Grimsley, Mark and Steven E. Woodworth. Shiloh: A Battlefield Guide. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2006. 176 pp. Illus., maps. ISBN 10: 0-8032-7100-X $19.95
This book by two eminent Civil War historians is necessary for anyone that will travel to the Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee in the future. The authors have created a work that gives the reader an in-depth account of the Battle of Shiloh that occurred in April 1862. Many wonderful aspects to this book make it valuable to tourists and historians alike.
Mark Grimsley and Steven Woodworth created this book to aid in understanding the battlefield tour stops. The book is thorough even though it is brief in pagination. The authors take the reader to each of the tour stops located at the park, covering both days of the battle, and examine key events pertaining to each stop. The guide is so thorough that the authors provide detailed directions to specific spots and tour stops on the battlefield, including distances via car in tenths of miles.
Most of the areas of the park covered are accessible by vehicle and Grimsley and Woodworth instruct readers to reset the trip odometers in their vehicles to follow the guide correctly. These instructions to readers in reaching stops are just one unique way that this guide is organized. There are small “vignettes” (authors’ term) that describe events relating to both the background of the battle and the battle itself that may be read in between the stops on the tour. Once at a particular stop, the reader is treated to descriptions of the action that occurred at the stop. In addition, many sections dealing with the tour stops contain small stories based off primary sources written by soldiers that participated in the battle.
The organization of this guide revolves around the stops on the battlefield tour, as well as chronologically with relation to the battle. The first stops and sections discussed in the guide are related to the events of the first day of the battle. The latter half of the guide deals with the events at the tour stops pertaining to the second day of battle. Within these broad sections dealing with each day of the battle, the authors provide the reader/tourist a couple of options. For instance, the authors list two route options for the battlefield tour, a western and eastern route, which allow the tourist to understand the battle on both sides of the park. In addition to the different route options, the guide provides an optional walking tour of the famous “Hornet’s Nest”.
This guide is packed with information on the battle and more information on each stop than can be placed on the various markers and memorials throughout the park. The guide is well researched and based on many good sources, including memoirs and scholarly works. It also includes several wonderful illustrations and helpful maps to compliment the written portions. The authors provide good lists of works for further reading as well. Overall, though not a typical work of scholarship, this guide is certainly a fine example of scholarship intended for a more general audience.
Both authors lend their experienced backgrounds to this guide. Mark Grimsley is a history professor at Ohio State University and author of And Keep Moving On, which deals with the Virginia campaign. Steven Woodworth is a professor at Texas Christian University and the author of Nothing but Victory, which covers the history of the Army of the Tennessee. Both authors are respected in their fields and their authorship of this guide gives tremendous credibility.
Overall, this guide is a wonderful resource for understanding the Battle of Shiloh and for touring the park. It provides a large amount of information in a small package and has the reputation of two respected scholars behind it. This book is a necessary tool for having a successful tour of the battlefield and a wonderful resource on the battle for all audiences, including professional historians, military officers, and general readers.
Grand Forks, ND