Sunday, September 30, 2007

Welcome visitor

This is not so much a pond these days, as a grassy mud hole. (This is actually more water than it held a month ago.)

But not everybody thinks this is a bad thing. Look who popped in - a Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago delicata).1

If the previous picture is the heads-down position, this must be half-mast. And the following is...

Up periscope! Almost looks like a different bird.

I love the way the stripes continue from the head all the way down the back.

He tends to sink in the mud a bit, so you're not always aware...

of the big feet.

He was quite content to have us stare from an open position across the pond. He wasn't shy or wary at all. We didn't try getting any closer though - we're hoping he'll stick around a while.


1 I didn't realize until I went to look up the latin name just now, that this bird's name had been changed. The species formerly called the Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago) has been split, and the one here in the Americas got a new name.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Also at Shiloh

Seen soaring above Shiloh, a beautiful Broad-winged Hawk (Buteo platypterus).

Submitted to the Friday Ark.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Shiloh, part 5

I don't remember a lot of rampant overt nationalism when I was growing up, but I guess it was there in a lot of subtle ways. Certainly at a tender age I'd been told many times by TV and books that the US was, you know, heap big #1 hot stuff.

So when I first learned about the Civil War, I didn't want to believe it. We lost a war? No way! What happened to heap big #1 hot stuff?!

Back then there was definitely a North-South us vs. them attitude that still lingered on in the minds of some of my teachers. (My husband, who grew up on military bases, was spared this instruction.) The South (that was us) had been wrong. The South (we) had been beaten.

Mostly, you outgrow it. Us/them becomes we, and the only regional distinctions nowdays usually concern accents or mannerisms, and even those differences are fading.

But the first time I saw the way soldiers were buried at Shiloh...

The Union: individual markers in a cemetery.

The Confederates: mass burial trenches. (This one contains about 700 soldiers piled 7 deep.)

I have to admit to finding in myself a pocket of that old us vs. them. Despite the fact that I know the south was wrong, and I would never defend that cause.


The Union soldiers were mostly dug up from all over the battlefield to be re-enterred in this cemetery after the war (4 years after the battle). That had to have been a tough task.


I had decided not to publish this post. It's a little uncomfortable to talk about, and I don't feel like I've expressed myself very well. But then I saw this bumper sticker downtown.

I have a hard time understanding what leads people to want to express sentiments like this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Shiloh, part 4

A display at the visitor's center shows some of the items found on the battlefield over the years.

After viewing this, we imagined uncovering artifacts all over the park...

Look! A cannonball stuck in a tree! (Not really, it's a gall. We dubbed it the cannongall.)

Look! It's a soldier's tooth! (Not really, it's a bit of quartz.)

Look! It's leftover Confederate Weed-Eater string! (Not really, it's probably Union Weed-Eater string instead.)

And so on.

Another thing that occupied my brain involved wondering, "Was this tree here when the battle was fought?" The park is remarkably well-preserved. So there are trees much older than in your average neighborhood.

Large Oak tree.

Two big Water Oaks near the Visitor's center.

A largish Cedar.

Another big Oak, in the Union cemetery.

Further reading on the internet says (according to one of the park rangers) that the park's oldest trees would now be 146 - 153 years old. So some of these may have been saplings when the battle was fought.


That's my sister-in-law and mother-in-law, by the way!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Friday Ark

I was having a hard time with Blooger earlier, so I'm just now able to link to the Friday Ark.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shiloh, part 3

For a former battlefield, Shiloh is extremely well organized.

Different shapes and colors on the plaques tell you at a glance the type of information, who it's about, and which day it applies to. By the way, the Union named its armies after rivers, which explains why the Army of the Tennessee is Union, not Confederate.

So, here is a positional marker for Confederate troops on the first day of the battle. If you are reading the marker, you're facing the same direction of the action. This one says:

C. S.
Cleburne's (2d) Brigade,
This brigade, with its regiments in order from left to right as above, attacked the enemy at 8 a.m., April 6, 1862, and was repulsed with severe loss. Being reenforced it advanced again and at 10 a.m. drove back the Union line beyond Shiloh Church. The 6th Miss. charged the position at Rhea house and lost in killed and wounded 300 out of 425 engaged.

These markers are all over the place, and they are even more interesting if you know that one of your ancestors was among the soldiers mentioned. (Mine was in the 6th Mississippi, called The Bloody Sixth because of their 75% casualty rate.)

This is also where we saw the gorgeous male Canada warbler just across the street!

Little paths through the woods lead to cannons and monuments that are scattered everywhere.

This one near the "Hornets' Nest" is for a Minnesota unit.

A detail from a Wisconsin monument. If you ever happen to be involved in making outdoor statuary, please consider not sculpting the ears to be quite so lifelike. Ms. Wisconsin had a large spider in hers, and another one we saw had been invaded by paper wasps. Ick.

Upside-down cannons mean "important personage died here". In this case, General Johnston, the highest ranking CSA officer to be killed during the war.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Shiloh, part 2

I learned that the reason so many people with roots in the south or midwest have an ancestor who fought at Shiloh, is that there were just so many soldiers there: 110,000.

It was one of the earliest of the larger battles (April 1862), and one of the bloodiest. In just two days there were almost 24,000 casualties (more than in all previous American wars combined).1,2

Shiloh is said to be the best preserved battlefield of the Civil War3,4.

This is where the shooting started, in Fraley Field. A Union patrol encountered advancing Confederate pickets. The whole attack was a surprise, but this engagement gave the unfortified Union camps at least a little warning.

That marker in the middle of the far field looks far away, until you think about someone standing over there shooting at you, at which point it seems a lot closer.

Replica of the Shiloh meeting house. Sherman's division was here at the beginning of the battle, and the original church was used as different headquarters on different days. (The Confederates won the first day, but the Union was reinforced overnight and won the second day.)

The peach orchard was in bloom during the battle. Petals cut by flying bullets reminded observers of falling snow. In the end there were no petals left on the trees. (These newly replanted peach trees apparently had somewhat of a deer problem.)

One end of the sunken road. (Not really so sunken anymore after 145 years.) It leads to the Hornets' Nest, a thicket where the fighting was particularly fierce.

This was called "The Bloody Pond" after so many wounded men and horses gathered there, that the water became red with their blood.


1My great-great-grandfather was among them. His records are incomplete, but his wound was severe enough that he was discharged from the army less than a month after Shiloh.

2That's more than our casualties of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Mexican-American War all put together. And Shiloh was only the worst battle up to that point. It got even worse later on.

3Shelby Foote said that. (I am obliged to make a joke about this being a Foote note.)

4Lots of people here still call it the War Between the States. A few people call it the War of Northern Aggression. If they are not kidding, those are usually the kind of people you want to watch out for.

Monday, September 17, 2007


We made a trip to Shiloh over the weekend. I have umpty-million photos to download, but so far this one is my favorite.

Spotted fawn in the Union cemetery. (Click to enlarge.)

His cute little fuzzy close-up:



It was a very birdy weekend. This wasn't really a birding trip, but we did have our binoculars, so we looked every time we happened to see the branches moving. The list of warblers we saw without even really trying:

Brewster's (!)

The gorgeous male Canada warbler was a special treat since we hadn't seen one in so long. And the Brewster's, wow! They are a hybrid between the Blue-winged and Golden-winged warblers, and we'd only seen one once or twice before, at Dauphin Island.

If we'd had more time, we'd have turned it into a birding trip until the migration fallout ran dry, and finished exploring the battlefield later. The weather was beautiful - the first fall-like days of the year.

Just resting.
Eastern Bluebird (Sialia sialis).

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Joke of the month

Overheard at the soap lunch yesterday:

L (talking about a cow-themed ad campaign she'd worked on): One guy went a little too far. He actually wanted to send out samples of cow manure.

S: Did you tell him that was a sh*tty idea?

I couldn't stop laughing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Yellow Daisy

Sorry for the unexplained abrupt halt. I was busy preparing for and then attending the Yellow Daisy craft show.

We had a good show - the weather was warm, but thankfully not in the 100s and not too humid. And I got to meet Dr. Flowers in person!

I should have gone out in the evening and taken pictures of Stone Mountain, but my feet were always too tired by the end of the day. I did make it to the A-loop stage area one afternoon to watch the cloggers for a few minutes.

Girls of the flying feet.

Hillbilly themed dance.