Chickamauga Battlefield visitor guide

History

The scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, Chickamauga was fought Sept. 18-20, 1863, along the Chickamauga Creek in North Georgia. The Union Army of the Cumberland fought to gain control of the Chattanooga region, the "Gateway to the Deep South," from the Confederate Army of Tennessee. The numerically superior Union forces had forced the Confederates to abandon Chattanooga. The arrival of Confederate reinforcements emboldened the Gen. Braxton Bragg to strike at the Federals before they could consolidate their army on Chattanooga. The Battle of Chickamauga resulted. Union Gen. William Rosecrans parried the thrust throughout the first two days of action, but on Sept. 20, having slept little in the week before the battle, issued ill-considered orders relative to a reported gap in his line and actually created a hole. The heaviest Confederate attack of the battle struck the Union line at that point. The right half of the Union line on the battlefield collapsed, and the Union army withdrew before dark on the 20th, allowing the Confederates to claim the victory. The Union forces withdrew to Chattanooga, and after reorganization and the receipt of reinforcements, in November attacked and drove Confederates off Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. The "Gateway to the Deep South" was firmly in Union hands. Thirty-four thousand of the 124,000 soldiers engaged at Chickamauga had been killed, wounded or captured.

Why you should go

Five thousand acres of the Chickamauga Battlefield have been preserved, and a museum with exhibits and audio-visual programs will help prepare you to tour the battlefield and see some of the 1,000 monuments, markers, tablets and cannon that mark the lines as the troops fought in the woods. The battle in September was the last major victory for the Confederacy. The spring after the battle at Chickamauga, Gen. William T. Sherman launched the campaign from Chattanooga that led him to Atlanta and his infamous "March to the Sea" through Georgia.

Main attractions

* Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park: The oldest and largest of America's Civil War parks spans the borders of Georgia and Tennessee, with major units at Chickamauga, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Orchard Knob, Signal Point and Moccasin Bend. The battlefield features a 7-mile self-guiding auto tour, monuments, historical tablets, hiking trails and horse trails. http://www.nps.gov/chch/

Chattanooga: The nearby city is nestled in a bend of the Tennessee River and surrounded by mountains and lakes. Attractions include the River Walk (http://www.chattanooga.gov/PRAC/30_TennesseeRiverPark.htm) and Point Park, site of the the battle of Lookout Mountain (http://roadsidegeorgia.com/site/pointpark.html) and a top-tier aquarium (http://www.tnaqua.org/Home.aspx). Chattanooga is two hours away and boasts a lively arts, music and dining scene all along the riverfront. (http://www.tnaqua.org/VisitorInfo/Riverfront.asp)

Riverwalk http://activechattanooga.blogspot.com/2007/09/running-or-hiking-in-chattanooga.html

How to get there

From Interstate 75: It's about 110 miles and takes 1 hour, 50 minutes from downtown Atlanta.

Links of interest

* Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce: www.chattanooga-chamber.com/

http://ngeorgia.com/history/chickam.html

http://www.chattanoogafun.com