Log #6e – Tennessee River

December 19, 1998 in Log Series 02 - 07, Logs by Series, Series 06 Mississippi - Ten Tom to Mobile Bay, The Logs

Log #6e
Everglades, Florida
Dec. 19, 1998

Hi Folks,

Here is my next completed Log #6e on the Tennessee River. As you can see from the log below, I am now able to put the logs on the message portion of my E‑ mail and not bother with attached files. If you are missing any of the logs, let me know if there is a blank and I will retrieve it and send it to you individually, and not as an attached file.

We are presently motoring across the Gulf of Mexico just off the Everglades. We are about two miles off, and still in between 8 t0 12 feet of water only. It is very shallow from Marco Island where we were two nights ago, right across Florida Bay to the Keys, where we will be going for Dec. 22 and the Christmas holidays.

When we were in Everglades City, we dinghied around a few mangrove islands and walked through one of them. We were deluged with mosquitoes, and had to keep walking fast and wiping them off our arms and backs. It was torturous the few times I wanted to stop to take a picture. I hate to think of what it would be like in hot weather in the summer there.

We have read the newspapers for a few times and they are flooded with Clinton’s potential impeachment and the latest attack on Iraq. It sounds like the movie Wag the Dog for a second time. (Didn’t he launch an attack on the Sudan after terrorists during the Lewinsky testimony?) Whether or not it was to distract attention from his problems, it shows the lack of credibility he now has. However, we have had no news of Canada, other than Paul Martin nixed the bank mergers. I’ve given up converting U.S. dollars into Canadian dollars.

It was too depressing. However, we really don’t miss the news, as it is irrelevant to us in our present lifestyle. We just enjoy being! We take care of the boat, we do our navigation, calculate times of hi and low tides, decide where we will go each day, and try to keep the boat off the sand bars. Not too much else matters. We keep contact with family and friends and hope all are well. That is why feedback from our friends to our logs via E‑mail is important to us.

Again, all the best of the season to you all. This is the time of year to take personal stock and to value friends and family. Perhaps this is why I am trying to catch up on my logs, so I can talk more about what we are doing now, in the present rather than getting out our log book and recalling impressions of our trip a month ago. Perhaps a New Years Resolution is in the making?

We’ll see.
All the best,

Here is Log #6e.

Log #6e – Tennessee River-Shiloh
Everglades, Florida
Dec. 19,1998

In my last log we entered the Tennessee River and were going through Kentucky Lake. We spent three nights at anchor on our way through, in various creeks which emptied into the lake – lovely tranquil anchorages.

Kentucky Lake narrowed into the Tennessee River as we kept going up it. There were still some tows encountered, but not many and not very large. The largest tow we saw was on the Ohio River, of 42 barges, six wide by seven long. They would cover an area of 180 feet wide by 770 feet long, plus another 100 feet for the tow itself. We really didn’t have any problem with the tows as there was usually adequate room, and communications with the tow skippers were good. The trickiest parts were on the few occasions when we were overtaking a tow. It might be doing 5.5 knots and we might be doing 5.9 knots. We would let the tow skipper know we were overtaking and he would recommend which side to go and in some cases would slow down a bit for us. We would then accelerate as much as possible to get through his stern wake, then it would take several minutes of advancing alongside several hundred feet of moving steel walls, trying not to get too close to the shore and shallows, and not too close to the tow in order not to get sucked into its side currents and crash into the side of it. There was another bow wave we would have to negotiate and keep clear to the side until we were at least one barge length ahead before we could resume our normal speed and centre ourselves in the channel once again. It provided a few tense minutes of very careful steering, but was manageable.

On down the Tennessee River the banks were low and very little civilization was evident. We could not see much over the levees and did not know what was beyond them. One thing we found useful was a road map of the area. It gave us a better frame of reference of the part of the state we were travelling through.

On Oct. 28 we anchored inside the downstream side of Diamond Island just before noon hour. We launched Sprite, our dinghy, and motored down to Catfish Hotel which we read about in our guide book, and which was right beside Shiloh Battlefield Park. After a lovely lunch of catfish and grits, we went over to the park. Both Judy and I are interested in Civil War history, and especially the role played by the navy. It was a large park and as we were on foot, we did not have a chance to see all of it. However there was a very good information centre with a twenty minute video account of the battle, and a good display area of artifacts, uniforms, maps and flags.

The battle itself took place on April 6 and 7, 1862. The Union forces had captured St. Louis, and pushed through Cairo and Paducah, dominating the lower reaches of the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers. General Grant of the Union forces, later to become President Grant, had pressed ahead to Shiloh Church on the west bank of the Tennessee River and was waiting for the remaining 40,000 men of his Army of the Tennessee to catch up. It didn’t compute! Army of the Tennessee for the North? I thought Tennessee was the South! Of course it was split, and some fought for the North and others fought for the South. The horrors of civil war! Some families were split where brothers or sons would be fighting on opposite sides. Anyways, the Southern forces of the Army of the Mississippi hit the Northern force in a surprise attack, trying to force them off the west bank of the Tennessee as this allowed the North access to the main Southern flank.

The South had initial success the first day, but the North held on through some very grim fighting to stay on the west bank to secure Pittsburg Landing where the Northern forces were able to land that night. Apparently the southern forces pulverized the Northern. forces with the largest artillery barrage of the war so far, and both sides sustained large loss of life. The next day the Northern forces numbered over 55,000 against the exhausted 25,000 Southern forces, and the North finally after a second day of heavy fighting pushed back the Southern forces to maintain the bridgehead across the Tennessee River.

In the cemetery there were over 5000 Union Army buried. In mounds around the battlefield were buried 1728 bodies of the Confederate forces. Over 15,000 Confederate troops and probably a similar number of Union troops were killed in this battle!  There was an aura of hushed stillness around the battlefield monuments and the cemetery, echoing in the stillness the horrible deaths of these men that took place there. The horrors of CIVIL WAR!

We returned to our anchorage to find another trawler, Cassia Lea, had anchored upstream of us. We went over to say “Hi” and were invited on board for martinis. We enjoyed the company of Ed and Ev Van Allen, a spry interesting couple from a town called Little Canada in Minnesota. We left the next day for Pickwick Lock.