I had the privilege of visiting the sacred ground of Shiloh National Battlefield with my family on April 7, 2012, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War battle. 23,746 soldiers sacrificed their lives in what was to that point the bloodiest battle in the Civil War. General Grant said after the battle that one could walk from one side of the killing fields of Shiloh to the other on the bodies of the dead men without touching the ground. We stood in the middle of those fields during the day and heard the riveting stories and strategies behind the Battle of Shiloh. It was the night that brought a new awareness of the sacrifice, however.
On the night of the 150th anniversary of the last day of battle, April 7, hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteers set luminaries across the battlefield — real candles — one lit for each soldier who died in the two-day battle. Our family made the pilgrimage to Shiloh to pay our respects and experience the drive-through luminary tour, an experience I pray we will not soon forget. Here are a few glimpses of the memorable images that night lit by 23,746 candles and the light of a full moon.
A similar event is held each year in early December at Antietam, where the bloodiest single day of fighting took place. See this National Park site for the full schedule and make your plans to go. Well worth the drive with the family.
Did you attend the Shiloh Illumination? What other historical sites have you seen that inspired you? Leave a comment below as a help for others.