July 5-8, 2012 – Red Bay, Alabama to Savannah and Shiloh, Tennessee to Corinth, Mississippi to Red Bay
July 5 – I awoke this morning about 6 to a tremendous clap of thunder. I don’t know where the lightning hit, but it must have been close by because the coach shook. It was raining hard and lightning like crazy. After looking at the weather channel, I went back to sleep as the worst of the storm had already passed. I can access the weather channel on my laptop. I put in my current location, and it displays a map with a marker on my current location and then puts the weather in motion for the past 6 hours or the next 6 hours. This allows me to easily monitor the weather and know when I need to take cover or when I can stay put. I also have a battery powered weather radio.
After the storm had passed, and it quit raining around 10, I set out for Savannah, Tennessee to see the graves of Alex and Queen Haley who were the grandparents of Alex Haley who wrote Roots. I was not mistaken that they would be buried in a segregated cemetery. The black portion of the cemetery was at the back and was separated from the white cemetery by a ditch. Queen was born on the Forks of the Cypress plantation near Florence, Alabama, the child of the plantation's owner and a slave. After the Civil War, she made her way north. She settled in Savannah, working at the Cherry Plantation. She was the second wife of Alex Haley, a local ferry operator. Besides Roots, her grandson, author Alex Haley, also wrote the novel, "Queen" about her life.
From there I went on to visit the Shiloh National Military Park. Not only is the battlefield there, but the Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark is also located there.
The Visitor’s Center has an excellent movie about the battle and the significance of it. 2 of the most important railroads in the Confederacy passed through Corinth. The Memphis & Charleston linked the Mississippi River to the Atlantic seaboard by way of Chattanooga. This line was so vital to the Southern war effort that former Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker called it the “vertebrae of the Confederacy”. The 2d line, the north-south Mobile & Ohio, connected Columbus, Kentucky with Mobile, Alabama. Their intersection made Corinth the most strategic transportation hub in the western Confederacy. Its loss would lay havoc with lateral communication between Richmond and the crucial western theater for the rest of the war.
General Ulysses S. Grant’s capture of Forts Henry and Donelson in February 1862 forced General Albert Sidney Johnston, Confederate commander in the area, to abandon Kentucky and Middle Tennessee. To prevent an Union advance into the Mississippi Valley, Johnston concentrated his forces at the strategic railroad hub at Corinth, Mississippi. Meanwhile, in mid-March, Grant steamed up the Tennessee River, disembarking at Pittsburg Landing, 22 miles northeast of Corinth. The scene was set for the battle which took its name from the small log meeting house named Shiloh when a Federal patrol discovered the Confederates near there.
Grant had been ordered to await the arrival of General Don Carlos Buell’s Army before he engaged the Confederates. However, he was not given that option. The battle was joined on April 6, 1862 when Johnston seized the initiative and led 44,000 men against Grant’s 40,000 men. At the end of the day, the Federal Troops had been pushed back almost to Pittsburg Landing. This had not been Johnston’s objective as he had hoped to push Grant’s troop toward a marshy area near Owl Creek to the west where the Federal’s would be greatly hampered in fighting and cut off from supplies and re-enforcements from Pittsburg Landing. Johnston had been killed in the fighting and General P. G. T. Beauregard took command. He sent a message to Jefferson Davis that the victory was theirs.
Both armies retired for the night. The Confederates occupied the abandoned camps of the Federals and enjoyed the spoils of war which included food as many of them hadn’t eaten for several days. While the Confederates were relaxing and gearing up to finish off the Federals the next day, Grant was rallying his troops and got the re-enforcements he needed when Buell’s Army arrived.
On April 7th, Grant surprised the Confederates by attacking them at dawn. There was ferocious fighting for 6 hours, but the outnumbered Confederates finally had to cede the battlefield. To save the army, Beauregard ordered a retreat to Corinth. The Federals did not pursue. Shiloh’s 23,746 casualties forecast an increasingly bloody and protracted war, leaving in doubt the question of who would control Corinth’s railroad station.
Henry Wager Halleck. Commander of Union forces in the West, considered Corinth’s capture of supreme importance. On April 29th, leading over 100,000 men, he cautiously advanced southwest from Pittsburg Landing. By late May his soldiers were entrenched within cannon range of Confederate fortifications defending the strategic crossroads. Despite being reinforced by General Earl Van Dorn’s Army of the West, Beauregard withdrew south to Tupelo, abandoning the most viable line of east-west rail communications in the western Confederacy.
In late summer 1862, Confederate leaders launched counter-offensives in every theater. Although Confederate troops managed to fight their way into Corinth, they were decisively repulsed. This battle occurred October 3-5 and produced 4,838 Confederate and 3,100 Federal casualties. This defeat for the Confederacy left Corinth firmly in the hands of the Federals and opened the way for Grant to mount a relentless nine-month siege to capture Vicksburg, Mississippi and regain control of the Mississippi River and split the Confederacy in two.
Some very famous men served at Shiloh – General Lew Wallace (Federal) who later wrote Ben-Hur; Henry Morton Stanley (Confederate) who later uttered the famous line “Dr. Livingstone, I presume”; Major General James A. Garfield, 29th president of the US; and Major William Le Baron Jenney (Federal) who was an engineer and who is commonly called the Father of the American Skyscraper and who helped launch the Chicago School of Architecture.
From Shiloh, I drove on to Corinth to visit the battlefield there. This is considered part of the Shiloh National Military Park. The Visitor’s Center there has excellent exhibits and 2 much shorter movies which are excellent. In addition to being a battlefield, Corinth was the site of the Corinth Contraband Camp. The security offered by Federal troops occupying Corinth in May 1862 attracted enslaved African Americans who fled plantations and farms seeking freedom. The migration of these people (1st called “Contraband of War”) into occupied Corinth increased dramatically following Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Issued in September 1862, it authorized, as of January 1, 1863 freedom for all slaves in areas then still in rebellion against the US.
To accommodate these refugees, Federal General Grenville M. Dodge established a camp northeast of town. What began as a tent city in late 1862, by mid-1863 had blossomed into a thriving community of homes, a school, church, hospital and a progressive cooperative farm program. Northern white men and women from abolitionist and benevolent organizations came to Corinth to provide the freedmen with religious, academic and vocational instruction.
The camp, considered a model of its kind, served as a temporary home for 6,000 ex-slaves during its operation. After implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation, African American men in the camp were enlisted in the Union Army. This led to the formation of the 1st Alabama Infantry Regiment of African Descent (later re-designated the 55th US Colored Infantry). Nearly 2,000 African American men who passed through the camp enlisted in the Union Army. The facility was closed in December 1863, one month before Union forces abandoned Corinth and moved to Memphis where the freedmen resided in a more traditional refugee facility for the remainder of the war.
July 6 – Late this morning, I checked with David about the leak in the jacks. He came to look at it, and it had leaked enough that he could see where it was coming from. He went back to see how soon they could get it in. He called pretty soon and said to bring it on over to bay 39. This time I couldn’t stay with the coach as they put it on a lift. It took a couple of hours, but they got it fixed just in time for me to return to my spot as a torrential rain began! I couldn’t get out to hook up to electricity so I started my generator when it got too hot in here. It needed to be run anyway as you’re supposed to run it for a few minutes every month which I haven’t been doing. After about 45 minutes, the rain slacked off, and I got plugged into electricity and hooked up to water.
I hope the rain hasn’t come too late for some of the crops. Some cornfields I’ve seen look like they are beyond help, but others are not in such dire straits. There is no sweet corn at the farmer’s markets but there are still tomatoes. I’m surprised at that since it has been in the 100’s here for the past 4 or 5 days. Tomatoes generally don’t like that kind of weather. On the other hand, the okra is loving it!
July 7 – Today I’ve spent doing laundry, reading, doing crossword puzzles and just generally being lazy. It looked like it was going to rain several times, but it never did. I picked up my mail which I had had forwarded here at the office. The insurance cards and renewal notice for my car insurance was there so I have to get that paid. Otherwise, there wasn’t much except a few bills.
July 8 – This morning I finished reading one book – newest Steven Saylor book, The Seven Wonders, about Gordianus the Finder of Ancient Rome. It is a prequel to his Gordianus series, and I was disappointed in it. I started a new book by Charles Todd , An Unmarked Grave, in his Bess Crawford series. It is starting out really well.
About 1:30, the weather radio went off. There was a really bad storm near Florence, Alabama which is about 40 miles or so northeast of here. We were not in the path of it, but the sky got really black, and we got a pretty good storm anyway. The sky to ground lightning was steady and hit several times really close as the lightning and thunder were almost simultaneous. There was also a lot of wind. My coach is parked directly across from the storm shelter so I can leave quickly if I need to do so, but this was just a heavy rain and lightning show. The weather map looks like we might get a bit more rain around 3 and then be out of it until later this evening.
This morning there were only about 35 coaches in the park, but all the empty spaces in the row in front of me are now occupied. I haven’t been out to see if the row I’m in is filling up. There is a coach on my left which blocks my view to the end that way, but there are still 5 or 6 spaces to my right which are empty so this seems to be a typical Sunday of their getting 30 or 35 new check-ins.
A Geico Gecko commercial just came on. I have to talk about my favorite new ones.
1. I love the one where he is in Texas talking about the big savings and compares them to big steaks, big hats and big hair. At the end, he is line dancing.
2. There is also the one where he is in NC and meets one of the NASCAR drivers (sorry I don’t know which one, I’m not a NASCAR fan). This time he winds up in a child’s seat hooked onto the back of the passenger seat of the race car. He has his helmet on and is along for the ride in the race.
3. A new one that has popped up this past week or so has him at a beach somewhere. He is talking about the options you have with Geico. As he talks he is walking along and comes to a sign which proclaims it is Sunset Beach, clothing optional. He looks down at himself and says “How convenient”.
4. The one which just ran has him in either Arizona or New Mexico. This time things keep falling out of the sky such as a safe with Acme written on it. Then this bird goes running by saying “Beep, beep”. The Gecko comments on what a strange place this is!
I don’t know who’s writing these commercials but they are really great!
Tomorrow, I’m going to get the oil changed in the car. I had intended to do it this week, but everything shut down here last week so I couldn’t get it done. I’ll go down in the morning and get it done I hope. I also want him to check the oxygen sensor. The traction off light has come on several times. That has happened twice before, and it was a dirty oxygen sensor which caused it. Hopefully, he will be able to get it and get it installed tomorrow as I’d like to leave here on Tuesday. I also have to pay my bill tomorrow for the work on the coach. On Friday, it rained so hard that I couldn’t get out to go pay it.
Well, we are getting that second round of rain and a lot of wind. There is a lot of wind with this one. I had put my awning in around one when it began to look like it might storm. Some folks across the way from almost lost their awning just now. Why they left it out is beyond me as the wind has been picking up for quite a while. I was sitting here typing and watching their awning blow up toward the top of their coach. They are in there so there’s no excuse for not knowing what the wind was doing. They finally got it in, but they had a hard time doing it. We’ve been fortunate that we haven’t gotten any of the hail which has hit several places around us.