What can you expect at our Shiloh 150th event? I've always liked to know what I am getting into before I arrive at an event, so I'll treat you the way I like to be treated.
You will arrive at registration like every other big national event and complete THEIR registration. After registering with the event, you need to go to the 15th Iowa registration so look for a sign that directs you to the 15th Iowa registration. OUR check in point will be by Federal Parking along Joe Dillon Road where you go AFTER you check in with the event and AFTER you park. At OUR registration you will need to do a few things: 1) you'll be issued your bus transportation and paddle wheeler pass and be told where to board the bus depending on whether you are on the paddle wheeler or joining us at Pittsburg Landing (if you don't have this pass, you cannot go, so get it and don't lose it - VERY IMPORTANT), or told where to go if you're going into our event site camp, 2) EVERYONE MUST turn in your 5 St. Louis Arsenal packs made according to the previous email (15th Iowa men - no explosives on the boat where it will be lit with open flames - no BOOM on the river. And if you're bringing rounds for a friend, i.e. turning in 10 arsenal packs, you must give his name at the time you turn in your rounds so we can mark him off the list for rounds.), 3) if you have things to drop off at our Saturday night camp that has been previously arranged, you'll be told where that camp is, and 4) if we need a little help with anything (we probably will), you'll be directed what to do prior to boarding the bus to Savannah, TN where we board the paddle wheeler, or to Pittsburg Landing (I'll send a separate email to the 16th Iowa men with details for Pittsburg Landing).
Now let's consider our Friday camp in Savannah, TN and the boat trip. Guys will arrive all day on Friday. I'd like everyone to be on site at registration by 10pm (they are on Central time) since the last bus trip to Savannah is at midnight. If you cannot make the last midnight bus trip, you MUST notify you company commander so we can make arrangements. If you will arrive after 10pm on Friday and don't notify your company commander NOW, we will not make arrangements for you to get to Savannah, TN where the boat departs. Tell your company commander NOW, not me, so I can cover you. Company commanders/POCs must email me on March 10th one list of their men arriving after 10pm. Please don't send me an email every other day of one more guy to be added as I won't be able to add all of that. I want 11 lists from the 11 companies on March 10th please. I can manage 11 emailed lists from company commanders to insure sufficient busses.
There will be three boat loads (one paddle wheeler making three trips) to accomplish transporting everyone from Savannah to Pittsburg Landing. The first load will board at approximately 10pm on Friday night, the second load will board at approximately 3am Saturday morning, and the third will board at approximately 8am Saturday morning. The reality is that everyone in a company may not be present when a boat load needs to leave, especially the first load. If there are guys arriving late at the event site and taking the midnight bus trip to Savannah, the first load is already departed and up the river. BIG NOTE: if you will arrive at registration after 10pm, tell your company commander/POC immediately. Each boat load must be filled to capacity or the last load may have too many guys that need to get on and we have a major problem. I say all of this now because if it's important for you to be on the boat with your pards, you MUST coordinate your arrivals at the event site. At registration you'll be given a steam boat transportation pass that will designate which load, 1st, 2nd or 3rd, that you are on. The trips 1st, 2nd and 3rd are designated by the ticket color red, white and blue. That is YOUR trip so your butt needs to be on THAT trip. You may trade that pass for a different trip with another soldier but you will need the correct pass to board. No tickey, no ridey. Just make sure you have your pass, you know which trip you're on and where you're supposed to be when it's time to load. Regimental staff will be giving you directions at our Savannah camp to insure you know where and when to go.
This is a flat haversack event, meaning bring nothing to eat. Your registration fee has paid for all of your rations. You are on your own for Friday supper and then will be taken care of from then on. You will have access to water at our Friday camp, but that's it. Plan to eat supper prior to boarding the bus or bring something for your supper at our Friday night camp. There are a couple of restaurants about a half mile walk from camp Friday if that matters. Don't count on firewood for cooking your supper Friday night and stay out of the regimental cook fires where men will be working on your cooked food on the paddle wheeler. So what are your options for supper Friday: 1) you have cooked rations in your haversack, 2) you have rations in your haversack that don't need cooking, 3) you walk to the restaurant with your pards and walk back. You will be fed breakfast aboard the paddle wheeler like the original boys were, and you'll be issued marching rations for the day. The balance of your food will be issued at our Saturday night camp on the event site.
When we arrive at Pittsburg Landing, we will land at the original Pittsburg Landing per the National Park Service, not the one at the park marked as such. Yep, you actually get to learn something that spectators/visitors don't. The road we'll "hold" like the original 15th is the road between the original landing and visitor's center. Part of this road is very dangerous. Remember the river has shifted in 150 years and much is on a cliff now. We'll be on this road in the dark and there is one spot if you fall over the side which would be very easy to do in the dark, you'll fall and at minimum get hurt really bad, and at worst die. Yep, really. We'll cross this point in two files at most. Point to remember is after you get off the boat, until you stop for the rest of the night on the road, be very careful of the sides of the road. We'll mark the dangerous spot with lanterns. BE CAREFUL HERE. Yes, if I'm reading this, that's a helpful piece of information.
We'll have water at the landing to refill canteens. We'll be issued our rounds here like the original boys were (but we will NOT load on park property), and we'll boil coffee here like the original boys (only on pre-designated spots since randomly lighting fires on Federal property wins you shiny bracelets). The arsenal packs that all of you must turn in at registration are to have caps in them or you will not have caps. Put 12 caps in a paper tube and enclose it with your rounds. And when you un-wrap your packs, remember they are not all rounds. One of the paper tubes has caps in it and if you're not careful, you'll dump caps in your barrel. If you shoot those at the rebs and hit a guy, it will cause a significant wound and you'll get your wound in the county jail just after lights out. Attached is the St. Louis Arsenal wrapper.
The first is the super correct "stamped" version made by Todd Bemis with directions how to cut the wrapper. You'll need to save the image, size it and print it. While here at Pittsburg Landing it is very likely we'll hear the boom of cannons in the morning just like the original boys heard. It's a 7am tactical at the event site. Since it has nothing to do with recreating the historic movements of the battle of Shiloh, we are not missing it, we are happily avoiding it. It does however provide similar first sounds of battle that the original boys heard when they were at the landing. Nice period ear candy to get you in the mood.
Next is our 5 mile march to the event site. You MUST be fit enough to carry your full load and complete the 5 miles. Re-read that last sentence. And remember that's just to get to the event site. You'll be going into a 2 hour battle just as you arrive. Start getting in shape NOW. The route is pretty level with only a few small rolling hills. Brian Hicks and I walked it in heavy marching order a couple months ago to test the route. You will be on grass for all of it except for about 400 yards of pavement. Our route will take us 2.5 hours to complete including a 30 minute stop to refill canteens. We will march across the original battlefield, the national cemetery where some of the men you are portraying are buried (even though you are passing within feet of the graves of the men you are portraying, the park has asked that you don't climb the rock wall and enter the cemetery), and past the big Iowa monument. We were never out of breath but did get blisters on our feet. Get your feet toughened up! Wear and break in your brogans carrying your intended load for 5 miles. Carry your load 5 miles BEFORE you arrive. That's confidence training. You might change what you're carrying. KNOW that you can make it. And know that the column cannot stop for you as it's on a deadline to make the battle or we all miss it. We do have a medical staff that will have mole skin and other treatments for blisters. But you'll have a lot more fun if you toughen your feet up and get in shape. There, you've been warned like an adult.
What should you pack in your knapsack? I know the original boys had an extra suit of clothes, an overcoat, two blankets, etc. in their knapsacks and it was described by one of them as a "mule load." I'd STRONGLY suggest the following and no more: overcoat if it's cold enough, one wool blanket, one gum blanket, a change of wool socks (always sleep in dry socks in cold weather), a sleeping cap and your toiletries. THAT'S IT. Check online for the weather forecast a couple days before the event. If it's as warm as it was today, you won't need an overcoat. You decide what you carry. But regardless of how much you carry, walk with it 5 miles BEFORE you come to the event. Our wagons are already full of equipment to take care of the 500 men in the regiment, so there really isn't room for you to ride.
You will need to clean your rifle in camp Saturday night. So put some cloth patches in the implement pouch of your cartridge box. If you have a worm, it should be in that pouch too, or at least with you. Soak a small rag in sweet oil (olive oil) and put it in the implement pouch too. There is nothing more embarrassing than being the guy who comes to the event with a dirty rifle that won't fire or that won't fire on Sunday because he was too lazy or incompetent to clean it Saturday night. Sgts. please put a cone wrench in your implement pouch and insure that everyone in your section has a functioning rifle throughout the event. Responsibility comes with those stripes.
As we approach the main event site, the battle will be under way already as it was for the original boys. You're going to hear a battle beginning to rage in the distance and it's going to get louder as we approach. We will join the battle in progress and fight for about two hours. After which we'll fall back to an abandoned Federal camp. The 46th Illinois Infantry had a full camp and had come back to their camp in the middle of the first days fight to make dinner (lunch). They then returned to the front to fight and when night fell they found themselves so close to the rebs that they stayed in that forward position on arms lest their retreat would open a place for the enemy to advance. So we'll occupy their camp in the rear toward Pittsburg Landing. I've not found a record of who, if anyone, was in their camp that night, but just that it was unoccupied by them. There should be enough canvas for everyone to be inside, out of the weather. So if you hear of bad weather prior to the event, don't worry, we've got a nice camp of 20 Sibleys and lots of wall and wedge tents for you. If we pack in and spoon, we'll all be warm and dry under canvas.
Our regiment has become so large - 500 registered - that it will require all of us to work together to make this happen. So you need to come with a can do attitude and expect to do some work from beginning to finish. Many hands make light work. When you register you will likely be asked to help for a short time with something. Please respond with a smile and jump in. All of us doing a little work gets the job done fast instead of shoving all the work on a few. When you get to registration or camp, pay close attention to your Orderly Sgts. as they are charged with assigning all of the details whether it's canteens, wood, food preparation, cooking, baking (we have bread ovens), tents, cleaning rifles, etc. It ALL must be done for every company to function and more importantly for all of us to be comfortable. Come prepared to pull your weight as your pards and the entire regiment are counting on you.
There, now you know what to expect. Did I tell you everything? Nope, there are always cards up my sleeve. That's how I roll. And I want some surprises for you. I learned a long time ago to make my own fun and my own luck. If you can do the same, you're always guaranteed a great time no matter where you're at and what the conditions are. Bring a good attitude, expect changes, and be ready to soldier.
Who should you contact from this point forward? Here's why I say this. As much as I want to talk or email with all of you, I now must focus on about twenty things and coordinate with about twenty people to insure this whole thing comes off well and you have a great experience. I've not done well getting back to everyone on as timely a basis as I want due to the volume of work and emails and calls. Please know I'll have a beer and talk the night away with every one of you when this is over. Right now I'm all focused on business and your good experience.
For any questions about field music, Peter Emerick, firstname.lastname@example.org
For questions about tents, Art Milbert, email@example.com
For questions about uniform guidelines, see your company commander or POC. And see the guidelines on the Western Independent Grays site: WIG Webste: http://www.westernindependentgrays.org
For questions about ANYTHING else, email your company commander/POC.
There will be more emails, but this is the "BIG MOTHER EMAIL" that has the info you need to know. Don't delete it, you'll read it again. If you read all of it and use all of the links, you'll have all the info you need to have a great time. All of you work your butts off in life at whatever you do, you have responsibilities, many of you with families, you have difficulties and challenges, you all face what life throws at men. For one weekend, as best you can leave it all behind you. You're going out with your brothers who care about you. This is going to be a fantastic experience and we're going to own it. Get ready for a great time.