Open Sherman Reservation

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A couple of weeks ago, Canadian author Steve Carter of Vancouver, British Columbia, visited Chattanooga with his wife Daphne.  A large part of the reason for his visit was to lay eyes on the actual physical settings for a book he is writing as a sequel to the just published pre-Civil War era novel The Cauldron.  He’d first contacted me several months ago with questions regarding the local area, intent on getting details as accurate as possible.  For instance, asking the name of the street along the river from Ross’ Landing around Cameron Hill in the late 19th century (River Street or Water Street depending on the map).

The next novel in the series covers the war years and the following decades.  We drove the crest of Missionary Ridge, noting the signs and placements of units, stopped at the Bragg Reservation and looked out over the city.  We also went by the Orchard Knob Reservation, drove by the Read House (former site of the Crutchfield House), and visited Fountain Square.  With all of which Steve was greatly impressed.

There was one huge disappointment, however.  The site Steve most wanted to see was all but unavailable.  Unavailable to someone like him with a physical condition of any kind, like his pacemaker.  The site in question is the one at which the major part of the action of the Battle of Missionary Ridge took place, from sunrise until around two in the afternoon.  That site is Sherman’s Reservation, unilaterally blocked off by the City of Chattanooga several years ago after it received an unsubstantiated reports of illegal activity there.

Yes, the city provided a tiny parking area to one side of Lightfoot Mill Road where it comes west over the ridge from South Chickamauga Creek.  But the pathetic excuse for a parking area is on the opposite side of the street from the entrance to the path through the woods to Sherman’s Reservation on a curve and almost blind hill.  The path through the woods is well-kept and marked, or at least was the last time I was there, but it is also one-quarter mile long and uphill, too much for a man with a pace-maker who doesn’t want to include a visit to the emergency room, or morgue, on his visit to the city.  Or a man suffering from emphysema.

Before vehicular access to this highly significant portion of Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park was impeded, there was a drive along the side of the ridge and several monuments giving the visitor a good idea of the hazards troops from both sides faced in the battle there. 

The fighting here at what both sides called Tunnel Hill (but what locals called Trueblood Hill) was between two brigades of Cleburne’s Division of the Confederate Army of Tennessee, augmented by two brigades of Walker’s Division and Kentucky’s Orphan Brigade defending the position against the troops of Sherman’s Union Army of the Tennessee attacking from their position atop Billy Goat Hill. 

After Cleburne’s men repulsed assault after assault from their strong position and with their general’s brilliant tactical placement, Gen. Grant sent Gen. Thomas’ Army of the Cumberland to assault the ridge across Chattanooga Valley, and it is that action which led to the Union sweep of the ridge, everywhere except for Cleburne’s position.  Ironically, at the same time Thomas’ troops were routing everything before them, Cleburne’s ad hoc command was making its final counterattack to halt Sherman’s attempts to take his position. 

In fact, the soldiers of his division and the units of Walker’s Division on-loan were sitting down to chow and to celebrate their victory when Cleburne received orders to cover the retreat of the Army of Tennessee.  It was around 7:45 pm that evening when the last of Cleburne’s men left the site of their victory and the army’s defeat.

In addition to its unparalleled military history significance, the view from the apex of the hill at Sherman Reservation among the cannons and plaques describing the action there is one of the two most beautiful in the Chattanooga area, second only to that from Sunset Rock on the West Brow of Lookout Mountain.

Surely the situation thought to exist ten years ago which made a previous administration feel it needed to take the actions it did have by now dissipated and disappeared.  Reopening Sherman Reservation to easy popular access will be especially appropriate for the sesquicentennial of the battles here, and it can also allow this important site to serve as a major attraction as part of the redevelopment of the neighborhood now known as Glass Farm District, formerly part of the town of East Chattanooga, originally the suburb of Sherman Heights.

Chuck Hamilton


Great Work, City Auditor

As a voter, I was skeptical about having an independent city auditor’s office. This office was created by referendum of the voters. The public wanted third party oversight of city government, for good cause.  I will be the first to admit I was wrong.  A primary problem was the auditor being hired and fired by the mayor’s office, who could also set the auditors operating ... (click for more)

Commissioner Mackey Asks All to Support Football Mocs

The moment that many of us have been waiting for six months is upon us---it is football time in Tennessee.  If you live within the greater Chattanooga area I am asking you to join me in looking upon the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as being our hometown football team.  And it is an exciting team that we can be proud of.    The Chattanooga Mocs will ... (click for more)

Plan Revived For 5-Story Boutique Hotel Next To The Walnut Street Bridge

Plans have been revived for a five-story boutique hotel next to the Walnut Street Bridge. Vision Hospitality Group said the yet-to-be named hotel will provide 90 rooms featuring high-end amenities and exemplary service in the city's art district. Plans for a similar hotel were announced in 2012, but the proposal was later withdrawn. The hotel is slated for 102 Walnut ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Says County Needs To Start "Immediately" On Funding A New County Jail

Members of the Hamilton County Grand Jury said in a final report that the county needs to start "immediately" on funding a replacement for the Hamilton County Jail. The report, read by Foreman Robert Smith, says, "The Jail is near and/or over capacity and understaffed!  Hard-working corrections officers are in constant danger.  Being responsible for 80-100 inmates per ... (click for more)

Orr In On Four Touchdowns, Irish Defeat Pioneers, 34-20

Notre Dame’s Kareem Orr, one of the area’s top college prospects, showed his versatility Friday night while leading the Fighting Irish to a 34-20 non-district football victory over East Ridge at Raymond James Field. Orr caught three touchdown passes, threw for one and had 121 yards of offense as the Irish leveled their 2014 record at 1-1. The Irish play at Chattanooga Christian ... (click for more)

Baylor Comeback Swamps Webb, 34-7

Baylor lost a fumble on the third play of the game and the visiting Webb Spartans scored five plays later, but the Red Raiders came storming back to win their second-straight game, 34-7, over the D-II, Class A two-time defending state champions. Quarterback Nick Tiano, who has already committed to Mississippi State, hurled two touchdown passes and scored a third on a sneak from ... (click for more)