Tuesday, Aug 2, 2011
On Saturday July 30th, 32 children, ages 8 -12, along with their parents, were given a taste of soldier life during the American Civil War. Shiloh National Military Park rangers and volunteers presented a camp of instruction for the children, which included some of the sights, sounds and training the soldiers would have experienced. The kids were introduced to drum calls, drill, living quarters, and signal flags. Additionally, the programs met objectives of the Let’s Move Outside initiative promoted by the National Park Service and the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. “We hoped to bring families outdoors and discover the park and the stories of the soldiers by training on the same ground they did 149 years ago,” said Superintendent Woody Harrell.
This year’s “Kids Day,” which the park hosts annually, focused primarily on the Civil War in commemoration of the sesquicentennial events beginning this year on NPS battlefields. “Many Federal soldiers who fought at Shiloh were as ‘green’ and untrained as the kids here today,” said Ranger Timothy Arnold, “and if lucky, had learned the basics of soldiering prior to the Confederate attack.” Many units, such as the 15th Michigan Infantry and Silfversparre’s Illinois Battery, had never fired weapons, even in practice, before being thrown into the fight at Shiloh.
The program took place in the Peach Orchard area of the park along the historic Sunken Road. By the end of the four hour training session, the kids had learned how to march, hold and fire their muskets, erect a Sibley tent, and decipher coded messages sent by signal flags. The children then graduated and received a special commemorative certificate, a Shiloh Battlefield Service patch, and a Junior Ranger patch. This training also counted as one activity of the three necessary to receive the Junior Civil War Historian patch, a program in which Shiloh Battlefield is a very active participant.