in the time of peace for Shiloh Scheib
Gerald Scheib, retirement meant going to war.
Scheib gave up full time teaching in 2001. And although he
continues to teach art classes at Mission College as an adjunct
instructor, he found himself with a lot of extra time after
enough time to re-live history.
Scheib is a "re-enactor" a member of a society
that pays tribute to Civil War ancestors by staging re-enactments
of famous battles. Five or six times a year, Scheib puts on
his Union uniform, cleans his musket and joins fellow re-enactors
in playing out the history that his grandfather actually experienced.
the closest thing there is to going back in time," he
said. "You smell the black powder, you feel the weapon
in your hand. You even get a little of that adrenaline rush
running around the battle field with people shooting at you."
of Scheib's grandfather, William Tecumseh Scheib,
and family's treasured books. Click image to
grandfather, William Tecumseh Scheib, served under General
Ulysses S. Grant at the Battle of Shiloh. He was wounded twice,
including a bullet to the back of the head which remained
lodged in the skull for the rest of Scheibs life. In
subsequent battles, Scheib suffered at least three more wounds.
Grandson Scheib knows all of this because two of his most
treasured possessions tell him so. Original editions of "The
History of Jackson County, Iowa" (published in 1879)
and "Portrait and Biographical Album of Jackson County,
Iowa" (published in 1889) provide rich and detailed information
about William Tecumseh
Scheibs war service, family genealogy, and his career
as an Iowa businessman and local politician. Such information
almost certainly would have been lost through the generations
were it not for the books. For example, regarding a wound
the elder Scheib suffered at Corinth, Tennessee, the almanac
"After receiving this wound, he was lying on a cot,
and having it dressed, when the Union lines retreated and
Mr. Scheib was again nearly surrounded by the enemy. Forgetting
his wounds, he arose from the cot, and being a good runner,
made his escape, the shower of bullets flying after him."
Even the smallest details are treasures, such as this tidbit
about how a grateful nation compensated Scheib for the bullet
in his skull: "As the United States Government never
forgets the soldiers, he now receives a pension of $18 per
grandfather was shot so many times, I feel fortunate being
here," said Gerald. "I came awfully close to not
being born. But thats why Im re-enacting today:
to honor what he did and went through in the past."
his interest in the Civil War, Scheib learned about, and joined,
the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War all of
whose members have ancestors who fought in the great conflict.
Through that organization, he discovered the re-enactment
societies and subsequently joined the 116th Pennsylvania Infantry,
a group of about 40 re-enactors.
taking part in his first few re-enactments, the activity became
much more than a tribute, he said. Because the participants
insist on authenticity, in everything from weaponry to the
soap they use, the experience became transporting.
our group, everybodys got a nickname," he said.
"Im Shiloh Scheib. When Im sitting around
the campfire with the guys, smoking a pipe, Im not Jerry
Scheib anymore. Im just Shiloh."
But authenticity doesnt come cheap. A uniform and a
musket alone can run a re-enactor up to $1,000 not
to mention the cost of travel and lodging when a battle re-enactment
is held far from home.
Luckily, said Scheib, much of it is tax deductible: "The
government says its living history, so they
give you a tax break because they recognize the value of it."
So does Shiloh Scheib.
BY EDUARDO PARDO
Lydia Chung; (bottom) Courtesy of Gerald Scheib