Enabling Legislation and Commission Correspondence

Enabling Legislation


AN ACT To establish a national military park at the battlefield of Shiloh

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in order that the armies of the southwest which served in the civil war, like their comrades of the eastern armies at Gettysburg and those of the central west at Chickamauga, may have the history of one of their memorable battles preserved on the ground where they fought, the battlefield of Shiloh, in the State of Tennessee, is hereby declared to be a national military park, whenever title to the same shall have been acquired by the United States and the usual jurisdiction over the lands and roads of the same shall have been granted to the United States by the State of Tennessee; that is to say, the area inclosed by the following lines, or so much thereof as the commissioners of the park may deem necessary, to wit: Beginning at low-water mark on the north bank of Snake Creek where it empties into the Tennessee River; thence westwardly in a straight line to the point where the river road to Crumps Landing, Tennessee, crosses Snake Creek; thence along the channel of Owl Creek to the crossing of the road to Purdy Tennessee; thence southwardly in a straight line to the intersection of an east and west line to the point where the Hamburg Road crosses Lick Creek; thence along the channel of Lick Creek to the Tennessee River; thence along low-water mark of the Tennessee River to the point of beginning, containing three thousand acres, more or less, and the area thus inclosed shall be known as the Shiloh National Military Park: Provided, That the boundaries of the land authorized to be acquired may be changed by the said commissioners.

SEC. 2. That the establishment of Shiloh National Military Park shall be carried forward under the control and direction of the Secretary of War, who, upon the passage of the Act, shall proceed to acquire title to the same either under the Act approved August first, eighteen hundred and eighty-eight, entitled "An Act to authorize the condemnation of land for sites of public buildings, and for other purposes," or under the Act approved February, twenty-seventh, eighteen hundred and sixty-seven, entitled "An Act to establish and protect national cemeteries," as he may select, and as title is procured to any portion of the lands and roads within the legal boundaries of the park he may proceed with the establishment of the park upon such portions as may thus be acquired.

SEC. 3. That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized to enter into agreements whereby he may lease, upon such terms as he may prescribe, with such present owners or tenants of the lands as may desire to remain upon it, to occupy and cultivate their present holding upon condition that they will preserve the present buildings and roads and the present outlines of field and forest, and that they only will cut trees or underbrush under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, and that they will assist in caring for and protecting all tablets, monuments, or such other artificial works as may from time to time be erected by proper authority.

SEC. 4. That the affairs of the Shiloh National Military Park shall, subject to the supervision and direction of the Secretary of War, be in charge of three commissioners, to be appointed by the Secretary of War, each of whom shall have served at the time of the battle in one of the armies engaged therein, one of whom shall have served in the Army of the Tennessee, commanded by General U.S. Grant, who shall be chairman of the commission; one in the Army of the Mississippi, commanded by General A.S. Johnston. The said commissioners shall have an office in the War Department building, and while on actual duty shall be paid such compensation out of the appropriations provided by this Act as the Secretary of War shall deem reasonable and just; and for the purpose of assisting them in their duties and in ascertaining the lines of battle of all troops engaged and the history of their movements in the battle, the Secretary of War shall have authority to employ, at such compensation as he may deem reasonable, to be paid out of the appropriations made by this Act, some person recognized as well as informed concerning the history of the several armies engaged at Shiloh, and who shall also as secretary of the commission.

SEC. 5. That is shall be the duty of the commission named in the preceding section, under the direction of the Secretary of War, to open or repair such roads as may be necessary to the purpose of the park, and to ascertain and mark with historical tablets or otherwise, as the Secretary of War may determine, all lines of battle of the troops engaged in the battle of Shiloh and other historical points of interest pertaining to the battle within the park or its vicinity, and the said commission in establishing this military park shall also have authority, under the direction of the Secretary of War, to employ such labor and services and to obtain such supplies and material as may be necessary to the establishment of the said park under such regulations as he may consider best for the interest of the Government, and the Secretary of War shall make and enforce all needed regulations for the care of the park.

SEC. 6. That it shall be lawful for any State that had troops engaged in the battle of Shiloh to enter upon the lands of the Shiloh National Military Park for the purpose of ascertaining and marking the lines of battle of its troops engaged therein: Provided, That before any such lines are permanently designated the position of the lines and the proposed methods of marking them by monuments, tablets, or otherwise shall be submitted to and approved by the Secretary of War, and all such lines, designs and inscriptions for the same shall first receive the written approval of the Secretary, which approval shall be based upon formal written reports, which must be made to him in each case by the commissioners of the park: Provided, That no discrimination shall be made against any State as to the manner of designating lines, but any grant made to any State by the Secretary of War may be used by any other State.

SEC. 7. That if any person shall, expect by permission of the Secretary of War, destroy, mutilate, deface, injure, or remove any monument, column, statues, memorial structures, or work of art that shall be erected of placed upon the grounds of the park by lawful authority, or shall destroy or remove any fence, railing, inclosure, or other work for the protection or ornament of said park, or any portion thereof, or shrubbery that may be growing upon said park, or shall cut down or fell or remove any timber, battle relic, tree or trees growing or being upon said park, or hunt within the limits of the park, or shall remove or destroy any breastworks, earthworks, walls, or other defenses or shelter on any part thereof constructed by the armies formerly engaged in the battles on the lands or approaches to the park, any person so offending and found guilty thereof, before any justice of the peace of the country in which the offenses may be committed or any court of competent jurisdiction shall for each and every such offense forfeit and pay a fine, in the discretion of the justice, according to the aggravation of the offense, of not less than five nor more than fifty dollars, one-half for the use of the park and the other half to the informer, to be enforced and recovered before such justice in like manner as debts of like nature are now by law recoverable in the several counties where the offense may be committed.

SEC. 8. That to enable the Secretary of War to begin to carry out the purpose of this Act, including the condemnation or purchase of the necessary land, marking the boundaries of the park, opening or repairing necessary roads, restoring the field to its condition at the time of the battle, maps and surveys, and the pay and expenses of the commissioners and their assistant, the sum of seventy-five thousand dollars, or such portion thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated, out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, and disbursements under this Act shall require the approval of the Secretary of War, and he shall make annual report of the same to Congress.

Approved, December 27, 1894.

Organization of the Commission

Under the provisions of the act of Congress approved December 27, 1894, the Secretary of War appointed as commissioners: Col. Cornelius Cadle, of Cincinnati, Ohio, for Army of the Tennessee, chairman; Gen. Don Carlos Buell, of Paradise, Ky., for Army of the Ohio; Col. Maj. D.W. Reed, of Chicago, Ill., secretary and historian, and Capt. James W. Irwin, of Savannah, Tenn., agent for the purchase of land. The commission met and organized April 2, 1895, at Pittsburg Land Tenn., and at once entered upon the discharged of its duties, under the direction of the Secretary of War. Mr. James M. Riddell was appointed clerk of the commission. Mr. Atwell Thompson, civil engineer, of Chattanooga, Tenn., was employed to take charge of the work. Under his direction surveys were made and parallel lines run across the field, from north to south, every 200 feet, upon which stakes were set 200 feet apart. From this survey levels were taken and a contoured topographical map made of all the land within the limits of the park. Gen. Don Carlos Buell died on November 19, 1898, and Maj. J.H. Ashcraft, late of the Twenty-sixth Kentucky Volunteers, was appointed in his place. Col. Robert F. Looney died on November 19, 1899, and Col. Josiah Patterson, late of the First Alabama Cavalry, was appointed in his place.
From official maps and reports, information received from residents, personal recollections of survivors of the battle and other information, roads, fields, and camps were restored; battle lines and positions of troops located and shown on the map and marked by historical tablets on the ground. Four maps have been made which show the field of operations, the approaches to Shiloh, and a map of each day's battle. Copies of these maps accompany this report. The progress of the work has been fully reported each year by the chairman of the commission and his reports published in the annual report of the Secretary of War.




The original manuscript for this report was submitted to the national commission at a meeting of the commission held at the Read House, Chattanooga, Tenn., January 23, 1900, all the members of the commission being present, and, after hearing the entire report read, officially approved the same and directed the chairman to ask an order to have it printed at the Government Printing Office for free distribution to such soldiers who were engaged at Shiloh as would be interested in studying the events of the battle. Twenty-five hundred copies were printed and have been distributed. This has exhausted the first edition and made a second edition necessary in order to supply an urgent demand by survivors of the battle for the report and the maps.

D.W. Reed, Secretary

Commission Correspondence


The Shiloh National Military Park was established by act of Congress in order that, "The armies of the southwest may have the history of one of their memorable battles preserved on the ground where they fought." It is the desire of the commission having this work in charge that this history shall be complete, impartial, and correct, so that when the monuments of granite and bronze shall have been erected their inscriptions shall publish to the world nothing but the truth. To secure this accuracy all reports have been carefully studied and compared. The records at Washington have been thoroughly searched and many who participated in the battle have been interviewed. Unfortunately many organizations that served at Shiloh failed to make official reports; others made such meager statements of service that it is difficult to give credit that is doubtless due to gallant organizations. It is, therefore, desired that the statements herein made be earnestly studied by every survivor at Shiloh, particularly in regard to his own organization, and that he report any errors or omissions found in these statements to "Secretary, Shiloh National Military Park Commission, Pittsburg Landing, Tennessee," who will investigate the same and make such corrections as the commission may direct with a view to the publication of a revised edition of this report. It is suggested that survivors examine official right before asking corrections.

Chairman, Shiloh National Military Park Commission.

The above requested, printed in the first edition of this report and distributed to over 2,000 survivors of the battle of Shiloh, bought letters of approval from members of a large majority of the organizations engaged in the battle, Union or Confederate. The few errors claimed have been all carefully investigated and have all been adjusted satisfactorily, with the single exception of a claim by the Society of the Army of the Cumberland, which was, by the Secretary of War, referred to a committee of the General Staff of the Army, where it is pending. If that committee makes report in time, the substance of that report will be printed and attached here.

D. W. Reed, Secretary.

[Memorandum for the Chief of Staff.]

August 9, 1909

Herewith is a request from the Shiloh National Military Park Commission for authority to print a new and revised edition of the book entitled "The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged," issued by the commission in 1902. On June 23, 1905, the revised manuscript of this book was referred to a special committee of the General Staff, who were then considering some matters in dispute concerning the part taken by certain organizations in the battle, for comment, because of some criticisms which had been made against the book as originally issued. The manuscript was subsequently returned to the department without any formal report.
In considering the question now before the department of granting authority for a reprint of this book, I should be glad to have the views of this special committee on the subject if available.
I am advised that Maj. Eben Swift, of the General Staff, has made a study of the battle of Shiloh and has indorsed this nook with a statement that a reprint is desirable.

Assistant and Chief Clerk.
[Memorandum for the assistant and chief clerk]

September 2, 1909

In returning herewith your memorandum of August 9, 1909, inclosing request of the Shiloh National Military Commission for the authority to print a new and revised edition of the book entitled "The Battle of Shiloh and the Organizations Engaged," I wish to inform you that the special committee of the General Staff whose views on the subject you desire has been relieved from duty with the General Staff, but the second section, after considering the matter presented by you, recommend that the changes suggested by the National Military Park Commission be adopted.

Brigadier-General, General Staff, Acting Chief of Staff.