Monday, September 23, 2013
Chickamauga canister tree conveys horror
This account by a soldier who took part in the Battle of Chickamauga 150 years ago last week captures the murderous efficiency of canister, an anti-personnel round fired from a cannon. The round resembled a coffee can and contained small, round, iron balls packed in sawdust and used for defending against infantry attack.
They were used throughout the Battle of Chickamauga, including on advancing Confederates at Snodgrass Hill. About 4,000 men died in the three-day battle, which ended in a Confederate victory. Union forces, however, broke out of nearby Chattanooga, Tenn., two months later and began their successful Atlanta Campaign.
On Saturday, while returning from a morning skirmish at the Battle of Chickamauga re-enactment in North Georgia, we stopped by the Gordon-Lee Mansion in the town of Chickamauga, Ga.
The stately home served as a hospital and headquarters for Union Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans, who fled for Chattanooga during a furious Confederate assault on the battlefield a few miles north of town.
One stop in the house tour is a museum that features military artifacts, weapons and news accounts. Of particular note is the remains of a tree cut at the Chickamauga battlefield in 1900. (Click photos to enlarge)
It contains multiple chunks of canister and is a chilling reminder of the helpless condition of soldiers who had no time to get out of the way of these deadly projectiles.
Both armies occupied the mansion during the Civil War.
The downstairs library -- used as an operating room for Union troops -- features bloodstained floors now covered by rugs.
"Amputated limbs were thrown out the French doors to waiting wagons," a tour brochure says.