The Cyclone of 1909 that struck Shiloh National Military Park

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Ole Miss

1st Lieutenant
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Dec 9, 2017
North Mississippi
The recent storm damage at Shiloh National Military Park was extensive and wide spread, however it was not nearly as deadly as the Cyclone of 1909. I have quoted from the 1954 A HISTORY OF SHILOH NATIONAL MILITARY PARK TENNESSEE by Charles E. Shedd below which describes the damage and costs:
"The storm of October 14, 1909, placed a tragic period at the end of the first stage of development at Shiloh Park. Yet, ironically, it paved the way for even greater progress in the years which followed. In describing the cyclone, there is no better account than that found in the Diary of Daily Events maintained for some years by the Park Commission. This account, written but a few days after the disaster, gives a graphic description of the storm which natives of the region still vividly recall. In the Commission Diary appears the following: "October 14, at 5:26 p.m. a cyclone visited the Park, striking the Park property in Snake creek bottom there destroying many large and valuable trees, coming up over the hill taking the trees in the Hagy field and ploughing up the ground for many yards. Following a straight line to the Hagy plantation bordering the park on the north when it destroyed every building and killed nine people.* In its path it broke down and twisted off, and blew away the large trees in the woods on the north line of the Park adjoining Hagy's property. The course of the storm there changed toward the southeast striking the Hotel at the Landing, which was operated by Mr. W.P. Littlefield. The landing referred to here is the plateau where the present headquarters area is located, west of the * This report was erroneous. Total casualties in the Shiloh vicinity, were seven killed and 33 injured. National Cemetery, rather than the actual river landing. The hotel was totally demolished, killing Mr. Otho Littlefield and Luther Littlefield and two guests of the hotel, all of whom were blown from 100 ft. to 200 ft. from the house. When the house went down it carried Mrs. Littlefield, three small children, Miss Hardin the school teacher and Mr. T.J. Lewis the mason foreman, all of whom were injured more or less seriously. The wind at the same time swept away the house occupied by Mr. Lewis and deposited a part of it in the ravine north of the Cemetery. But the greater part of the house and all of the furniture was blown entirely away, the pieces not being found. The Iowa monument was demolished. The shaft and upper bronze weighing 25 tons was thrown down; the lower part of the shaft turning completely over and striking the bronze figure of Fame breaking it and also the immense granite blocks of the base. The lower part of the shaft was badly broken the upper part chipped. The barn used by Littlefield as a livery barn was blown down and some horses killed. The store blown over and burned, the store and contents burned up or blown away, the Government shop where all tools and supplies were stored was blown down but not carried away and much of the contents was preserved. The blacksmith shop was moved on its foundations but not destroyed. The barn where cement, carts etc were stored was demolished but some of the roof left. Little house east of the shop was blown away completely away. The warehouse at the Landing was totally destroyed with all its contents. In the National Cemetery the tool house, brick, barn, also brick, and the quarters remodelled for an assistant were completely destroyed with all their contents. The Lodge was badly damaged. One half of the south wall (brick) was blown out, roofing blown off, porches brick gone, windows and doors all broken and gone, chimney blown off etc. Every large tree in the Cemetery was blown down or twisted off. The wreckage from all the other buildings seemed to lodge in the tree tops of the Cemetery down trees. About 1/2 of the headstones were broken or overturned. The 9th Ill. monument was thrown over by the force of the wind and the top tipped over the terrace. The cyclone passed down or up the two ravines north of the Cemetery destroying all the beautiful trees there, in the ravine south of the Cemetery everything was swept down and many of the large trees in Dill Branch ravine were destroyed. The Commission estimated that about $50,000 would cover the amount of damage to property aside from trees. The office of the Commission which was in one of the rooms of the hotel was a total loss. All the records, notes or surveys, maps, original drawings, orders, correspondence, supplies, heavy furniture, office desks with roll top (2), large table, office chairs, file cases, library of 300 volumes, stove valuable relics, everything has disappeared completely. Not one thing has been found but a few penalty envelopes, still in a heap on the place occupied by the office, a few torn leaves from two of the books from the Library and a penalty stamp of the office. These things were found at Nixon Tennessee a village five miles across the River. From the tents occupied as sleeping quarters by the Commission everything was blown away. Nothing has ever been recovered of the roofs, floors, heavy dressers (marble top in one tent) beds, mattresses chairs, nothing but two blankets and two white spreads. A quilt from the tent of Gen. Duke was found at Florence Alabama 80 miles away...".58/ Within a few days after the disaster, the Shiloh Commission had assembled to view the damage and plan the repair and rebuilding of park developments. Cleaning up of the debris of the storm began immediately, and by the following month one of the warehouses and a barn had been rebuilt. In December work on a new hotel was initiated. The second phase of park development had begun."
(Pages 32-33)
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