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 Posted: Sun Mar 26th, 2006 01:51 pm
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calcav
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Joined: Sat Jan 28th, 2006
Location: Corinth, MS
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I can assure you the existence of high grass at Stone’s River is not an indication of neglect of the historic resource. Like many of the historic parks within the NPS, Stone’s River is working hard to eradicate invasive species of exotic plants and return the landscape to its 19th century appearance. This measure includes reducing the number of times the grass is mowed during the growing season. Not only does this give the visitor a viewshed reminiscent of its former appearance, it restores the natural habitat of several species of wildlife, something that is at a premium in the fast crowing city of Murfreesboro.

Most visitors have come to expect the well manicured appearance of our battlefields. Close cropped lawns, tidy flower beds, trimmed hedges and trees. I’m not saying that those conditions are completely inappropriate. At Shiloh we keep the area around the visitor center, the National Cemetery, Pittsburg Landing, the burial trenches and some of the fields kept in an idyllic park setting. But many of the other fields like Cavalry, Seay, Rhea, Jones, etc. are kept high and only cut a few times to harvest the hay. Barnes field as well as Cloud and the Widow Davis fields are planted in crops and maintained by tenant farmers. This condition allows the visitor to see the acreage similar to the way the veterans saw it.

At Shiloh we have been working on other projects to restore the site to its condition at the time of the battle. Larkin Bell’s field in the southeast corner of the park had nearly disappeared. Though work continues we have re-established the original dimensions of the field and planted an apple orchard on the north side. In other areas of the park underbrush has been removed to restore the open forest appearance that existed during the battle. To accomplish this we cut down a lot of trees, something that drew the ire of many visitors and neighbors, many of whom carry a visual image of the park from their childhood.

Murfreesboro has seen too much of the battlefield go under the bulldozer and I agree, paving over hallowed ground to erect yet another tract of houses or a Radio Shack is nothing short of criminal. Luckily Shiloh is so far off the beaten path we have been spared that scenario. So far. Over the last 5 years we have seen the land along the river get sold off and vacation plots for RV’s and trailers are marching steadily upstream toward the park. The Snake Creek bottom to the north of the park is seeing development and there have been similar proposals for the Hamburg Landing site to our south (where the Army of the Mississippi camped prior to the Corinth campaign). The fight continues.

I hope you are not disappointed in your visit to Stone’s River; it really is a fantastic site. Don’t forget to visit Fortress Rosecrans, the earthworks there are incredible.

Tom

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