After Chickamauga

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.


About SallyK

A little blog about the ordinary and not so ordinary things our family does, places we travel, things we see. Like travel, cooking, family stories, book reviews, music? You will find it all here - comments welcome!
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6 Responses to After Chickamauga

  1. carol curren says:

    I felt the same way at Gettysburg. went there shortly after reading Killer Angels. Great book, one of the best educations one can get about both sides of the war, not just the battle.

    We do rev war re-enacting and I love it. It’s not about the war, it’s about understanding how our forebears lived and what it took to settle this part of the world. and we get the native American perspective as well ’cause there’s always some of those folks hanging around.

    I bet you’d really like Sharyn McCrumb’s Ghost Riders. She’s a fantastic writer and really researches her subjects before each book. What was great about Ghost Riders was that the story took place in present day but also in the past during the civil war. Every time she comes out with a new book i run to the store or the library. haven’t been able to find her latest one yet.

    • SallyK says:

      After Chickamauga I had hard feelings about re-enactors. How dare they see as “fun” what was in reality mostly a horror. However, reason prevailed. Re-enactors are valuable as educators and make history come alive, especially for kids. I have been involved in some and it is fun to re-live SOME of our ancestors conditions. You have to admit that clean water is a modern blessing!! Still,after Chickamauga, I cannot watch a battle re-enactment without weeping. My adult self knows too much.

      I’ve been meaning to start reading Sharyn McCrumb’s novels. Sounds like the perfect summer reading project!

  2. When I was studying history in college I was taught that slavery was not the cause of the Civil War, it was state’s rights. Over the years I have had trouble with this. The whole state’s rights argument has at its base slavery.

    America has always had a disagreement regarding the powers of the states v. the power of the national government. It existed under the Articles of Confederation and again in the Constitution.

    A close examination of the differences between the North and South is basically a difference between commercial states v. agricultural states and the most agricultural states were in the South and their cash crops depended on a huge supply of cheap labor.

    Long before there were states there were colonies who’s financial health depended on slavery and when America and its states came along the issue was to protect the South’s continued reliance on slavery.

    I believe that most compromises contained in the Constitution resulted from the South not wanting to give up slavery. I also believe that most of the great post Constitutional debates about state’s rights and territorial growth are based on protecting slavery..

    State’s rights merely became code for maintaining slavery just as “Southern Heritage” is today, cIode for a longing for pre-interrogation days in the South.

    I’ve been to Gettysburg several times and to Andersonville once. I never felt what either you or Carol experienced until after watching the movie, “Gettysburg,” and watching Ken Burns’ documentary on PBS. Then, when at Andersonville, I came to see the horror you describe.

    I have come to basically view re-enactors as people who simply didn’t get enough of cowboys and Indians while they were kids. There’s something about their motives I distrust. I played soldier when I was a kid and fought many WWII battles. I believed war was fun and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I came to see what war really is. I fear re-enactors may be somehow glorifying war. I have a gut feeling that some of them may even welcome another American Civil War.

  3. SusanV says:

    I personally am over the glorification of the American wars What happened to the Native Americans we have destroyed their culture and their spirituality. Now we are questioning what us happening to our planet we need to respect our “resources”

  4. SusanV says:

    Go deeper into history

  5. SallyK says:

    No argument that we have made mistakes in this country. Best we can hope for is to not repeat them.

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