Just south of Chattanooga in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, lies Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. It’s not only the nation’s first and largest military park, but also the model for others that followed. (Including Shiloh, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg.)
Chattanooga was considered the “Gateway to the Deep South” during the Civil War. Therefore it was a prized city to possess and fight for.
Fighting broke out in the Chickamauga Campaign on September 19, 1863. (Although troops were well in position before that so many sources cite the days of battle as being September 18-20, 1863.)
The result? Estimated casualties exceeded 34,000 and the Confederates “won.” (Later they would realize while they had won that battle, it was also a key in what set them up for their ultimate defeat.)
THE BATTLEFIELD TODAY
Today the park is preserved to look as it did back when the battles were fought there in 1863. (Sans the blood and bodies.)
The over 1,400 monuments and historical markers were erected by veterans from both sides who fought there. The result?
A breathtaking commorative landscape.
A BATTLEFIELD OF ART AND SCULPTURE
Other than the invisible barrier that separates the park from the city streets of Rossville and Fort Oglethorpe and the signs telling you you’re now entering the park, there’s no warning of what lies just ahead. It’s almost surreal to go from the modern (yet small city) feel smack into history.
I felt like I was experiencing what it might feel like to find myself jolted back through time. And then to see all the memorials…it’s nothing short of humbling. The care and craftsmanship with which these memorials were created are truly works of art.
Below are a few examples of the loving tributes the Civil War veterans who fought there left behind: