Shiloh 150th Events Slated March 29-April 8

cannon at Shiloh National Military Park

More than 100 cannons will be employed at reenactments of the Battle of Shiloh. The commemorative battles will be held not at Shiloh National Military Park, but at adjacent sites.

One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War—a key Union morale booster early in the conflict—will be commemorated with a week of special events from March 29th to April 8th, 2012.

Situated near Savannah in southwestern Tennessee between Memphis and Nashville, Shiloh National Military Park memorializes the spot where armies under Major General Ulysses S. Grant won a key victory in the effort to control the western theater of the Civil War.

Observances at the National Military Park include a "Grand Illumination" that takes place on the evening of April 7. The 23,746 killed, wounded or missing at Shiloh will be represented by luminaria positioned around the battlefield. The illumination starts at dusk and ends at 10 p.m.

Special ranger led hikes will take place April 6-8 at times and places where action occurred 150 years earlier. For more information on 150th events visit Shiloh National Military Park.

The commemoration of the pivotal battle also features a free public Sesquicentennial Signature Event called “Invasions by Rail and River: The Battle of Shiloh” on April 4th and 5th at Pickwick Landing State Park (south of the battlefield on the Tennessee River). The state’s major event includes an April 4th premiere of the state-of-the-art documentary “The Story of Shiloh: Fiery Trial” at 7 p.m. Following the film there will be a question and answer session with director Chris Wheeler and Shiloh National Military Park Chief Ranger Stacy Allen. Another project called “Looking Back” features a teacher’s workshop “Illuminating the Battle,” hosted by Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Historic Preservation.

April 5th, the Official Opening Ceremony of the Signature Event takes place at 9 a.m. and features a forum of historians who’ll discuss the battle of Shiloh. There will also be living history demonstrations and rare artifacts from the Battle of Shiloh will be on display in a Sesquicentennial Civil War exhibit. The 52nd Regimental String Band will present a musical performance. The Pickwick Landing State Park event gets underway with the firing of an official Shiloh cannon.

Two major reenactments will gather more than 6,000 reenactors and more than 100 cannons over March 29-31. The reenactment events are sponsored by The Armies of Tennessee and the Blue-Gray Alliance. The Armies of Tennessee reenactment includes a march to Shiloh from Mississippi. The Blue-Gray Alliance engagement will actually transport soldiers by rail and river as occurred 150 years ago. Reenactments are not permitted in the national military park and a National Park Service video explains why. Click for more information on the reenactments.

Click to download a complete Signature Event agenda. Organizers say seating is limited so please register by e-mail or call 615-741-2159.

The co-chairs of the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission will host the Signature Event—Commissioner Susan Whitaker, of the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, and Dr. Carroll Van West, director of MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area.

Comments

Reenactments are not permitted in the national military park and a National Park Service video explains why.
From that video:
Even more than safety and resource protection concerns . . . the National Park Service prohibition on battle reenactments is based on an ethical position that it is fundamentally disrespectful to those who actually fought and died upon a particular piece of ground to pretend to be able to accurately portray their deaths, sacrifices, and suffering. Event the best-researched representations of combat cannot replicate the tragic horror, complexity, or scale of real warfare. Indeed, some battlefields may actually be undesignated cemetaries as they may still contain unrecovered remains of some of those whose lives were there lost.
Although National Park Service policy prohibits battle reenactments out of respect and sensitivity for the very real suffering and death that occurred on these battlefields, it also recognizes and supports the very positive contributions that living history programs can make toward understanding our past. The dynamic impressions they convey can have a powerful impact on visitors' emotions and reflections and open unexpectedly revealing windows to the past.
For this reason, the National Park Service regularly join with volunteer living historians across the country to present weapons-firing demonstrations, living history museums, personal narratives, and other compelling programs which allow visitors to experience their own deeply stirring and personal journeys into the chronicle of our nation.
Whoever wrote this script should be commended, as should the NPS for the policy itself. The first paragraph succinctly states why I could never relate to battle reenactments. None of us alive today have any real idea of what it was like at Shiloh 150 years ago this April. I agree that it is indeed disrespectful to playact at such horror, suffering, and death.
Yet, I am sure reenactors do not intend their portrayals to be disrespectful. Quite the opposite, I am sure; they wish to do honor to those who sacrificed themselves for the causes they believed in to the "final measure of devotion." And their efforts do have educational value, as the video says.
So, let them reenact on non-hallowed ground and perhaps do some good, even if it's only entertainment. Let them not do it over the bones of the men who actually fought and died, however.

What an excellent post! Thank me very much. (I forgot to log in when I posted it.)