I Went Searching For an Indian and Found I Was a Dutchman

I Went Searching for an Indian and Found I Was a Dutchman.
I've always been interested in history so when my Uncle Wayne gave me some information about our family roots I had to begin changing the way I've always thought about where I came from. We had always been told, "there's Indian blood in our ancestry, we just haven't been able to prove it". I have been surprised to learn that while searching for an Indian link, I found a Dutchman. Now I'm not saying there may not be some Indian blood somewhere but the prospect looks dimmer the more I find out.
I also have had some general prejudices about folks back east, especially areas like Ohio (I grew up in the Woody Hayes era and couldn't stand Ohio State). What a surprise (and God ordained I believe) to find we arrived in Ohio in the early 1800s, my ancestor fought in an Ohio Regiment in the Civil War, and came to Kansas afterwards. That, and some visits to Ohio, has adjusted my thinking.
And the other reason why-to keep communication between the far flung members of my family and encourage them to drop a note so we can keep in touch with the details of their lives. We miss too much by not being there in the day to day workings of life. So, leave a post for all of us.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Grandpa's Victory Tour-Part II

Sunday August 10, 2014. EARLY!
Having found Sheriff Pusser's home closed and no churches that appeared to be of the snake-handling kind, we proceeded on the few miles to the Shiloh National Military Park (NMP). One thing to note however: If I had known the Shiloh church was still an active Methodist congregation, and meeting that day, I WOULD have gone there to worship.
Current Shiloh Methodist
Church. The original stands
close by
As it was, and not knowing that, I made it a point to speak to the Lord and tell him how grateful I was there were folks who would sacrifice such great things that I might have the freedom to do what I enjoy. I don't take that for granted.  And neither should you. Ok, out of the pulpit and back to the story.
The Hurricane arrives at Shiloh
We arrived at around 8-opening time-and of course found our way to the Visitor's Center. Any smart person does that first. What I should have done (hey I'm learning as I go) is to 1)buy the fancy map at the bookstore that shows all the markers, monuments, and landmarks (around $10) and 2)tell the park ranger what unit you're looking for. They'll print out the papers for each marker you need and mark them on a map for you as well.  They'll even warn ya about poison ivy, snakes, ticks, skeeters...you get the picture. But not knowing those details (I got the map of Shiloh AFTER we were done and found out about the ranger's fine info when we hit Chickamauga). Oh, also be sure to look over the small museum they have at the center and watch the movie. They're both well done and give you a good overview of what happened.
The Hornet's Nest
Part of the Sunken Road
Well what happened at Shiloh, in a nutshell, was that Grant landed his Army of the Tennessee at a place on the Tennessee River called Pittsburg Landing (another note: The Confederacy called this battle Shiloh for the church their lines encompassed; The Union called it Pittsburg Landing for...well you're smart enough to figure that out). It was early in the war (1862) and the north needed a victory. Grant gave them that, when he had recently taken forts further north and now was driving south to take the rail center at Corinth, MS. After debarking his troups, they formed a line east to west with Pittsburg Landing and the Tennessee river on their left. Grant was at a standstill following orders from Halleck to wait until Buell's Army of the Ohio arrived (with Grandpa Bartlow along) all the while thinking the Confederates were back in Corinth awaiting their knock on the door. Unbeknownst to Grant, Albert Sydney Johnston had moved his troops to attack deciding not to wait until the two armies could be joined. Grant was hit hard in the morning of  April 6 with many regiments in turmoil and retreating back to the landing. However there were some who made a stand along a sunken road running roughly NW-SE. The Confederates pushed them back into the woods behind where elements of three divisions made a stand. That place was called the Hornet's Nest because of the buzzing of shot and shell in the air. After hard fighting, and being nearly completely surrounded, the union troops surrender and the first day closes.

Grant is stung but not willing to retreat and plans an attack for the next day (April 7). He is supported in the night by Buell's troops (including grandpa) who fan out and give renewed life to the army already there. Grandpa was in the center as part of the 59th Ohio Voluntary Infantry (OVI) Regiment commanded by JP Fyffe. It was probably thier first trial by fire. They were part of the 11th Brigade (Boyle), 5th Division (Crittenden), Army of the Ohio (Buell). Early in the day, Grant attacks and the Confederates are pushed back across the original ground. The 59th is in action east of the Eastern Corinth road and ends up back into the area of the Hornet's Nest before pushing further southwest to the Hamburg Road. The day ends what should have been a resounding Confederate victory, bittersweet as they not only retreat back to Corinth but also suffer the loss of their beloved General Johnston. PGT Beauregard takes over. They would eventually lose Corinth and the rail hub there.
But back to the Hurricane and I. Tour map in hand we set out for the first stop noting that there were a LOT of other monuments, cannons, and such along the way. So we drove a hundred yards, jumped out to take pictures,and so forth. You get the idea. After a bit we realized we'd be there all day taking pictures of every monument.  We also realized something pretty quickly-all the state monuments looked the same so if you know what Ohio's looks like, for instance, you can cut down the field. There were also a LOT of monuments up by the center but none the one we were looking for.  After reading a bit,she realized these were the "participation award" monuments of the units on site but not actually in the battle. It became the pun of the tour.
So we moved along a little more quickly from stop to stop, following the story but looking specifically for grandpa's unit. We tramped a lot of fields saying things like, "there's one over there! Oh wait, that's an Indiana one (or Illinois, etc.)". We were also fortunate because the Park Service had color and shape coded the markers: Red for Confederate; Blue for Army of the Tennessee; Yellow for Army of the Ohio; rectangle for day one and oval for day two.  We got good at looking for oval yellow markers. We went all over the park, following the tour and looking, looking, looking. One this is nice though. Even when looking back in the weeds and woods, the path is generally apparent and has been mowed fairly recently so you don't have to just plow off through the brier patch.
It was hot and humid. I mean cut a patch of sky out with your pocket knife and drink it humid. We met a nice couple from Florida who were working their way to Montana on vacation. The Hurricane and I were STINKIN' SOPPY wet and they weren't. She said it's really humid in Florida and she thought it was nice here. In fact she said "I'm not even sweating yet". The Hurricane wouldn't let me hit her. Besides, I didn't have the energy.
Me & the first marker
We worked our way around to the eastern side of the park and as we were coming north we came to the eastern end of the sunken road. A little gravel road went off the beaten path so we explored down it and around the start of a loop.  The Hurricane was tired and headed back to the car and I thought I'd continue on around the loop and back. As I went around, I started to find markers of the units who were with the 59th, but no 59th.  As I got back to the car I noted that we had to be close. We went a little further north up the Eastern Corinth road and BAM right there along the road was a oval yellow marker and the monument to the 59th. WOW what a find. You can't imagine how excited I was to find it. The front of the monument shows the command structure; the back, a history of the unit at the battle along with losses. It indicates they were in support of an artillery battery at the first position before advancing and at the second suffered their highest losses. They were 57.

Front of the 59th Monument

Back of the 59th Monument
From the information on the marker, we found the unit had advanced from there across the field to the Hamburg road so we went off on another hunt.  And much to our satisfaction, we found another marker. We then finished up the driving tour ending up at the actual Pittsburg Landing and getting some good pictures there and of the National Cemetery on the grounds.
Finding these markers and monuments and actually seeing the battleground really helped me formulate in my mind the movements of the units and the reasons for what happened. Actually seeing the terrain helps me understand the noise, carnage and confusion, along with the complete lack of modern communication and delays in relaying information, that led to some of the events of those two days.
Second marker at Hamburg Rd
Seeing the battlefield also helps me understand the deprivation of the field: the unending feeling of being dirty and sweaty; the sheer terror of battle and impending death; the confusion of what's going on coupled with the sheer clarity of the moment and it's demand of full focus on this moment, the emotional despair and elation that takes a toll on one's psyche. One wonders after seeing such things and going through the emotional onslaught, how the soldier could continue normal rational life. My grandfather made some choices after the war that I didn't care for such as leaving his wife and multiple children to go off to the Dakotas, never to return. As we wandered these fields, the Hurricane and I pondered if trauma such as they endured had anything to do with it. Who knows? Maybe so and who would want to point the finger in condemnation? Not I, for one.
Well, we made our way back to our motel, America's Best Hotel in Selmer (it wasn't America's BEST but it was clean and met our needs) run by Yogi Patel. Mrs Patel was at the desk (or was she Yogi? I'm not sure as the only Yogi I know of is from Jellystone Park). She was nice and apologized for the ice machine not working but had a big ice chest and gladly filled up my ice bucket. We spent a good night, dead to the world (remember, we really haven't slept since the hour at SkeeterVille) and got up ready to launch ourselves into another historical day (in more ways than one!).

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