This is not a day to go anywhere. The weather front that has been lingering along the Kentucky Tennessee border, the one that did so much damage in Missouri has finally reached out and touched me.
It was inevitable. It has been held away from us by hot weather rising up through Alabama and Mississippi from the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday and the day before the humidity began to fall as did the barometer. We all knew it would catch us. It was only a matter of time and attendant ferocity. The thunder and lighting in the dark hours of the morning told us it was here along with the flood watches and tornado warnings that attend such things. It will lessen today and resume tonight. We have been spared the worst—at least so far—and would be happy to miss the rest as it moves north and east. I am headed east so hope to stay below it until it has blown itself out. Rain suits will be the uniform of the day in the morning when we pull out with the hope that as we move into eastern Tennessee and reach the base of the Smoky Mountains we once again be in the clear.
We are settled in the Davey Crockett State Forest and Park, a verdant place on Shoal Creek near Lawrenceburg, TN with more tree pollen at present than can possibly be good for anyone. My neighbors include a pair of true full-timers and a pair from Syracuse New York who are on their way back for the summer. He eschews the title of full-timer because he still owns a house there, but they have been on the road since late fall. All a congenial companions and we all seem to be getting our weather information from different sources. NOAA tells me that tomorrow will be awful here which makes getting away problematic. Helen, the full-timer with a dog named Roy believes the worst is over. Tom, he with the two young a fun loving Pomeranians, thinks we will have tornados tonight which seem to worry him more because he just missed one in Oklahoma by two miles. It was first he ever heard and is less sanguine about getting through the night without a trip to the shelter.
If it rains all day, we will get very close to the Smoky Mountains tomorrow. If the weather improves in the Eastern part of the state, a stop at the Chickamauga Military Park near Chattanooga is planned and that will mean an overnight stop there before going on to Cosby which is in one of the more remote parts of the National Park. The weather is good there today and if the front moves north and east, will be when we get there. Cosby comes highly recommended by those who are regular visitors to the part. We shall see.
The Shiloh stop was both peaceful and sobering. I am posting some of the photos. The Military Park, which will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the battle on April 5th and 6th, next year. The history deserves to be read. It is well written by the late Shelby Foote and other far more accurate historians than I am. As with all the other places I have been and written of that involve that war, the ironies of the place are the fascination for me. Examples include:
--A drummer, the youngest known participant who was age ten, named Clem (last name) remained in the army and retired as a Major General 35 years later.
--Henry M. Stanley, who would famously find Dr. Livingston, was a confederate infantryman who survived the battle unscathed.
-- More than 102,000 troops participated in the battle, one of the largest forces ever during the war.
--The Confederate Commanding General of the Army of Mississippi, Albert Sidney Johnston, a West Point Graduate considered one of the ablest leaders in the CSA died here from a bullet in his leg. He had sent all his aides away to take messages to various regiments just before he was hit. Had he been attended to sooner, he would likely have survived. His loss is considered a major blow to the Confederate military leadership. He was succeeded by P.T. Beauregard, whose forces fired the first shot of the war at Ft. Sumter.
--The first field hospital of the war was established on the battlefield during the battle of Shiloh, the precursor to the modern MASH units.
--Because of the intense heat, the dead were buried quickly and in mass graves. The Confederate soldiers remain in these burial mounds today, while the Union remains were relocated to the Shiloh National Cemetery. There are two Confederates buried there. Both were prisoners of war.
There is much more about this now quiet, beautiful, heavily wooded place. It is reminiscent of Gettysburg yet there is no town of substance, only Pittsburgh Landing where Grant had crossed the Tennessee River in his quest to control the river and railroad trade routes of the Confederacy. It is not commercialized, and there is an apparent reverence for both armies not found at some of the other places I have visited. Two monuments to the CSA dead fly the “Stars and Bars” within the Park.
Here in Lawrenceburg, Crockett Park is here because its namesake settled on Shoal Creek and served as a justice of the peace, a colonel in the militia, and a state representative from Lawrence County. He built a distillery, gristmill, and powdermill here. He was well on his way to being a successful businessman when the flood of 1821 wiped out all three. Broke, he moved on to western Tennessee where he was elected to Congress. Fifteen years later, he was killed at the Alamo Mission while fighting for Texas independence from Mexico.
We will leave here tomorrow to travel as far as the weather and flooded roads will let us.
And so it goes...