Saturday July 7th 2018
The sun came back out today, but the heat and humidity of the past week didn’t return with it. The temperature only reached into the low to mid eighties. I turned off the AC and opened the windows of my RV home. Unfortunately, my new neighbors decided that pipe smoking outside my window was a good thing to do this afternoon. I closed the windows and turned the AC back on.
After watching all of my neighbors hook up and leave this morning, I took off on a day tour of the area. My first discovery was Loretta Lynn’s Ranch a few miles north of my location. It is a museum complex, an event center dedicated to all things Loretta Lynn and apparently her home. It even has an RV park. I stopped at the country store on the main road, but didn’t visit the Ranch. There was a big concert event advertised for tonight.
Continuing north I started seeing many references to Civil War era historical sites. I tried to find a couple of them, but Tennessee road signs aren’t very helpful. They don’t seem to be plentiful or well placed. I’m pretty sure I found one of the sites, but other than a gravel parking lot I couldn’t find any plaques or markers. Prior to today, I didn’t know much about the Civil War in Tennessee. Most of the Civil War history I remember relates to the campaigns in the Virginia area, but this area of Tennessee saw a lot of action in the first half of 1862.
I knew that the Battle of Shiloh was related to controlling river traffic. What I didn’t realize when I was leaning about the Civil War was that the battle took place in south central Tennessee. I thought it was in the northwest corner of the Tennessee nearer to the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Somewhere along the way, a few years ago, I leaned the true location of the battle, but I didn’t really investigate the why. Today I took the time to understand the why behind the whole campaign. The Shiloh National Historic Battlefield is about sixty miles southwest of here as the crow flies. It’s significantly longer by road, so I probably won’t go there tomorrow, but that was one of my reasons for reading history this afternoon.
The whole series of battles in the spring of 1862 were to control the river transportation network north out of Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers to the Ohio River and down the Mississippi River. The river routes combined with the east west routes of railroad were of strategic importance to both sides. During 1862 the Union forces gained control of the rivers in western Tennessee and Mississippi. The only hold out was Vicksburg MS on the Mississippi River which held out until July 4th of 1863.
My touring today was the trigger for coming home and reading a history lesson, but it was also a nice drive. I crossed the Tennessee River a couple of times and drove along some real interesting roads. They were narrow and winding with deep ditches along the shoulders. For wildlife I saw one eagle and one deer. The deer decided to cross the road in front of me, but thankfully it was on a straight stretch not a curve. I had plenty of time to slow down.