April Meeting: Ed Bearss

Continuing our sesquicentennial-timed presentations, on April 10 esteemed historian Ed Bearss entertains with a presentation on the Battle of Shiloh:

Meeting time:  7:30 PM, April 10, 2012.

Location:   Old Loudoun Court House, 18 Market Street, Leesburg., Virginia.

Topic:  The Battle of Shiloh

Ruggles bty 307

Following a series of defeats and retreats in the spring of 1862, General Albert S. Johnston sought to reverse Confederate fortunes in the west.  After concentrating forces, numbering 44,000 men, at the railroad center of Corinth, Mississippi, Johnston planned a surprise attack on 49,000 Federals under General Ulysses S. Grant, concentrated at Pittsburg Landing along the Tennessee River.  On the morning of April 7, Johnston’s forces surged forward into the Federal encampments.  Although initially successful, the rebel assaults stalled as the blue-coats rallied.  The battle took its name from the log Shiloh Church which stood on the contested ground.  But the struggle also immortalized place-names such as the Peach Orchard, Sunken Road, Bloody Pond, and the Hornet’s Nest.  Johnston fell mortally wounded mid-afternoon, and General P.G.T. Beauregard assumed command.  Grant, driven back to a final line of defense near the river landing, rallied his men and received reinforcements.  When dawn broke on April 8, it was the Confederates’ turn to stubbornly give ground.  After two days of bitter fighting, 23,746 men were dead, wounded, or missing.  “Bloody Shiloh” is remembered as the first major battle of the war.

About our speaker:
Edwin C. Bearss served as the Chief Historian of the National Park Service from 1981 to 1994. He holds a B.S. degree from Georgetown University and a M.A. in history from Indiana University.  He served in the Marine Corps during World War II.  Ed first joined the National Park Service in 1954 and was assigned to Vicksburg National Military Park.  There he researched the sinking of and helped locate the site of the ironclad USS Cairo. During the Centennial, he lead efforts to develop and improve the battlefield parks.

Ed Bearss at Mill Springs

After his retirement in 1995, he was named Chief Historian Emeritus of the National Park Service.  He has received many honors and awards to include the Bruce Catton Award, the Distinguished Service Award from the Department of the Interior, and Commendation from the Secretary of the Army. The Civil War Preservation Trust has created the Ed Bearss Award for achievements in historic preservation (which he was awarded in 2001).  Ed was featured on the PBS documentary The Civil War.  His written works include “The Vicksburg Campaign – a 3 vol. study“, “Fields of Honor: Pivotal Battles of the Civil War” and his most recent work, “Receding Tide: Vicksburg and Gettysburg: The Campaigns that Changed the Civil War”  He is often quoted saying, “You can’t describe a battlefield unless you walk it,” which best captures his approach to the study and interpretation of the Civil War.

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About Craig Swain

"Historical marker hunter" and Civil War enthusiast.
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One Response to April Meeting: Ed Bearss

  1. Pingback: UPDATE: Ed Bearss presentation rescheduled | Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable

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