Civil War Education at Shiloh National Military Park in Tennessee
By Meg Brunson
Our family absolutely loves visiting national parks and participating in the Junior Ranger Programs at all the different sites. We’ve been on the road for over a year, and have yet to visit a park focused on the civil war, so we were excited to plan a visit to Shiloh and introduce our kids to the civil war.
When we arrived we went straight to the visitor center – which was tough because there were lots of cannons and monuments on the road in and we really wanted to stop and start exploring, but I am glad we did not.
We visited during the Coronavirus pandemic and the park required masks inside the buildings, and had extra precautions in place to ensure social distancing.
We viewed the 30-minute introductory video, which provided a great overview of the 2-day battle, and browsed the museum exhibits within the visitor center. The family favorite was learning about the team of cannoneers who fired the cannons – what each person was responsible for doing, and how the cannons worked.
We then hopped back in the car for the self-directed auto tour. A map was provided with some additional information on it, and the roadways were also clearly marked. We drove the path, and opted not to get out to explore too much, but parked at the different markers and talked about what parts of the movie happened at each spot. It was impressive how much detail went into creating and maintaining the park – everything was so clearly marked, from the battle sights to campsites and even the areas where specific people died. And the kids LOVED seeing the cannons everywhere, throughout the park.
After the auto-tour, we visited the bookstore where we were able to purchase postcards for the kids, and a magnet for mom & dad (something we do at each site) and the cemetery is right behind the bookstore.
Tips for a Terrific Visit:
- The Corinth Civil War Battlefield is only 23 miles south of Shiloh (in Corinth, Mississippi). If you’re kids are taking part in the Jr. Ranger programming, they can earn a special pin (in addition to their badges) for doing both the programming at Shiloh AND Corinth. Visiting both sites would likely enhance the experience of visiting Shiloh.
- Inside the visitor center is a small yet informative museum area where you can learn about the civil war, and specifically the battle at Shiloh. There is also a 30-minute (ish) movie that does a great job of telling the story of the 2-day battle as a historical drama. Given the bloodiness of the battle, there are some scenes with blood and bodies – but nothing was too gruesome for my kids (the youngest of which is 5).
- The route we took to visit (from the North East) was very remote with limited cell reception and gas stations. Map out your route in/out and gas up the car before visiting.
Shiloh National Military Park is a destination that will be loved by history (especially civil war) buffs, those who just enjoy learning more about American history, and even people who just like beautiful fields and woods (even though we visited after the leaves fell in fall, I can only imagine how beautiful it’d be with colorful fall foliage). Start planning your next trip at https://www.nps.gov/shil/index.htm
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© 2020 Meg Brunson
All opinions expressed are my own. See more on Instagram!
Meg is a mommy blogger, Facebook marketer, and much more. She is a mom to four kids who live full-time in an RV exploring the US! As a former Facebook employee, Meg remains a Facebook addict and handles KidsOutAndAbout.com's Social Media Marketing in addition to providing freelance services for other small businesses on how to best leverage Facebook as a part of their marketing strategy. Meg also hosts the FamilyPreneur Podcast, a podcast for parent entrepreneurs raising entrepreneurial children. Learn more about Meg at MegBrunson.com!