Sunday, September 16, 2018

Campground at Barnes Crossing, August 4 to 11, 2018

Rating:  3.5 on a scale of 5

Location:  This is a very nice small campground, tucked away in the woods, but very close to Natchez Trace Parkway, a large mall, many restaurants, grocery stores, etc., and attractions in Tupelo.

Lot size: We loved our lot here. It was a pull-through with full hook ups on gravel. There was lots of room for our tow dolly and car. And there was a nice picnic table on the site. All lots provided a good degree of privacy.

Amenities: Cable TV and wifi are provided. There is a laundry room (although we did not use it). A large dog run on the other side of the creek (that our Sadie enjoyed very much!)

Cost: $273 weekly rate; $39/night

Management: The folks that run this place do a great job. The grounds are just beautiful with lots of flowering plants throughout. The office is located behind this garden. 

General Comments: The location of this campground is perfect. We really liked it here and would definitely stay here again if we return to the area. 

Where Elvis Was Born!, 8/09/2018

The house where Elvis Presley was born was purchased with proceeds donated by Elvis after concerts in 1956 and 1957 at the  fairgrounds. Now the site includes the Elvis Presley Center with the Elvis Presley MuseumMemorial Chapel, and Elvis Presley Park. Also, the Assembly of God Pentecostal church that the Presley family attended in the 1940s has been moved to the site. Tickets can be purchased in the center to visit the museum and birthplace.

We began our visit at the Museum. Originally, it was based on the personal collection of Janelle McComb, a close family friend. Additional memorabilia has been added to the exhibits over the years. Photos are not permitted in the museum, but below are a few photo panels near the entrance.

Vernon Presley, Elvis’ dad, borrowed $180 to purchase the materials to build this two-room house in 1934. 

Elvis Aaron Presley was born here on January 8, 1935, along with his identical twin brother (Jessie Garon) who was stillborn. The bedroom and kitchen are furnished with period pieces. 

The Presley family lived here until the house was repossessed (because Vernon failed to repay the $180 debt) three years later. They continued to live in various houses in Tupelo until they moved (in the middle of the night) to Memphis (100 miles north). Elvis recalled his father packing up their 1939 green Plymouth sedan and the family leaving in the middle of the night. 

Elvis at 13” is a life-size bronze statue of Elvis at the age when he left Tupelo for Memphis with his family. The sculptor used photographs to create the facial features and general body size to assure it was a likeness of Elvis at that age. 

The multi-media presentation at the church (relocated to this site) provides great insight into the formative years when Elvis learned gospel music. He first sang at the church (encouraged by his mother) at around age 6.

The Elvis Presley Memorial Chapel is a beautiful place to remember a man from humble beginnings who forever influenced the international music scene with his phenomenal success. It was dedicated two years after his death in 1979.

The Fountain of Life represents Elvis’ life 13 upper waterspouts (for his years in Tupelo). There are also 29 lower spouts that symbolize his years in Memphis. 

We walked up to The Overlook where the sculpture, Becoming, is of 13-year-old Elvis playing his $2.98 guitar and adult Elvis as the incredible performer he became can be seen. There is a covered picnic area nearby for those who want to linger at this lovely spot where Elvis and his friends played in his youth.

A tranquil place for contemplation, Reflections, is the final spot we visited. For people from Tupelo (and everywhere), it represents the concept that hope and dreams can shape our lives. 

If you are in Tupelo, this is a must-see attraction! In fact, many people come to town just to see this place. For additional information, go to 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

A Day at Shiloh National Military Park, 8/07/2018

Both the Corinth Unit (MS) and Shiloh Battlefield (TN) Units comprise the Shiloh National Military Park. About 50 miles north of Tupelo is the Civil War Interpretive Center in Corinth (the best place to begin a visit to Shiloh). The Shiloh Battlefield is another 25 miles north of the Center. 

Exhibits in the Center provide historic timelines about the Civil War and the significant role the town of Corinth played in 1862

Corinth was a “young” town (founded 1854) whose economy depended on the railroads instead of cotton. The Memphis & Charleston and Mobile & Ohio Railroads intersected here bringing commerce and opportunity to the community. It was second only to Richmond in importance in military planning for both the North and South. 

Approximately 44k Confederate troops regrouped (after abandoning KY and TN) in and around Corinth to defend the railroad and hold the Mississippi Valley (both vital communications and supply routes). Meanwhile, Union troops (40k) under Ulysses S. Grant, moved south on the Tennessee River and encamped at Shiloh awaiting the arrival of reinforcements (20k men) under the command of General Don Carlos Buell. Below are diagrams of the Battle of Shiloh on April 6 and 7, 1862. 

After fierce fighting both days, Beauregard ordered the retreat of the outnumbered Confederate troops to Corinth enabling the Union to declare a victory. The total number of casualties was close to 24,000. Almost every structure in the town was turned into a hospital for the wounded. Baskets of soil, timber, and bales of cotton were used to protect the town from artillery fire. 

By late May, both citizens and the Confederate Army were desperate for supplies and abandoned Corinth. In October, the Confederate Army attempted to retake the town. The Battle of Corinth (October 3-4, 1862) was a Union victory with a combined casualty count of almost 8,000 troops. Union forces occupied the town from May 30, 1862, to January, 25, 1864.  

After the Emancipation Proclamation (11 days before the Battle of Corinth), many African Americans fled into the Union lines at Corinth. Union General Greenville Dodge enlisted escaped slaves as teamsterscookslaborers, and security (armed) guards. The 1st Alabama Infantry Regiment of African Descent was formed from volunteers from the “contraband” camp at Corinth. The impact on the Confederacy was two-fold: more fighting resources for the Union Army and fewer workers to support the southern economy. The Corinth contraband camp (that resembled a small town with a church, commissary, hospital, frame/log houses, schools, etc.) became the home for families of the soldiers who served during the Civil War (population of 6,000). 

Nearly 200,000 African American soldiers and sailors served in the US Military during the Civil War. 

At the rear of the Center is a tranquil courtyard with a moving (literally and emotionally) monument that reflects the flow of events during our nation’s first century. Central to the monument are the “battle blocks” that represent the major battles and campaigns during the Civil War. Pick up a brochure in the Interpretive Center for a full description of the space.

We continued north to the Shiloh Battlefield Unit.

The Visitor Center has more exhibits of the Battle of Shiloh. 

Information about the military leadership is displayed as well as battlefield artifacts

Due to the proximity of the Tennessee River, the Union Navy planed a critical role in ferrying troops into battle and disrupting Confederate communications.

bookstore, located near the Visitor Center, has a wide array of gifts. 

The Shiloh National Cemetery is behind the bookstore. 

Soldiers were buried where they fell during and after the battle. 565 Union troops were disinterred and buried here after it was established in 1866.  Numerous monuments can also be seen as well. 

The auto tour of Shiloh Battlefield begins at the Visitor Center and includes 20 stops at key locations. Monuments erected by many states memorialize those that fought and died here. Artillery is positioned in the same locations they were during the fighting here. Following are some highlights.

The Confederate Memorial is located near the Hornets’ Nest where 2,250 Union soldiers surrendered first day after 8 hours of fierce fighting. Exuberant about their victory, the Confederate troops were devastated the next day when the battle resulted in a victory for north.

Shiloh Methodist Church (built of rough hewn logs) was the site of heavy fighting and was destroyed after the battle. The one shown here was reconstructed on the site of the original. The battle was named after it.

Below is one of the five known mass graves for many of the 1,728 Confederate dead. 

With so many injured, a field hospital (tents) was set up by Dr. Bernard Irwin at the Cantrell farm. The 4-room house served as the surgical center and the tents had 300 patient beds. By triaging and treating the wounded on the battlefieldmany were saved that would have otherwise died. It is a model that was quickly adopted in battles and future wars.

Confederate General Albert Sidney Johnston, struck by a stray bullet, died in the ravine near this monument. General P.G.T. Beauregard took command of the army.

Confederate troops attacked Union forces at Sarah Bell’s peach orchards on April 6 causing them to retreat to Pittsburg Landing. However, they retook the field the next day.

During the fighting, troops on both sides came to this pond to drink and to bathe their wounds. Both men and horses died here, and it is reported the pond was red with blood.

Pittsburg Landing on the Tennessee River is where General Buell’s Army of the Ohio arrived the night of April 7-8 with reinforcements for Grant. Two gunboats unleashed heavy fire on the Confederate Army, as well. This ultimately led to Union victory at Shiloh. 

While we both know a lot about the Civil War, visiting these National Battlefields is always interesting and informative. The details of the fierce fighting and terrible number of casualties on both sides is heart wrenching

There were two more interesting (and unexpected) sites at Shiloh National Military Park. The first was a bald eagle. We did not see the nest but I snapped a distant photo of one in a tree. Look closely for the yellow talons on a branch left of center near the bottom.  

Also located at the Shiloh Battlefield Unit is the are the Shiloh Indian Mounds, a National Historic Site of the Mississippian culture. 

There is a 1.1 mile loop trail with interpretive signs that provide insight into the village here between 1100 and 1300 AD. We have seen many Native American Mounds in the southeast and always find them fascinating. Structures were built atop 8 mounds here and were used for chieftain residencestemples, and other community-based functions. Soil was taken from “borrow pits” to build the mounds. They can be seen nearby.

Excavations have occurred here in 1899, the 1930s, 1970s and in recent years in consultation with the Chickasaw Nation. Pottery remnants, tools, evidence of structures, and more have been uncovered, even though the forest is making some of the mounds hard to discern. The village (including 100 family homes) was encircled by a wooden palisade and overlooked the Tennessee River. 

After a long day, we headed home to Tupelo. There is so much to see between Corinth and Shiloh; be sure to allow enough time for it all if you visit. For additional information about Shiloh National Military Park, go to