Travel Blog: The Shiloh National Park Trip: Or, why war is stupid and you would lose another Civil War anyways.

To begin:

I’m not going to get political in this, well, I’m going to do the best I can, anyways. First, a tweet thread prompted me to write this so follow me on Twitter if that is your sort of thing.

If not, don’t worry the story below is full of more details than the thread anyways. 

The long and short of it is this:

Around the Internet today, and for a while, people have been talking about a new Civil War.

The civil war was incredibly bloody, violent, and like most wars, largely stupid. 

Yes, the many innocent and illegally held, forced into labor people, known as slaves needed to be freed. That is NEVER a question to me- no person should own another person, I don’t need “economic” bull shit reasons to try and justify it. That is not what is so stupid about this war. Owning other people is wrong, and that seems very obvious.

(Although, by default, killing a bunch of the “other guys” to win against someone you will just end up negotiating with, and the same outcome will be met, is fucking stupid.)

But these innocent people should have never been slaves in the first place, should have never been taken from their homes and forced into labor, and it should have NEVER come to head as it did.

For the record, if anyone out there has any plans to mansplain to me how this was a “war of northern aggression” or “was about the unfair way they tried to force us to free slaves” or “we had left, our own country we can do what we want!” Or any variation therein: I went on more than enough southern curriculum schooling, public education field trips to know the moronic crap you spew. Leave my blog, this place isn’t for you.

Even if your reasons mattered at all to me, which by the way they don’t, the war was still stupid and wrong because slavery is stupid and wrong. Full stop. If you have a problem with that, I literally don’t give a fuck, once again, this blog isn’t for you.

Cool, did the assholes leave? Awesome, let’s talk about Bret and I accompanying my dad to Shiloh National Park. 

Monument at the front of the park. You may recall this one from the first travel blog I linked here.

My dad LOVES Shiloh National Park, and loves history and he comes to life when he tells all the stories, so when Bret and I suggested that we may want to one day do a driving tour with my dad telling all these stories…that immediately turned into the three of us going to the park the day Bret and I planned to leave my parents town. You may recall this from my travel blog about those events which inspired us to travel to New Orleans for a couple of days. You can read those blogs here: Spontaneous trip to New Orleans, First Full Day in New Orleans, Second Travel Blog from New Orleans.

Close up of the woman in the monument. Any Doctor Who fans out there? I was afraid to blink.

So, we went to Shiloh, and I took a bunch of pictures and we had a good ole time. It was also literally the hottest day of the year they had experienced all season, so we didn’t exactly take as long as we wanted, to really absorb the place. We made plans to go back, when the weather is cooler, and we hope to, as soon as money allows. Feel free to donate money to that cause, if you want to have more travel style blogs and pictures.

But we did go this time and did get some good pictures and I wanted to just share these thoughts and pictures and maybe even a story or two, on the Blog, finally. Inspired by people making jokes about the civil war like it wasn’t one of the bloodiest wars we have ever seen. 

So, we began by driving a while from my parents house to Shiloh. Stopped at a gas station and since I hadn’t had ANY freaking caffeine, I grabbed a cold coffee. I should have grabbed two.

This sign tells you what the other signs will indicate. It’s a sign made for the signs.

Anyways, we finally arrived at Shiloh National Park, checked in and checked out the signs at the front of the park to better understand the markers around the park.
Basically, they have these signs that are different in shape and color, to denote the various infantries.

Basically, the three colors showed the three state army’s, the shapes indicated historical movements, the square with ornamental corners was for positions of troops engaged in battle on the first day of battle, and the oval shaped indicated the positions on the second day. They placed triangular camp tablets at the bases that marked the various camps, or spots, on the tour.

The cool thing about this was the camp tablets were in the same spot where “The colors” of the camp/army would have been hung.

To me, it really hammered home how much of the ground had been walked by other people, on both side, many with no real knowledge of why they were fighting, killing each other.

So, we start our driving tour. We had many stops, and I did not stop at each one. I did try to get as many “Wizards Unite” inns as possible, however. As we mentioned, it was incredibly hot, and also there were a ton of bees out. Bret is highly allergic to bees, and like the beautiful genius he is, doesn’t keep a shot or any medication on him. The first few stops however, as well as the driving into the park, offered many moments of reflection.

Thick woods, made war even more terrifying. Maybe that is why we have people thinking trees make for better paper than hemp.

Ironically, there is a section called the hornets nest where the fighting got so bad that bullets whizzed by with such frequency that the incredibly poetic soldiers all said it was like being inside a hornets nest.

Incredibly dense foliage on the trees made it a horrific nightmare of violence. Bullets flying from every direction, hell, with how to bullets flew through the air, you could be hit by one from either army. Southern Infantry men, who were mostly children or farmers or both, shot by their own side in the war, because it’s war and it’s bloody and senseless.

Still, one can see the symmetry in calling this area the hornets nest, and the entire park covered in bees. I suppose.

Nature always wins. Beautiful deer near the pathway.

We saw things that gave me hope, however. Somethings survive, no matter the stupid, violent war. Some things, like the beautiful nature of the park, the beautiful scenery, and the majestic wildlife, all remains. Nature always takes it back. It is a sprawling park that I am sure requires no small amount of upkeep to keep nature from seizing the land back.

This is also one of the thoughts that I kept coming back to during our time in Shiloh. The land, the land all this violence happened on, hasn’t been used. Sure, occupied and walked on, but since the Civil War, the land hasn’t been used, nor polluted with things from war or blood pouring from some poor dying solidier.

There is an energy about this park that is hard to ignore. It isn’t all evil, violent, and scary, some of it is beautiful, nearly spiritual…But that happened long before this big senseless war.

A cannon, inactive.

Back to the tour. We saw a few different historical markers, that denoted different places that different people killed other people. Some used big weaponry, impressive for the time.

Still though, we had a good time, learning about the various bits of history that led to this particularly bloody and violent section of the Civil War, a notably bloody and violent war.

Of people killing other people because other people wanted to own… other people.

Hell, plenty of soldiers fighting not he side of the south couldn’t even afford slaves, more still could grasp the nuances of this war, but here they were, killing each other in the newest ways humans had devised.

A real cemetery, with recent deaths, not war deaths. This space is still in use, because life goes on after war.

But like in the park, continued. As we drove along the path, we came across a church. This church was wild to me for a few reasons. This church was a big part of the start of the war, with some of the first armies ending up there, and plenty of fighting going down. This church is also interesting, to me, because it is still a functioning and operational church, even with a cemetery.

The cemetery thing will come back up later.

And that could be a statement on life. “The Cemetery thing will come back up later.”

The sign for Bloody Pond

So we continued on our path, seeing all sorts of beautifully reclaimed by nature parts of the park. I was really excited to see my “favorite” part of the park, Bloody Pond, so when we got there, I immediately jumped out to grab some shots. Bloody pond was always a spot that fascinated me and it still does. If you follow any “haunted places in America” you may have seen this place before, as there have been numerous sightings here.

This pond is red, as they claim, from all the people crawling to the water, desperate for a few drops of cool water to parch their thirst. Many of this dying soldiers bled out into the water, and many more came after them.

Love this pond. As much as one can love a haunted place full of death. Anyone see any spirits? Is the water red to you?

Some may say the pond is actually just a red tint from any number of environmental factors, but to that I would say, yes, and the blood thing is also likely.

Some say it is only red to those who have the ability to see ghosts, or who are able to see it for some other haunted reason.

Maybe the take away isn’t if or if not something red from blood, but instead the mere possibility in the case of this red tinted pond. Maybe the take away is that a bunch of people were dying from war, killed by either their own army or the opposing one, and they all crawled, collectively, to this pond, to try and drink up some water.

Hard to see the red here, but the little girl who likes spirits who grew up into me figured why not try and take a few instant photos and see if anything comes up.

That image, people from both sides, in their dying moments maybe realizing how stupid war was, if they hadn’t already, crawling on their hands, knees, belly, all to get a sip or two in the cupped hands of water likely tinged with plenty of other peoples blood already, plus any number of diseases or pathogens that could have made that pond their home long before this war, long before any of these people were ever even thought of, this imagery always stuck with me, and it struck me strongly as a child on field trips to this place.

Bloody Pond was always the highlight of the tours we took in school, and was frequently the thing I looked forward to. Sometimes the kids made fun of me, being from the north. I was a yankee, and to some of these people, for some reason, that made me an enemy, or at least someone to be picked on. So I would, instead of being sad, choose to remind them that we kicked their sorry asses and if the south ever did want to “rise again” as some of these kids would gloat, we would simply kick their ass again.

I love my instant camera. Thanks Mom! (birthday gift last year)

Precocious? Yeah, Maybe. Really, I didn’t like the idea of “Rise again” or ANYTHING that hinted at ever considering this war again.

Because the many tours, this one included, all amounted to one thing. A ton of people died.

I liked the lore, and the imagery of the Bloody Pond because it made a lot of those same kids acting silly and childish stop and realize that this war wasn’t some “North Versus South” football match type of rivalry, this was real, and people died.

So when I see people tweeting about “How about we have another civil war” I am right back to that place. So, I am glad I used some of my instant film to take some shots.

War is bloody, and we shouldn’t joke about having another civil war.

Also, seriously, we will kick your ass again. A bunch of us live in your homeland, we know your land now too.

So, I finally finish taking my pictures of the Bloody Pond, and we continue on the tour, and I continue on my blog.

Something some people may not know about the Civil War, is how the bodies were handled.

This is how the losers of the Civil War were buried. In mass graves around the park. War is stupid. Dying in war isn’t heroic or noble.

To the victor go the spoils, or in this case, the victors get to claim their bodies and send them home or bury them in independent graves.

The loser is buried in a mass grave.

It isn’t the soldier’s fault, not really. They aren’t to blame for the loss of the war, they shouldn’t have been fighting in the war in the first place. Not them the person, them, the side. The war in general never should have been started. War always leads to death and those bodies have to go somewhere. Even this tombstone is more than was there for a long time. The losers in a war don’t get a gloried death.

Death isn’t a glorious thing. Neither is war.

If Shiloh hadn’t become the park it is, the mass graves could have been marked much more simply, with signs like this.

War is an incredibly stupid thing.

Imagine dying thinking you were fighting for anything, just to end up marked like this.

And the fight wasn’t worth it. Fighting and dying just for the privilege of owning people.


You don’t get to own people. You don’t get to just do whatever you want despite the rules.

And you sure as hell shouldn’t threaten a civil war if you can’t get your way. This is how the losers are buried, you moron, and I promise you, if you are fighting on a side to preserve racism, oppression, and any form of evil, you will lose.

One of the mounds. Beautiful. This whole area felt different from the rest of this park.

Shiloh isn’t just about the Civil War though, and the graves aren’t either.

Many people may not know this, but the Shiloh National Park is also home to some Indian burial mounds, and has a history of natives in the land before…You know…ahem…The same kind of white people wanting to own people pushed these people off their land.

Others may say the Indians simply mysteriously died out or moved on…Colonizers, am I right?

I was pretty pissy, because these were off the beaten path and the signs were hardly in the same condition as the rest of the park, as if the signs weren’t as important despite these people being on this land first.

A sign that tells about the signs of life here. I was mad the sign wasn’t as cleaned and tended to as the ones for the war. These people deserve just as much memory, and it makes me mad. When I go back, I want to get pictures and do a whole bunch of research for a blog just to honor them.

Anyways, these mounds bring me back to something I touched on earlier, the energy of this entire park.

The land is rich, fertile, you can smell it, you can feel it, hell, if you have ever been around fertile good soil, you can see it. You could probably even taste it, but as much as I love good soil, I am not about to go shoving it into my mouth.

The energy around these mounds, you could feel the spirits of things that had past, but for me, they weren’t hostile. I am sure I wouldn’t want to be in any part of the park alone a night, but I suppose wouldn’t mind here as much, simply because the energy was so peaceful, so natural, it emulated the same energy as the rest of the wild life and nature in the park.

Trying to reclaim the space, purify it with the land itself from the violence it once housed.

It was odd to me that the Indians didn’t get more attention, not a few more signs that told us what happened, but I am glad I was able to spend some time there.

Who knows, I have heard of Indian burial grounds being haunted, maybe the entire battle of Shiloh was always destined to happen because of what happened there.

I don’t know, but it makes for good speculation.

Artistic shot of us pulling up into Pittsburg Landing.

As we near the end of this blog, I wanted to try and avoid getting too artsy on you, but I had to include a few thoughts, like the ones you have read, along with the picture you see to the side.

I am an artist and I see the world through that lease. This battle was senseless, violent, and horrific, just like the war it was in.

I am beyond glad we took the first in many long steps to free people that we ourselves originally enslaved, but it isn’t enough, we still have major inequalities and problems in our system, and it shouldn’t have come to a damn war.

It never should have to come to a damn war. On an episode of Doctor Who the Doctor talks about how all wars end up boiling down to two people who cannot sit down and talk letting tons of people die until the two people finally do what they had to do in the beginning. Sit down and talk.

War isn’t pretty. But the fact that war is stupid is as clear as the clouds in the water, beautifully reflected.

Towards the end of our tour we got to see this beautiful spot, and I got several shots of the clouds reflected in the water like a mirror, which was awesome, and learn about how this river also played it’s own part in the war, contributing (or not) to supplies.

Pittsburg Landing. A beautiful spot, would likely be good for a picnic, and on this day, was gorgeous. It was aorundhere that we all kind of realized the heat had really kept us from exploring much of the park, much less taking a bunch more pictures of the many unique angles and spots that people went to war for rich people who were pushing their agenda onto the poor people to go and fight and die on.

Sorry, I promise I am trying to not be political, but lets face it. War is always from some richer person, some higher up, who doesn’t have to fight. Their children won’t have to fight. The people who barely understand nor care to understand, the nuances of what stupid crap is making you go into war, will, however, go and fight, and many will die.

A “new civil war” is a terrible idea, and it isn’t even a very good joke. For any elected official to joke about such an idea, is crazy to me. For regular people to joke about it, is crazy to me.

So, this has been a blog I wrote because I saw a lot of people making jokes about a civil war after elected officials did so, about a recent trip to Shiloh National Park, home of one of the bloodier battles in a bloody war in our history, reminding you that a new civil war would be just as stupid, the losers would still lose, and the results of that loss, like a mass grave for the southerners and us “evil yankees” getting what we want. What is right.

Because you can’t fucking own people. And this system that was born from us telling people they can’t own others, is fucked. I know this racism goes back further than this war, I understand that, but the current legal system was put into place by people mad they lost a war.

Read that last part back again.

Civil war is stupid. Equality is great. Let’s all work harder towards equality and not treating People of Color like shit, instead of trying to find a new way to justify a war on people you foolishly think are unarmed.

(No, seriously, this myth of the unarmed liberal…nearly as stupid as war.)

The Civil War was violent, and it never should have been needed. The idea of joking about one because you don’t like what one political party or another is doing…spits in the face of everyone who has fallen.

Joking about a new civil war is tacky. Just like racism.

And if you push, we will beat your ass again.

I hope you have enjoyed the story of my time in Shiloh with Bret and my dad, and I hope even more that my dad never reads this.

I’m already a giant disppointment, me being this against war may just break his heart.

Oh well. War is dumb.


PS- I stayed up WAY later than intended, and I will be covering that in Daily Blog #62, so make sure to check that out when I post it. (Hopefully I remember to come back and link it, but I am tired.) Anyways, I need to edit this and schedule it as I want it up tomorrow to hopefully help some people really think about the Civil War.


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