159 years ago (well, last week) this was the view for my Great Great Grandfather (photo credit: The Queen Of The World. Click to enbiggen):
The 7th Iowa was at the center of the line. This is what Great Great Grandfather would have seen looking to his right:
Peaceful today, not so much that day. This was the view the other way:
Then all hell broke loose. After 4 brutal hours, the 7th Iowa was forced back, regrouping at Grant's "Final Line" where they held the southern forces. Barely. Not all of the Union soldiers in the Hornet's Nest fared so well - 2,500 were surrounded and surrendered.
It was quite a feeling walking that ground today. Great Great Grandfather was a Kansas boy back when the war broke out. Kansas wasn't a state then and so he couldn't sign up, so he and his buddies went north to Iowa where they enlisted in 1861. He went all the way through the war - Ft. Donaldson, Shiloh, Atlanta, Savannah, Columbia, Bentonville. He marched in the parade in Washington D.C. and was mustered out.
On the drive back, The Queen Of The World wondered about all the men who died there. None of them have Great Great Grandsons to remember them, because the war took from them everything they had and everything they would ever have. I would quote from Abraham Lincoln's justly famous letter to Mrs. Bixby, but Mr. Lincoln is perhaps uniquely responsible for all those deaths, and that lack of descendents for all those men.
I also wondered on that drive back why I consider Grant to be a sympathetic character. Long time readers know my opinion of Mr. Sherman, but for some reason I can't shake a somewhat favorable impression of Grant. I need to do some pondering on this.
But like I said, it was a thrill to walk in Great Great Grandfather's footsteps on that battlefield.
The past isn't dead. It isn't even past.
- William Faulkner