Chickamauga fought a bloody battle over two days in September,1863, in an attempt to march on Chattanooga and reclaim it from the Federals, the Confederate drew battle lines across miles of Tennessee farmland south of Chattanooga near today’s Fort Oglethorpe. 112,000 troops met on the battlefield, the Union army made some mistakes and ended up on Snodgrass Hill with Major General George H. Thomas leading the troops. 25,000 men held the hill, allowing the Union to retreat to Chattanooga in tact. The Union lost the battle of Chickamauga that day.
The retreat to Chattanooga was to fortify troops already there holding the city. Chattanooga, set on the Tennessee River, had roads, water and rails, a key to supplying any army. The Confederates adopted the ridges, Missionary Ridge to the east, Lookout Mountain to the west, their intent was to starve out the Federal troops. By late October, the Union had opened the Cracker Line from Bridgeport, Alabama, allowing a new supply line to provide supplies. With fortified troops coming in from other states, by the end of November, the Union army was able to attack the Confederate troops and push them out of the Valley. This set the stage for Sherman to use Chattanooga for his base as he began his march to Atlanta.
In present day, the battlefields are not as sparce as they were 150 years ago. There are commercial businesses, residential areas and roads running through the same places that were once farms and battlefields. It takes a bit of imagination to see the troops on the battlefield, to eliminate the clutter of present day, to recognize the sacrifices of the many. The Civil War represents the bloodiest was America has ever participated in, the casualties were many and affect each of us. It is our duty to recognize the sacrifices made to build our nation to what it is today, for me, it is an obligation to visit OUR National Parks. It is our history, and it is well preserved.