The Civil War is not forgotten in Chickamauga, the tiny town on Georgia’s border with Tennessee. The three vicious days of fighting that raged in the area from Sept. 18-20, 1863, still echo through this community and the surrounding Chickamauga Battlefield.
Visitors pass by the entrance to the 5,500-acre battlefield on the way to Chickamauga’s downtown district. Officially named for Chickamauga and Chattanooga, the battlefield was one of the first national military parks in the country, formed in 1890 to preserve the land on which the Confederates and Union forces vied for control of the South.
Nearby is Chickamauga’s downtown, where the streets named for Confederate leaders are marked with signposts giving a photo of the man and a short explanation of his exploits.
The center of town is defined by train tracks on one end and a lone traffic light on the other. In between are wide sidewalks lined with shops that draw on the Civil War connection, both real and fictitious.
Scarlett’s Tea Room serves up salads and flavored teas; the Oh! Fiddle-Dee Shoppe is filled with a mix of antiques and new merchandise. The Mountain City Mercantile is stocked with Civil War-era clothing and supplies that attract re-enactors as well as browsers interested in the period.
Each September, the streets are lined with vendors, re-enactors, Civil War buffs and visitors who flock to town for the War Between the States Festival.
This year’s event Sept. 19-20 features living-history demonstrations, arts, crafts, cannon firings, battlefield camps and food.
“It’s a great way to get a flavor for what it was like to be a soldier,” said Chickamauga’s Jim Powell.
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, 3370 Lafayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe; 706-866-9211; 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, free admission. www.nps.gov/chch. Hike, walk or drive through the battlefield, dotted with more than 1,400 monuments that commemorate the Civil War battle that took place there in September 1863. Use your cell phone to call up the running commentary that guides drivers through the park and directs them to points of interest.
Gordon-Lee Mansion, 217 Cove Road; 706-375-4728; www. gordonleemansion.com. This Greek Revival, white-columned, brick mansion dates to 1847 and is one of the few remaining structures in town that predates the Civil War. The mansion was purchased by the city and is under restoration, but will open for tours next year. Meanwhile, visitors are welcome to wander the grounds and formal gardens.
Lee and Gordon's Mills, 71 Redbelt Road, 706-375-4488. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays; 2-4 p.m. Sundays. $2 adults and seniors; free for children younger than 12. The site of an old mill now incorporates an old-fashioned general store, a war veterans museum and a grist mill.
Walker County Regional Heritage/Train Museum, 100 Gordon St., 706-375-4488. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays. $2 adults and children older than 8. www.cityofchickamauga georgia.org. The city took over the old train depot in the 1990s and restored it as a museum filled with Indian and Civil War artifacts from the area. There's also a model train exhibit. The front room features a gift shop that's free to browse.
Gordon Street shops: Chickamauga's main street is lined with shops and boutiques, as well as several places to grab lunch or a snack.
Where to stay
Best Western Battlefield Inn, 2120 Lafayette Road, Fort Oglethorpe, 706-866-0222; www. bestwesterngeorgia.com. This inn is just four blocks from the Chickamauga Battlefield and a few miles from the center of town. Rates start at $59.99.
Captain's Quarters Bed and Breakfast Inn, 13 Barnhardt Circle, Fort Oglethorpe, 800-710-6816, www.cqinn.com. This frame house a few miles outside Chickamauga dates to 1902. A full breakfast is served daily. Rates start at $99.
Econo Lodge, 118 Gen. Bushrod Johnson Ave., 706-375-7007, www.econolodge.com. Free wireless and complimentary continental breakfasts are included in rates starting at $58.99.
Where to eat
Crystal Springs Smoke House, 505 W. 9th St., 706-375-9269. Entrees range from $6.50-$13.99. Start with a breakfast of sausage biscuits and move onto lunch and dinner dishes of St. Louis-style ribs, steaks and seafood.
Los Potros, 109 Gordon St., 706-375-4111. Entrees priced $6.99-$9.99. Authentic Mexican favorites are served in this restaurant on the town's main street.
Scarlett's Tea Room, 105 Gordon St., 706-375-1889, www. scarlettstearoom.com. $3.75-$7.50. Enjoy quiches, croissant sandwiches and a range of tea selections served in a former general store. Homemade cookies, baking mixes and tea paraphernalia are available to take home.
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