In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “All It’s Cracked Up to Be.” Tell us about a time when everything actually turned out exactly as you’d hoped.
I was slightly anxious to be driving alone through a strange city,hauling my tiny camper, watching for road signs and listening to Siri’s annoying GPS voice directing me to the Chickamauga Battlefield. Anxious because the previous day I got stuck on the top of Lookout Mountain and was rescued by angels – but I’ve already told that story.
The morning was perfect; no clouds, in the low 70’s, sunny and bright. I drove through Chattanooga without mishap arriving safely at the Chickamauga Battlefield and Chattanooga National Military Park. I pulled into a perfect parking space for the camper (meaning I didn’t have to back out) and had wonderful ingress and egress to parking throughout my tour.
I entered the museum as the award winning film depicting the battles on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge began. “The Campaign for Chattanooga: Death Knell of the Confederacy” is a haunting film of the men from rural farms and small towns who fought and died at the Battle of Chickamauga. Their dashed hopes and broken dreams as the Civil War raged is profoundly sad and thought provoking.
I was given a map to the Chickamauga Battlefield that features a 7 mile self-guided auto tour, monuments, historical tablets, hiking trails and horse trails. As I drove from site to site I was struck by the number of people touring the battlefield; young people on motorcycles, retirees, the aged with walkers, and families with children. I was touched by the beauty of the site and the interest and respect shown by the visitors.
The battlegrounds and roads have been maintained in their original state even to the placement of the cannon and surviving structures. Only brush removal is allowed. As I enjoyed the perfect weather and the beautifully maintained historic park, I reflected on how time can erase the physical scars to the landscape but we must maintain the memory of the battles. It is easy to forget that the Revolutionary War forming the United States had been fought only 87 years before.
A short 152 years ago, over a two day period in September 1863, this beautiful park saw 16,000 Union and 18,000 Confederate casualties, making Chickamauga the second bloodiest battle of the war after Gettysburg. That’s 34,000 soldiers wounded or killed in two days. Keep in mind that these battles were fought face-to-face, hand-to-hand with soldiers seeing and sometimes recognizing the faces of their adversaries.
I am grateful for the hours I spent honoring all the Civil War heroes who fought in this corner of Tennessee. The day was everything I hoped for.