SHILOH, Tenn. - Thirty-two leaders of U.S. Army Human Resources Command, based at Fort Knox, Ky. stepped away from their daily duties to tour Shiloh National Military Park on April 20-21 and examine the various planning, discipline, leadership and challenges of the Union and Confederate Armies during the American Civil War.
The staff ride is part of the command's annual Leadership Professional Development program.
"Staff rides are opportunities to convey lessons of the past and consider present day application. Walking the fields of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War battles on the fields of Shiloh helped HRC leaders discuss command, maneuver, sustainment, intelligence and communications," said Lt. Col. Peter Kremzar, G-3 Operations Branch Chief, HRC.
One of the first stops, the group entered was the Shiloh National Cemetery with the Gettysburg Address on a tablet at the entrance. Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Seamands, HRC Commander, shared that all National Cemeteries memorialize the sacrifices of those who gave their lives to ensure the survival of America's representative democracy.
Shiloh National Military Park guide Charles Spearman and HRC leaders continued through the park in the order of the battle sharing detailed examples of the Union and Confederate challenges they faced more than 150 years ago. Extended lines of communication, supply shortages, poor morale, and leadership differences were more relevant as they walked through the battle events.
"I did not know there was a pivotal battlefield this close to Kentucky. Actually visualizing the war plan and terrain allowed me to thoroughly understand more than other battlefields I have seen in the past," said Master Sgt. Karen Renee Henderson, Separations and Policy Branch Senior Enlisted Advisor.
Staff rides mostly focus on leadership and battlefield strategy, however HRC leaders also emphasized sustainment and discussed some of the origins of the adjutant general from the Civil War to support the warfighter. HRC leaders recalled the beginnings of postal operations by carriers transporting paper and cardboard.
HRC finished the staff ride discussing the cost of battle and casualty operations. Unlike today, there was no notification of next of kin, no process for burying the dead, and no aid to families left behind, said Lt. Col. Michael Stewart, Field Support Division Deputy.
More Americans were killed at Shiloh than the total of all previous wars fought by the United States. The group of human resource leaders noted that while many improvements have evolved in casualty operations and the number of deaths has decreased significantly, it is still the one of the most critical operations in the Army.
Perhaps President Lincoln said it best when he declared "that these dead shall not have died in vain," but that this nation "shall not perish from the earth."