Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Illinois State Monument

Besides putting up individual monuments to every battery and regiment Illinois also placed an impressive state monument. They even included a quote from Lincoln on it, "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here." Lincoln said that at Gettysburg but those words are applicable at Shiloh too.

The bronze relief on the monument was not meant to depict any specific action at Shiloh, but was simply created to show the fighting in the woods. The monument itself stands a total of 35 feet high. the base is 23 feet high and the figure is another 12 feet high.

From the Illinois monument commission's book:
"The crowning figure, of standard bronze and weighing nearly 7000 pounds, is twelve feet high and is designed to represent Illinois, whore record of her son's achievements on this field can be found on the pages of the book where her finger parts the leaves. The sword is sheathed, but the scabbard is held with firm grasp, as if in readiness for release of the blade again and renewal of the battle should occasion at any time require. Watchfully, guardingly, her gaze is bent towards the south, from where her enemies came, and the look upon her face is one of admonition. The splendid countenance has a definite expression to its dignity. Over her shoulders is thrown a military cape, cast back to leave the arms free."

I found a few other oddities in the Illinois monument book. One was somewhat depressing, but considering it was 1904 I can understand that it was done, just sad that it was done. In reviewing their trip down to Shiloh on the riverboats George Mason wrote, "The passengers also amused themselves by dropping nickels among the colored men to see them scramble."

The second oddity is a bit of a mystery. The original budget (1899) called for 125 small granite markers that would each cost $75. I assume these would be markers similar to what Illinois placed at Chickamauga. In 1901 the small markers are missing from the budget. In 1904 they are back on the budget. The mystery is whatever happened to the markers, they certainly are not at Shiloh. I don't want to leap to the conclusion that there was some sort of corruption here but on the other hand I know there are not 75 small Illinois markers at Shiloh and the final balance sheet for the commission says that they bought them. That is $9375 that was spent but not on what they said it was spent on. Maybe that money was actually used to cover cost overruns for the other monuments. Or maybe it ended up in the pockets of someone it shouldn't have.

This monument is located on the southern end of Woolf Field.

And a picture of the monument the day it was dedicated.

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