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Sunday was an unseasonably warm day and after a long, dreary winter, it felt good to go and take a walk in the woods.

The new National Archaeological Moccasin Bend Park offered a hike with Chickamauga National Battlefield's Park Ranger and Historian, Jim Ogden, who told us about the Civil War battles that were fought from this point and how the heavy bombardments changed the course for Chattanooga and ultimately the whole war.    

This is one part in the Park's rich history which includes over 10,000 years of Native American heritage from the Paleo-indian Period to the Trail of Tears.  Over the next year, I will share those tours with everybody.  

Chattanooga, Tennessee is located at the state line of Georgia and Tennessee.  It was the site of many Civil War battles, both sides viewed it as strategically important to their cause.  In the summer of 1863, the Confederates were in retreat from losses suffered in middle Tennessee at Stone's River and the Battle of Tullahoma, and ended up in Chattanooga.  Union General Rosencrans was under orders from President Lincoln to take the city.  In a series of outmaneuvers, General Rosencrans forced General Braxton Bragg to leave the city and head down into northern Georgia.  

General Bragg ended up in Lafayette, Georgia (about 25 miles south of Chattanooga).  Eventually, the two forces clashed on September 19th and 20th at the Battle of Chickamauga.  Chickamauga is a Cherokee name meaning "River of Death" and in this case, the place lived up to its name.  Over 34,000 casualties were suffered by both sides. It was the second costliest battle of all time in U.S. History.  Gettysburg ranks first.  

The Union lost this costly battle, and they were forced to retreat 12 miles back to Chattanooga.  Rosencranz was relieved of duty and Thomas replaced him as head of Army of the Cumberland.  Major General Ulysses Grant would become General of it.

The Confederacy would occupy the surrounding outskirts of Chattanooga, which included Lookout Mountain on the west and Missionary Ridge on the south side.  This presented problems for the North, as Bruce Catton wrote in The Civil War:  

The Union army could not even retreat.  (No army under Thomas was likely to retreat, but physical inability to get out of a trap is a handicap any way you look at it.)  As far as Bragg could see, he need only keep his army in position for a month or longer and the Unionists would have to give up.
The Union Officers knew supplies and reinforcements were on the way,but underestimated the time for relief.  It was thought backup would show up within a week or two, instead it would be late October before the Cracker Line would open and late November before the siege of Chattanooga would end.  Park Historian, Jim Ogden, noted a million pounds of grain were needed every day for the rations between the soldiers and the horses.  Horses were given 25 pounds a day, soldiers 3 pounds.  With no supplies coming in for weeks rations would be cut, cut, cut to almost nothing.

In a letter to his sister, Private George M. Kirkpatrick described the conditions of Chattanooga in early November:

"I take this opportunity to write you to let you know that I am still alive, but that is about all, for we get nothing to eat worth mentioning.  I have got down so weak that I can't do my duty anymore, and the horses and mules are dying off at the rate of two hundred a day.  The rations I drew today were one cracker and a half, one half spoonful of coffee, and a little piece of meat for two days.  That was all I got and I could sit down and eat all of it and not have half enough."  
Echoes of Battle- The Struggle for Chattanooga  

About 20 miles west (as a crow flies) from Chattanooga is Bridgeport, Alabama.  This was the main supply line into Chattanooga for artillery and food for the Union army.  The way to Bridgeport was a road along the base of Lookout Mountain and the Tennessee River.  The Confederates controlled the access, so it was vital to open up the "Cracker Line" as soon as possible.  The Feds were encamped directly across the Tennessee River on the hills of Moccasin Bend known as Stringer's Ridge.  The earth works are well preserved because little development took place in this pristine area.  

Ohio's 18th and Indiana's 10th Infantry would occupy the hill in front of Lookout Mountain and constantly bombard the Confederacy.  

Ohio's 18th Infantry positioned their Napoleon cannons here.  

View of Lookout Mountain in the distance from the earthworks of Ohio's 18th.  

Indiana's 10th Infantry was positioned along the southern side of this hill facing west towards Lookout.  Their positions allowed them to view downtown Chattanooga, Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain.  The Union army was relatively safe. Once in a while a projectile would be lobbed into their area, but most were misses. The Union had superior artillery compared to the CSA.  The shots that were fired by the CSA were of little use for that range.  Some never made it others never exploded.    On a few occasions, the Indiana troops would collect the CSA projectiles and put their Union fuses into them, and send them back over to the Rebs.  

The Union Army had a strong advantage in terms of amount and quality of artillery.  Their projectile fuses lasted longer and were far superior to the Confederacy's.  Although, the Confederates were at a higher point on Lookout, it was a difficult shot.  Also, the range for their fuses was around 7 seconds.  Ten seconds were needed just to cross the Tennessee River, so a number of their projectiles landed on their side.  

Park Ranger Jim Ogden holding a projectile. In the center would be steel balls and pellets.  

Jim told about a soldier in Bridgeport, who dropped a case of these projectiles.  The projectiles exploded killing many, but the noise could be heard all the way into Chattanooga.  This worried the Union men for they believed the Confederates had attacked Bridgeport.  It would take a whole day before the Generals learned the true story of what happened.  Many soldiers were killed and injured, but also nearby ammunition exploded, too.

10th Indiana's strategic position provided back up when 1500 Union soldiers floated on pontoons down the Tennessee River in the middle of the night to take back an important access point known as Brown's Ferry.  The Union captured it in late October and opened up a route for food and supplies.

Indiana and Ohio batteries near continuous bombardment of Lookout Mountain devastated Craven's House and almost killed General Braxton Bragg.  A month after the Cracker Line was opened up, the Battles of Orchard Knob, Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain were won by the Union.  This laid the way for General William Tecumseh Sherman to head down to Atlanta, then eastward toward the ocean. These battles were instrumental in ending the Civil War sooner, rather than later.  

If you are ever in Chattanooga, I strongly urge everyone to visit the new National Moccasin Bend Park.  This is just one fraction of what the park has to offer. It is rich in Cherokee and Native American history, this will be featured over the summer.  

Originally posted to Sandy on Signal on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:14 AM PST.

Also republished by History for Kossacks and Southern Liberal Living DK Version.

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Comment Preferences

  •  General Ulysses Grant put it best: (20+ / 0-)
    "What General Lee's feelings were I do not know.  As he was a man of much dignity, with an impassible face, it was impossible to say whether he felt inwardly glad that the end had finally come, or felt sad over the result, and was too manly to show it. Whatever his feelings, they were entirely concealed from my observation; but my own feelings, which had been quite jubilant on the receipt of his letter, were sad and depressed.  I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.  I do not question, however, the sincerity of the great mass of those who were opposed to us."

    Ulysses S Grant, Memoirs, General Grant's meeting with General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House April 9, 1865

    •  Thank you. This quotation from (7+ / 0-)

      Grant has great meaning and should be pondered by all of us as we engage in our non-military "battles" with our political "foes."

    •  I've Been to the Chickamauga Battlefield (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's a beautiful park and a historic place.  It was when veterans from both sides reconvened at Chickamauga decades after the war ended -- they camped and reminisced together -- that the impetus came to preserve the battlefield.

      It was late in the day of that battle, as General Thomas (a Virginian who stayed with the Union, and who was probably the best general on either side of the conflict) was demonstrating that he was the Rock of Chickamauga  -- preventing what would have been a total rout -- that Wisconsin's colonel Hans Christian Heg was mortally wounded.  Heg was the highest ranking Wisconsonian to be killed in the Civil War.

      A larger than life statue of colonel Heg graces the southeast (King Street) corner of the Capitol Square in Madison, and I am sure was noticed by many of the 100,000 who demonstrated there on Saturday.

      While I know that the battlefield of Chickamauga has been preserved, I was not so sure about the battlefield for the much more important and decisive Battle of Chatanooga -- Lookout Mountain, Moccasin Point, Missionary Ridge, Tunnel Hill.  Have those locations been preserved or are they paved over with development?

      This aggression will not stand, man.

      by kaleidescope on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:34:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Republished to History for Kossacks. . . s/t (7+ / 0-)

    exmearden: Grab every minute of joy you can. 8/30/09

    by Land of Enchantment on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 06:39:26 AM PST

  •  Such an important location. (3+ / 0-)

    The Gettysburg of the South at Chickamauga should remind all of us of the cost of war and the need to find ways to peaceably resolve our conflicts.  Moccasin Bend looks like it's worth the trip - maybe we should do an event there?

    Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

    by Benintn on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:52:14 AM PST

    •  Sounds great to me. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It is a beautiful place.  We only have to hope it is still open because the GOP is threatening to shut down our parks when they close government.  Its one of those things labeled as "non-essential" whereas their own salaries are "essential" items.  Yeah right?  They sure have an over inflated opinion of themselves.

  •  I'll do some thinking about longer fuses (5+ / 0-)

    and what this means for our ability to remain patient in the midst of conflict.

    The old term I used was "Giving them enough rope to hang themselves" but I think I like the "having a longer fuse" metaphor because it reminds me that firepower and strategic advantage don't matter if you don't have the ability to deliver (your message, your attack) on target.

    Lots to reflect on.

    Stop clapping. Stop screaming. Open your mind. Listen.

    by Benintn on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 07:55:15 AM PST

    •  Right, they were in a predicament (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alain2112, elmo, yella dawg, Larsstephens

      That's what happens when you try to make a vast military complex in two years.  It isn't well thought out in the details.

      After Chickamauga,  Gen. Bragg was still loathed by his comrades and he won the thing.  But it was not enough for some Confederate officers who believed he should have decimated the Army of the Cumberland.  

      Bragg knew the Union would be reinforcing at any moment, his only luck was they wouldn't  show up right away.  What I don't get is why the south didn't start manufacturing longer fuses?  I guess if it weren't that it would be something else, they had many, many problems.

  •  Great Diary (4+ / 0-)

    Rosecrans has always been an inspiration.  I love his plea, made after the lightning strike that cleared eastern Tennessee:  "I beg in behalf of this army that the War Department may not overlook so great an event because it is not written in letters of blood."

    Thomas is also on my list of heroes.  As it happens, his remains lie in a cemetery in Troy, just over the Hudson river from where I live in upstate New York.

    The White Race can not survive without dairy products - Herbert Hoover (-8.75,-8.36)

    by alain2112 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 08:45:00 AM PST

    •  Thank you for sharing these tidbits (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alain2112, elmo, Larsstephens

      I'm a little teary eyed from Rosencrans's quote.  

      Didn't know this about General Thomas.  Is that where he lived his life after the war?  I guess Virginia was out of the question.  How interesting.  Have you heard of families who knew him or do people still talk of him?

      •  General Thomas (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sandy on Signal, Larsstephens

        Rosecrans's statement, in my mind, marks him as a great man: quite unlike that butcher, General Lee.

        Thomas was repudiated by his southron family in Virginia.  My understanding is that he passed away in California, not that long after the war, and was buried here as his wife's family was in the area.

        Up until the great de-industrialization that followed the Great Depression and WWII, Albany/Schenectady/Troy was prosperous beyond the imagination of our current residents.  "Uncle Sam" of national legend was, as it happens, a meat packer in Troy.

        Sadly, the people of this area appear to have forgotten their own history.  Not that this is unusual: a few years back, students at a Chattanooga high school painted a rebel flag on the side of the building, and defended it as "our heritage".

        Their unionist ancestors are stilling spinning in their graves.

        The White Race can not survive without dairy products - Herbert Hoover (-8.75,-8.36)

        by alain2112 on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 10:11:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  My husband grew up (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, Larsstephens

    on Missionary Ridge; it's a beautiful area and so steeped in history.

  •  Thanks for real civil war history (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, Larsstephens

    that all this revisionism, which as a GA native I have heard in some version all my life, is being mainstreamed by the GTOP and their allies is really disturbing to me.  It was about slavery, period.    


  •  The "Cracker Line" was the idea of Baldy Smith (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, Larsstephens


    A smart guy with a big ego and a penchant for backbiting, he could have been a big Union hero, if he had known enough to not diss George Meade in front of U.S. Grant.  

    Porter Alexander was a great artillerist, and if he couldn't hit the "Cracker Line" from where he was, no one could.   Napoleons only had a range of about 1500 yards.  The CSA had a few Whitworths, three mile plus range breech loaders, but I don't think they had any around Chattanooga during this time.  

    I am a Civil War history junkie, Sandy.   Thanks for feeding my history jones today!

    If you lose your disc or fail to follow commands, you will be subject to immediate de-resolution. That will be all.

    by SpamNunn on Mon Feb 28, 2011 at 11:51:25 AM PST

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