Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Studying Tennessee's Civil War Battles & Battlefields

This year I decided to study Tennessee's Civil War battles & battlefields. Though I moved to Murfreesboro in August of 2003 and have been to Stones River National Battlefield on countless occasions, and also Carnton Plantation & The Carter House in Franklin (about 45 minutes from here), regretfully I've done little studying of these battles, and have not ventured to any of Tennessee's other Civil War sites. So this year I decided to study & visit as many Tennesse Civil War sites as possible.

My method of study is this. First I read a book relating to the battle & battlefield in question. Next, I visit the battlefield in question. Doing some basic reading before visiting the battlefield is a great help, giving you a basic understanding of the battle and events that occurred on the field. Also it helps you pinpoint places or sites that you want to be sure to see during your battlfield tour... don't always count on the park services tour guides to highlight everything you might want to see. I take my digital camera with me & it is loaded with a 1 gigabite memory card which can hold 1100 4MB pictures and I take pictures of everthing.

I usually purchase a book relating to the battle from the park's gift shop and in the first blank page in the front of the book I inscribe my name, the date and the place I purchased the book. For example when I visited Shiloh earlier this year I purchase, O. Edward Cunningham's book, Shiloh and the Western Campaign of 1862, and in the front I wrote: "James D. Miller, Purchased at Shiloh National Military Park 21 APR 2007."

Then upon my return home from the battlefield, I read another book (usually the one I've just purchased), and combind with the knowledge from the first book, my battlefield visit and my pictures, I gain a greater understanding of the events that unfolded there.

As you can guess, Shiloh was the battlefield first on my list this year, and by my studies, I have gained a deeper appreciation for what happened there, as previously I only had a basic knowledge of it's highlights. I am planning on going back sometime in the near future, but I have my sites set next on Fort Donelson. I have just finished reading Kendall D. Gott's Where the South Lost the War: An Analysis of the Fort Henry-Fort Donelson Campaign, February 1862, and am planning a visit to the fort/battlefield, weather permitting on Saturday. I say weather permitting because each of the Tennessee sites are within a 3 hour drive from here and if I get up to get ready to go and the weather is nasty, then I'll just postpone the trip until the weather is better.

Next on my list is Chicamauga & Chattanooga. And since I'll need to read a book for each of those battles I'm not planning that trip until some time in mid-July.

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