Frank and George Reaves (an ex-park superintendent) and further, the maps by Atwell Hicks drawn in 1900 shows the bloody pond on the battlefield  Of modern days is the Trailhead graphics map of Shiloh also showing the bloody pond on the field.  CD should be correct about the 1820 land grant because he has been searching land title transaction.  Nice to hear from you CD.

Ron 

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 A pond on an 1820 land grant would not be around in 1862 due to sedimentation and the decay of aquatic plants unless it was regularly dredged or otherwise maintained.

 

Anyway, consensus seems to be that a pool of water which came to be known as Bloody Pond did exist at the time of the battle.

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CD says it was basically a cattle pond. Probably hogs, too, right, CD? The thing that strikes me is how desperate the men must have been to drink from a cattle/hog pond. I have cattle and a pond on my property. Believe me, cattle and hogs aren't exactly the world's most pristine creatures. I'd have to be awfully desperate to drink after them.

Transylvania, you're right about ponds. It took 30-40 years for mine to fill up. However, ponds are pretty important, so landowners usually take care of them. (Fortunately, I had a neighbor with a bulldozer.)

I just can't get past the striking picture of desperation painted by the notion of a bloody pond. Memoirs of soldiers indicate that wounded soldiers experienced extreme thirst, extreme enough to drink from a cattle/hog pond. When I look at my pond, I can't help but see the desperation of the soldiers at Shiloh.

Transylvania, thanks for raising the question. It's great to get a conversation going.

John

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Most Ponds would dry up and fill in with the years but the bloody pond is spring fed and was probably started as a buffalo wallow in the years when they were plentiful in the Shiloh Area and as the farmers will testify hogs will make a pretty good pond in a dry field. Water oaks pond was a wet weather pond and was not spring fed henseforth it dried up each summer. There was several ponds on the battlefield(most manmade) from which the soldiers drank. It just happened that this pond was in an area where there was a lot of severely wounded men and was next to a road that was well traveled.

 

Your right John, my southern speech pattern showing out. All ponds in our area are cattle ponds even those in the middle of a hog pasture.

 

good to be back on the board Ron, maybe we can find something to argue about!lol

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As they say, men suffering from wounds, especially men who have been gut shot, can nearly go insane from want of water.  I read an account years ago of a Federal soldier who died after being released from prison camp and the cause was listed as "drank cold water to excess".  

 

It does not take much to drink from tainted sources, been there done that.  Well over 10 years ago we did a reenactment in Raymond, Mississippi.  It was a campaign event and we were marching about 7 miles.  Doesn't seem like much, but most were in a full body sweat before we even started marching.  The event was in the summer months and it was blistering hot.  Having a few thousand reenactors on hand, a messy situation took place.  At a pre-positioned and pre-planned water point/water stop, our infantry arrived AFTER the cavalry.  They had set up troughs for the horses and also troughs for human consumption.  In a mix-up, the cavalrymen took their horses to ALL the troughs.  We were screwed.  The event coordinators had NO way of getting the amount of water it would take to distribute to all the men in sufficient quantities given our location.  All of our canteens were empty.  Luckily someone caught the unfolding event in time and only 2 horses had drank from "our" trough.  Why they didn't have water buffalos is beyond me, but, you had 2 choices.  Either fill your canteen from that trough, or go without.  In that heat and humidity, the latter was simply not an option, period.  We already had men go down from the heat during the march and we still had several miles to go, so for most they didn't give it a second thought, they skimmed off the top of the water and sank their canteens deep.  

 

I won't even mention the time doing REAL Army stuff we were at Fort Irwin, California, in July, and we ran out of water in the middle of the desert after some genius officer had failed to get water staged for us and we were MILES away from any water source.  Had to cease training and conserve water till they were able to get a supply to us, which took 2 to 3 hours.

 

An account written by a Confederate soldier during the Perryville campaign specifically mentions drinking from ponds in barn lots.  Shoot, the entire Battle of Perryville erupted where it did because both sides were looking for potable water.

 

One last short story came from my college years.  A classmate had an ancestor in the 4th Alabama Infantry who left a journal.  At Gettysburg, after completing the famous march the Alabama men endured, then going straight into fighting in the Round Top sector, consisting of numerous charges, his ancestor was wounded.  He wrote that he laid where he fell for 3 days (according to his journal) before finally being carried off to a field hospital.  Needless to say he mentioned being desperate for water.

 

Having said all this, yeah, it would not take much for a person suffering from slightly over "normal" thirst to do anything for water, much less exhausted and/or wounded soldiers in dire need. 

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good topic, The Bloody pond is, like the rest of Shiloh, somewhat a mystery. Bloody pond holds the high ground, if you were to call in your agriculture agent and say I want to put a pond there, they would laugh their heads off because there is not enough runoff there to support a pond.Yet there it is after several hundred years, water level remaining the same only changing in the driest, hottest months. there is no visible means of water, no inlets running in, no outlets going out. Therein lies the secret to it's longevity, it doesn't fill up with silt because no silt runs in. It has only been cleaned out once that I know of and then only because the large oaks that were on the edge of the pond had dropped limbs into the water. and one even fell into the pond.

 

Bloody pond sits on the east end of the Lick Creek, Owl Creek and Tennessee watershed. Water immediately east of the pond drains into the Tennessee River, water immediately west drains into Owl Creek, Water immediately south drains into Lick Creek. If you take a map of the Shiloh area and draw a line beginning at Bloody pond running south west toward Barnes field to the Eastern Corinth Road, then running due south with this road to the bark road and following the Bark Road to the Corinth Road then south to the county line at which point it turns west again. All water to the north and west of this line runs into Owl Creek, All water south and East of this line runs into Lick Creek. If you continue your line North from Bloody pond to the Michigan monument, then north by northeast to the main entry road, then due East to the cemetery you have Shiloh Ridge.

 

Actual drainage area into Bloody Pond is less than half an acre, so the pond is not dependent on rainwater run off and is pretty much a rarity as far as ponds go. My belief is that it was some type of animal wallow. And of course the soil or mud was taken away on the animals coats. I can just see a large herd of buffalo all covered with mud grazing in the meadow which would one day become the  infamous Peach Orchard. anyway that's my two cents worth.

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Well, since CD is back, I may as well chime in on this topic. I have probably seen Bloddy Pond every Summer for the last 60 years, and I never saw it go dry. It was low in times of drought but never close to dry. Although the pond is in an area that saw much activity during the time of the battle, the number of soldiers that would have actually seen the pond was a small percentage of the total involved in the battle. Don't know that that means anything, it's just food for thought. As most of you know, most springs are located at or near the base of a hill or ridge. Thus, a spring-fed pond on high ground is a real anomaly.

 This is a good small discussion with good input from all involved. I enjoyed reading everyone's posts. To all you folks in the deep freeze area: stay safe and warm.

 

Grandpa

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Hi Grandpa,

How about -12 degrees below zero, wind chill factor.  I work out doors in an area of even higher winds and it felt like -25 degrees wind chill factor.  Yes, it does make a differance.  Dress warm as best as you can and hope the wind dies down.  Ten to 15 minutes is all you can work then get indoors.  As luck would have it, the booth we get into is old and drafty.  I'm looking forward to spring (more than you). 

Good conversation about Bloody Pond. 

Ron

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