We’re almost there, folks! In less than one month, the spring season begins. Personally, I. Can’t. Wait. To help me get through the worst of winter’s dreariness, I’m writing about some of my travels last summer. (Ah, July…I miss you.) A few weeks ago I shared about my trip to Lincoln’s home and museum in Springfield, Illinois. Today’s post takes a southern route to Tennessee and Mississippi. That’s right – 2 states in one day. Let’s go!
I couldn’t let the last of my summer break slip by without making a return trip to the Shiloh National Military Park. I first visited in July 2015 and instantly was swept away by the solemn atmosphere of the entire park. It’s a massive park, and I hadn’t set aside an adequate amount of time to do the place justice. There’s just so much to see here! The main building has an exhibit and an interpretive video. Then there’s the book store filled with souvenirs and trinkets to commemorate your visit. The auto tour has 20 stops and would take at least 90 minutes – minimum. My favorite part are the guided walks, talks, and demonstrations by the park rangers. Oh, and did I mention the hundreds of markers and monuments to see? Honestly, a real history buff could spend days at Shiloh and just scratch the surface. I knew I wouldn’t get this chance again for quite some time so I went in with a plan. (Cue Mission Impossible theme song now…)
Here I am standing in front of the one and only monument honoring my home state of Missouri! It was dedicated in 1981 in tribute to soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, which is fitting as Missouri was itself divided between Union and Confederate sympathizers. The gray granite represents the Confederate soldiers, the blue granite stands for the Union soldiers, and the red granite base symbolizes the sacrifices made on both sides. (Note to self – smile, Sally!!!) Looking back at this photo makes me all the more ready to bust out the summer clothes!
Here’s a close-up of the back of the monument. Notice the hornets’ nest? That symbolizes a particularly fierce part of the fighting in which two regiments from Missouri took part. The bullets were flying so quickly that veterans described it as sounding like angry hornets whose nest had been knocked down. The Hornets’ Nest is tour stop #3, and we were lucky enough to have a guided talk with a park ranger. He was awesome! Very knowledgeable with a touch of humor and drama in the nearly hour-long presentation. It made me realize that park rangers are really teachers whose classroom is the great outdoors. Lucky!
Only a couple of weeks later, fighting would continue a few miles south in Corinth, Mississippi. This town was strategically located at the crossroads of important rail lines so whoever captured Corinth would win a decisive victory. However, the high casualties that were incurred at Shiloh made both sides realize the importance of defensive works. The pick and shovel technique featured in the photo above was meant to protect soldiers even while advancing the front lines. The interpretive center located here has a 30-minute video and an excellent exhibit. The cost is free and we didn’t regret our lightning-fast visit even if it added on to our travel time a bit.
- Civil War File Folder Game
- Civil War Unit
- Social Studies – Civil War (Pinterest Board)
- 12 Important People of the Civil War (printable)
- Battlefields of the Civil War Activity (freebie)
Do you enjoy teaching history? Unfortunately, there never seems to be enough time! While I was creating my Civil War Unit, I spent a lot of time researching the details. The more I learned, the more I wanted to know! The Civil War is such a crucial part of our country’s history that I think it deserves special attention. What about you? Do you have a favorite history lesson?