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Shiloh by Shelby Foote

Vintage, 1991, 235 p.

 Shiloh cover

I first became aware of Shelby Foote through Ken Burns’s TV documentary on the US Civil War where his knowledge of the conflict in all its aspects seemed encyclopædic, his recall of incidents from it almost as if he had been there to witness the events himself. Then I found his three-volume narrative history of the war gracing the shelves of bookshops. I hadn’t really realised till I picked this book up that Foote had been a novelist before embarking on that historical venture. Five others of his fictional works are listed herein. It may indeed be fiction but this book could be read as a historical account of the battle of Shiloh with added humanising narrative touches giving personal perspectives on the battle. The tale is told via six points of view (three Confederate, three Yankee) spread over seven chapters, topped and tailed by the account of Lieutenant Palmer Metcalfe, aide de camp to General Sidney Johnston at the start of the battle.
One of the characters quotes an acquaintance as saying, “He said books about war were written to be read by God Amighty, because no one but God ever saw it that way. A book about war, to be read by men, ought to tell what each of the twelve of us saw in our own little corner. Then it would be the way it was – not to God but to us.
I saw what he meant but it was useless talking. Nobody would do it that way. It would be too jumbled. People when they read, and people when they write, want to be looking out of that big Eye in the sky, playing God.”

Foote does do it that way though, and it isn’t too jumbled.

He also brings out the contrast between how the Confederate soldiers thought about the war – as a crusade to build a new country – and the Yankee, simply doing what had to be done, fighting against something rather than for something.

Metcalfe tells us his father, a one-armed veteran of the Mexican war, was of the opinion the South always bore within itself the seeds of defeat, the Confederacy being conceived already moribund, sick from an old malady, incurable romanticism and misplaced chivalry, in love with the past, in love with death and also once told him, ‘War is more shovelry than chivalry.’

Foote voiced a similar sentiment in the Civil War series saying the South could never have won as the North always fought with one hand behind its back. He does, however, show Metcalfe thinking that pluck, élan, sheer force of will, as exemplified here, and in reality, in the person of Nathan Bedford Forrest can weigh more in the balance of fighting. Well, perhaps in one battle but not in a long war.

As far as Shiloh itself goes Metcalfe realizes the battle was lost through its orderly plan which he was so proud of helping create, that the way the Confederate lines were fed into each other resulted in their hopeless intermingling.

This is a superb book, bringing to life a time past and an experience of war which those of us who never had can appreciate and give thanks for missing.

Pedant’s corner:- verbal contractions are routinely given without apostrophes, wouldnt, couldnt, theyd, Ive, thats, its, youd, weren’t, etc, no matter who the narrator is. Exceptions are ‘I’m’, ‘We’ll’ and ‘I’d’. Prentiss’ (Prentiss’s,) Amighty (Almighty.)

Interior Shakespeare’s House, Stratford-upon-Avon

The rooms in the house are quite small, as was the case at the time.

Dining area:-

Another Room, Shakespeare's House, Stratford-upon-Avon

Room in Shakespeare's House, Stratford-upon-Avon

A fireplace:-

Fireplace, Shakespeare's House, Stratford-upon-Avon

Tudor-style window:-

Window in Shakespeare's House, Stratford-upon-Avon

There are words etched/written into the glass of this one:-

Window in Shakespeare's House, Straford-upon-Avon

Bedroom:-

Shakespeare's House

Shakespeare’s childhood bedroom:-

Shakespeare's House

Is this like the second-best bed he left to Ann Hathaway?:-

Shakespeare's House

Unfortunately the crib in this one, though cute, isn’t original:-

Shakespeare's House

An upper chamber:-

Upper Room, Shakespeare's House, Stratford-upon-Avon

Kitchen storage:-

Kitchen Storage, Shakespeare's House, Stratford-upon-Avon

Fire/cooking range:-

Fire, Shakespeare's House, Stratford-upon-Avon

Ironbridge, Bridge and War Memorial

I realised that we would be very near Ironbridge on our trip across England after the game at Oswestry and so couldn’t miss visiting the site of the first iconic construction of the Industrial Revolution.

The eponymous bridge is a beautiful shape. Imagine our disappointment when we found it swathed in plastic. It was undergoing repairs/refurbishment.

Iron Bridge at Ironbridge

So, I have walked over the iron bridge – pedestrian traffic was allowed – but have not actually seen it.

We’ll just need to go back another time.

Still, it wasn’t a completely wasted stop; there was an extensively stocked second-hand bookshop in the village itself near to the bridge and a pleasing War Memorial.

Ironbridge War Memorial

Wolrd War 2 Dedication. “The Church clock was illuminated as a memorial to the followimg men of Ironbridge who lost their lives during the 1939-1945 war”:-

World War 2 Dedication, Ironbridge War Memorial

From south. Great War Names:-

Irondridge War Memorial from South.

From North. Great War dedication. “In grateful and undying memory of the valiant men of Ironbridge who laid down their lives in the Great War 1914 – 1919. We thank God upon every remembrance of you.”

Ironbridge War Memorial from North

Wenlock Priory

Wandering about Much Wenlock we saw signs to Wenlock Priory which is also known as St Milburga’s Priory.

It’s a ruin now, in the hands of English Heritage, but still quite impressive.

Wenlock  Priory Board

As you go in you walk past this ruined building. Photo taken looking back:-

Ruined Part of Wenlock Priory

This is the other main ruined building with a more modern structure also in the picture:-

Wenlock Priory

Through the archways seen above:-

Part of Wenlock Priory, Much Wenlock, Shropshire

One of the walls is highly decorative:-

Wenlock Priory

A reverse view:-

Ruined Buildings, Wenlock Priory

To left of above:-

enlock Priory Building

Priory with topiary in front:-

Wenlock Priory

Topiary animals:-

Topiary Animals, Wenlock Priory

Topiary animal:-

MoreTopiary, Wenlock Priory

Shrewsbury

The game at Oswestry not being till the evening we took ourselves off to Shrewsbury on the Saturday afternoon. (I’ve already mentioned Shrewsbury Abbey in a 4/11/2018 post about Wilfred Owen’s Memorial in the Abbey Grounds.)

Since we didn’t know the town we stopped at the first Park and Ride and availed ourselves of the service. That was just as well because the traffic was very busy and the streets quite narrow.

We also asked someone if the pronunciation was “Shrew”- or “Shrow”- sbury and were told it didn’t matter, either would do.

The town’s history is clearly evident in its buildings, with several in the timber-framed Tudor style:-

Shrewsbury Buildings

Shrewsbury buildings

Shrewsbury buildings

Shrewsbury Tudor building

Shrewsbury Building

Older Penrith

Penrith, Cumbria, is remote enough from major population centres to have retained some elements of ye good olde days.

Just look at this Drapers, Costumiers and Milliners. Not to mention Furriers, Dressmakers, Shirt Specialists:-

Old Style Shop Lettering, Penrith

And Carpet, Curtain and Linoleum Furnishing Warehouse:-

Penrith Old Style Shop Lettering

A High Class Drapers no less – and a Silk Mercers, Hosiers and Glovers, Irish Household and Fancy Linen Warehouse:-

Old Style  shop

A real throw-back. Not that most of those trade lines will still be ongoing I’d have thought.

You can see from this the shop front faces on to a square of sorts:-

Old Style  shop front

A bit further on in the town lies this Chemist’s. Cowper’s. 1930s style lettering. I can’t quite decide if the whole is deco or not:-

Cowper Chemist's, Penrith

In St Andrew’s Churchyard lie a good many graves, including the “Giant’s Tombstone”. This is supposedly the grave of Owen Caesarius, king of Cumbria between 900 and 937 AD:-

Giant's Tombstone

Giant’s grave stones:-

Giant's Grave Stones

Giant’s Tombstone in Penrith, Viking hogback stones:-

Giant's Tombstone

Exhibits, Discovery Point, Dundee

In the Discovery Point Museum at Dundee are many fascinating exhibits. These few photos feature some about the ship itself.

Model of RRS Discovery:-

Model of RRS Discovery, Dundee

Cut away showing engines:-

RRS Discovery, Dundee, Cut Away Model

Cut away showing hull construction and its reinforcing:-

Cut Away Model of RRS Discovery, Dundee

Hull construction illustration. Three different woods, Green Heart Pitch Pine, English Oak and Riga Fir, build for strength and flexibility:-

Structure of wooden sailing ships

RRS Discovery, Dundee

RRS Discovery was Scott’s and Shackleton’s research ship in the Antarctic, now berthed at Dundee, centrepiece of a museum at Discovery Point, Dundee. New V&A in background:-

Discovery and V&A 2

RRS Discovery viewed from left:-

RRS Discovery, Dundee

RRS Discovery, bow section:-

RRS Discovery bow part

Stern portion. Again V&A in background:-

Stern Part, RRS Discovery, Dundee

Main mast:-

Main Mast, RRS Discovery, Dundee

Mast, RRS Discovery, Dundee

Mast and lifeboat:-

Mast & lifeboat

Fife Pilgrim Way

A project to resurrect the mediæval Fife Pilgrim Way is now well in hand.

There were two main routes across the county (or kingdom as the locals still refer to it at times,) starting at Culross and North Queensferry and ending up at St Andrews.

The ancient route went through the nearest small town to Son of the Rock Cottage, Markinch, the ancient capital of Fife.

There are some hopes the restored route(s) will bring modern day pilgrims (and other tourists) to the town.

A year or so ago there was an information day about the Pilgrim Way at St Drostan’s church. On display were several representations of monastic and pilgrim life, rendered in knitwear.

Trees and pilgrims:-

Knitted Trees and Pilgrims

Church:-

Knitted Church

Monks:-

Knitted  Monks

Monks’ garden:-

Knitted Garden

Monastery vegetable patch:-

Knitted Vegetable Patch

St Drostan’s, Markinch

Markinch is the nearest small town to Son of the Rock Cottage. It was once the capital of Fife where in mediaeval times justice was administered. Its most prominent landmark is St Drostan’s Church whose tower dates back to the 12th century.

St Drostan’s in the snow:-

St Drostan's in the snow

St Drostan’s from Glass Street:-

Markinch Kirk

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