Then and Now
Article and Photos by Kathleen Walls
|Union re-enacters mann their
On September 19 -20, 1863, Union Army of the Cumberland
under Major General William Rosecrans suffered a major defeat to the
Confederate army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg at the Battle
. The battle marked the end of a Union offensive
in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga
This article will deal with the historical
facts of this battle and the upcoming reenactment set for
September 2013. For the dedicated Civil War buff or the
casual traveler, there will be so much to see and do in this area in
I'll try and give you a little glimpse of both history and "must go"
Rosecrans was exalted from his easy victory
Chattanooga. He sent a
telegram to Halleck, his commander,, "Chattanooga is ours without a
struggle and East Tennessee is free."
Bragg's troops were demoralized and fleeing back into Georgia and
deserting in large numbers.
still much the same as it looked in 1863
Bragg fostered this belief by having some of him men pose as
deserters and offer Rosecrans the bait.
Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, Rosecrans second
in command, urged caution but Rosecrans ignored the advice. He sent
Colonel Edward McCook's cavalry across Lookout Mountain at Winston's
Gap to attack Resaca and
cut Bragg's supply line.
Crittenden was to return to Chattanooga and then turn south
to pursuit Bragg. Thomas was told to advance toward LaFayette by way
of McLemore's Cove and
Dug Gap in Pigeon
Mountain. Skirmishing began in earnest when Thomas's men reached the
cove on September 10 and 11. Had Bragg's men pushed hard they would
have had an easy victory but there was squabbling and disunity among
his subordinate generals.
Crittenden's corps were headed for Lee and
Gordon's Mill. Bragg ordered Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk to attack
Crittenden's lead division. Once again Bragg's orders were ignored.
His abrasive personality and reputation as a strict disciplinarian
did not make him popular. By the time Bragg arrived on the scene and
found out what had happened, Crittenden's
corps had passed by and concentrated at Lee and Gordon's Mill. The
mill had served as Bragg's headquarters on September 9-10 until he
moved his headquarters south to LaFayette where he used
Chattooga Academy as
headquarters . Union troops occupied Lee and Gordon Mill and
surrounding area the night of the 10th.
Snodgrass Cabin located in the NMP served as a hospital for
both sides during the battle. The area around the cabin saw
fighting. The family took refuge
in a nearby ravine.
With Thomas' divisions' forced retreat,
Rosecrans realized he had
narrowly escaped a Confederate trap and
abandoned his plans for a pursuit. On September 12 he
ordered McCook and the cavalry to join with Thomas' troops and
then continue northeast to link up with Crittenden. However'
Rosecrans' message to McCook was delayed and did not reach McCook
until the 13th and his route required three days of marching
over Lookout Mountain.
For the next four days, both armies
maneuvered to improve their positions. Rosecrans concentrated his
forces in preparation for a withdrawal to Chattanooga.
Bragg fearing that Rosecrans again planed an
attack decided his best option
was an offensive to drive the Union forces back to Chattanooga.
Bragg decided to move his army northward on
the morning of September 18 toward Chattanooga, forcing Rosecrans's
army to either fight or withdraw. He believed Rosecrans could be
driven back into McLemore's Cove. The Confederate plan was to get
behind the Federal left flank at Lee and Gordon's Mill and then
cross West Chickamauga Creek.
|Confedeate re-enactors prepare to
September 19. Bragg's Confederates
to force their way past
Union forces but could not break the Union line. They continued the
next day again without success until
late morning. Then one of those coincidences occurred that
make or break a battle and sometimes
a war. One of his couriers misinformed
Rosecrans that he had left a
gap in his line. He acted on the information and immediately sent
men to close the supposed gap. In fact, there was no gap but the men
he pulled out to fill the fictitious gap, accidentally created an
actual gap. Rosecrans could not have pulled men from a worse
position. The gap he created lay right in the path of Lieutenant
General Longstreet at the head of eight-brigades of determined
Confederates. Longstreet saw his chance and went for it guns
blazing. The assault worked this time.
Longstreet's men drove
one-third of the Union army, including Rosecrans himself, from the
field. Union units spontaneously rallied to create a defensive line
on Horseshoe Ridge, forming a new right wing for the line of Maj.
Gen. George H. Thomas, who assumed overall command of remaining
forces. Although the Confederates launched costly and determined
assaults, Thomas and his men held until twilight. Union forces then
retired to Chattanooga while the Confederates occupied the
The Chickamauga campaign involved the second highest number of
casualties in the war following the Battle of Gettysburg. The
Lee Gordon Mansion,
the only remaining structure from the Battle
of Chickamauga, was used as Rosecrans' headquarter.
It was also used
hospital and according to Richard Barclift, general manager of the
the limbs were
piled as high as the second story windows. The town was originally
named Crawfish Springs for the spring located just yards from the
mansion. The abundance of water played a part in the choice of the
mansion for both headquarters and the hospital.
The battle was named for Chickamauga Creek,
which meanders near the battle area in northwest Georgia and flows
into the Tennessee River about 3.5 miles northeast of downtown
Chattanooga. According to some translations of the Cherokee
language, it means "River of Death." On these few days in September
1863, it was just that.
For this year's
almost all of the places involved in the Chickamauga Campaign are
pulling out all the stops to provide a wonderful and enlightening
visit. One of the biggest events is the
re-enactment of the Battle
of Chickamauga being held at
Mountain Cove Farm in
McLemore's Cove. This event is expected to draw over 10,000
re-enactors and will be the largest reenactment this year. Walker
County Coordinator David Ashburn said, During those four days, this
will be the biggest city in
|Mountain Cove Farm's
Show Barn, Interior and exterior.
formed by the intersection of Lookout and Pigeon Mountains,
was described by former Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue's office as
being "one of the most scenic locations in Georgia" where the
Lookout Mountain escarpment drops more than 1,000 feet to the valley
|Re-enacters prepare to fire
This historic spot was doomed to be subdivided until Walker County
Sole Commissioner, Bebe Heiskell convinced Governor Perdue that the
state should partner with Walker County and acquire this land to
very much a "hands on" commissioner. She is personally working to
make sure the historic building are done correctly.
the site of some of the earlier skirmishes on the actual battle.
McLemore Cove is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Walker County has been busy
restoring the historic structures in the cove. The Show Barn will be
the site of the Reenactment Ball on Sept. 21. Imagine this historic
structure lighted to simulate a 19th century barn and filled with
gallant gentlemen and hoop-skirted ladies performing period dances
to the melodies of period instruments.
From the front of the barn grounds you will see much of the
|The Manor House
Another of the cove's historic structures that will play a huge part
in the reenactment as well as being a big future draw for tourism
into the cove is the Manor House. This1835 limestone mansion was
built by William Daugherty, a wealthy lawyer from Athens, Ga., who
purchased the entire cove area
in the Georgia Land Lottery
The Manor House will double for the Gordon
Lee Mansion during the reenactment but is currently available for
meetings and events. The county is putting a restaurant and pub in
it also. In addition to these buildings the county also owns seven
cabins once used by farm workers that are being restored as very
nice rentals, and "The
Lodge," also known as the "Cove House," a newer home that sleeps 16
in five bedrooms and has four full baths.
|The Visitors Center at Chickamauga
& Chattanooga NMP
The real battle scene is now
Chickamauga & Chattanooga
National Military Park
. Although National Parks do not allow
actual reenactment battles to be held on the grounds, they are
offering a variety of events related to this campaign. On
18, 19, & 20,
park historians and rangers will lead a
series of "real time" walks covering the same ground soldiers fought
upon in 1863. On the weekends prior and after there will also be
period costumed historians portraying real life persons from that
time. There are many other activities at the park commemorating the
The park is open throughout the year during
daylight hours. The visitors center is open 8:30 to
5 EST. The park shows a wonderful orientation film called
"The Campaign for Chattanooga: Death Knell of the Confederacy." It
is a good overview and a great place to start your tour.
|The Georgia Monument
and the Wilder Tower at Chickamauga & Chattanooga NMP
Nearby, the Gordon-Lee Mansion is another significant place
to visit. The new history theater located in a restored log cabin to
the left of the Mansion. offers a free continuously running DVD
Tuesday thru Saturday 11:00
AM until 4:00 PM on the history of the area, the Mansion
itself and its grounds. Tours of the Mansion are offered in the
summer on Saturday. On Saturday Sept 21, an Arts Festival and a Blue
and Gray Barbeque Barbecue Contest will be held on the front lawn
area of the Mansion.
City of Chickamauga is having two festivals that weekend:
Yesterday Festival and War Between the States Day.
There will be Living History
Demonstrations, Parades, and Arts & Crafts. Throughout
the day re-enactors will
demonstrating refugee camp
life, artillery firing, soldier camp life and period food.
Refugee camps will represent
life for area farm families affected by the battle. Another
local site you want to visit here is Lee and Gordon's Mill,
occupied by both sides during the skirmishing.
the Saturday of the Festivals, trains from Chattanooga will
unload passengers at the Chickamauga Depot for visitors based in
In downtown LaFayette,
you can visit the site of Braxton Bragg's headquarters at the
Chattooga Academy also known as John B. Gordon Hall. It was
Bragg's home base from September 10 to 17th and it is reported that
he planned the campaign sitting under a big oak in the front yard.
The oak, known from that time on as Bragg's Oak,
was destroyed during a storm
in the 1920s.
Academy also saw action during the Battle of Layfatte
June 24, 1864. Confederate
Capt. William V. Harrell using the building to store supplies while
attacked Union troops. It is Georgia's oldest remaining brick
can tour on Sundays from 1-3 p.m and
most days Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
across Joe Stock Memorial
Park from the Academy, Marsh House is another interesting
stop for any Civil War buff. It was built by Spenser Marsh in 1836.
During the war, the Marsh family relocated to Cassville, Georgia.
When they returned after the war, they found that the house had been
occupied by Union soldiers who rode the horses through the rooms and
left bullet holes in the walls and blood stains on the pine floors.
When the Marshes repaired the home, they left several of the bullet
holes. Perhaps it was a reminder of how swiftly life could be turned
Since the home was in the Marsh family for 150 years,
much of the furniture is original to the home.
Mary Smitherman, with the Marsh House Task Force that maintains and
operates the house, believes the hoses were probable stabled then as
they were so valuable. She is proud to show off the “Certified
Haunted” plaque from GHOST (Ghosts and History of Southeast
Tennessee) investigators. “I
was concerned about compromising the integrity of the house. but we
agreed. I was here with them. We never let anyone in without one of
us being here. They put cameras everywhere They found a lot of
activity in the children's rooms and
in the attic and servants
quarters. The group
was very professional,” She also commented the 'haunted' appellation
had increased interest in the old home."
GHOST has completed about 50 investigations, and the Marsh House is
just the fifth one to receive the haunted
house is open for tours Thursday, Saturday & Sunday 1:30 p.m.
- 3:30 p.m.
is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the sites that are
connected to the Chickamauga
For More info:
GA Civil War Site:
Mountain Cove Farm:
Chickamauga & Chattanooga MMP:
City of Chickamauga:
Lee and Gordon Mills:http://www.leeandgordonsmills.com/
Gorson Lee Mansion: