published Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Echoes of war: 150th anniversary of the Civil War spread throughout Chattanooga region

Erin Prinzinger, her husband Joseph, and their son Joey are dressed in Civil War attire as they sit near a campfire before the start of the Siege at Bridgeport 2013 battle re-enactment in Bridgeport, Ala.
Erin Prinzinger, her husband Joseph, and their son Joey are dressed in Civil War attire as they sit near a campfire before the start of the Siege at Bridgeport 2013 battle re-enactment in Bridgeport, Ala.
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

EVENT CALENDAR

• Sept. 19-22: Set scenes at the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park will commemorate the 150th anniversary of local battles.

• Sept. 20-21: Major re-enactment of Chickamauga battle at Mountain Cove Farms in Georgia. Battle re-enactments are not usually allowed in military parks and must be performed offsite.

• Oct. 9-12: “Occupation and Liberation” Symposium in Chattanooga. Four days of commemorative events, lectures and discussions with leading Civil War scholars. See more information on Page E6.

• Nov. 23: Commemorative events at the area military park locations for the 150th anniversary of the Battles for Chattanooga.

• Late March 2014: Siege of Bridgeport, Ala. re-enactment. Check siegeatbridgeport.com for details.

• May 16-18, 2014: The last major 150th anniversary event in the area with the re-enactment of the Battle of Resaca, Ga.

Sources: Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park website, Mountain Cove Farms website, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Cherokee County Historical Museum

CIVIL WAR SYMPOSIUM

A four-day symposium at the downtown Chattanooga Convention Center will give the public a chance to hear from renowned Civil War experts talking about the ramifications of the conflict both locally and nationally. The symposium runs 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Oct. 9-12. Among the offerings at the symposium are:

• Artifacts from the battles on display.

• A special musical presentation and lectures to showcase and discuss the music of the time period.

• Leading historians will discuss the war and its consequences here in a public forum.

Source: chattanoogaconventioncenter.org

All four states in local region boast Civil War sites both large and small, and each state was touched by the bloody conflict in some way.

Union troops headed into the Southeast Tennessee and neighboring states region 150 years ago. Skirmishes along the route touched Tullahoma, Bridgeport, Ala., and sections of North Georgia before the major battle at Chickamauga and the siege and occupation of Chattanooga in 1863.

Advancing northern troops trudged onward to Resaca, Ga. in the spring of 1864 before capturing Atlanta, which began Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's "March to the Sea" that routed Confederate supply lines.

But it all began with battles fought here. Battles in Tullahoma and Chattanooga connected to skirmishes in Alabama and intense fighting in Chickamauga and Resaca. Even the area's small corner of North Carolina, namely Cherokee County, saw bloodshed.

Major events marking the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Civil War began rolling through Tennessee in early 2013 and kept on going into the four-state area as the year marched onward. Groups from the National Park Service to generations-removed ancestors are marking the 150th anniversary as the calendar flips forward. Events and locations range from a more than 1,000-soldier re-enactment in Georgia to educational talks on Lookout Mountain, Tenn., and museum displays or open sites in North Carolina and Alabama.

Though the most notable local battle for many Civil War buffs is the Battle of Chickamauga, which took place from Sept. 16-20, 1863, the surrounding sites and events all play into what happened here and further afield during the conflict, says Patrice Glass, executive director for Friends of Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, which promotes preservation and support of the park and its events.

"I think the key is you have to look at that nothing happened in a microcosm," Glass says.

The Chattanooga Campaign, a series of skirmishes and battles between October and November 1863, came after the Union army's defeat at Chickamauga. The Union retreated to Chattanooga, and the Confederate army encircled them on the high ground of Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain and Raccoon Mountain. By late November, however, the Union army had pushed the Confederates completely out of Tennessee, opening the door for Sherman's March.

But even before Chickamauga and Chattanooga, the war had come to our region.

In Bridgeport, Ala., for instance, fighting gave the Union a foothold on the Tennessee River. Our corner of Alabama saw at least two skirmishes during the war -- April 29 and Aug. 26, 1862. Bridgeport overlooks the Tennessee River and held a key rail line that supplied rebel troops. When Union troops took control of the area in July 1863, they used the river port to build and launch boats, which helped break the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, which was being held by Union troops at the time, in November 1863.

A historical placard on Alabama Highway 277 in Bridgeport gives details of the fighting there in April 1862. Local re-enactors hold events in late March to mark the April skirmish.

Though not common knowledge among many residents, a corner of North Carolina also lays claim to a historic Civil War event.

GLIMPSE OF THE FUTURE

For more tips that will help you find the best things to do in the Chattanooga region, pick up a copy of Glimpse, a travel guide that will be inserted into your newspaper on Aug. 30. Glimpse covers the hottest activities and best-kept secrets in nearly 100 cities across Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina and will be accessible at TimesFreePress.com.

The Hanging Dog Creek area near Murphy, N.C., is thought to be the site of the last battle of the war east of the Mississippi River, says Wanda Stalcup, director of the Cherokee (N.C.) County Historical Museum. The skirmish took place on May 6, 1865, nearly a month after Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox courthouse in Virginia. It took place between a group of Union deserters who had become raiders and a group of Confederate soldiers. While shots were fired from both shots, historical records do not indicate that anyone was killed.

Items from the Civil War era and local works about the skirmish are on display at the Cherokee County Historical Museum. Located at 87 Peachtree St. in Murphy, admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children. It is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

In Georgia, thousands of re-enactors are expected at Mountain Cove Farms in Walker County, Ga. for the re-enactment of the battle of Chickamauga. Such re-enactments are not authorized on site in national military parks because the land is considered hallowed ground in honor of the war dead. But in the week before the battle's anniversary, various events at the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park are planned.

  • photo
    Civil War re-enactors prepare for an artillery firing demonstration at Point Park on Lookout Mountain.
    Photo by C. B. Schmelter /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• Mountain Cove re-enactment of the Chickamauga battle: At McLemore Cove, Ga. for four days from Sept. 19-22 at 838 Dougherty Gap Road, Chickamauga, Ga. For details see www.150thanniversarychickamauga.com

• Civil War Timeline: Features living historians and guides by park employees at the battlefield. The historians will show visitors life in the area from 1861 to 1864. These are scheduled for Sept. 14-15

• Real-time battle site tours: Park rangers will walk visitors through the battles as they unfolded at the scene on the actual anniversary dates of Sept. 18, 19, and 20.

• Rededication of the Lytle Monument: Built in honor of Union Brig. Gen. William H. Lytle, who was killed during the battle. The ceremony will be held on Sept. 20 at 1:30 p.m. on Lytle Hill next to the recreation field.

All events except the Mountain Cover re-enactment will take place at the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park at 3370 LaFayette Road, in Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., and are free to the public. Unless otherwise marked, park hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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