I come from a long line of folks who knew a great deal about the Civil War but admit the War Between the States has never held much allure with me. When Sunday lunch conversation would turn to the battles fought in and around Chattanooga I’d whistle up the dogs and do something else rather than hear how the Confederates laid siege to our area and tried to starve the Yankees.
In my later years, I’ve regretted my ignorance in many things – maybe that’s why I try so hard to learn about stuff today – so imagine my delight when “the parade of providence” put a curious cross of a teacher and a park ranger in my path on Saturday. And for a chicken-salad sandwich, I finally learned about The Battles of Chattanooga.
A vibrant girl named Lindsey Davis, who helps guide tours for the National Park Service when she is not teaching high school history at the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, explained to me that exactly 149 years ago today, this place was literally crawling with Confederate and Yankee soldiers. This next week marks the anniversaries of the Battle of Orchard Knob, the Battle of Lookout Mountain, and the Battle of Missionary Ridge.
But what you need to know --- as a particularly gorgeous Sunday in here – is that the National Park Service has a stunning day planned today for anyone who is curious about Chattanooga’s role in the Civil War, why “The Gateway to the South” was right here, and what the “Death Knell of the Confederacy” was all about. There are guided tours, lectures, artillery demonstrations and enactments that should be sensational.
AT POINT PARK on Lookout Mountain, there will be guided tours at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. There will be artillery demonstrations at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. There will be Confederate Infantry Demonstrations at 10:45 a.m., 12:15 p.m., 1:45 p.m., and 3:15 p.m.
AT CRAVENS HOUSE guests will learn about “The Battle Above the Clouds” that was held on Robert Cravens’ property between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (Cravens House is located on the side of Lookout Mountain)
AT BROWN’S FERRY -- Park Historian Jim Ogden will lead a one-mile, 90-minute walk that will explain the pontoon bridge and the “Cracker Line” at 9:30 a.m. (The tour begins along Moccasin Bend Road just north of Hamm Road – Take the Manufacturer’s Road exit west from U.S. Hwy 27 and follow the “Special Event” signs.
RINGGOLD GAP – Park Ranger Lee White will lead a 90-minute driving tour at 1:30 p.m. that will focus on the “small but vicious” fight between the troops of Gen. Hooker and Gen. Cleburne at 1:30 p.m. Guests should gather in the parking lot of the Ingles Supermarket, located at 5044 Alabama Hwy. in Ringgold)
ROSSVILE GAP – Park historian Jim Ogden will lead a two-hour, two-mile round trip walking tour that explores “Fightin’ Joe” Hooker’s role in the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Guests should meet at 2 p.m. at the historic John Ross House in Rossville, which is located off Chickamauga Ave./U.S. 27 behind the Bi-Lo supermarket.
MISSIONARY RIDGE – Park Ranger Gerry Allen will deliver a one-hour presentation on “The Second Minnesota and the Case of the Shifting Monument at the DeLong Reservation on Missionary Ridge at 2:30 p.m.
NATIONAL CEMETERY – Park Ranger Christopher Young will present a one-hour program on “the last full measure of devotion” at 3 p.m. Guests should gather at the Andrews Raiders Monument located to the right of the entrance gate on Holtzclaw Avenue.
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Next weekend there are other functions planned by the National Park Service and full details can be found on the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park website. Of course, this is just a prelude to next year’s Sesquicentennial Celebration.