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Shiloh National Military Park - Tennessee

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Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee was the site of a bloody Civil War battle to control the Confederate Railroads.

© Provided by Park Ranger John

Shiloh National Military Park

Shiloh National Military Park encompasses much of the April 1862 Civil War battlefield at Pittsburg Landing. There is also an interpretive center 22 miles away in Corinth, Mississippi. 

The park commemorates the April 6-7, 1862 2-day battle that raged around Shiloh Church and Pittsburg Landing.  Nearly 110,000 American troops fought in this bloody battle 65,000 Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant and Don Carlos Buell and 44,000 Confederates under Albert Sidney Johnston (killed in the battle) and P.G.T. Beauregard. 

The battle resulted in 23,746 casualties; more casualties than in all of America's previous wars combined.

The park interprets the siege, battle, and occupation of the key railroad junction at nearby Corinth, Mississippi.

  © Provided by Park Ranger John

About Shiloh National Military Park

Union Forces in 1862 had taken control of Kentucky and the middle section of Tennessee moved to attack an important railroad crossroads at Corinth, Mississippi.

A combined total of 100,000 soldiers battled for the Corinth rail site on April 6 and 7, 1862.

More than 23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured, or listed as missing after two days of fighting.

The battle ended with no clear winner.

On October 3 and 4th Confederates tried and failed to recapture Corinth in a battle that resulted in a combined 7,000 casualties.

Is Shiloh National Military Park worth visiting?

Yes, The park tells the story of one of the key battles in the Civil War. It is hard to describe how it feels to visit these sites.

The air is somber and at times it can be hard to handle. The park reminds us of why the Civil War happened and what people were fighting for. 

© Provided by Park Ranger John

The Battle of Shiloh National Military Park

The Shiloh National Military Park preserves the area of one of the bloodiest battles in American history, the Battle of Shiloh. This battle is also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing. It was a fight to control the strategic railroad intersections at Corinth, Mississippi. These railroads connected Mississippi with the Confederate Capital of Richmond and other major Southern cities.

In the early hours on the 6th of April, 1862, The Army of Mississippi commanded by Confederate General Johnston launched a surprise attack on the Union Army of Tennessee. The Union was under the command of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. 

Confederate President Jefferson lost one of his most highly respected generals at Shiloh. A series of tactical errors made by General Johnston's replacement, General Beauregard, resulted in a Confederate loss that would dash the hopes of the Confederates securing the Mississippi Valley.

Despite the surprise attack by the Confederates, the Battle of Shiloh was a Union victory. The victory of the Union here at the Shiloh National Military Park meant that the Union could advance its efforts to gain control of the Mississippi Valley.

Build up to the Battle

During the time leading up to the Battle of Shiloh, the Confederates had suffered several defeats. The Union had taken several strategically important cities that made their advance into the Confederate territory more easily accessible.

General Albert Sydney Johnston was in charge of the Confederate forces engaged in the Western Theatre. Before moving his troops to Corinth, Mississippi, the Confederates had lost Fort Henry and Fort Donelson to the Union. These losses made Gen. Johnston pull back from the middle of Tennessee and left it to be occupied by the Union.

Instead, he turned his focus to securing the railroad hub at Corinth. Johnston wanted to make sure the Mississippi Valley remained in Confederate hands. Johnston knew that the Union would be able to advance further south if it controlled the critical transportation hub of Corinth. They would be in charge of a railroad system that would link them to the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. 

Ulysses S. Grant wanted to push his troops to Corinth Mississippi, precisely because of this reason. Gen. Grant set up camp at Pittsburg Landing along the Tennessee River. Before attacking the Confederates, Grant had to wait for reinforcements.

Grant did not anticipate that the Confederates would attack the Union at their camp, but that is exactly what Gen Johnston did.

Day 1: The Surprise Attack

General Grant had been ordered to wait until Major General Don Carlos Buell's Army of Ohio arrived at Pittsburg Landing before he could make a move towards Corinth. However, Johnston knew that if Grant attacked his Confederate forces with both Union armies, the Union would be much harder to defeat.

Johnston made a calculated decision knowing that Corinth was a target. Rather than wait around to be attacked by the Union, he planned to launch a surprise attack before Gen. Buell arrived. Johnston made his move against the Union forces on the 6th of April 1862, catching Grant off guard. They did not anticipate the Confederates to be on the offensive.

The Confederate forces managed to push the Union back from their defensive lines. The vicious fighting took place in several areas. It centered around Shiloh Church and a wooded area known as the “Hornets Nest" which sat along the “sunken road”. The fighting at the Hornets Nest was particularly fierce.

Johnston had planned to surround the Union forces from all sides to stop them from reaching the Tennessee River to escape. Johnston issued orders to Beauregard to support his planned attack before heading up the advance on the Union forces at the Hornets Nest. It was here that he was shot and later died.

Johnston's death left Beauregard in charge. Instead of keeping to the plan Johnston had made, Beauregard decided to attack the Union forces head-on in waves. The Confederates managed to push the Union forces back towards Pittsburg Landing and Shiloh Church on the first day.

Beauregard halted the Confederate attack at sunset, believing they had won and could crush the Union in the morning. He was mistaken. Although the Confederates had managed to push the Union forces out of their initial defensive lines, they had achieved little else.

Day 2: The Union Victory

Beauregard believed that the Union would be easy to defeat in the morning. This proved to be an enormous mistake. Buell’s forces arrived in the night to reinforce the Union, therefore outnumbering the Confederates.

On the 7th of April, Grant attacked first. Not only were the Confederates outnumbered, but the Union had the help of naval support from two ships on the Tennessee River. With the help of the new troops and the constant shelling from the gunboats, the Union managed to reverse any headway the Confederates had made the previous day.

Beauregard realized he was outnumbered and outgunned, and so he ordered the Confederate forces to fall back to Corinth. Both sides had suffered enormous losses. The Union succeeded in taking Corinth from the Confederates not long after the Battle of Shiloh.

The Confederate defeat at Shiloh paved the way for Grant to concentrate his efforts on the Mississippi Valley.

Things to know before your visit to Shiloh National Military Park

Entrance fee 

$0.00 - There is no fee to visit the park. 

Learn more about National Park Passes for parks that have an entrance fee.

Free Entrance Days  -Mark your calendars with the five free entrance days the National Park Service offers annually. 

Time Zone 

CST - Central Standard Time

Pets 

Pets must be on a leash less than 6 feet in length. Pets are welcome on the tour road. 

Cell Service

We had cell service in most of the park. There were a couple of areas we did not have great service.

Park Hours

The park grounds are open daily from sunrise to sunset. 

The Shiloh Visitor Center and Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center are open 8:00 am - 5:00 pm daily. 

Closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi is available in the Shiloh Visitor Center and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center

Insect Repellent

Insect repellent is always a great idea when outdoors, especially if you are around any body of water. 

We use Permethrin Spray on our clothes before our park trips. 

Water Bottle 

Make sure to bring your own water bottle and plenty of water with you. Plastic water bottles are not sold in the park.

Parking

There is a large parking area near the visitor center. There are pull-offs along the auto route for cars to pull to the side. 

Food/Restaurants

 There are no restaurants within the park. 

Gas

There are no gas stations within the park.

Drones

Drones are not permitted within National Park Sites.

National Park Passport Stamps

National Park Passport stamps can be found in the visitor centers.

Make sure to bring your National Park Passport Book with you or we like to pack these circle stickers so we don't have to bring our entire book with us. 

Shiloh NMP is part of the 2012Passport Stamp Set

Electric Vehicle Charging

EV Charging stations can be found in Counce, Tennessee, and Corinth, Mississippi 

Accessibility

Designated handicapped parking is available at the Shiloh Battlefield Visitor Center, the Shiloh Indian Mound Complex, and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center.

The park film is closed captioned and assistive listening devices are available.

Wheelchairs are available for loan at the Shiloh Battlefield Visitor Center and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center.

Service animals are allowed in the Shiloh Visitor Center and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center.

Details about Shiloh National Military Park

Size -  9,324 acres

Check out how Shiloh NMP compares to other  National Parks by Size

Date Established 

December 27, 1894. To preserve the scene of the first major battle in the Western theater of the Civil War.

Visitation 

In 2021, Shiloh NMP had 371,863 park visitors. 

In 2020, Shiloh NMP had 386,883 park visitors. 

In 2019, Shiloh NMP had 360,989 park visitors. 

Learn more about the most visited and least visited National Parks in the US

National Park Address

Shiloh Battlefield Visitor Center - 1055 Pittsburg Landing Road, Shiloh, TN 38376

Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center - 501 West Linden Street Corinth, Mississippi 38834

Where is Shiloh National Military Park?

Shiloh NMP is located in the southwestern part of Tennessee near the border of Mississippi. 

Estimated distance from major cities nearby

Memphis, TN - 115 miles

Nashville TN - 148 miles

Birmingham, AL - 171 miles

Atlanta, GA - 317 miles

Louisville, KY - 321 miles

St. Louis, MO - 318 miles

Indianapolis, IN - 433 miles

Estimated Distance from nearby National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park - 341 miles

Gateway Arch National Park - 319 miles

Mammoth Cave National Park - 238 miles

Cuyahoga Valley National Park - 653 miles

Indiana Dunes National Park - 521 miles

Hot Springs National Park - 301 miles

New River Gorge National Park - 578 miles

Congaree National Park - 547 miles

Where is the National Park Visitor Center?

There is a visitor center at both the Shiloh Battlefield and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center.

Each of the visitor centers has interpretive panels and rangers/volunteers available to answer questions and give information on the park.

There is a park movie that is a bit intense and details what happened during the battle at Shiloh. It is pretty intense and may not be great for young kids if they get upset with battle scenes.

Getting to Shiloh National Military Park

Closest Airports 

Roscoe Turner Airport (CRX) - 25 miles

International Airports

Memphis International Airport (MEM) - 91 miles

Nashville International Airport (BNA) - 157 miles

Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM) - 178 miles

Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) - 330 miles

Regional Airports

McKellar Sipes Regional Airport (MKL) - 64 miles

Northwest Alabama Regional Airport (MSL) - 70 miles

Tupelo Regional Airport (TUP) - 73 miles

Lexington Airport (TN5) - 40 miles

Best time to visit Shiloh National Military Park

 The best time to visit the park to escape the heat and mugginess is early May to Late June and Late July to Early October. 

Weather and Seasons

The summers are long and hot in this part of Tennessee and did we mention MUGGY!

Winters are pretty short but cold and wet. 

The hot weather lasts from May 25 to September 23 with an average daily high above 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The cold weather lasts from November 28 to February 23 with a daily temperature below 58 degrees.

Snow is normally between December 22 and February 23 with January receiving the most snow at 1.7 inches. 

Humidity is highest from May 12 to September 30 with uncomfortable mugginess 22% of the time. The muggiest days are in July.

Best Things to do in Shiloh National Military Park

You can download the Shiloh Battle App to learn more about the park and experience four tours through both Shiloh and Corinth Battlefields. 

Self Guided Auto Tour 

There is a 12.7-mile auto tour at the Shiloh battlefield site. There are 20 stops along the route including Bloody Pond, The Hornet's Nest, and the spot where Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnson was killed.

The Shiloh Battlefield bookstore has a 76-minute auto audio tour for purchase. 

Junior Ranger Program 

Shiloh Battlefield and the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center have separate books, certificates, and badges. 

Commemorative Monuments

There are over 150 commemorative monuments within Shiloh National MP.

Troop Positioning Markers

There are 600 troop positioning markers within the park to help visitors understand the battle and what took place.

Civil War Era Cannons

There are 229 authentic Civil War-era cannons within the park. Don't worry if your first photo doesn't make you happy you will see more as you travel the autoroute.

We got really excited at the beginning of the route thinking we wouldn't see many more cannons. 

© Provided by Park Ranger John

Shiloh National Cemetery

The Shiloh Battlefield National Cemetery contains the graves of more than 4,000 military personnel and their family members. 

Shiloh Indian Mounds

This area preserves the remnants of an 800-year old Native American Mississippian Era Indian village that has been designated a national historic landmark.

© Provided by Park Ranger John

Hiking in Shiloh National Military Park

Always carry the 10 essentials for outdoor survival when exploring.

Shiloh Indian Mounds

There is a 1.1-mile trail through the Shiloh Indian Mounds village. The trailhead begins at the Indian Mounds shelter. 

© Provided by Park Ranger John

How to beat the crowds in Shiloh National Military Park?

We did not encounter any big crowds while in the park. The best part of the auto tour is you get to decide where and when you stop.

Where to stay when visiting Shiloh National Military Park

There are no National Park Lodges within the park.

Additional Resources

Shiloh - The War is Civil No More (Movie)

Our Fathers at Shiloh: A step-by-step Account of one of the Greatest Battles of the American Civil War

Shiloh 1862: The death of innocence 

Shiloh and the Western Campaign

Shiloh: The Battle That Changed the Civil War

Our Fathers at Gettysburg: A Step by Step Description of the Greatest Battle of the American Civil War 

The 10 Biggest Civil War Battles

Parks Near Shiloh National Military Park

Brices Cross Roads National Battlefield Site

Natchez Trace Parkway

Stones River National Battlefield

Fort Donelson National Battlefield

Russell Cave National Monument 

Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument

Freedom Riders National Monument

Check out all of the National Parks in Tennessee and bordering National Parks in KentuckyMissouri National ParksAlabama National ParksGeorgia National ParksVirginia National ParksNorth Carolina National ParksMississippi National ParksArkansas National Parks, and South Carolina National Parks

Nearby Tennessee State Parks include Pickwick Landing State Park, Big Hill Pond State Park, and David Crocket State Park.

Nearby Mississippi State Parks include J.P. Coleman State Park. 

© Provided by Park Ranger John
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