Sunday, October 14, 2012

Civil War Sunday - All Was Not Quiet on the Western Front

The man in the Tennessee welcome center greeted my spouse and I with a smile and asked us to sign their visitor register.  It was the third week of September, and we were on our way home (upstate NY) from western North Carolina.
I had nearly visited Tennessee (for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh (Pittsburg Landing commemoration) in late March but we had looked into motel rooms too late.  But, I told the gentleman, I was interested in the Civil War and did he have any material I could use for a future visit.

He looked at me with a smile.  He sure did.  Did you know, he asked, that Tennessee, after Virginia, had the most number of battles in the war?

No - although it did not surprise me.  But it did point to something that I have been negligent about blogging during my Sunday posts about the West.  Shame on me.    I used to live in Arkansas and commuted through two Civil War battlefields on the way to work each weekday for almost 5 years.  I lived in Kansas, the site of a battle few have heard of - Mine Creek (Osage).

When people think "Civil War" they think Virginia, they think Maryland, they think Georgia, and maybe South Carolina.  Next year they will be thinking Pennsylvania, too, as we approach the 150th anniversary of the perhaps most well known battle of all, Gettysburg.

They do not think about how widespread the war was.  It was fought in the then New Mexico territory.  It was fought in Kansas, in Missouri, in Mississippi. There was a small battle fought in Arizona on April 15, 1862, less than 10 days after Shiloh.  The skirmish of Picacho Pass was fought some 50 miles from Tuscon.

Surprised?

All was not quiet on the Western front.  Especially not the state of Tennessee.  Tennessee deserves a lot more than a few words and I promise to blog more about it in the coming months.  In the meantime, know that it was the last state to secede, and many in the state were pro-Union - so much so that Abraham Lincoln's running mate in 1864 (Andrew Johnson), was from Tennessee.
Some bloggers have done an excellent job of examining the western front of the war.  As we approach the 150th anniversary of the two Civil War battles (Prairie Grove and Cane Hill) I commuted through daily, I will feature one of those bloggers.

In the meantime - when you think Civil War, think the entire United States and its territories.

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