Probably saved one of the best till last

Trip Start Apr 01, 2014
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Trip End Apr 25, 2014


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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , Georgia
Sunday, April 20, 2014

Well, woke early as usual and was breakfasted by 7:30. 

 Battlefield Park opened at 8:30 eastern time, so wasn't really sure whether that meant 7:30, 8:30 or 9:30... Confused? I was.
Thought I was a bit battle weary, but that soon changed....
 
I plumped for the 8:30, even though the battlefield was in Georgia... Ok I was safe and correct.

Very helpful chap in the VC, who started the film at 9 for me and it was one of the better knew with plenty of human stories..
 
For info, Chickamauga, was the first battlefield to be declared a national park by the US Government. It seems that was because, despite all the glory and fame of others, this one truly opened the South up to be invaded unheeded and the losses here per participant were probably the highest. There were 3 battles here within a month, Chickamauge, Look Out Mountain and Chattanooga, and they lasted 3, 1 and 3 days respectively. 

After, Stones River, Bragg retreated down to the South of Tennessee to protect the east west railroads running through Chattanooga. Just north of Chattanooga there was brief encounter between the armies, which pushed the CSA back into Chattanooga. In late August, Rosecrans army crossed the Tennessee River well south of Chattanooga and this forced Bragg to evacuate his untenable defences to about 20 miles South of the city.

By this time US Grant has won at Vicksburg and Lincoln gave him overall control of the Northern Armies. He directs Sherman to support Rosecrans, who by this time is sieged in Chattanooga. Sherman forces a way to support the siege and this pushes Bragg back again. 
Grant has told Rosecrans to wait until Shermans full army has arrived, plus that of Joe Hooker from the Potomac. Rosecrans decides to move out and confront the CSA, about 10 miles South of Chattanooga, near a creek called Chickamauga.

Interestingly, Rosecrans had never been defeated and Bragg had never won a battle before Chickamuaga!!
 
Rosecrans 62,000 troops are in battle formations over about 4 miles resembling 10 passed 7. Intelligence by both armies is poor and the left flank of the Union goes out to find the right flank of the CSA. By accident they nearly went passed. Bragg thinks that he not lined up to face the Union and now starts to react, rather than take the lead in the battle.
Chaos, reigns on day one and at night all the forces on both sides are reorganised.

 Day 2 -  basically, there is lots of hand to hand fighting all along the front and the North are pushed back about 1 mile. 

 At night, Longstreet arrives from Virginia to support the South. Bragg decides on a full frontal attack in the morning, which doesn't happen. The north end of the army attacks at the allotted time, but the middle and the South sections wait for 4 hrs before mounting an attack. By lunch time confusion reigns and Rosecrans orders Woods regiment in the centre to move left by 500 yds to fill a gap. Woods does this and comes in behind the regiment that hadn't moved, now leaving a 500 yd gap in the Union line which Longstreet exploits and routs half the Northern army. Despite several brigades holding out bravely, it's left to Brig Gen George Thomas to mount a defence at Snodgrass Hill. This he does for over 5 hours, despite being attacked from 3 sides.....  
This allows the Union army to escape back to Chattanooga.

 After 3 days both armies are exhausted, although many recognise a Southern victory, It's debatable!

The toll at the end was 35,000 casualties as follows. North 1700 killed; 9,800 wounded; 4,800 captured or missing. For the South the same categories produced this toll,  2,300; 14,700 and 1,600. For me the South may have held the field but the cost, was the War....

The battlefield is excellently laid out and has blue markers showing where the Northern brigades started the battle and the Red markers show where the Southern brigades reached by the end. This was also the first national park and was created with the help of many survivors from both sides explaining where they were, what had happened etc. I did the CD guided tour which was more detailed than the parks stops but followed the battle well.

Some highlights,
Thomas became known as the "Rock of Chickamuaga" for his stand.
Rosecrans and Bragg never really led armies again.

George Thomas (the Rock) was a southerner by birth and fought under AS Johnson (CSA commander at Shiloh ) and Robert E Lee, although he believed the North was right. He was alienated by his family for the rest of his life.

Remember the angel of Maryes Heights at Fredericksburg, who carried water to both sides wounded on the field, was wounded and died at Chickamauga.

Abe Lincoln's brother in law a fought and died for the South at this battle. Lincoln himself was inconsolable for 2 days when he found out.

One Southern General had three horses shot from under him on the second day.

Confederate Gen Longstreet shared a room with Union commander Rosecrans at West Point where they studied together.

Same Longstreet was best man at his cousins wedding after the war. She married US Grant.

Finally Union Col John T Wilder has the largest monument in the park. In the spring of 1863 he transformed an ordinary brigade of foot soldiers into one of the gaskets moving and best armed infantry unit in either army. His stand gave Thomas time to organise his brave stand. Wilder personally borrowed money from his home town, against his house, and bought his men new repeating rifles. These were capable of firing 7 rounds without reloading. He sought permission to round up horses in the countryside and trained all his men himself. They outshone Thomas for me, as they reacted to a very precarious situation quickly and stood their ground against overwhelming odds.

I really enjoyed this one, as the monuments were more unusual as original and the battlefield has tried to keep forest as forest and fields as fields to help you picture the events. There is also a good troop movement guide which let's you visualise what was going on....

if I got the chance I would definitely come back here......
 
 
 
 
 

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Comments

Mum on

An epic battle which has struck a chord with you. I don't know where this interest came from as I don't remember toy soldiers in the toy box. You have obviously made the most of this trip. We are glad you had the opportunity to go.xxx

Pauline on

Sounds like you're going back here then - always follow your dreams....zzzzz

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