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SJ Wells

Hello from the mountain state

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Hi all. I found this site a couple of days ago and have been lurking. I am a writer, and am working on a story. Part of the book takes place at Shiloh. I didn't know very much, so I started doing some research. Imagine my shock at how much I would have to know in order to know where to place my characters. :) I found the youtube videos of the hiking tours. Now, keep in mind I am blind, but I love watching the tours with Tim Smith. I started watching to get an idea what the battlefield might have been like. I am from WV. I have never been to Tn, so I'm literally going in blind. Pun intended. :) My characters are all works of fiction, but I wanted to know what it might have been like for them, so I've been researching and researching and... You get what I mean. Anyway, I'll continue to read everyone's posts on this site, but I wanted to join and say hi and thanks for this group. Two of my main characters are from Ky. One is Union and the other is Confederate. They meet on the battlefield. Where? I don't know yet. This is what I'm trying to figure out. It has been difficult. If anyone is interested in helping, feel free. If y'all think I'm crazy, well, you won't be the only ones. :)

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Hi SJ.....

 

Welcome to the Shiloh Discussion Group.  Any time you have questions, please ask.  Most folks here (including authors, rangers, re-enactors, students of the civil war, etc.) are very knowledgeable about Shiloh, other battlefields and the American Civil War in General.

 

Have you published any other books?

 

THE MANASSAS BELLE

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Thank you for the warm welcome. Yes, I have published 3 previous books. The most recent is "A Moment in Time". I went to my first reenactment a couple of weeks ago. It rained, it was a Saturday evening, and I don't think many showed up. It was at Carnifex Ferry here in WV. When I find the appropriate place to post my questions on here, I'll I ask away. :)

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Welcome SJ. It helps to be at least a little crazy to hang out on this site with these zanies. I do believe I'm the only normal one. As far as a place for questions, the Campfire forum is a good bet.

Jim

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Welcome to the board, SJ. Glad to have you join us. 

 

A book on Shiloh that you might be interested in is Shelby Foote's "Shiloh: A Novel." It follows several different soldiers from both sides through the battle, with each chapter focusing on a different person. I believe they're all fictional characters, but the units they're a part of were present at Shiloh. 

 

As to where you could have your Kentucky counterparts meet on the field, that's a pretty interesting question. I think for most people, the Hornet's Nest is still the central attraction of the battle. So from a famous location standpoint, that one might be hard to beat, even if it's far from the only possibility.

 

There were Kentucky units in and near the Hornet's Nest at various times during the battle, but offhand I don't believe any faced each other there. For that matter I'm not sure right off if any Kentucky units squared-off anywhere on the field, but the overriding image of Shiloh to me is one of massive, horrific confusion and chaos. It wasn't uncommon for individuals to become separated from their units.

 

So even if you can't find a way to match up opposing Kentucky units, having one or even both of your characters becoming 'lost' during the battle, and eventually meeting each other, would give a good sense of what the battle might have been like from a soldiers-eye point of view. You might say it would be a fictionalized way of being historically accurate. :)

 

In any case, feel free to post questions or bounce ideas off of us. We're glad to help if we can. 

 

Perry

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Perry, thank you for the warm welcome and book suggestion. I'll check it out. I've been reading up on the Orphan Brigade, and I think I have finally placed my Confederate soldier. I might have placed my Union guy, too, but still working on that. I wasn't planning on having them face one another in battle, but the Confederate guy finds the Union one wounded and takes him to the rear. Both men are from Ky., but the one who joins the Union is a Chaplain and joins around September 1861. The other joins the Southern army after that but before January 1862.

I've looked up both Union and Confederate order of battle at Shiloh, read over the Shiloh parts of that Orphan  Brigade book and watched y'all's hiking tour videos on youtube several times, trying to get a sense of the battlefield and where everyone was. I think the confusion can play into my favor, and I'm beginning to put some of the battle scenes together. Would love to bounce ideas off anyone interested. lol

 

Thanks again.

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"Usually, the ones who are always saying they are normal are the ones furthest from it. lol" People get that idea because normal is boring, so something has to be done to enliven things.

 

Jim

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Mona, I thought of that. But, so far I have him with the 6th Ky infantry. From what I can find on the internet, the 6th would have joined at the right time for my story, Nov. 1861. Some resources say this was a mounted infantry regiment, but some point to it being on foot at first but mounted later after Shiloh. The Union guy is more difficult to place. lol

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At Shiloh, the 6th Kentucky was an infantry regiment in Trabue's Brigade of Breckinridge's Reserve Corps.  The Orphan Brigade, into which Trabue's Brigade would eventually morph, was mounted following the Battle of Jonesboro (August 31 - Sept 1, 1864).  According to William C Davis in his The Orphan Brigade - The Kentucky Confederates Who Couldn't Go Home, the Brigade numbered 513 men on Sept 6, 1864.

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SJ

 

Best of luck with your Civil War novel: hope it comes together for you.

 

Perry's suggestion of placing your Kentuckians meeting near the Hornet's Nest, sometime in the afternoon or evening of April 6th, has viability as Union General Hurlbut had a unit or two attached to his 4th Division: the 17th Kentucky Infantry, and the 25th Kentucky Infantry. Serving in Lauman's Brigade, the Kentucky troops were sited between the Hornet's Nest and the Tennessee River. (At some point in April, 1862, the 25th Kentucky was amalgamated into the 17th Kentucky, due to losses from disease. The new organization was referred to as the 17th Kentucky.)

 

On Day 2 (April 7th), several more infantry regiments from Kentucky took part in the battle, as part of General Buell's Army of the Ohio. Wounded soldiers, blue and gray, were all over the battlefield... hundreds, if not thousands of them; many lying where they fell. A meeting between an advancing infantryman, and a wounded soldier, is possible. (Some Kentucky infantry regiments, present Day 2, include the 1st Kentucky; 5th Kentucky; and the 6th Kentucky. And possibly half a dozen more.)

 

And, if you are looking for something completely different... Remember that volunteers often trekked to neighboring States, especially in the early months of the conflict, and joined regiments outside their home State. (Kentucky was 'neutral' early on, so Union men crossed the Ohio River.) Also, a little known fact: the 14th Iowa Infantry arrived at Pittsburg Landing undermanned, and recruited 'Southern volunteers' upon arrival. The record of these 'new recruits' is sketchy, because the 14th Iowa was captured at the Hornet's Nest, and many of these men did not survive their experience as captives.

 

All the best

 

Ozzy 

 

 

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Transylvania, thank you. I'm rather glad the 6th wasn't mounted during Shiloh as I had already written the scene with the men marching. lol I could have changed it, but I'm glad I didn't have to.

Ozzy, I'm wondering if my Union chaplain could have went to Ohio to volunteer. I thought of placing him in the 46th Ohio, which would put him right where my guy from the 6th would be on the first day. It works in my head, anyway. lol But, it seems like a long way to go to volunteer. To ride or walk all the way from near Owensboro Ky to Worthington Oh where the 46th was organized or even to Columbus sounds like quite a long way.

Maps would come in handy, but I'm blind and maps don't do me much good unless I can read them with my fingers. :)

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SJ

 

I had a look at the details you indicated, and discovered the following:

 

-  46th Ohio Infantry.     It was being 'got up' in October 1861 in Franklin County, not far from Columbus, Ohio. The men recruited were mostly from four neighboring counties, but many were from outside those counties. After travel to Paducah, the 46th OVI eventually ended up at Pittsburg Landing, second week of March 1862, and were sited to the far west: assigned to Sherman's 5th Division, McDowell's 1st Brigade.

 

-  railroad link     The railroad ran from Cincinnati to Columbus, Ohio: President-elect Lincoln rode that section of line, in February 1861, on his way to Washington.

 

-  Owensboro, Kentucky is a port on the Ohio River. Frequent steamboat arrivals and departures in 1861. (Distance is overcome by good transportation links.) A journey could be accomplished via steamboat to Cincinnati, and connect with train to Columbus.

 

 

Why would someone journey from Owensboro to Columbus?

 

-  Business interests: maybe someone up North wanted a horse delivered. Maybe they wanted to go into partnership, and establish a store, or buy real estate.

 

-  Family connection: maybe extended family (or a brother or sister) had settled near Columbus. Perhaps there was a death in the family, requiring travel to Ohio; maybe someone in Ohio owed money to the family in Kentucky (inheritance, or repayment of loaned money.)

 

 

Once in Columbus, perhaps your character got 'caught up' in the 'heat of the moment.' Perhaps he signed on, with a cousin or two, in the same regiment.

 

 

Anyway, there are a number of realistic ways to make a character fit this scenario...

 

 

Regards

 

Ozzy

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Alternatively, it's not too far from Owensboro to Paducah.  Perhaps the regimental chaplain had to resign when the regiment was at Paducah and our character stepped into the role.

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Ozzy, thank you so much. I really like the family connection. Plan to use it. Putting him at Pittsburg Landing the second week of March works because he sends a letter home which accidentally brings his wife down to visit.

Transylvania, thanks for the suggestion. I didn't know Owensboro and Paducah  were close to each other.

Sometimes when doing research if I want to find out how far it is from one place to another, I'll get directions on google. But sometimes that doesn't tell me much. lol 

Now, as for where the 46th was camped at Pittsburg Landing, was it at or near Wolfe Field? I'm trying to write the scene on the morning of Apr. 6. Would they have heard the shots early that morning? If so, would they have known what was going on? I'm writing from my Chaplain's wife's point of view. She'd planned to go home, but the battle sort of messed up those plans, and the Chaplain wants to send her back to the river as far as she can get from the fighting. Any thoughts?

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According to the Trailshead map, the 46th Ohio campsite was near Hy 142 just west of where it intersects Hy 22, near what I call the McDowell entrance to the Park (west entrance). This would have placed the camp just off the west side of the Ben Howell field.

Jim

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SJ

 

Perhaps the best resource on the 46th Ohio Infantry I have uncovered, can be found at the link below: it is the History of the 46th Ohio, written by the Colonel of the Regiment, Thomas Worthington, and published about 1887. It is available on the Internet, for free, at Archives.org

 

What makes this work so valuable: exact dates (often to the hour) of significant events relating to the 46th OVI are recorded; reasons for difficulties (such as an elevated rate of sickness among members of the regiment at Paducah); interactions with the timberclad gunboats on the Tennessee River, prior to the Battle of Shiloh (important because it explains how Pittsburg Landing was selected as assembly location, for the March on Corinth); revelation of some of the politics at play, in regards to Col. Worthington vs General Sherman and General C.F. Smith (which reflected on the men of the 46th Ohio); a complete report, by Colonel Worthington, of his regiment's operations during the Battle of Shiloh (begins page 60).

 

Sickness of the men of the 46th OVI, prior to the Battle of Shiloh, with inadequate facilities to treat them, could be the reason your character's wife journeys to Savannah/Pittsburg Landing. Mother Bickerdyke and Mary Stafford showed up, unannounced, to work as nurses at the understaffed hospital at Savannah, prior to the battle. [Perhaps, after arrival at the camp of the 46th Ohio, she gets sent to Pittsburg Landing, in company with wounded soldiers, and ends up working as nurse aboard Minnehaha, or any of a half dozen steamers, that became floating hospitals, shortly after the battle commenced.]

 

As for 'the sound of the guns' -- Sherman's 5th Division was caught up in the fighting by 7 am and the guns at the front had been firing, in increasing volume, for over two hours by then. Problem was: there were so many 'false alarms' in the three days leading up to the morning of April 6th, that many men convinced themselves it was just the sound of pickets, firing their muskets (to prevent misfire, later, of damp powder), upon being relieved of duty. [As far away as Crump's Landing, and at Savannah, the firing could be heard by 7 am, especially after the booming of the artillery commenced.]

 

Cheers

 

Ozzy

 

http://archive.org/stream/briefhistoryof4600wort#page/n5/mode/2up

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Jim thank you.

Ozzy, I found the book online. There is even a button to click so an electronic lady can read it aloud. I'm sure the information in the book will help if I can stay awake long enough. :) Good thing there is a way to pause the reading.

I went to a small reenactment here in WV a few weeks ago, and I couldn't help but think as the battle got underway, "How could they have not heard the shooting?"

It was so loud. It echoed off the surrounding mountains, and I was so close I could feel it in my chest. I'm sure that the sound of the firing at Shiloh had to have echoed off those hills and ravines.

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SJ

 

When I was instructing classes, I always made certain my 'training aids' were appropriate, and ready to go. On this occasion, I failed to check the 'mechanical voice,' which reads the text of History of the 46th Ohio Infantry... but you are correct: the substance of the book is almost impossible to follow, from the robotic reader.

 

If you have someone, who can help you access the information, the first seventy or eighty pages can assist with understanding the culture and actions of that Ohio regiment. Don't give up on this reference; turn off the mechanical voice, and try some other means of access...

 

Yours in humility

 

Ozzy

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