Friday, April 24, 2009

The Shiloh Men

Mormon historians know well the name Albert Sidney Johnston. Born in Kentucky, he considered Texas his home. Johnston graduated from the U. S. Military Academy on 1826 and served in the U. S. Army until 1834 when he took up farming in Texas. Recognized for his military ability he was given considerable responsibility in the Texas Army; rising to senior brigadier general before being injured in a duel. He was appointed Secretary of War in the brief lived Republic of Texas. After fighting in the Mexican American War, he was given another position in the U. S. Army. In that role he headed the Army in the Utah War in 1857 (which would be a whole post by itself). His duty was to suppress the "rebellion" against the U. S. government.

When the Civil War broke out, he resigned his position in the U. S. Army and reported to Jefferson Davis in Virginia. Davis, an old friend from the U. S. Military Academy, made him the second highest ranking Confederate officer as commander of the Western Department. Johnston, who once suppressed "rebellion", was now in rebellion himself. But it was not to last. Johnston died on April 6, 1862 at the Battle of Shiloh in Tennessee, a date which was coincidently the 32nd anniversary of the founding of the Mormon Church.

The Battle of Shiloh was a very bloody battle. More Americans died in that one battle (23,746) than died in the Revolutionary war, the War of 1812 and the Mexican American war combined. At the time, it was the bloodiest battle in the conflict. By the end of the war, eight other battles would surpass it.

In Tennessee, however, Shiloh became a metaphor for the horrors of war and eternal damnation. The Battle of Shiloh happened only about 75 miles from Cane Creek. It may be that some of Cane Creek’s vigilantes were there. In that context, the vigilantes who burned down the Mormon chapel at Cane Creek chose the name “Shiloh Men” to describe themselves. They would eventually be called the “Red Cross Vigilantes” for the distinctive “red cross” used on their later notices and the badges they would sometimes made their targets wear.

Was there a connection between General Johnston’s history with Mormons in the Utah War and the vigilantes’ actions toward Mormons? Saying so is complete speculation. There is no evidence of any connection beyond the vivid imagination of conspiracy theorists. But to fuel the fire I will add this. General Johnston was shot in the back of his knee during a charge he was leading. The shot severed an artery and led to his death. Obviously the shot came from behind him and perhaps from one of his men.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for doing your homework. Shiloh Men was the telling term people were not understanding. Shiloh Men indicated the motives to the men who wanted the people to leave their county. From Another View Point: Cane Creek Massacre

Anonymous said...

"There is no evidence of any connection beyond the vivid imagination of conspiracy theorists"

By the way I am not a "conspiracy theorist", it would be a conspiracy theory to feel Johnston dying on April sixth was some form of divine justice. The War between the states was different than the Mormon Wars.

But as you found in your own research in the past weeks, there may be a link to MMM and to families in Hickman county.

BruceCrow said...

I don't believe I implied there was any "divine justice" involved in the date he died. I just said that it was a coincidence.

Nor am I sure the classic definition of conspiracy theorist includes my believing God had something to do with his death (no I dont believe God works that way).

Believing events that are not related must be somehow connected because of coincidences, that sounds more like a conspiracy theorist.

Anonymous said...

In researching, it is wise to look into similarities. Johnston, Shiloh, as well as men who served in the civil war fought at Shiloh, would give a logical rise to research any connections. In your later posts there is mention of a possible link to MMM and one of the men who wanted Mormons remove themselves from the county.

You also mentioned ‘red cross’ that is an assumption the two were linked to the incident to Cane Creek. I would like to see your research the Shiloh men also used red cross’s for their targets. The KKK was established well before Cane Creek and usually called themselves the KKK,however you may know more about the subject than I and I would like to see your research in that area.

BruceCrow said...

The KKK had been disbanded several years before 1884, though there were several similar groups operating under different names. There were two names used in Cane Creek. The Shiloh Band or Shiloh Men was used prior to the Massacre. Afterwards the Red Cross vigilantes became common usage. It is impossible to know if they were the same group or two, or if either were at all involved in the deaths at the Conder Farm. But Red Cross is what the resident called them. Shiloh Band is what they called themselves.

So far I have not found any of the men involved served in a Civil war unit that was at Shiloh. But speculate all you want. That is what your blog is for.