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Shiloh Discussion Group
Perry Cuskey

Happy 10th Birthday to Us

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Sometime on February 28th, 2007, I clicked whatever button it was that I was supposed to click, and the Shiloh Discussion Group was live and in color for the first time. 

Two years earlier I was (unknowingly) coming to the end of my time as the editor of the Civil War topic on the now-defunct Suite101.com, and kicking around the idea of starting up a site centered around a single battle. Maybe the timing was good, as I was about ready to move on as it was.

I quickly narrowed the choices down to a couple of personal favorites, Vicksburg and Shiloh. Obviously I went with Shiloh, but the choice wasn't an easy one. Shiloh is a very special place for me, but so is Vicksburg. And both are incredibly important and compelling parts of the war, rich in history and remarkable stories. I darn near ended up flipping a coin.

The membership on the first day consisted of exactly one person - me. Hey, you have to start somewhere, right? But it wasn't long before that number exploded all the way up to 3, with the addition of Eileen Murphy and the late historian Art Bergeron. I'd met both of them years earlier on Prodigy, one of the original online services with a wonderful Civil War community. We'd stayed in touch over the years, and they both knew about and supported my strange new venture into the world of online discussion boards. 

The next two members were Dan and Ron, both of whom, along with Eileen and Art, have made invaluable contributions to the board over the years. And both of whom, along with Eileen, are still members, which speaks to their dedication, and their remarkable patience with the board administrator. Art sadly passed away a few years ago, but he is still listed as a member here, and always will be as long as this board is around. Art was a good person. 

We've picked up a few more members since those early days of the board, of course. ;) 

As for the board's name, it's a shamelessly blatant ripoff of The Gettysburg Discussion Group, founded by the Brothers Lawrence, Dennis & Bob, after a small gathering at Gettysburg in 1994. If theirs isn't the oldest web site centered around a single Civil War battle, it has to be close. Bob and Dennis were also on Prodigy. As I said, it was a wonderful community we had there, with some very dedicated folks. (You can visit the GDG here - http://www.gdg.org/ ) One of the founding members of the GDG also became the second member here on the SDG - Eileen Murphy. So there's a literal and figurative connection between the two sites.

I honestly didn't know what to expect when I started up this board. I'd love to say that I had a plan in place or some such, but truthfully, the "plan" went about like this - "let's start up a board on Shiloh and see where it goes." 

Well, where it's gone since then is pretty remarkable to me, because of the people who have joined it over the last ten years, and who have made it into what it is now. We started out as small little corner of the web on a free site with crazy flashing ads, and now we're over 300 members on a much larger site, including park rangers and historians, and have annual gatherings at the park in the fall. I've met and made new friends along the way, and I know the same is true for others here. That's pretty cool to me. 

Sometimes I kind of step back and think about all that. There's been more than once, on a visit to the park during the anniversary or on one of Tim's Epic Treks, when I mentally take note of what starting this site has meant for me, and how its grown, and had an impact on the lives of others. It's hard to describe, to be honest. It's almost as if the board has taken on a life of its own, and has grown beyond what I ever could have done for it by myself. Experiences, friendships, things that are sometimes difficult to put into words, but are still very real. ( (I wrote about my own personal Shiloh story here - http://shilohdiscussiongroup.com/index.php?/blogs/entry/3967-my-shiloh-journey/)

If someone had asked me on that first day if I thought the board would still be around in ten years, I think I probably would have said that I wasn't sure, but it would be pretty neat if it were. I'd have to give the same answer today to that same question, if someone were to ask it now.

I don't know if the board will still be here or not in ten years, but either way, it's already become a wonderful community of people who have helped contribute to our knowledge and understanding of a key part of American history. I honestly don't know how you put a value on that.

As for what comes next, I guess that's to be determined. I've long wanted to create a full-scale web site to go along with the board. That's still my hope, and part of the plan. So stay tuned. 

We also have a nice little community on Facebook, if you've not yet checked it out. You can do so here - https://www.facebook.com/groups/367358856351/

For now though, I just want to say a sincere thank you for making this board what it is, at the ten-year mark. It's been a great run thanks to you. And here's to an even greater next ten years and beyond, for this board, yes, but more so for each one of you as well. 

Perry

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Congratulations, Perry, on your 10 years of Shiloh Discussion Group leadership! It's difficult to believe that time flies by that fast. I still remember the early days on Prodigy (close to 15 years prior to the SDG) when our Civil War group spent hours in live chats discussing the Civil War (Shiloh included). I also remember your dedication to writing well researched civil war articles while we both frequented Suite 101 on the Internet. (You even let me write a guest article a time or two.) Walking the fields of Shiloh with you, I, too, developed a keen sense of the history, beauty and peacefulness of that battlefield which still remains with me today. While I may not post as much now as I once did (life gets in the way sometimes), I still enjoy reading the posts from all the SDG members. I, too, have made many friends on the site and have enjoyed discussing the battle and meeting some of them on other sites or in person. Here's to the continued success of your site and 'Happy Birthday' to all the SDGers out there!

THE MANASSAS BELLE

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Perry

I read your "intro to history" recollection, and thought I was reviewing my own bio: I had a father who was mad-keen about American history, and I dutifully followed his wanderings through Dodge City, Central City, Cheyenne, the Dakota Badlands, Chattanooga, Bowling Green, Pensacola, Gettysburg... (while my mother and sister went shopping in the nearest town, instead.) Along the way, my father tracked down information IRT a relative who fought (and died) at the Battle of Killdeer Mountain. Then it turned out we had another relative in the same regiment -- 6th Iowa Cavalry -- who luckily survived the war. But before the finer points of their story could be pieced together, my father passed away... and I inherited his research material. Once I resumed his research, the internet was gaining preeminence as information-provider; more verifiable data was being scanned online every day; and I stumbled upon the story of a "forgotten" relative -- an older brother of the two in the 6th Iowa Cavalry -- who joined the 12th Iowa Infantry with four of his cousins. Their story was so compelling that I decided to write a book about their experience to share with extended family, and my research took me here... where I proceeded to make a nuisance of myself.

Anyway, thanks for initiating and maintaining this "Shiloh information sharing experience," where we can visit and attempt to make sense of the historic contest, so far off the beaten track, that many believe was the turning point of the Civil War.

All the best for continued success

Ozzy

 

 

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Thanks Eileen. 

And you too, Ozzy. I appreciate both of your contributions to the board over the years. 

Ozzy, that's a great story about your dad, and your family history. It's something to me, the way in which paths end up crossing, and the places they take us to that we never expected. 

As far as being a nuisance, that's why this board is here - so that folks like us can do exactly that. ;) Keep it going. 

Perry

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Perry,

Congratulation's and a job well done to you.  The discussion group went along through 10 years with your good leadership.  I read your message about the origin of the group and was surprised because I thought it was started earlier then 2007.  My big enjoyment has been reading all of the fine articles (posts) by the many knowledge members.  I still regret the passing of Art Bergeron.  My biggest regret is not getting to any anniversary trip to Shiloh and meeting the other members.  My wife and I made two trips, (2000, 2005) just before the group started up.  Too soon.  I enjoyed both trips a lot specially the second trip.  During this trip, I got out of the car and walked into the woods to read some tablets that were not visible from the road.  It was this walking that increased my interest and enjoyment of Shiloh.    I was encouraged to go home and start writing my book about Shiloh..  I'm still working on it.

Congratulations to Perry and every member who has enjoyed all of the fine posts.  Remember, work back to the earlier posts because they are very interesting. 

Ron

(I do miss not meeting any of you in person). 

 

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Perry, I forget to mention in the above post that

"THE WEST IS THE BEST" in reference to the better area of the civil war.

Ron

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I recall 10 years ago this April you gave some cards out and a local friend of mine came over to my truck one afternoon and handed me one of the SDG cards..I looked at it and he said "I told him you didnt have a computer" and you said to him..".maybe this will get her to get a computer." well I had to go to the library for several years. and am pleased to say that through this group I have learned so much,been able to "travel" with those who post pictures of other battlefields and meet some dear friends through this group.May we always stick together in our battlefield tromps.I also believe that most of us as youngsters were exposed to visiting historic grounds through a parent..I visited Shiloh,Stones Rvr,Chat/Chick/coast of N.C. where monitor/merrimac fought,several sites in NC,and though not CW Whites Sands Range,Lincoln Co NM.And any little stop in between ..this was prior to interstate travel so there were alot of sites to see along the way.Im looking forward to another 10 years!

Mona

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Sorry I don't get to this site as much as I want but do love this group. Since first time I walked the grounds of shiloh it's in my blood.Happy 10th anniversary!

Edited by tcb816
Can't spell.lol
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9 hours ago, Ron said:

Perry, I forget to mention in the above post that

"THE WEST IS THE BEST" in reference to the better area of the civil war.

Ron

Spoken like a true son of the Old Northwest! :)

Thank you for the kind words about the board as well, Ron. One of these days you're just going to have to make it down to the park and join us. We'll even treat your flock of flying bulls to some good food at Hagy's. (Hopefully it won't include anyone they know. :lol:) Start planning on it!

Perry

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7 hours ago, mona said:

I recall 10 years ago this April you gave some cards out and a local friend of mine came over to my truck one afternoon and handed me one of the SDG cards..I looked at it and he said "I told him you didnt have a computer" and you said to him..".maybe this will get her to get a computer." well I had to go to the library for several years. and am pleased to say that through this group I have learned so much,been able to "travel" with those who post pictures of other battlefields and meet some dear friends through this group.May we always stick together in our battlefield tromps.I also believe that most of us as youngsters were exposed to visiting historic grounds through a parent..I visited Shiloh,Stones Rvr,Chat/Chick/coast of N.C. where monitor/merrimac fought,several sites in NC,and though not CW Whites Sands Range,Lincoln Co NM.And any little stop in between ..this was prior to interstate travel so there were alot of sites to see along the way.Im looking forward to another 10 years!

Mona

Yes, I remember that about the no-computer! :) You've sure made it work though, and it's frankly hard to imagine this board without you being a part of it.  And good point about how a lot of us probably got interested in the war, and history in general. "Turn them loose out in a big battlefield park. It's like getting a day off!" ;)

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5 hours ago, tcb816 said:

Sorry I don't get to this site as much as I want but do love this group. Since first time I walked the grounds of shiloh it's in my blood.Happy 10th anniversary!

Great to see you stop by again, Aaron, and thanks! :)

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