Friday, February 27, 2009
Shiloh Stories: Fact, Fiction and Folklore from the Battle of Shiloh by Tony Hays
This is an odd collection of stories about the battle. There are some fictional sections but they are clearly marked as such. There are other sections that have quite a few footnotes. I don't think I agree with every section, some are based on oral history from county residents. The final three page section though is by far the most scandalous.
In it Hays lays out the case that Grant may have fathered a child during his stay at the Cherry Mansion. The facts being that there was a servant girl with a track record of promiscuity, that she bore a son nine months after the battle, that the son later was said to look just like Grant and that she said Grant was the father. Frederick Dent Grant visited Shiloh in the 1890s and met with this man, in fact he is rumored to have had his picture taken with him (of course the picture does not exist today). Also there is a story that Grant bought land near Savannah from his death bed and had it transferred to his illegitimate son. The child did own land near Savannah but acquired it from Edgar Cherry. But Grant would have likely bought the land through his old host. Basically its a lot of rumor with little verifiable behind it. Its interesting, but not important to the story of the battle. Apparently this is also the main reason that this book is not available for purchase in the park.
Overall I thought the book was an enjoyable read but I don't think I'd use it as a source without first checking it against other sources (which is truthfully a good method to use for nearly every source one encounters).