Chickamauga - An Introduction

By Randy Golden and Col. Samuel Taylor,
Exclusively for Our Georgia History


What Civil War buff doesn't know the famous place names of Chickamauga - Reed's Bridge and Jay's Mill, Kelly and Winfrey Field, Lee and Gordon Mill, Brotherton Cabin, Widow Glenn's House, Snodgrass Hill, and Chickamauga Creek. Since there was both a town and a creek of the same name, both the Rebels and the Yankees called the battle by the same name. Authors from Shelby Foote to Peter Cozzens use the term "confused" to describe the battle. Even the real meaning of the name Chickamauga is still contested. Does it mean "Bloody River" or "River of Death" in Cherokee or is it really a Creek word meaning "Dwelling place of the chiefs"?

It is ironic that the greatest victory of the Confederacy was the defining moment in the careers of so many Union generals. It gave hard-drinking Gordon Granger the chance to gamble his career by advancing without orders to save the right flank of the federal forces during the second day of fighting. It gave soft-spoken George Thomas his most lasting sobriquet, "The Rock of Chickamauga," and it forever branded William S. Rosecrans a coward.

For Army of Tennessee commander Braxton Bragg Chickamauga represented a bittersweet technical win. He held the field of battle but lost more Rebels than Rosecrans did Yanks. To James Longstreet and John Bell Hood, who had been fighting for Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia it was an introduction to the western ways of war. And film fans everywhere remember Aunt Pittypat from Gone With the Wind exclaim "Yankees in Georgia?" when word of the battle reached Atlanta.

But the story of Chickamauga is not one of commanders or actors. More than any other encounter in the Civil War, this was a soldiers' battle. It was a strategic nightmare for the generals on both sides who fought in adverse conditions. It was a tactical nightmare for the men who frequently had little to eat and even less to drink, fighting with little or no supervision. The intense struggle scarred the earth for more than twenty years.

The battlefield became our first National Military Park. Today the peaceful land is still a lasting memorial to the men who fought and died in the valleys and atop the ridges, but as Chattanooga and northwest Georgia grow, it is more and more becoming a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with miles of hiking and biking trails.

Join Our Georgia History as we explore the heroism and sacrifice of the common man for their cause at the Battle of Chickamauga!

Prelude (December, 1862 - September, 1863)
The Day Before (September 18, 1863)
First Contact
Early Fighting
The Conflict Widens
A Battleline is Drawn
A Bad Start
Rosecrans Moves North
Breakthrough at the Brotherton Cabin
Granger Reinforces Thomas

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