“It Is An Invasion To End a Rebellion”

For many visitors to Civil War battlefields overseen by the National Park Service the orientation movie provides a much needed overview of the relevant history and a clear statement as to why it is important. Unfortunately, many of these movies are out of date, though in recent years individual parks have worked hard to bring their stories in line with more recent scholarship. Shiloh National Military Park is one such example. The first words spoken in their new movie remind visitors that United States soldiers were engaged in nothing less than the suppression of a rebellion.

I’ve never been to Shiloh. In fact, I’ve not visited any of the battlefields outside of the Eastern Theater apart from the Mobile area. In a few weeks I will be co-leading a group of history teachers from Nashville to Washington, D.C. as part of what I assume is one of the last Teaching American History sponsored programs. I will be leading a few tours in the Virginia – D.C. area, but the 10-day trip will finally bring me to places like Franklin, Fort Negley, Stones River, and Chickamauga. I can’t wait.

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15 thoughts on ““It Is An Invasion To End a Rebellion”

  1. Joshua Brown

    Shiloh was the first Civil War battlefield I ever visited, and the one I’ve been to most often, partly because my dad and I would go there as part of our trips to see family up in Jackson, Tennessee. I remember the old orientation film, and I recently saw via YouTube the new film. I’m happy they updated it, for as I understand it the original park film was produced all the way back in 1956.

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  2. Mike Rogers

    Fashion advice – Leave your authentic Army of Potomac “paper collar” at home. :-)

    Your trip sounds like it will be a blast. I’ve been to Franklin (my great-great-great grandfather fought there) and know you will appreciate the view from the Carter House where Hood’s army came down the hill to attack.

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  3. MississippiLawyer

    I worked as an interpreter at Vicksburg for a time about 10 years ago and they had a terribly outdated film, but nothing compared to Shiloh’s old film. It was definitely from the late 50′s or early 60′s and many of the “soldiers” were wearing khaki pants and carrying bolt action rifles with WWI bayonets and equipment, etc. It was laughable and gave me douche-chills everytime I’d see it.

    Kevin, if you recall I’m the one that sent you that curious letter I came across when I worked at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Miss. about the runaway female slave dressed as a soldier marching in the Confederate ranks. I hope very much that you are planning to use that somewhere in your book! It is too much of an oddity for it to be lost to history.

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  4. Will Hickox

    The film does an excellent job of showing the chaos and confusion of battle. It’s surprising that they don’t mention the crowd of Union fugitives under the bluffs at Pittsburg Landing, which apparently was quite a sight.

    It’s also unfortunate to hear the script repeating the old myth that casualties at Shiloh were higher than in all previous American wars combined. Not true.

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    1. Craig L.

      Governor Louis Harvey of Wisconsin traveled by steamboat to Shiloh to visit the wounded and review the troops from the newly recruited Wisconsin regiments that had participated in the battle a few days earlier. Upon reaching Savannah TN, where Grant was headquartered throughout the battle, Governor Harvey made an accidental misstep in the darkness between the dock and the steamer, and fell into the Tennessee River. His body was recovered more than sixty miles downstream.

      Lieutenant Governor Edward Salomon, a Prussian army officer prior to immigration, became acting governor for the next two years. Two of Salomon’s brothers later commanded Wisconsin regiments in the Department of Arkansas. Nearly the entire chain of command for the regiment in which my Civil War ancestor served spoke fluent German and in some cases not much English.

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  5. Sir

    It wasn’t a rebellion – it was a lawful secession with soveriegn states reasserting the powers that they always had (until the matter was re-decided through force of arms and a blood bath). That, outside of simplistic propaganda, it could not, with a straight face, be deemed a rebellion is one of the numerous reasons why no general officer or member of the Confederate government was ever tried for treason – it certainly wasn’t because of the beneficence of Congress.

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        1. Bryan Cheeseboro

          “Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.”–Abraham Lincoln, letter to H.L. Pierce, April 6, 1859.

          Someone just said to me the other day that “the South picked the wrong cause to fight for.” The simple relity is there was no other cause but slavery… pure and simple. Doesn’t matter who did/did not own slaves. Ever heard of The Confederate States Abolition Society? When you find it, then I’ll think more about your “lawful secession [of] soveriegn states reasserting the powers that they always had”

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  6. MattD

    My only visit to Shiloh was in June 2011, and the staff was hugely apologetic for the film, explaining that the new film was due to be there before the next spring (their 150th).

    Franklin is about as good an experience you can expect for having little of the actual battlefield left. The SCV’s Winstead Hill park gives a great view, and the Carter House staff is wonderful.

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  7. Chris Evans

    Shiloh is one of my favorite battlefields to visit. I highly recommend it.

    I’m glad they finally got a new film. I actually have a copy of the now dated and defunct ’50s film. I guess looking at it now it could have been directed by Ed Wood as it is that low budget.

    Also, Chickamauga is a spectacular battlefield that I would recommend everyone to visit. They have a great 3-D film for a introduction to the battle. It is really great.

    Chris

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  8. Chris Evans

    I also meant to add I haven’t made it to Franklin yet but really want to especially the Carter House.

    Some of the most moving writing on the war centers around Franklin in two novels by Howard Bahr ‘The Black Flower’ and ‘The Judas Field’. They are excellent fictional accounts of that tragic battle. I recommend seeking them out.

    Chris

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