01 September 2006 by Published in: General musings 13 comments

Although I’ve devoted most of my life to the study of the Civil War and I have visited lots of battlefields, there are still plenty I have never seen but definitely want to visit. That list includes, in no particular order:

1. Stones River
2. Pea Ridge
3. Champion Hill
4. Most of the battlefields around Atlanta (or what’s left of them, anyway)
5. Nashville (or what little bit is left of it)
6. Franklin
7. Brice’s Crossroads
8. Aiken, SC (site of another instance where Judson Kilpatrick was badly surprised and barely got out with his command intact)
9. Sailor’s Creek

And there’s one place that I’ve only visited once for a total of five hours–nothing remotely close to enough time to do it justice: Vicksburg.

There are other battlefields I’ve only visited once, but would like to see again in greater detail. They include, in no particular order:

1. Shiloh
2. Chickamauga
3. Most of the Seven Days
4. Perryville

These two lists pretty much reflect my eastern theater bias, don’t they?

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Sat 02nd Sep 2006 at 12:14 am

    You’ll love Saylor’s Creek – Karen and I visited there 3 years ago, and it’s wonderfully pristine. There’s a local group there that takes wonderful care of it. The topography is very easy to interpret, and one can only imagine the carnage and loss that took place in the valley at the bottom. I was also able to easily envision the Federal Cavalry’s movements.

    Great place, and one I’d love to get back to.

    J.D.

  2. Scott Smart
    Sat 02nd Sep 2006 at 4:23 am

    If you ever get back to Shiloh, you might consider a side trip to Corinth. It’s kind of a small town, that makes you think it isn’t that much different than 1862. The problem for the modern tourist, is that there isn’t just a single battle there, so it is confusing. Also in the Memphis area is Ft Pillow which might be of interest. It is in a totally rural area (though you must drive on a small road though a state prison on the way) which makes things look not that different than they might have been.

    Actually, I’ve been to a number of “minor battle” locales, and it’s kind of interesting, esp. with the local chamber of commerce spin on things. Very different than the big national battlefield type places. Generally these are places I’ve more stumbled upon en route to somewhere else, rather than destinations. Creates sort of a joy of discovery, at least for me.

  3. Jim Epperson
    Sat 02nd Sep 2006 at 8:26 am

    There is precious little near Atlanta; urbanization took it all
    before anyone cared. Stones River is nice, but the park has
    only a small corner of the field.

    JFE

  4. Dave Powell
    Sat 02nd Sep 2006 at 9:29 am

    Well, Chickamauga, of course, can eat up a lifetime of study…

    As for the others on your list – I have been to all except Pea Ridge and Aiken.

    Shiloh is very good, but you need time to explore some of the nuances of the battle beyond the standard route.

    Stones River, Franklin, Nashville – can be done as a unit, really, over a couple of days. Stones River does only cover the Union fall-back position, so it is very small.

    Champion Hill (and the related places, like Raymond) require a good bit of research before-hand, so you can tell what is going on and where you are. Having done a game on Champion Hill, I found that I had a pretty good sense of the geography the times I was there.

    Atlanta has some stuff – Kennesaw and Pickett’s Mill are worth the time. The fights at Peachtree and Atlanta are both swallowed up. Resaca is state-owned, but of course I-75 slashed a good bit of it. There is enough of the Resaca fight to make a good part, however, and plans are underway to eventually do so, but that seems a long way away.

    Dave Powell

  5. Sat 02nd Sep 2006 at 1:49 pm

    To echo Dave, Pickett’s Mill is well worth the trip out to Dallas GA, although that last hike up from the ravine toward the Confederate line can be a killer. It’s pristine and usually uncrowded. There is at least one New Hope Church reservation nearby as well. I led a few tours there and at Kenesaw in my West Georgia College days.

    I recommend Perryville to anyone who hasn’t been there since about 2002. The park now controls McCook’s entire I Corps front, from the Open Knob to the Bottom House and Dixville Crossroads.

    Stones River is indeed small but included Sheridan’s “stand in the cedars” position, which I’m sure you’d not want to miss 😉

    Finally there are real undiscovered jewels at Mill Springs/Logan’s Cross Roads KY, Olustee FL, and Blakely AL. The last named took it on the chin in the recent hurricanes, but it’s still well worth visiting.

  6. Sat 02nd Sep 2006 at 7:42 pm

    Ken,

    The last time I was at Perryville (the only time, actually) was in 1994 or 1995. There was not much available in the way of interpretation, so I’m looking forward to visiting again.

    Eric

  7. Dave Powell
    Sun 03rd Sep 2006 at 7:13 am

    If you haven’t been there since 95, then Perryville is a must-return, especially with Ken’s book in hand.

    Several of my favorite units in the Army of the Cumberland fought at Pickett’s Mill, Wood’s and Johnson’s Divisions. While searching for Chickamauga stuff, I have come across a couple of Pickett’s Mill accounts that make it clear it was a grim fight.

    The park allows you to walk the Confederate line, and then loop back around and, as Ken notes, climb up towards the line following the Federal route.

    I was most surprised at the amount of signage and interpretation done at Bryce’s Crossroads. It being NBF’s most famous fight, I guess I can see why, but there really is a good bit to see. A driving tour and everything. My understanding is that most of the land is private property, but it is all still completely rural and ‘feels” right.

  8. Paul Taylor
    Tue 05th Sep 2006 at 7:20 am

    Eric,

    Have you ever been to Olustee (aka Ocean Pond) in northern Florida? We Floridians are quite proud of our own little field of glory, about 20 miles west of Jacksonville.

    What’s been preserved is really quite pristine and has some decent interpretation. Be forewarned though: If you go in the summer, take ample amounts of bug spray!

    Paul

  9. John D. Mackintosh
    Tue 05th Sep 2006 at 2:51 pm

    Eric,

    The Aiken engagment is remembered by what is called the Defenders of Aiken marker, erected in 1911, in a corner of the First Baptist Churchyard, besides the intersection where the fighting took place. Rivers Bridge State Park is the best Sherman-related battle site here, located on the edge of Salkehatchie Swamp; many of the earthworks still survive. The earthworks that lie to the west of the City of Columbia at what some call the Battle of the Congaree (really just a skirmish) will soon be open to the public as part of a new park. These earthworks were built as part of a grandiose plan, never completed, to encircle the entire city with earthworks
    which, considering the man-power deficiences in 1865, would have made little difference.

    As for battle sites I would like to visit, sad to say I have never been to Shiloh, that must change someday. I have always wanted to see Palmito Ranch or Palmetto Ranch in Texas, I have seen both spellings used, site of the war’s last battle. There are two books on this engagement, I haven’t read either one but am always intrigued by the obscure and the forgotten, which certainly this qualifies as, no doubt. I think the Civil War Times had an article on it earlier this year.

    John

  10. Tue 05th Sep 2006 at 7:19 pm

    Paul,

    No, never. In fact, what I know about that battle MIGHT fill a thimble on a good day. In other words, I know virtually nothing at all about it.

    Eric

  11. Tue 05th Sep 2006 at 7:20 pm

    John,

    Some time, I will come visit you, and you can show me all of those sites. I would love to see all of them.

    Eric

  12. John D. Mackintosh
    Wed 06th Sep 2006 at 8:17 am

    Eric,

    Looking forward to your Palmetto State visit, you are always welcome. Aren’t you and David planning to be at the JEB Stuart weekend, October 7, with your new book? As it stands now, and these plans are always subject to change, I am hoping to drive up and meet a few friends there for the weekend, stay in nearby Hillsville as Mt. Airy is booked solid. I plan on purchasing PLENTY OF BLAME TO GO AROUND. With that travel section you two have included, I will probably feel like heading on north and giving it a “test drive” but afraid that will have to wait for a different trip.

    John

  13. Wed 06th Sep 2006 at 9:59 pm

    John,

    Sadly, we’re off for that weekend. They had nowhere to put us up. I’m willing to do things that I don’t get paid for, but I’m not willing to go out of pocket for the privilege of doing so. They have no room for us, so we backed out of it. I’m sorry I will miss you.

    Eric

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