Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Chickamauga, in September 1863 this beautiful and bucolic spot was the scene of some of the Civil War's most horrible fighting. The prize being fought over was control of Chattanooga and, thus, a key rail center and the gateway to the Confederacy. As with so many other Civil War battles, it was constant back & forth and desperate hand to hand combat. Some markers for CSA and Federal troops are next to each other as positions changed thru the day's fighting. Unlike other battles that were fought mainly in open fields (i.e. Pickets Charge/Gettysburg), this battle was fought in many small woods dotting the area. This made the confusion of battle even worse! Needless to say, command mistakes were made with disasterous results. For example Federal General Rosecrans was told BG Brannan had moved his troops and created a gap in the line. (He hadn't moved!) To correct this Rosecrans ordered BG Wood to fill where Brannan had supposedly moved from. This created a real gap that the Confederates quickly found. Ultimately, the Confederates routed the Federals who retreated toward Chattanooga. The pictures are of one of the many monuments, a replica of a house that was used as a field hospital and a deer in the woods. Lots of little critters here - rabbits, squirrels, birds. It is still very rural.

The Battle at Chickamauga was the site of some of the most deadly fighting of the Civil War. Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland was comprised of 70,000 men. Bragg, the Confederate General, started with some 43,000 men. Both sides were reinforced along the way to total 66,000 Confederate and 58,000 Union. Of those, the Confederate Army casualties (killed, wounded, missing) totaled 18,000 and the the Union, 16,000 men. Some of the names here will be at other major battles - specifically Ulysses S. Grant and Sherman.

What makes this National Park really outstanding is that the majority of the 1400 monuments were placed around the battle field by survivors of both sides who came together in 1895. It was also the 1st of 4 national military parks authorized by Congress in 1898-1899. The other 3 are Shiloh, Gettysburg and Vicksburg. We were at Gettysburg last fall and will head to Shiloh next. Vicksburg is still pending.

Our next stop today was Lookout Mountain. It is so gorgeous up here and had to imagine troops fighting here. Just the climb up should have killed them! (We drove!) The Confederates used this point to lay siege to the Union troops at Chattanooga. Unfortunately, there was a huge tactical mistake made. The Confederates used the geographic crest as their battle front, not the military crest. Difference - remember my "driver" is a USMA graduate - is that, from the geographic crest the Confederates were unable to see or fire at the Federals scaling the mountain until the enemy was right "in their face." Had the Confederates situated their guns and troops down lower at the military crest they would have seen and been able to hit the Federals coming up the sides of the mountain. The pictures to the left I think show the problem of being at the geographic crest. And, the beautiful Tennessee River. The monument is the New York State Monument. It is huge and exceptional in that it a Union and Confederate soldier are shaking hands. Not sure of the date of the monument, but it was close enough to the end of the war to make the "handshake" extended to the South by New York an exception for the times. (Sorry for the blurry picture. Had to use a photo from elsewhere as I couldn't find ours.)

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