23,746 Reasons to Remember: Night Pictures from Shiloh on the 150th

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.


4 Responses to “23,746 Reasons to Remember: Night Pictures from Shiloh on the 150th”

  1. Jackie Brennan April 11, 2012 at 6:50 AM #

       My daughter Michaela and I visited Fort Niagara last summer during an Irish dancing school bus trip. Our dancing teachers are also history and English secondary school teachers so all of our bus trips include wonderfully historic and entertaining visits. We happened to arrive at Fort Niagara when a large group of re-enacters were there adding a great dimension of interest. It helped me put our past in more realistic perspective.
       That visit was coupled with a tour of a thriving orchard named Murphys where we learned of the great value of our farmland. The Niagara district has particularly excellent soil for growing our favorite fruits.  We were told that when it is plowed under for development it can never return to the richness it maintains now.

    • BillintheBlank April 11, 2012 at 7:18 PM #

      Thanks, Jackie. Niagara’s a lot closer than other historical sites. Might be a better fit for parents with younger children. It seems there are a lot of unique sites all around us if we are willing to slow down enough to see them.

  2. Sandy Simons April 13, 2012 at 1:20 PM #

    I have been to several reenactments and national parks but the memorial at Shiloh was the most moving I have ever attended.  I hope families will try to take in at least one civil war location during the next 3 years to remember the sacrifices made to preserve our nation.  


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