A Mysterious Glow That Stunned History: The Battle Of Shiloh

“That is when things got strange….After the battle was over, many wounded soldiers lay in a muddy field waiting for help. As night fell, their wounds began to glow. Doctors could not explain the phenomenon, but they did notice that the men whose wounds glowed had a better chance for survival than those whose wounds did not glow. They experienced lower rates of infections and healed faster. The soldiers called the light that helped save their lives the “Angel’s Glow.”

Dr. Norbert Herzog and Dr. David Niesel

There were many battles during the U.S Civil War but none as strange as what took place at the Battle of Shiloh. It was a campaign filled with violent bloodshed and non-stop fighting with dire conditions. The carnage was horrendous. It was fought in Tennessee near Pittsburg Landing in Harding County. The region was wet and swampy, creating a challenging and grim backdrop for the unfolding conflict. Despite the strategic significance, the aftermath would reveal a surreal and mysterious turn of events that defied explanation leaving everyone stunned for years to come. A mystery that left only questions until finally being solved over a century later..

Fighting lasted two days. Ulysses S. Grant and Don Carlos Buell were the generals in charge of the Union soldiers going against Confederates, led by General Albert Sidney Johnston and then later P. G. T. Beauregard. Despite the strategic prowess of these military leaders, the cost of the Battle of Shiloh was extremely high; the death count for both armies is somewhere around three thousand with over sixteen thousand men wounded, highlighting the devastating loss and long-lasting impact of this brutal confrontation.

The medical assistance available to these men were shockingly inadequate, and the gravity of the situation caught everyone off guard. The makeshift field hospitals were ill-equipped to handle the sheer number of casualties. The lack of medical supplies, personnel, and proper facilities compounded the suffering of the wounded soldiers. As a consequence, the injured were left in harrowing conditions. Wounded soldiers lay helpless in the wet mud, enduring the pain of their injuries in relentless rain. The toll was staggering…

“At daybreak Confederate infantry storm out of the woods and sweep into the southernmost Federal camps, catching Grant’s men unprepared. Intense fighting centers around Shiloh Church as the Confederates sweep the Union line from that area. Despite heavy fire on their position, Union troops counterattack but lose ground and fall back northeast toward Pittsburg Landing. Throughout the morning, Confederate brigades force Grant’s troops into defensive positions at Shiloh Church, the Peach Orchard, Water Oaks Pond, and a treacherous thicket of oaks posthumously named the Hornets’ Nest by fortunate survivors. That afternoon, while leading an attack on the left end of the Union’s Hornets’ Nest line, Johnston is shot in the knee. The bullet severs an artery and the commander bleeds to death….”

American Battlefield Trust

The Night Shiloh Glowed: A Phenomenon Beyond Explanation

It would take several long harrowing days to get all the wounded off the battlefield. By the time night arrived a very strange phenomenon occurred that nobody at the time could fathom much less explain. The men who lay beaten, bloody, and dying on the ground began to glow. Well… their wounds began to brightly shine a luminous greenish blue color. As rumors of the inexplicable phenomenon spread among the exhausted and bewildered survivors, a sense of both hope and unease enveloped the battlefield.

This is the part that gets even stranger, not only did some soldiers’ gaping wounds glow but it seemed that these glowing men’s injuries healed much faster and cleaner than the wounds that did not glow. It was beyond what anyone could analyze or interpret. It was quite the mystery! As perplexity deepened, the military’s medical experts, armed with the latest technology, struggled to comprehend the mysterious occurrence, leaving the entire battlefield in a state of both wonder and trepidation, grappling with a phenomenon that defied conventional explanation. Nobody had an explanation! Rumors of supernatural intervention spread.

Attempts to replicate the phenomenon in controlled environments yielded no results, further deepening the mystery. The wounded soldiers with their glowing wounds became the subject of intense scrutiny and studies for many years to come, yet even the most advanced medical instruments of that era couldn’t unveil the secrets behind their accelerated recovery. Theories ranged from unexplained energy fields to divine intervention, but no consensus emerged leaving only questions and wonder in its wake.

Meanwhile, the once war-torn battlefield became a focal point for scientific inquiry, drawing researchers from various disciplines eager to unlock the secrets of this unexplained occurrence. The glow and its healing properties lingered in the collective memory, a symbol of the uncharted territories that exist on the fringe of all human understanding. So what was causing the soldiers to glow?

Why Did Soldiers Begin to Glow at Battle Of Shiloh?

The situation was very bizarre and astonishing; however, there is an easy explanation for the glowing wounds and why they healed better. It would be solved a hundred and fifty years after it took place. Two high school kids did an experiment that proved to yield all the answers. Little did anyone know that these young minds, armed with curiosity and modern scientific methods, would unravel the long-standing mystery, shining a light on the extraordinary events that transpired on that fateful battlefield so many years ago.

Bill Martin and his friend Jon Curtis in 2001 were visiting the grounds where the Battle of Shiloh took place with Martin’s mother. She happens to be a microbiologist who was involved in doing research with a glowing bacterium called Photorhabdus Luminescens. Unbeknownst to them, this seemingly ordinary visit would plant the seeds for a future scientific breakthrough in the making!

Bill started to wonder if this bacterium was not behind the mystery. He asked his mother about it and she simply said they should find out. The two boys began doing their experiment. They were able to effectively prove that the time of year the battle took place and the soldiers lying in swampy conditions with reduced body temperature made the perfect climate for this kind of bacteria to survive.

They also proved that the bacterium killed all the other bad bacteria around it, which is why the wounds ended up healing much more effectively than soldiers who were not exposed to Photorhabdus Luminescens. This discovery would win Bill and Jon first place at the 2001 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, solidifying their names as emerging leaders of scientific achievement.

“You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; while we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us.”

Abraham lincoln


SYNOPSIS: Between July 1st and July 3rd, 1863, massive Union and Confederate armies fought it out in the fields and high hills around Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. By the time the smoke cleared close to 50,000 men were casualties. Remembered as one of the bloodiest battles in American history, 7,863 Americans lost their lives on the fields of southeastern Pennsylvania during the Battle of Gettysburg, including 3,155 Union and 4,708 Confederate troops.

The Union victory — often in doubt but ultimately decisive — sent Robert E. Lee’s ragged, defeated army back to the South and changed the course of the American Civil War. Gettysburg commemorates the three-day battle that took place in an “unimportant” Pennsylvania town over 150 years ago, regarded as the turning point of the American Civil War.

From the first shots fired on the morning of July 1, 1863, to Robert E. Lee’s losing gamble known as Pickett’s Charge on July 3 that resulted in thousands of Confederates being driven back by Union forces, Gettysburg is a snapshot of three of the most important days in US history. Discover rare photos, expertly written articles, intriguing illustrations, and maps detailing the political, military, and social conditions that thrust the sleepy town of Gettysburg forever into the pages of history books.



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