Saturday, March 31, 2012

Jack's Creek, Shiloh, and Memphis, Tennessee

From the Great Smokey Mountains National Park in Eastern Tennessee, we headed to Jack's Creek in the south western area of the State.  Jack's Creek is within a stone's throw of Shiloh where we were scheduled to meet nephew Mike Cook and attend our first Civil War reenactment.

 Marlin had been in touch with an old Air Force friend who lived in Jack's Creek and we arrived a couple of days before the reenactment event to visit with the Huff family.  Denver insisted we camp in their yard instead of heading for the State Park.  While we were there we visited some of the local attractions in nearby Jackson.

 Denver and Rose Huff
 Marlin and Denver - Old Air Force buddies

Jackson was the home of Casey Jones who was made famous by Jimmy Rogers in the folk song  "Casey Jones".  He was a real engineer and the train wreck in the song really took place.

A replica of the engine in the crash

 Tami Huff, Marlin, and Rose Huff at the Casey Jones Museum

Carl Perkins, the well known "rock a billy" singer, also came from Jackson. We tried to visit the museum twice but the posted hours were not as advertised.  This mural was painted on the side of the building -  that was all  we got to see.

If you recall the movie "Walking Tall" you will recognize the name Buford Pusser.  This is the locale where all that action occurred and of course there is a museum with all the Buford Pusser artifacts, including the wrecked car in which he met his end.

The Shiloh National Battle Field was a full day tour for Marlin and Denver.  The official anniversary celebration was held on Shiloh National Battlefield grounds the weekend of April 6 and 7, 2012.  They do not allow reenactments on park grounds, so that event took place April 1 and 2 in fields near the official site.

Artifacts on display at the Shiloh museum.  These items have been found on the battle grounds

Pittsburg Landing is where the reinforcement troops landed for the battle at Shiloh.

Monument to Confederate troops

A mass grave holding Confederate soldiers killed at the battle.

Between visiting local sights and getting to know the Huff family we filled up the week before the Shiloh reenactment.  On Saturday we left Jack's Creek around 10:00 for the scheduled 12:00 show.  After braving the hour long traffic jam, we wandered around the "Settlers Camp" where, in addition to the soldiers in uniform, a great number of people were participating in period costumes.

A Civil War military band

General Grant

After the opening ceremonies there was a "Ladies Tea" Attended only by women in costume.

Music for the ladies.

My favorite couple!

Union Camp

The audience, dispersing through the fields, trying to find the perfect place to watch the action.  Unfortunately there was no good place to watch and no signage indicating where viewers should or should not stand.  We had to be moved three times before the action began.

Our final position gave us a good view of the Calvary encounters.

One cannon placement was to our left

The troop pictures below were shared by Adam Carter, a fellow reenactor and friend of Mike Cook.   

Adam Carter in character.

Thank you Adam for sharing your pictures.  We were not in a place where we could get any close pictures of the troops and these are excellent shots.

We did not get to see Mike until Sunday night after all the action was over.  He and two friends met us at Denver's home.  Mike spent the night there with us and the next day we said good by to our friends the Huffs and headed for several  more Civil War Battlefields near Nashville.

The first stop was at Parker's Crossroads, just west of the Tennessee River, where a skirmish between North and South took place when Confederate forces, led by General Nathan B. Forrest, were trying to sever General Grant's rail communication in Tennessee.  The battle wavered back and forth but in the end General Forrest escaped and headed to the Tennessee River

Some artifacts displayed at Parker's Crossing

From there we spent the afternoon touring Fort Donaldson, which is located north west of Nashville on the Cumberland River, near where it merges with the Tennessee River.  This was a strategic intersection between the River and the railroad.  Both transportation routes supplied Nashville and the Confederate troops to the south.  This fort was taken by the Union army

Overlooking the Cumberland River

 Winter housing built for troops stationed at Ft. Donaldson

 The remaining trenches where soldiers defended the fort.

Passing straight south through (sigh) Nashville We visited Stones River National Battlefield near Murfreesboro, where one of the bloodiest encounters of this tragic war took place.  Twenty Three Thousand casualties.

Mike has been involved with Civil War reenactment in Washington State for more than 15 years and he is well versed in all the facts and figures.  However he was very excited to be at some actual battlefields and review where specific encounters occurred.


 This memorial to men who fell at Stones River is the only monument actually constructed by the soldiers who survived a battle in the Civil War.   Hazen's Brigade.

Stone's River is at the bottom of this hill.  Confederate soldiers came across the creek, up the hill and right into Union forces positioned on the hill with a battery of cannons. 

Our final Battlefield stop before heading to Memphis was  the Carter House in Franklin just south west of Nashville.  This is a privately run location instead of a National Battlefield.   The actual house where the museum is today was owned by a local mill owner whose son was wounded during the battle by union forces and he died in his own house.  In November1864, the Confederate General Hood was attempting to recapture Nashville for the confederacy. Approximately 20,000 men, half Union and half Confederate, collided here in the small town of Franklin.  The battle that began around 4:30 pm was lost by the south with 7,000 casualties.

After visiting the Carter House we took the four hour drive to Memphis where we met Shirley and Jim Covert, Marlin's Alabama cousins.  They were visiting friends near Memphis so we arranged to have supper with them.  After dinner at a great barbeque spot, Jim and Shirley visited with us at our hotel.

The next day we toured Beale Street, home of the blues, in Memphis  We had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, which surprised me by serving one of the best hamburgers I have had in a long time.  Naturally they had a huge collection of Elvis memorabilia, in fact the entire second floor was all Elvis collectables.  My favorite was the sign below that told about the guitar his mom bought him in place of a bike she could not afford.

Even though we were there during the day, the street was full of music.  There were several spots set up along the street where musicians could and did  play while a band mate passed the bucket.  Great music.

This Gibson factory makes hollow and solid body electric guitars.  We took a tour of the factory, which was very poorly done.  The only opening was at 4:00, the workers had gone home, the tour guide sounded like she was reading from a cue card, and you could barely hear her over the noise of the exhaust system.  They get a -10 from me.  Of course, I have had a personal tour of a real guitar factory from an enthusiastic employee!

This brother and sister were trying out some instruments in the show room.  They were having great fun so I asked if I could take their picture.

Marlin and Mike posed in front of the giant mock up of BB King's "Lucille"
BB King's Blues club.

In one of the music stores, there was a gentleman selling CD's.  When I came over he sang to me along with the music playing in the store.  Turns out it was his CD, so, of course I bought it and then got a picture of Clyde Hopkins with Marlin.

Our last stop in downtown Memphis was at Sun Studio.  This is where many famous artists got there start, including Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and of course Elvis.  Sun Records just re-released a CD of a recording made 50 years ago at a jam session with Carl, Johnny, Jerry, and Elvis.  It was a real jam session recording, complete with the four guys joking around and trying out parts of songs and improvising.

Aah Graceland.  How could you be in Memphis without going to Graceland. 

The home is not at all what I expected.  Guess I figured on something much more flamboyant than the modest 1950s colonial.

Just your average size living room

Well, maybe a bit more jazzed up.

The kitchen was just the size anyone would have in their home in that era.  My picture was washed out by the under counter lighting so I did not post.

This room was an entertaining space in the basement.  Elvis' motto "taking care of business in a flash" is represented by the lightning bolt.

For me, the most impressive part of the tour was in an adjacent building where all his gold records were displayed.  Both sides of this long corridor were lined with gold records.  I knew his recordings were in the thousands, but to see so many gold records in one place was amazing.

Elvis' home recording studio

Elvis, his parents, and grandparents are buried on the property.

A separate building houses many of the vehicles he owned.  This pink Cadillac was a favorite of his parents.

Graceland is certainly worth the time and expense.  For me, it brought back lots of High School memories and I learned more about Elvis as a real person. I would recommend a visit if only to get a feel for the era long past.

The next morning we dropped Mike at the airport for his return to Tacoma Washington and we headed east toward Maine.  Three long days an we were back in Dixmont on April 8, 2012.  Another eventful winter behind us.