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 Posted: Sat Jan 13th, 2007 06:14 pm
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Swamp Shadow
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My parents and I are planning trips to Civil War battlefields and I was wondering which battlefield is your favorite and why?

My favorite battlefield to visit is Gettysburg because there's so much to see and do there. Each trip there is typically a week long to see everything. I also enjoyed visiting Antietam and Manassas.



 Posted: Sat Jan 13th, 2007 08:01 pm
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ole
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Swamp Shadow:

Shiloh. No commercialism at all (unless you count the park bookstore). In fact, you have to leave the battlefield to find lunch (or pack one).

You can make it from Grand Rapids in one loooong day of driving. Stay in Savannah--Selmer is an extra 10 miles away (but has a larger choice of motels and eateries. Do not go during coon hunting season. Make sure you have comfortable shoes, extra film or chips for your camera, and a fat, clear notebook with backup pens or pencils.

Ole

Last edited on Sat Jan 13th, 2007 08:03 pm by ole



 Posted: Sat Jan 13th, 2007 09:30 pm
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calcav
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Swamp Shadow:

I have to agree with Ole; I work at Shiloh.

If you come down for a visit you should start at our new visitor center, the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center in Corinth, MS. We are located 23 miles southwest of the main battlefield. An understanding of the Battle of Shiloh begins with the strategic railroad junction here in Corinth. We have three rooms of exhibits (many interactive), a room for artifacts, two films (one on the Battle of Shiloh the other on the October '62 Battle of Corinth), a public research library and a bookstore. We are located at the site of Battery Robinett, a Union earthwork and the scene of heavy fighting during the battle. The Center's exhibits cover the causes of the war, Mississippi's seccesion, the Battle of Shiloh, earthworks, hospitals, the Siege of Corinth, the Union occupation, the Battle of Corinth, the nearby contraband camp, and the recuitment of black soldiers in the area. We have maps available of the numerous earthworks and historic homes in the area as well as directions to the nearby battlefields of Iuka, MS and Davis Bridge, TN. And of course we can get you up to our main park up at Shiloh, 4200 acres which comprise 95% of the original battlefield. The field is dotted with 157 monuments, 215 artillery pieces and over 600 troop position markers. The Shiloh visitor center also has a wonderful museum which is geared heavily toward artifacts.

If you decide to come down this way and would like help planning a day or two in the area call me at the Corinth visitor center at 662-287-9273.

Calcav (Tom Parson, Park Ranger)

 



 Posted: Sat Jan 13th, 2007 10:13 pm
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Swamp Shadow
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Thank you for your helpful responses! I had thought about going to Shiloh, but now I really want to visit! Also thank you for the travel tips those always come in handy, since most of the battlefields are a long drive for us.



 Posted: Sun Jan 14th, 2007 01:19 am
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sjh
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I have never been to Shiloh, but have heard that it is in pristine condition and (best of all) is not commercialized in the least. Go if you get the chance.

I have been to a lot of other battlefields in both the eastern and western theatres and I am sure that you want to visit a major battlefield. If you have already visited Gettysburg and are heading east, I would recommend Fredericksburg.  While there you can visit not only Fredericksburg, but also the Wilderness, Chancellorsville, and Spotsylvania. You can also visit where Stonewall Jackson died at Guinea Station. For me, Spotsylvania was a special place and had somewhat of an eery sense when I visited it very early in the morning.

If you are heading west, Chickamauga/Chattanooga National Military Park is great.  Lookout Mountain is very breathtaking. And if you are that close, travel on down to Kennesaw Mountain which is not too far away.

But if I was young enough, I would get my mom and dad to take me to Shiloh. Happy traveling.



 Posted: Sun Jan 14th, 2007 08:12 am
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Hellcat
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Alamance Battleground. Spent a lot of good times there in my youth.

Oh wait, you meant Civil War battlegrounds, not pre-Revolutionary. I've visited Petersburg, Fort Morgan (Mobile Bay), Appomattox Courthouse, Durham Station, Berkley Plantation, and Fredricksburg that I can remember or remember being informed of. Of these I've been informed that we visited Appomattox Courthouse and Durham Station when I was very young and will have to take my parent's word for that. Don't really remember Fort Morgan all that much as the same day we visited the fort we also visited BB-60 USS Alabama and SS-228 USS Drum. I was taken more with the warships to be perfectly honest. So really it's Petersburg, Berkley Plantation, and Fredricksburg, and I'm not sure which I liked more.

Berkley Plantation was the first stop we made during our summer vacation of '86, as I recall. The main building still had a cannon ball lodged in it from the war, and to my eleven year old mind at the time that was pretty cool. Then you had Harrison Landing on the plantation where Gen. Butterfield is said to have written Taps, and I seem to remember a marker of the site where he was supposed to be when he did so. That was also pretty cool.

Petersburg was the last place we visited on that vacation. I think that was pretty much a favor to me cause as we were packing to leave the hotel that morning I slipped in the bathroom and hit my head on the shower wall, bad enough to actually start bleeding but not enough to require a trip to the ER. I wanted to stop and we did. Fact is, we might have stopped there anyway as far as I know, but it seems like it was because of what happened to me in the morning.

Anyway, what I remember most about Petersburg was being able to walk down into the Crater area and check out the mine as best as possible around the boards they had nailed up. Then seeing some folks dressed up eiter as Union or Confederate soldiers on the way out and being able to talk with them (I'm not sure I want to call them re-enactors as I'm not sure if they were park employies or not)

Fredricksburg was quite a bit more recet, either '97 or '98, and was part of the last real vacation I've been on. I went down with my parents to visit with my baby sister. She's active duty and was stationed in the area at the time. The only things we wanted to do then was to visit DC and see some of the Smithsonian museums and hit Fredericksburg. Again, it was the last place we really visited on that vacation as we ended up having to hit BWI for our flight later that same day. The things I really remember were seeing a piece of hardtack that was supposedly vintage in the visitor's center and seeing the Kirkland statue.



 Posted: Sun Jan 14th, 2007 10:34 am
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susansweet
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I have to agree Shiloh is my favorite. The irst trip I arrived just as two rangers were walking out of the visitors center .  I started to cry  They told me I could stay just not visit the center.  It was a very strange feeling driving around the battlefield being the only one there .  Some of the monuments had major shadows on them which made them haunting .  At the time this was the second battlefield I had been to  if you don't count a trip in 78 s to Bull Run which was crammed in to a visit to Washington D.C.  The first battlefield on the trip where I also visited Shiloh was Pea Ridge.  That was my first real visit .  There is only one monument in the whole Battlefield and no bookstore at the visitors center just a few items at the Ranger desk.  I thought all battlefields would be like that .  Then I got to Shiloh with all the monuments. 

I have since been back to Shiloh and have been to many other battlefields it is still my favorite. 

Smaller places I  have been that were moving were Saylor's Creek and Brice's Crossing, again I was the only one there , not a ranger or visitor anywhere around .  Wilson's Creek again very rural and no monuments except one to Lyon. 

The battlefield that touch me greatly was New Market.  Seeing the film in the VMI Hall of Valour had me in tears .  Going out to the Field of Lost Shoes then really got to me. 

Actually each battlefield I have visited has left a mark on me .  The emotion a talk with a ranger , a chat with another visitor or renenactor a tour guide that took me around , a monument that grabbed my emotions, 

Being on the west coast getting to the battlefields is not an easy trip so it tends to be a whirlwind of visiting but the interesting thing is they do not blend together  each sticks out strongly in my mind.  I don't mix them up. 

I also have been lucky enough to visit most of the battlefeilds when I was almost the only one there.  Several I was the only person there.  That makes it a very personal visit. 

Having said all of that SHILOH, Go to SHILOH and take Tom up on his offer. 



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 Posted: Mon Jan 15th, 2007 02:27 pm
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David White
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Well that is a good question but it is like asking me which one of my children I love the best.  I'll throw some love Vicksburg's way jsut to pick one.



 Posted: Tue Jan 16th, 2007 03:29 pm
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Logan Guard
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I have always loved Gettysburg. If you get a chance, take a book with you that is written about the battlefield. One of my fondest memories was sitting at the High Watermark reading about the 3rd days battle and looking up to see exactly what the writer was trying to convey.



 Posted: Tue Jan 16th, 2007 04:09 pm
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Doc C
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Duncan

Your'e right about emotions when walking the battlefields. I was really moved my first time at Antietam standing along the fence line on the western side of Hagerstown Pike north of the church where my ancestor in the La 9th fought. There's a picture taken shortly afterwards, ? by Gardner, of that same location. It looks the same now as it did then.

Favorite battlefield, the most recent one visited. To be pinned down, Antietam. Compact, easily walked, on most occasions uncrowded, etc.

? for Logan Guard. Since we both live on the eastern shore, are there any local roundtable or discussion groups?

Doc C



 Posted: Tue Jan 16th, 2007 09:19 pm
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susansweet
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Doc I stood at the top of the steps at Antietam on the Bloody Lane talking to a woman from Texas .  We both were talking and crying as we looked at the lane.  Neither one of us could go down the steps and put our feet on the lane.  We didn't feel we deserved to stand on the actual ground of the lane.  She was a stranger but we made a bond that day honoring the dead of the Bloody Lane.

Later on that day I started down the walk to Burnsside's Bridge from the parking area.  Met a couple from Georgia.  We walked and talked as we went down to the bridge.  The wife looked up the hill as we went down and said no wonder he was held here a few good Georgia Sharpeshooers is all that would be needed.  Now at this time I was still a newby to study in depth of he Civil War.  I was like a sponge for information.    We explored everything on he way down, talked about the bridge, then eventually I said goodbye and went back up the hill .   

The Gardner photo in the visitor's center with the quote about war was another emotional event.  I asked the ranger if they had copies of the quote but they said no so I asked permission to copy it.  I did. 

I write all this now from the left coast .  I am chomping at the bit to get back east again!!!!!



 Posted: Tue Jan 16th, 2007 11:51 pm
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susansweet
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I found the quote I mentioned above in my notebook I carried on that trip.

It is by Dr. William Childs  Surgeon New Hampshire Infantry  Oct 1862.

When I think of the battle it seems so strange who permits it?  To see or feel that power is in existence that can and will hurl masses of men against each other in deadly conflict--slaying each other by the thousands. . . . . is almost impossible.  But it is so---and why, we cannot know."

 

 



 Posted: Wed Jan 17th, 2007 12:36 am
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Doc C
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Susan

I know how you feel. Just got back from working a week on the western slope of Colorado. Great scenery, people but glad to get back home on the eastern shore.

Doc C



 Posted: Wed Jan 17th, 2007 05:41 am
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susansweet
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Doc, I love living on the left coast.  I am a dye in the wool westerner , but I do love visits to the east coast to visit all the historical sites.  Oh and to see my brother and his family. 



 Posted: Wed Jan 17th, 2007 01:49 pm
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Johan Steele
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Shiloh and Chickamauga are two of the finest battlefields in ragards to lack of commercialism; both fields are quite similar in appearance to when the fighting was in full tilt.  The rangers at both locations are second to none; they know the site and are more than willing to help with information.  The Shiloh & Chickamauga visitor centers are excellent with outstanding museums... Chickamauga has the increadible Fuller firearms collection and Shiloh is not too shabby either.  Both are far enough off the beaten path not to be overrun by commercial BS.

Many of the smaller fields are also quite nice... while a bit more commercialized the Vicksburg NP is excellent and with a simple day drive you can visit all the fields of the campaign and get a pretty decent understanding of the fields of battle. Charleston is another site well worth visiting as is Savannah and Ft Pulaski.  There are a plethera of gems out there regarding the ACW; unfortunately generations of neglect are beginning to show.



 Posted: Wed Jan 17th, 2007 04:41 pm
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Logan Guard
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Doc C

 The closest Civil War Roundtable I could find was actually on the western shore. The Chesapeake Civil War Roundtable is held at Anne Arundel Community College. It's a little far for me but might be closer to you.

I was excited to see a Civil War Trail marker in Berlin Maryland the other day. It's there for Isaiah Fassett who was the next to last Civil War soldier in Maryland when he died on June 24, 1946.



 Posted: Fri Jan 19th, 2007 01:37 pm
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Widow
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I haven't visited very many, but my favorite is Balls Bluff, right bank of the Potomac, now within the city limits of Leesburg, Virginia.  It's owned by the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority.

It was a small battle in a small area.  But it's just so lovely.  There is only an information board and gravel paths.  I went on a weekday afternoon in early autumn 2006.  I was the only one there, it was just me, nature, and history.  I couldn't hear the traffic, but occasionally the distant sound of planes at Dulles Airport.

A tiny national cemetery, well kept, with 56 headstones and 56 little US flags.  Untouched forests, with birds, squirrels, and, I suppose, a few whitetail.  I followed a path down to the river's edge, and sat on a log just absorbing it all.

The green water was glassy smooth, reflecting the trees above me as well as those on Harrison's Island across a narrow channel.  The leaves were drifting quietly.

It was therapeutic and, at the same time, life-changing.

Patty



 Posted: Fri Jan 19th, 2007 04:16 pm
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susansweet
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Johan I agree with your choices.  Shiloh as I said before is I think my favorite battlefield to visit but Chickamauga is also a beautiful well maintained battlefield .  It is huge.  I was one of maybe two or three people that were on the  battlefield that day.  It was misty and at times rainy day.  There was a school tour at the visitor center that had totally blocked the entrace with their buses.  I did finally get around the buses into the center, Got the maps etc and while they were watching the film and getting lectures I hit the trail .  I had the field to myself for most of the tour.  I could forget I was in the 20h century (except for my car).  There is one spot where there is a grave with a wrough iron fence around it.  It is the grave of a soldier who was killed in the battle that was a local boy.  I stood there for a time in tears.  Rain coming down on me. 

Having relatives on both sides I would marvel first at a spot where a Confederate had fought bravely such as the site of Hood's wounding  then move to another section of he field and switch sides marveling at the Wilder monument and where Thomas stood as the Rock of Chickamauga.  So much to see .  I do need to go back and see it again and walk the fields. 

You who live in the east are so lucky to be so close. 



 Posted: Mon Jan 22nd, 2007 06:14 pm
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TimHoffman01
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I've not had the chance to visit any of the Western Battlefields......yet.

My favorites in the Eastern Theatre are:

Manassas (My first introduction to hands-on history was here as a small boy and it holds a LOT of memories for me as my mother and I walked that field over and over).

Malvern Hill - Basically unchanged since the war.  A great place to go to find quiet and contemplate the history of the place or anything else for that matter.  This is also one of my kid's favorite places since they get to walk around with no one else in sight much of the time.

Petersburg - just a lot here, from the visitors center to the trails.  I'd have to include Pamplin Historical Park here.  Costs a bit to get in but well worth the expense, especially when they have their living history folks there.

May I ask where your avatar was taken?  I can't be sure, but it looks like one of the locations along Gettysburg's confederate lines that I visited a couple years ago.



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