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drivin' to TN...

Sunday, August 21, 2016
...in a frog-strangling rain. It was not dripping a single drop when I left home on Friday morning, but started in North GA, getting to the point that people pulled off the road to wait it out, not being able to see to drive. I don't know whether it blew over or I just drove on through and got past the pounding thunderstorm.

I had planned the travel to allow for time to stop at the Chickamauga Battlefield in the far northwest corner of GA, just below the TN line. The rain was still coming down really hard when I arrived, so sat in the parking lot of the NPS visitor's center to wait for it to lighten up to go in. And might have possibly taken a wee little nap while waiting. I am not much knowledgeable about the fighting that occurred in and around Chattanooga, but know it was fierce, with a great loss of life on both sides.

There is a short movie that provides a good description and explanation of the battle that raged over several days. With most of the part played by civil war re-enactors who obviously took on their instructions with great enthusiasm as the charged across the meadows and up the rocky slopes of wooded hills with alacrity.  Much of the land was densely wooded at the time of the fighting, with some small acreage cleared for crops, and small farmsteads spread out over the valley. The soldiers were dressed in period garb, with muskets, blankets slung over shoulders, dragging wheeled cannon through the fields, across streams, heavily wooded embankments, dirty, war-weary.

In the historical material posted on the walls, describing the events of the battle, I know now it was a terrible event. There was a huge loss of life for both sides, and ended with the confederates retreating; opening the munitions, wares, and manufacturing resources of the south to the pillaging of northern troops. I am sure many families of men who died on the fields were never told the particulars, just knew their fathers, brothers, sons, husbands never returned home.

This battlefield was one of the first dedicated to the memory of that horrendous loss, and was surely a place of healing as the men from both north and south came together to reminisce and remember in the years after. A place set aside for remembrance, with carefully etched granite monuments erected by groups of veterans to serve as a memorial to their lost members as well as a cautionary tale for future generations.

That historically accurate movie in the theater of the visitor's center was so well done, there was a disclaimer to warn people with children or those with weak stomachs about the content. It was sad and gruesome to watch sitting there in the peaceful, comfortable darkness of the air-conditioned building - 150 years after it occurred. I cannot even begin to comprehend what it must have been like out there in the battlefields, scared to run and scared to stay, watching companions, war-weary friends being blown up or sliced with bayonets.

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