It was a family vacation. We were on our way from Ohio to somewhere in the south, maybe Florida. We decided to make a stop at Lookout Mountain and Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. Being history buffs we were excited to finally get to visit those places that were so important in our country’s history.
Chickamauga Battlefield features a 7 mile self-guiding auto tour, monuments, historical tablets, hiking trails and horse trails. The Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center contains exhibits and the Fuller Gun Collection which contains over 300 examples of military long arms. We started at the visitor center and headed out for the auto tour.
I remember it was a beautiful, sunny day. There are I don’t know how many monuments throughout the park that tell the story of the battles fought there and the men who served on both sides of the American Civil War. As we progressed on the tour, I started to get an uneasy, heavy feeling. The enormity of what had happened there became so real. I began to feel a deep sorrow and after a while the oppressive feeling just became too much. Even to this day, and this trip was over 20 years ago, I can remember the feeling.
Before Chickamauga I attended many battle re-enactments including those of the Civil War. After Chickamauga I could never go to another one and I have never visited another Civil War battlefield. The reality of the war had become too real. According to the web site, Ghosts and Spirits of Tennessee, “The Battle of Chickamauga was the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War; only Gettysburg was bloodier. …Virtually every battlefield is said to be haunted, but Chickamauga seems to be even more haunted than most.” I didn’t see any ghosts that day but maybe those spirits are left behind to remind us of the sacrifice made by brave men, boys and women to make our country what it is today
There were many reasons for the American Civil War. One of the issues, that of states’ rights, continues to pop up in today’s politics. However, one of the things the horrors of the American Civil War taught us is that we need not come to arms again among ourselves.
I have been searching for my ancestors who served in the Civil War. Two, Sampson and George Millirons, father and son, went to war together and served 3 years in the 182nd Ohio Infantry and fought at Shiloh. Another, George W. Nace, served as a saddler in the Ohio 2nd Cavalry under General George Armstrong Custer in the Appomattox Campaign. They are the lucky ones, the ones who lived. On Memorial Day, we will remember their fallen comrades in arms as well as all those from the birth of the United States to today who paid the ultimate price to keep our country free and united.