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Civil War Sesquicentennial Events Underway

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

National Park News

Three days of commemorative events are underway at Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, part of a series of activities scheduled this fall to observe the 150th battle anniversaries of the 1863 Campaign for Chattanooga.

For several months this fall, the park is hosting events honoring the soldiers and citizens who took part in the five-month Civil War campaign for control of Chattanooga—a key rail center and “Gateway to the Deep South.”  Included in the campaign are the Battle of Chickamauga and the Battles for Chattanooga–battles that took place at Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain, and Missionary Ridge.

On September 14th and 15th on Chickamauga Battlefield, park staff presented the Walk Through Time (1860-1864) program. This weekend series examined a return to Civil War-era North Georgia through reenacted vignettes that told stories of local debates and growing conflict among citizens, the election of 1860 and the raising of troops. Park visitors learned about the effects of war on local citizens, the arrival of two armies, and, finally the solemn task of burying the dead.

The Chickamauga visitor center was a focal point for many of the activities on September 14th and 15th, including a children’s activity tent with hand-on activities staffed by two teacher-ranger-teachers. Visitors were treated to period music shared by the 8th Georgia Band, artillery demonstrations, book signings, and viewing of the new park film “Campaign for Chattanooga: Death Knell of the Confederacy.” A research station assisted visitors in locating where their ancestors might have fought in 1863. The weekend events included programs presented by living historians and National Park Service staff throughout the battlefield.

On Sunday afternoon, September 15th, band students from three area high schools joined together to perform Civil War era pieces on the lawn of the park’s administration building. The event attracted visitors from the surrounding communities.  This was the first time all three high schools had collaborated on a musical performance.

This weekend, September 18th through September 20th, marks the actual sesquicentennial dates for the Battle of Chickamauga. Park staff are leading a series of real-time programs that take place at the time of day when the action was happening 150 years ago, at the scene as the action unfolded on the battlefield.  The three days of fighting along West Chickamauga Creek resulted in a Confederate victory. Union troops retreated to Chattanooga but were besieged by the Army of Tennessee, who occupied the ridge tops surrounding the city, cutting the Union army off from needed supplies. The siege ended in late November, with Union victories at Lookout Mountain, Orchard Knob, and Missionary Ridge.

A March for the Parks event takes place this morning, as 800 students from area schools lace up their sneakers and complete a one-mile walk on the battlefield. Funds raised by the students will go towards monument preservation.  Area students have been participating in the March for Parks for almost 20 years and have raised approximately $30,000 to replace historic tablets throughout the national military park.    

Newly restored monument to General William Lytle will be unveiled this afternoon. The monument will be rededicated on the 150th anniversary of Lytle’s death during the battle at the very location where he died. After three years of efforts by Friends of the Park, the Lytle Camp of the Sons of Union Veterans in Cincinnati, OH, and the National Park Service, the monument has been fully restored to its original pyramid form and height.

For many years, area residents flocked to Chickamauga Battlefield for The Chattanooga Symphony’s annual open-air concert. In honor of our area’s Civil War sesquicentennial, the Symphony returns on Saturday evening for a performance of patriotic music at the base of the iconic Wilder Brigade Monument. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal will open the concert with a proclamation.

Commemorative activities continue on October 9th through October 12th with the Tennessee Civil War Sesquicentennial Signature Event, the Occupation and Liberation Symposium at the convention center in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This four-day public event features nationally known historians with expertise in the Campaign for Chattanooga who will give presentations and guided tours of the battlefields. Two days of programming designed for 5th through 8th grade students will feature park staff, musician/historian Bobby Horton, and historical interpreter Nicole Moore. Living historians from the national military park, the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the U.S. Colored Troops will provide historical demonstrations. An exhibit with artifacts directly tied to the Campaign for Chattanooga will be on display from the Tennessee State Museum and Tennessee State Library and Archives.

On November 23rd  through November 27th, sesquicentennial events for the Battles for Chattanooga will provide activities throughout the Chattanooga area. At Orchard Knob, Confederate troops will be positioned so visitors can learn about the men stationed in the expanse between Missionary Ridge and Chattanooga. Union soldiers will ascend Lookout Mountain from the Cravens House as they did in 1863. Confederate artillerymen will be stationed at Bragg Reservation on Missionary Ridge to educate visitors about the importance of the ridge during the November assault. Additional ranger-led and living historian programs will take place throughout the weekend inside Point Park atop Lookout Mountain. A car-caravan on November 27th will explore the final engagement of the struggle for Chattanooga during the Battle of Ringgold Gap.


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