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Hike Report: Iowa Remembers Shiloh

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Below is Mona's report of the hike focusing on the Iowa monuments, and their dedication in 1906. The hike was led by Bjorn Skaptason, who as many of you know is one of our board members here, and a former park ranger at Shiloh.

Here is a map showing the route taken by this hike...


Note that the "Finish" site should actually be on the opposite side of Duncan Field. As always, the maps included are from Bing maps. The links to the various inscriptions are courtesy of the National Park Service web site for Shiloh, from their invaluable Monument Location System. So here then is Mona's report of the hike titled, "Iowa Remembers Shiloh"....


A different kind of reenactment began at the Iowa State Monument on Pittsburg Landing Road. Our hike followed selected Iowa state monuments dedicated by the Iowa Veterans Commission on November 23rd, 1906.

The Society of the Army of the Tennessee met in 1893 at the World’s Expo in Chicago. Here the keynote speaker was House of Representative member David Henderson (who buried a brother at Shiloh). Here the officers of the Society of the Army of the Tennessee set into motion for monuments at Vicksburg, Shiloh, Chattanooga, & Andersonville.

The Iowa legislature appropriated $50,000 for monuments at Shiloh. Action was undertaken with support of the Society of the Army of the Cumberland [Army of the Ohio at the battle of Shiloh], veterans groups, and the Daughters of Union Veterans. The bill creating Shiloh National Military Park passed in December of 1894. Commission members were selected by Iowa Representative David B. Henderson, a veteran of the 12th Iowa wounded at the Hornets Nest. David Wilson Reed, Henderson’s friend and fellow 12th Iowa veteran, was selected to be the park’s first secretary and historian.

In November of 1906, Iowa Governor Albert B. Cummins and two members of the Iowa Shiloh Battlefield Commission visited the park for the purpose of dedicating the Iowa monuments. Music for the proceedings was provided by the 55th Iowa Regimental Band. Local farmers were rounded up and brought to the landing with their wagons, in order to carry the commission members from monument to monument. The farmers were not paid for their services.

Our hike re-tracing their movements began in Jones Field at the monument to the 16th Iowa, which arrived on the battlefield on the morning of April 6th. This was a regiment of fresh recruits under the command of Colonel Alexander Chambers (wounded during the battle), and Lt. Colonel Addison H. Sanders. The men had been issued Springfield rifles a few days prior to their arrival at Pittsburg Landing, and did not receive their first live ammunition until the morning of April 6th at Shiloh. Most of them had never loaded a gun before that morning.

On the day of the dedication, the invocation was given by Reverend Dr. A. L. Frisbie of Des Moines, followed by the address of Lt. John Hayes.

The inscription on the regiment’s monument, sourced by the veterans with a “consultation” by Reed, states that the heavy fighting was experienced in moving across Jones Field. The plaque states that fighting here took place at 10:30 a.m., but the veterans argued that it was 10:00 a.m. and by 10:30 they were much further forward. The end result was an example of the power D.W. Reed had upon the setting of monuments - he told them that the base to their monument would be set where he said. No compromise! [see the monument's text, along with an explanatory comment, on the link to the NPS site, below...]


From here we moved on to the monument to the 15th Iowa, just inside the tree line to the east of the 16th Iowa monument. These two units stuck together throughout the day. On the day of the dedication, Major H.C. MacArthur of the 15th Iowa had given an address titled, "Truth is Mighty and will Prevail." The benediction was given by Reverend S. H. Henderson of Allerton, Iowa.

The men of the 15th Iowa had arrived at Pittsburg Landing on the morning of April 6th, alongside their fellow soldiers in the 16th, the two units coming down from St. Louis. Between 8:00 and 9:00 a.m. on the 6th, the two regiments were dispatched to aid General McClernand’s right with haste. They made it two-thirds of the way across Jones Field when they were met with artillery fire. They formed line, and from 10:00 a.m. until noon they fought without support on their left or right.

[inscription on the 15th Iowa monument...]


[Picture showing location of the monuments for the 15th & 16th Iowa...]


From here we walked over to the monument of the 6th Iowa, commanded by Captain John Williams (wounded in the battle), and Captain Madison Walden.

[Map for 6th Iowa monument...]


The speaker at the dedication of the 6th Iowa’s monument, Jesse A. Miller, was the son of Lt. Colonel Alexander J. Miller, a member of Company G at Shiloh. Mr. Miller was introduced by Captain Charles W. Kepler. Miller spoke of "Pro-American Expansion."

On the morning of April 6th, the Sixth Iowa was camped along the Hamburg-Purdy Road on the far right of the Union army. The 6th was a green unit, and to make matters worse, the major was away on staff duty, and the original commander was drunk that morning. The 6th was originally under the command of Lt. Colonel Francis Cummins, but in his state of drunkenness Cummins badly mismanaged the regiment in Crescent Field, leading to great disaster. This was prior to the counter-attack, later in the day, across Jones Field to the site of the 6th Iowa Monument. Colonel McDowell, commanding the brigade to which the 6th Iowa belonged, saw what was happening and removed Cummins from command, replacing him with Captain Williams. Williams was soon wounded and Captain Walden placed in command. This regiment lost more men killed and mortally wounded than any other regiment from Iowa in this battle.

[inscription on 6th Iowa monument...]


In his concluding remarks at the dedication, Miller stated words which hold true to this day -

"As one born after this war, as one who knows no thing of war except what I have heard or read, I feel that I am a better man and will live a better life for having visited these battlefields. And I believe that the people of all the states of this Union would be better citizens if they would visit the battlefields and see what we have seen and hear what we have heard. I hope that as days go by and as the years roll by, that annually there will be pilgrimages from the North and from the South to these fields, that inspiration may be received by others as it has been received by us, and that these memorials will ever tend to raise citizenship of this country and make the people of this nation a better and higher type of citizenship than any that has gone before."

AMEN! This could be directed today.

The benediction was given by Reverend Henrix.

Then we walked over to the monument for the 11th Iowa, commanded by Lt. Colonel William Hall (wounded in the battle).

[Map for the 11th Iowa monument...]


The 1906 dedication speech was given by Captain G.O. Morgridge. He honored the soldiers who died in the events in this area. He then went on a tirade about being appointed by Governor Shaw to the commission to erect this monument. The inscription on the front of the monument briefly described this regiment’s place in the field.

Then he states, "The rear inscription I DID NOT prepare nor approve, nor has the Iowa Commission approved. And it’s NOT in accord with Colonel William Hall’s O.R. report." This was omitted from his speech, perhaps because it might have marred the spirit of the occasion. But it was obvious that he didn’t agree with Reed & Cadle’s wording. He never told what he disagreed on. The wording? The troop positioning? The time? He never said.

[inscripion for the 11th Iowa monument that the Captain disagreed with...]


[Colonel Hall's report of the battle can be read here...]

11th Iowa Report

From here we headed over to the 13th Iowa monument, facing Review Field. The 13th Iowa was commanded by Colonel Marcellus M. Crocker. Crocker had developed tuberculosis before the war. His illness eventually forced him from the army, and he died in 1865.

[Map of the 13th Iowa monument...]


The dedication address was given by Captain Charles W. Kepler of the 13th Iowa. He spoke of the sacrifice the soldiers endured, and the state’s action to commemorate each of the eleven Iowa regiments that fought at Shiloh. Reverend Al Frisbie provided the benediction.

[inscription on the 13th Iowa monument...]


From here we walked over to the monument to the 2nd Iowa, which held the Sunken Road line beside Duncan Field.

[Map for the 2nd Iowa monument...]


The dedication address had been given by General James Weaver. He described this as the hottest place in the battle, adding that Iowa didn’t have a bad regiment, but no regiment excelled the 2nd. He said the battle was so hot the birds were confused and that quail played around his feet. He recognized Captain (then Sergeant) McNeal, who's brass piece on his cartridge box saved his life. (At this point in his speech he held up a concave piece of brass.) He said, "It was a most terrific battle here. Here at the Hornets Nest." Reverend Al Frisbie concluded with the benediction.

[inscription on the 2nd Iowa monument...]


Next we walked to the last monument on the hike, the monument for the 12th Iowa, located along the Sunken Road near the Minnesota Monument. The 12th had been commanded by Colonel J.J. Wood (killed in the battle), and Captain S.R. Edington. The regiment had entered the battle with 489 men, 479 of whom ended up as casualties.

[Map of the 12th Iowa monument...]


Here, Major D.W. Reed got to speak. He began with brigade commander Tuttle marching the troops to the sound of battle. Seeing a Confederate battery ahead, troops were directed into a ravine. Here the 12th held the Confederates all day. He spoke of Providence directing Tuttle to be at the head of the right men, to the right place, at the right time, to save Shiloh on this bloody battlefield. He pointed to the fringe of the woods on the far side of the field representing the position held by Ruggles Battery of 62 guns - firing on this position from 3 to 5 p.m., but failing to budge the Union forces. Reverend Frisbie again provided the benediction.

[inscription on the 12th Iowa monument...]


This ended our hike.


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You are correct to question the accuracy of the markers and plaques as to the location of a unit.  We can say this because even the National Parks mentioned that they should be used as a general reference.  Sometimes they were placed as close as possible but in many instances, not the actual location. These thoughts above do not even touch on the difficulties and variances in thoughts in understanding the mean of old records and first person writings. It is hard to understand the true meaning of most of the Official Reports because of a lack of clarity. 

The more reading and research a reader does on his own will lead to a greater comprehension of the subject.  It is this research that I greatly enjoy and makes the civil war more interesting. 

Read more then one book about a CW battle or campaign and when finished, read another on the same subjectand even a third.  You will begin to notice differences among authors.

My respect for the work of Major David Reed and his locations of the plaques and his book, allows me to feel comfortable in saying there are some mistakes.  One of the problems is the mentioning of confederate units on the plaques that were not even on the battlefield.  Quick example is Miller's Tennessee battery mentioned on plaque 412 (SNMP) but not listed on any other plaque for Shaver's Brigade.  This loose and incorrect mention has led subsequent authors to place this battery at the battle, again incorrectly. Miller's Battery was part of the garrison of Corinth.

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