Marion Carroll probably wasn’t much of a soldier. His short military career ended during his first day of fighting the Union enemy.
Along with more than 6,000 other Confederate soldiers, he marched toward the Union lines on April 6, 1862, for what would become known as the Battle of Shiloh. At 10 a.m. a mini ball entered his right shoulder, ranging through the back of his neck and knocking off a piece of backbone before it lodged in his left shoulder blade. Following a few months in the hospital, the Confederacy discharged him, and he returned to his tiny Kirk’s Grove, Ala., farm.
Service and pension files disclose these minimal details about my second great-grandfather’s disastrous military service. I can imagine the pain he felt, but I want to know more about his experience. How did he get to the fight? What did he see and hear as he marched toward what was to become a very bloody battlefield?
There are many written accounts of this battle, some official and others not so much — and I always latch on to each discovery of a new writing. But like so many in our generation, I’m accustomed to graphic video games and high definition television; reading written accounts leaves me hungry for something visual. So I’ve been really excited since I recently discovered the website of the Civil War Trust, where a first-rate map of the Battle of Shiloh practically lets me walk in Marion’s footsteps.
The site calls the feature an animated map, but it is so much more. As the chronicler narrates the background for the fight, arrows flow over the map’s surface showing viewers how the troops marched to the scene and how the commanders maneuvered them into position.
The action moves back and forth between the maps, still photos of the commanders and film footage of re-enactors — with the sounds of soldiers shouting and shooting as they skirmished and marched toward their fate.
I was able to see Marion as he marched northward toward his enemy, mired in roads turned to mush by heavy rains. OK, it was a re-enactor, not Marion, but I didn’t need much imagination to substitute his face (luckily I do have a picture of him) on any one of the soldiers.
When I finished the video, I knew I had a much better feel for the life-changing experience of this man from whom I descended.
I also was delighted with another item on the site, identified as “featured maps.” One is labeled “Battle of Shiloh Map _ April 6, 1862 10 am to Noon.” How could I get any luckier than finding a non-animated map that shows the troop positions for the exact hour in which Marion’s service record says he was wounded on the right side of the 3rd Brigade?
The site also offers historical maps and even satellite maps of other battlefields. It has animated maps for four other battles: Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and Antietam.
There is much to explore on this website — whether your ancestors fought for the North, the South or, as was the case for one of my husband’s collateral relatives, first for the South and then for the North.
So check it out at www .civilwar.org.
Rodney Kite-Powell of the Tampa Bay History Center, a fellow Baylife columnist, will be the speaker at the Nov. 12 meeting of the Tampa Chapter 113 United Daughters of the Confederacy. The meeting will begin at 10:45 a.m. at the Columbia Restaurant, 2117 E. Seventh Ave., Ybor City.
Sharon Tate Moody is a board-certified genealogist. Send your genealogy questions and event announcements to her in care of Baylife, The Tampa Tribune, 202 S. Parker St., Tampa, FL 33606 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She regrets that she is unable to assist with personal research and cannot respond to requests for locating or researching specific individuals.