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 retirement
enough time to
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 enlarge.
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 reads:
"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
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 month."
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
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.