It has often been said to the victor goes the spoils. This was true in the civil war and often the spoils included the dead and wounded of the vanquished foe and/or the army that had retreated from the field. Since bodies deteriorated quickly in many climates it was imperative that the dead be buried as expeditiously as possible.
On many a battlefield it was common to inter dead from both union and confederate forces in trenches regardless of who was charged with the burial. This was true after the Battle of Shiloh. The union forces that held the field on April 8, 1862 buried both friend and foe in trenches as recounted by a soldier from the 18th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry: “I saw one grave containing one hundred and thirty-seven dead rebels, and on one side of it another grave containing forty-one dead federals. Several other trenches were in view from that spot.”
Most union soldiers were later disinterred and reburied in the Shiloh National Cemetery which was established in 1866. There was no provision for reburial of the confederate dead in national cemeteries therefore most of them remained interred on the field of battle although there are 3 confederate graves in the national cemetery at Shiloh.
There are five known confederate burial trenches at Shiloh National Military Park, which are monumented, and at least a like number of burial trenches who’s location is not precisely known.
This burial trench is south of Cavalry Road several hundred yards west of the junction of Cavalry Road and the Hamburg- Savannah Road and is designated on the Shiloh National Park Trail Guide Map as site # M-021.
This burial trench is west of the Corinth Road and the trace of Sherman Road, which is currently being reconstructed, and is designated on the Shiloh National Park Trail Guide Map as site # M-022.
This trench is is designated on the Shiloh National Park Trail Guide Map as site # M-023 and is located at Tour Stop 5.
This trench is northeast of Rea Springs and is designated on the Shiloh National Park Trail Guide Map as site # M-024.
This trench is located on the south edge of Rea Field and is designated on the Shiloh National Park Trail Guide Map as site # M-025.