Shiloh National Military Park

Posted by amber in Gatlinburg Haunts
Shiloh National Military Park - Photo

Historically Haunted…

Shiloh National Military Park was established on December 27th of 1894 to commemorate the April Battle of Corinth that raged around the Shiloh Church and Pittsburg Landing. This battle produced more than 23,000 casualties and was the largest engagement in the Mississippi Valley during the entirety of the Civil War. Initially, under the War Department, Shiloh National Military Park was transferred in 1933 to the National Park Service in the Department of the Interior. The park itself is over 5,000 acres large. Inside the park, there is a multitude of historic areas, including the Shiloh Battlefield, Shiloh National Cemetery (which is the most haunted spot here), as well as the Shiloh Indian Mounds and the Davis Bridge Battlefield. In this article, we’ll examine each of these locations a bit and delve into why spirits of the past are so attached to this national park.

 

Shiloh Battlefield

 

photo shows a wooden sign from the national parks service that says 'shiloh battlefield' in white paint
A sign marks the Shiloh Battlefield, where over 20,000 lives were cut short. Source: Flickr

 

By mid-February of 1862, United States Union forces had consistent victories over southern holdings, which paved the way for the invasion of the Tennessee River, which would sever all Confederate rail communications along important Ohio and Memphis railroads. At daybreak on Sunday, April 6th, the Confederates and General Johnston stormed out of the wood and assailed the Federal camps around Shiloh Church. General Grant and his 40,000 men were surprised by the onslaught, but soon the Federal army rallied, with the bloodshed consuming Shiloh Hill. Throughout the morning, the Confederate troops gained ground but soon became disorganized and lost coordination. By mid-afternoon, as General Johnston supervised an assault on the Union’s left flank, he was struck in the leg by a stray bullet and bled to death right on the Shiloh Battlefield. Overnight, Grant attacked and soon depleted the Confederate stronghold. The battle was finally over, with a total of 23,746 men killed, wounded, or missing. The two-day battle at Shiloh involved about 65,000 Union troops as well as 44,000 Confederate soldiers. The battle itself did not end in a decisive tactical victory. The battleground was preserved, allowing visitors to experience the scene of the first major battle in the Western theater of the Civil War.

Just like the Gettysburg Battlefield, the terror of war imprinted itself on the land here, allowing for the grounds to turn into some sort of paranormal playground. The spirits of these soldiers have been unable to pass on and show themselves to many visitors. The sounds of drumming, disembodied voices, footsteps, and even gunshots have been reported, almost as if the soldiers are replaying the sounds from their past. On many occasions, the water in the pond at the park has been seen turning blood red which is truly strange because rumor has it that the soldiers would cleanse their wounds in the pond.

 

Shiloh National Cemetery

 

photo shows black iron gates leading to the shiloh national cemetery
The gates to the Shiloh National Cemetery. Source: Flickr

 

In 1886, the War Department established a cemetery on the Battlefield of Shiloh to bury and honor the dead from the April 1862 Battle of Shiloh. The cemetery holds 3,584 Civil War soldiers; 2,359 of them remain unknown and unnamed. The bodies of the dead were interred here in the fall of 1866, from 156 locations across the battlefield and 565 locations along the Tennessee River. Just think about that for a second, 721 locations where men laid dead and dying on this land. 3,584 of the 20,000 dead remain here, the location where they took their last breaths. Some of the bodies here are unknown, their sacrifices never attached to their names. It’s heartbreaking, indeed, the reality of war and the needless violence that occurred right here.

 

Shiloh Indian Mounds

 

photo shows a grassy mound with large trees surrounding it.
One of the mounds located within the Shiloh Indian Mounds area. Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

About 800 years ago, a Native American town occupied the high Tennessee River bluff at the Shiloh Plateau’s eastern edge. Nestled between two steep ravines, a wooden palisade enclosed seven large earthen mounds and dozens of Native houses. Six rectangular mounds, with their tops flat, served as platforms for the town’s important buildings. These structures are thought to have been a council house, religious buildings, and the town’s most significant leaders’ residences. The southernmost mound is the only one that differs, and it is thought that the town’s leaders and other important people were buried underneath them ceremoniously.

The town was a center of a society that flourished along the Tennessee River Valley around 1200 A.D. With no written records allowing us a glimpse into who exactly lived in this town, it is not clear whether the residents were related to later societies such as the Choctaw, Chickasaw, or Creek Native cultures. Those who visit the Shiloh National Military Park and see the Shiloh Indian Mounds experience things that they cannot explain. Freezing cold gusts of wind in the heat of the summer, strange orbs of light, and quiet tribal singing are just a few of the reports coming out of the location. Dusk is incredibly active, and beautiful colored orbs flit and float about the mounds, darting in and out of the ground. Could these energies be the native people who once occupied the area, or could they be the soldier’s spirits that also ended their earthly lives here? Perhaps it’s a mix of the two, a coexistence beyond the naked eye.

 

Davis Bridge Battlefield

 

photo shows a large wooden sign with white text that reads "davis battlefield" the sign is in front of a field with tall grasses
A handmade wooden sign marks the location of the Davis Bridge Battle, a small but important battle in the Civil War. Source: Wikimedia Commons

 

Davis Bridge was a small yet fierce battle in the Civil War. Taking place near Pocahontas, Tennessee, the battle occurred on October 5th, 1862. It served an essential role in the Corinth Campaign, and had it been a major Union victory; the battle had the potential to affect the war in the West drastically. A successful Confederate stand here allowed the southern forces to remain in Mississippi a little while longer.

As early as May of 1862, the Federals had taken and defended a line along the Memphis railroad. From that line, General Grant hoped to move on to Vicksburg. A strong confederate army lay in his path; he knew what he needed to do to bring a victory to Union troops.

Grant had gathered Union backup and ordered them to block the crossing at Davis Bridge, blocking Confederate troops from retreating to safety. The Confederate army knew how dire this situation was and immediately scrambled for options to escape. The Confederate army was stretched thin, even then. With no other options but to engage, by sundown, over 570 casualties were reported by the Union side. The Confederate army did not report their losses, but it is thought that it was a bit less than the Union’s losses.

The Confederate victory here allowed them to remain a significant force and prolonged the Civil War, resulting in thousands of deaths, injuries, and heartbreaks. A project has even been started called ‘The Ghosts of Davis Bridge,’ which would erect over 10,000 3D printed soldiers standing in the same formation they would have held in during the 1862 battle – poised like calcified ghosts on an almost forgotten battlefront. If the project goes through, it could shed some light on one of the most devastating wars fought on American soil. The project’s creator states that perhaps in 2,000 years, archeologists will dig up the Ghosts of Davis Bridge and determine that we were a society that tried our hardest to understand the horrors of war.

 

Would you ever visit the Shiloh National Military Park? Perhaps you’d like to experience the spirits that roam the acres or just to set foot on this solid ground that has witnessed such unspeakable horror. Whatever your reason, Shiloh National Military Park is a must-see, and anyone from paranormal enthusiasts to war veterans will appreciate the memorialization of the battles that occurred here.

 

Sources Cited:

https://www.nps.gov/shil/learn/historyculture/shiloh-history.htm

https://www.nps.gov/shil/learn/historyculture/cemetery.htm

https://www.nps.gov/shil/mounds.htm

https://www.nps.gov/shil/moundshistory.htm

https://www.nps.gov/shil/learn/historyculture/upload/Davis-Bridge.pdf

https://www.battlefields.org/visit/heritage-sites/davis-bridge-battlefield

https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/battle-of-davis-bridge/