Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Vaction Blog Contest Day 3--Memphis & Shiloh
It was a full day today! After checking out of the Heartbreak Hotel, we headed for downtown Memphis to see Mud Island and Beale St. Unfortunately, Mud Island is closed on Mondays so we took a quick look at the riverboats before we headed down to Beale St. Beale was neat, and of course, full of history. It’s kind of amazing to think of all the famous people who have walked those sidewalks! Including Casey and Alex from Studs for Hire: Woman in Charge! Alex and Casey might not be famous, but they were there and experienced the night life of Memphis. We discovered that on Monday mornings Beale is rather quiet. If you’d like the chance to really explore the street and take your time, go on a hot, sultry Monday morning in June! After a great lunch at B.B. King’s, where we had fried dill pickles—which were awesome btw—we took off for Shiloh Battlefield.
We arrived at Shiloh at about 5 PM. Although we were too late to take in the bookstore and visitor’s center, going late in the day was an awesome experience. The temperatures had cooled, making walking the grounds much more pleasant. In spite of the tragedy of the Civil War unfolding here, this place is absolutely beautiful. The grounds are meticulously kept, and the abundance of trees make you feel very isolated. Again, there were very few people there, and at times we found ourselves totally alone walking the hallowed grounds where over 22,000 men fought 147 years ago.
It wasn’t long after we were there that thunder clouds started to build and darkened the area. The distant rumble of thunder created an eeriness and I imagined that rumble as cannon fire echoing through the dense trees of April 6 & 7th of 1862. It’s incredible they were able to fight a battle here and accomplish a thing because of the massive denseness of the trees. As we drove the van and toured the long trail around the battlefield, we at times, felt very disoriented due to no sun and the thickness of the trees. There are stone and metal markers all over the place marking the locations of all the regiments, headquarters, and events of the battle. Cannons lined up and ready for battle can be seen throughout the grounds—some pointing directly into the trees.
Soon we were driving through a downpour. At times I almost felt a sense of panic, wondering if we were going to be able to find our way out of the park. We were getting close to the end of trail when a critter ran out in front of us! And by golly that critter was a live Armadillo! Finally, after years of traveling through Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas and only seeing Armadillos as road kill on the roadsides, I finally got to see a live one. It seems kind of ironic that I see a live one at a place that saw so much death.
Shiloh was truly an amazing place. I didn’t see any ghosts, but I certainly did imagine the thousands of soldiers filling this place. Although those soldiers might not physically be there, you can feel a strong presence, and the magnitude of what transpired here blows you away. So much so that right now I’m at a loss for words to describe my feelings.
Have you ever visited a Civil War battlefield? If so, what feelings did you walk away with?