|(Courtesy of Tennessee State Library and Archives)|
Ranger-led hikes, artillery demonstrations, programs and the re-enactment of a flag-raising will be featured in this month’s commemoration of the battles of Chattanooga, termed the “death knell of the Confederacy.”
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in Tennessee and Georgia has events planned in and around the city from Nov. 23-25.
“155 years ago, months of fighting culminated with a series of battles throughout the Chattanooga area,” the park said in a press release. “By the time the smoke cleared, Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and Ringgold Gap were strewn with the wreckage of war, and the Confederate Army of Tennessee was in full retreat.”
The Federals held Chattanooga, the “Gateway to the Lower South,” which became the supply and logistics base for Sherman’s successful 1864 Atlanta Campaign.
Among the commemoration highlights is an event set for 9 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 25. Living historians will recreate a flag-raising by the 8th Kentucky Infantry (US) on that date in 1863, one day after three Union divisions assaulted Lookout Mountain. By midnight, it appeared Federal forces had prevailed. A general wanted Old Glory to be planted on top of the mountain.
|Capt. Wilson (Library of Congress)|
The next morning, with sunshine burning off the mist, a half dozen members of the 8th Kentucky, led by Capt. John C. Wilson, climbed up that morning to plant the flag. While they feared being shot upon, they found the ground had been abandoned by Rebel troops.
“(The soldiers) carefully ascended the summit of Lookout Mountain and entered present-day Point Park. Finding it abandoned by Confederates, they walked out on the point of the mountain. Perhaps foreshadowing the US Marines on Iwo Jima 82 years later, they unfurled an American flag from the commanding heights,” the NPS said.
Capt. John Wilson, who led the party, later remarked, ‘It was the highest flag that was planted during the war...and we were the lions of the day in the Union Army.’”
A newspaperman gave this account of the response:
“The right of the Federal front, lying far beneath, caught a glimpse of its flutter, and a cheer rose to the top of the mountain, and ran from regiment to regiment, through whole brigades and broad divisions, till the boys way around in the face of Mission Ridge passed it along the line of battle.”
A photographer asked the heroes to re-enact the moment with gallant poses on the craggy heights. After the battle, Lookout Mountain became the single-most photographed place during the war. Photographer Royal Linn and others took countless photos of soldiers and civilians standing dangerously close to the edge of outcrops.
|Historic entrance to Point Park (Library of Congress)|
The gallantry of the 8th Kentucky soldiers is now being remembered – 155 years later. The National Park Service said visitors can come to the Ochs Museum in Point Park atop Lookout Mountain to capture the moment. The flag-raising also will be shown live on the park’s Facebook page.
Printed schedules for the November programs are available at the Chickamauga battlefield and the Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor Centers, and a digital schedule, including times and descriptions, is available online at: https://www.nps.gov/chch/chattanooga155.htm