Friday, April 3, 2015

Days 5-7: Civil War Battlefields

Canon at the top of Kennesaw Mountain.
This time, I'm going to roll three days into one. This is supposed to be largely a hiking blog, and three consecutive posts about Civil War trivia seems like a bit much. So I'll condense it into a single post and get back to our regularly scheduled hiking stuff in the next post. =)

March 12: I wasn't ready to get back on the trail just yet. For one thing, the weather was still an ugly mess. And for a second reason.... well, did I really need a second reason? Not really, but I wanted to see some Civil War battlefields because I find them fascinating. Amanda had even done some research about them so she'd be ready and know what had happened there before we arrived. (As she read the book, she'd tell me, "No spoilers! Don't tell me what happens!")

So today, we wandered over to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. Much of the morning was spent at the visitor center watching the video about the battle, then exploring the museum about it. The Confederates held the high ground here in an attempt to stop Sherman from taking Atlanta, and they held their ground. Winning the battle, however, was not sufficient to win the war. Sherman eventually got around the flanks of the Confederates and they retreated further back, eventually losing Atlanta completely.

Amanda left me at the visitor center while she drove off to do her thing, and I followed trails the rest of the afternoon along the entire length of the battlefield where she would pick me up at Kolb Farm.

The hike was largely uneventful. The views from the top of Kennisaw Mountain were great despite the cloud cover. I could see all the way to the skyscrapers of Atlanta and the hump of Stone Mountain. I read all of the signage installed describing what happened at various points of the battlefield. Not a lot of people were on the trails, all thing considered.

The Atlanta skyline was clearly visible in the distance from the top of Kennesaw.
At Kolb's Farm, I called Amanda on my special cell phone ( that I acquired specifically for the AT ) and told her I was ready to be picked up, and while waiting for her to arrive, it started to rain. I had hiked the entire length of the park without rain and thought I was home free, then poof! I get rained on while waiting for Amanda.

Then we headed back to DeAnna's house for dinner with a whole boatload of Amanda's relatives: DeAnna, Zoey, Aunt Lynda, Monika and Kayla. Monika surprised me--I thought she lived in the Charlotte area and didn't realize that she was in town. Kayla surprised me because I hadn't met her before and didn't recognize her. Amanda had relatives popping up all over the place!

The Illinois Monument was being renovated or something when I went through, but the thing I find most fascinating here is that small tunnel at the bottom of the photo. Union forces were stuck on this hillside just a few yards away from Confederate forces at the top of the hill. In an attempt to displace the Confederates, they started digging that tunnel under the Confederates to blow them up. The Confederates retreated before the tunnel had been finished, however, and nothing came from it. Except for that small monument that now marks the entrance of the tunnel.

March 13: I spent a great deal of the morning creating the Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain post you read on day #1, so Amanda and I got a late start driving out towards Chickamauga--our next major stop. On the way, we drove through Dalton--a town I was familiar with because that's where I traveled through on my Key West to Springer Mountain hike. Amanda was surprised by the large carpet factory presence not realizing that it was the carpet capital of the country. (Or at least it sure seems that way!)

I ride a train at the Tunnel Hill museum.
But we didn't stop in Dalton--I just pointed out the overpass I walked over as we drove under it. We did, however, stop at Tunnel Hill. We got there just in time to go on the last tunnel tour of the day, a 1500 or so foot railroad tunnel built in 1849. For those of you familiar with the Great Train Chase during the Civil War, both the General and the chase train went through that very tunnel. There was also some minor fighting that happened in the area and Sherman used a nearby house as his headquarters for a week while planning his assault on Dalton.

It was just a quick stop to break up the drive, though, and eventually we continued on to our destination for the night: Chickamauga.

This historic tunnel is now open for tourists like Amanda and myself because they built a new, larger tunnel next to it in 1928 to replace this one. (That 1928 replacement is still in use today.)

Outside the tunnel, looking in.

Covered bridge near the tunnel.

It would be another dreary, ugly day at Chickamauga.
March 14: Amanda and I hit Chickamauga Battlefield first thing in the morning. (Spoiler alert!) Another Confederate victory, but still not enough for them to win the war. How demoralizing that must have been. They win battle after battle, but just can't win the war. This was the bloodiest two-day battle of the war, a fact that amused Amanda to no end. "They have to qualify it with two days?" Yes, they did. Antietam, I told her, was the bloodiest day in American history. Gettysburg was the bloodiest three-day battle and the largest of the war.

We stopped at the Visitor Center first to get the lay of the land, then I headed out to do some hiking while Amanda drove off to do some driving. I started off trying to follow trails, but they were saturated with rain. Walking across what looked like grassy fields turned into a swamp. The thick grass would hide the inch of water resting on the surface and I'd end up splashing through. Tired of that, I started following roads instead. This early in the morning, there wasn't much traffic anyhow. The guide we picked up at the visitor center had a driving route with numbered stops, and at each stop you could call a number to hear what had happened at that point. With my fancy new cell phone I acquired for the trail, I started going to each of the stops on foot and calling the number. Good times!

At the last stop, I called Amanda to let her know I had finished and it was time to pick me up.

Then we drove up the road to Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain to witness the location of one of those rare times the Union actually won a battle!

Wildlife was thriving! =)
As we headed up the mountain, the fog grew thicker and thicker until we could barely see a hundred feet in any direction. This was a huge disappointment for us. Allegedly, the views from the top were absolutely stunning, but it looked like we wouldn't see squat.

However, as the folks at the visitor center reminded us, the battle took part in a thick fog just like this which is why it was called the Battle Above the Clouds. (Technically, they were IN the clouds, not above them, but I guess that didn't sound as good.)

We explored the area for a bit, but due to the lack of views, we didn't stick around very long either.

Done with our Civil War wanderings, we headed back towards the trail driving out to Helen, Georgia. We checked into the local Econolodge for the night. Tomorrow, I'd be getting back on the trail again....

It's the acorn monument!

Lookout Mountain was socked in a thick fog. It ruined the views, but was true to battlefield conditions of the time!

The entrance for Point Park on Lookout Mountain.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I was actually there in 1982 - but not hiking. Rode up Lookout Mountain in style.

Great blog & photos, thanks!