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Billy1977

local sunrise on 6 April 1862

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Hello everybody, I was wondering if anyone knows when exactly the sun came up that morning? Would it be the same time as it would be on 6 April 2016 except for an hour's difference because they didn't have Daylight Savings Time back then? Or would an Old Farmer's Almanac have it? Many thanks in advance. 

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        On page 149 of Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862 by O. E. Cunningham, in note 10 is the following information:

      "Edwin Bearss, who performed extensive research on the subject, maintains the sun rose at 5:40 a. m. that morning, citing a letter from E. B. McGeever, Head Reference Section Science and Technical Division, Library of Congress, October 30, 1963." The letter is in the Shiloh Military Park Archives.

      Cunningham has a discussion of the soldiers accounts concerning what time the opening shots were fired in this note for those who have the book to reference.

      Cunningham wrote "Most of the soldiers' accounts of the action said the firing began just before dawn, and that the sun rose about the time of the beginning of the skirmish between the two main bodies of troops."

Hank

 

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The problem with time and the battle was that standardized time wasn't in place yet, so many soldiers operated on a different time frame. That is one reason it can get confusing reading first hand accounts which states times.

 

Jim

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As Jim mentioned, standardized time zones were not implemented until the 1880's. You got me thinking Billy. I had sunrise at 6:25 AM but this would be based simply on the modern sunrise at 6:25 AM. I have a reference of 5:14 AM when firing broke out in Fraley field, General Johnston asked an aide to note the time. I have 7:10 AM as the time when Shoup's Arkansas battery opened on Sherman's position around Shiloh church and a federal officer noted the time as 7:11 AM which would indicate some type of agreed upon time. It most likely was based on the time noted in the almanac and possibly printed in newspaper. Great question.

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Billy, Hank, Jim, Roger et al...

Since this topic has been pretty well covered, I do not have much to add IRT time, except: 

  • Civil War time-pieces were set to "local apparent noon" which was observed at "12 Meridian" when the sun reached its "highest" point in the cloudless sky at the observer's location (also known as "meridian passage" and "high noon"). Accuracy, using no measuring device to aid the naked eye (standard Army practice) was +/- five minutes.
  • The Civil War Navy carried sextants and chronometers (even the inland river gunboats, such as USS Lexington and USS Tyler) for assistance in accurate time observation, calculation and recording. Using these tools, local apparent noon could be determined to within one minute; and an adjustment made to the reading on the chronometer (to calculate accurate local time; the chronometer itself was never adjusted.) One would think that the Army would make use of Navy time, when conducting a joint operation; but it is obvious from review of reports in the OR that the Army was satisfied working to the nearest half-hour; while in the OR (Navy) and Ship Logbooks, time is usually recorded to the nearest five minutes (and often to the nearest minute.)
  • U.S. Grant sent his pocket watch home before the Battle of Shiloh (so his AAG John Rawlins probably provided times for inclusion in Grant's reports and later written works)
  • The difference in the sun's Meridian passage at Savannah Tennessee as compared to Corinth Mississippi equates to only about one minute. Therefore, the disparity in times used during the Battle of Shiloh was due to inaccurately set time pieces; and estimates of time, without reference to a time piece;
  • Sunrise on the 100-foot bluff above Pittsburg Landing occurred earlier than sunrise aboard USS Lexington... but only by a fraction of a minute -- perhaps 5 to 10 seconds;
  • Prior to 1881 the "railroad time" was observed in a novel way by the railroads of North America, following a tragic head-on collision between two trains in 1853. Called the "General Time Convention," each line observed a "standard time" along the length of that railroad line, with all watches in use by engineers and conductors on that Railroad set to that Railroad's Time. In this way, an engineer aboard the B & O RR in Baltimore carried a time-piece that indicated 3:15pm while an engineer aboard a B & O trainin Wheeling, Virginia carried a time-piece that indicated... 3:15pm. (Meanwhile, the clocks in Baltimore city indicated 3:10pm and the clocks in Wheeling businesses indicated 2:54pm... which is why Railroad Time-tables had to be produced for local time of arrival/departure for every station along that line; and every station master kept a Time-table for those same arrivals/departures referenced to Railroad Time). Until the standardization put in place after 1881, every Railroad followed its own Time: fifty different railroad companies meant fifty different Times in use.
  • The first known use of "synchronized watches" prior to a military operation occurred on the evening of May 21st 1863 when General Grant ordered his three Corps Commanders (Sherman, McClernand and McPherson) to set their watches to his (Grant's) time, in order to conduct a simultaneous assault against Vicksburg at 10am next morning [http://www.ennyman.com/grant.html ]
  • When I calculated the time for sunrise at Pittsburg Landing for April 6th 1862 my result was 0538 ...so I am happy to acknowledge "rounding error" and accept Ed Bearss time of 0540, as reported by Hank.

Ozzy

 

References:  wikipedia 1853 Railroad Time  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_time 

Railroad Time from 1883   http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/railroads-create-the-first-time-zones

Richard R. Hobbs, Marine Navigation 2: Celestial and Electronic, Naval Institute Press of Annapolis, MD (1974)

http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/civil_war/150_years/years-ago-assault-synchronized-by-watches-turns-bloody-at-vicksburg/article_fe6e78ce-c303-11e2-9de7-001a4bcf6878.html

http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;idno=ofre0022;q1=Lexington;view=image;seq=813;size=100;page=root  (typical Navy Log entry from 1862)

 

 

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