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


Roy Exum: The Readers Are Right

It is hardly a secret that since I have become intensely interested in public education in Chattanooga, I have tried to read, research and understand how our efforts have fallen horribly short in the last 15 years. We agree we have a crisis on many fronts and I hope it is equally obvious I am desperate for solutions. Much like school board member Karista Jones, I worry that we are ... (click for more)

True Revenue Situation

My honorable and respected friend Roy Exum tells us again today, “It has been 12 years since the county fathers have approved a tax increase ... .” I’ll take his word for that, but want some more information. “No tax increase for 12 years” is just the chorus; I want to hear the rest of the song, the specific verses that really tell the tale. The fact is, although Roy’s bare ... (click for more)

Lymorris Martin, 59, Stabbed To Death; Rachel Green, 51, Is Arrested

Chattanooga Police responded to the 3200 block of Broad Street early Sunday morning to a person who had been stabbed.   Upon arrival, officers with the Chattanooga Police Department located Lymorris Martin, 59, who had received multiple stab wounds. He had succumbed to his injuries prior to police arrival.   Police were able to detain a suspect, Rachel Diane ... (click for more)

Rescuers Called Out After Male Hits Head After Fall From Rope Swing; He And Companions Trapped On One Side Of The Creek

Rescue crews were setting up a safety line at the first creek crossing at the Pocket Wilderness at the foot of Mowbray Mountain after a male was injured on Saturday night and he and his companions were blocked by high water. Around 7:30 p.m. , a 911 call was made reporting the male had fallen from a man-made rope swing and hit his head on the rocks below at the Blue Hole ... (click for more)

Bucs Nip Silverdale In Error-Plagued Baseball, 9-7

The Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers and the Silverdale Baptist Academy Seahawks played a crucial baseball doubleheader on Saturday with first place in District 5-A on the line. Both teams entered play for the first game at Silverdale sporting identical 6-0 district records, but you would never have known it by the way that first game was played. In a see-saw game where the side was ... (click for more)

East Hamilton Dumps Ooltewah 3-2 For Choo Choo Softball Title

Softball, like most sports, is about numbers. How about these two One – the number of hits East Hamilton got off Ooltewah pitcher Mackenzie Patterson. Three – the number of errors Ooltewah made and the number of runs East Hamilton scored in the first inning. Oh, and one more: Eighteenth – the number of the final out when East Hamilton pitcher Sydnie Rogers ... (click for more)