A Visit to Fallen Timbers
A Site Report on Our Target Tract at the Shiloh Battlefield
BY DAVID DUNCAN
The Civil War Trust's Director of Membership and Development, David Duncan, recently visited the Shiloh battlefield to tour our 267-acre target property at Fallen Timbers with NPS historian Stacy D. Allen. David submitted this report of his trip to Trust president Jim Lighthizer.
Jim, here is my report of the site visit I made to the 267-acre Fallen Timbers battlefield at the Shiloh Battlefield on Monday, November 7, 2011.
Arriving at the Shiloh Visitor Center soon after the Park opened, I met with Chief Ranger Stacy D. Allen and Superintendent Woody Harrell. Both gentlemen were kind enough to make themselves available to me, and Woody even mentioned a few sites—in addition to Fallen Timbers—that the park would very much like to add to the battlefield to help complete its preservation (more on that later).
Stacy and I proceeded to Fallen Timbers, which is about four miles to the southwest of the main Shiloh battlefield. There, I was able to get multiple photographs of this still-exceptionally pristine ground, and videotaped Stacy for our website. If there is anyone more knowledgeable about Shiloh and Fallen Timbers than him, I’d like to meet them.
This photo (below) will give you and idea of just how open and unspoiled this site remains to this day. This view is close to what General William T. Sherman saw when he came to the field. The rise of ground in the far distance is where Confederate cavalry under Nathan Bedford Forrest were gathered, protecting a hospital camp a little further in the rear, (behind the current tree line).
The view of the Fallen Timbers battlefield from William T. Sherman's perspective (David Duncan)
With permission from the current landowners, Stacy and I walked out into the field, and he gave his best estimation of where Forrest rode into the Union lines, and was wounded.
Stacy also related that if more of Forrest’s troopers had not reined up when they saw a solid line of blue infantry, it is conceivable that Forrest might have captured Sherman on this field. As it was, Forrest was lucky to have gotten away with only a very serious wound.;=
We then drove back behind the Confederate lines to the area in the woods near where the hospital site was. Unfortunately, without doing a major archeological study, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to find the actual site. Stacy wrote the text for the only wayside marker on the Fallen Timbers battlefield. He called it the “Brief but Furious Close to Shiloh.”
Stacy and I then visited some other tracts around Shiloh that we may want to consider as part of our on-going capital campaign. I must say he was very generous with his time, and is absolutely dedicated to preserving the full story of Shiloh. Before leaving for the day, I went back to the battlefield by myself, and took several photos like this one below, which is from Forrest’s perspective. He would have seen Union skirmishers and cavalry emerging from the far tree line, advancing toward him, when he shouted “Charge!”
Late afternoon view of the Fallen Timbers battlefield from Nathan Bedford Forrest's perspective (David Duncan)
There aren’t as many “fallen timbers” on the property or road as there were in 1862, but otherwise, it is amazing how unspoiled it is. This land absolutely retains its integrity, and once it is saved, future generations will be able to walk this field and truly understand the final chapter of the Battle of Shiloh.
At 267 acres, we will be saving nearly 75% of the entire battlefield where not one acre had been previously saved. The preservation of this site is the highest preservation priority for the Park, but they currently do not have the acquisition funds to purchase it. Please let me know if you have any questions about this report.
Director of Membership & Development
Civil War Trust