From my travels, May 30, 2019.
Since I was still in town – and largely done with the Atlanta Campaign – I decided to go back and really properly do Chickamauga since the only other time I had visited, I didn’t really know what I was doing. Luckily, my nephew was game.
We started, appropriately enough, at the visitors center. There is a great display of artillery out front, so I got to nerd out with my nephew about that. Around the side, they even have a mountain howitzer. Very cool! For the rest of the day, my nephew tried his hand at identifying the cannons – and he did pretty well!
After orienting ourselves, we did the standard auto tour. What really impressed me about the place was the old War Department tablets. There are similar monuments at Gettysburg – one for each corps, division, brigade, and battery. Here at Chickamauga, though, each unit has multiple tablets, at places where they fought or maneuvered. With enough time, you can follow the movements of individual units – with some markers even being hidden in the middle of the woods. It’s wild. I could spend a lot of time here.
One highlight of this visit was that I was able to get over my acrophobia enough to climb the Wilder Brigade Monument Tower. It honestly wasn’t that bad since the spiral staircase is enclosed. The view from the top was pretty cool.
The farthest “off the beaten path” we went, was to the far right of Maj. Gen. George Henry “The Rock of Chickamauga” Thomas’ line to find the monument to the 121st OH. My old high school buddy, Jim, had sent me a photo years ago of him shaking his fist at the marker. I really wanted to give a proper response. Being able to do that along with my nephew was a really special memory.
After a quick stop for lunch, we headed north. I wanted to actually drive along Missionary Ridge and see what was left of the field. There’s not much – it’s mostly very expensive houses now. The route is utterly littered with War Department plaques, but I doubt anyone ever reads them. There is no where safe to pull off and park near the vast majority of these monuments and markers. You’d almost have to walk along the road to take them all in, and it’s a narrow road. I don’t think that would be very safe.
There are a few spots called “reservations” where there is about a block or so of “park.” While there weren’t very many of these to stop at, the views when you did were awesome. Not as good as Lookout Mountain, but better than your average Civil War battlefield.
I had a great visit to Chattanooga and Atlanta. It was time to get on the road back to Baltimore. But there were a few more spots to hit along the way.