Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chattanooga National Cemetery

Normally I'd leave the cemetery post for the end of the tour but I'm including it here because the Chattanooga National Cemetery offers great views of the surrounding area.

This is the original entrance but is no longer used for that purpose.

From the top of the hill in the previous picture you have a nice view of Lookout Mountain. It also has a nice view of Missionary Ridge to the east. Here we are looking towards nearly the center of the Confederate lines. Orchard Knob is north of the national cemetery.
The national cemetery is also the final resting place for Andrews' Raiders. They are placed in a semi circle around a nice monument that has a replica of the General. Additionally some of the headstones indicate if the man was awarded the Medal of Honor. Nearly every soldier involved in the raid has been awarded the Medal of Honor, the civilians not being eligible.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fort Wood

Chattanooga was a pretty well fortified city during the war (I suggest you check out Cities Under the Gun: Images of Occupied Nashville and Chattanooga by James A. Hoobler for period photos). In the intervening 145 years though most of these entrenchments have been replaced with buildings. A few signs, which are usually pretty hard to find, are around to show where forts used to be. The best marked is a spot for Fort Wood. There is no interpretive markers here, just a very large gun pointing towards Missionary Ridge.

There is also apparently a park on Cameron Hill (on west side of downtown) but every time I've tried to get there a variety of construction projects kept me away.

Friday, January 18, 2008

House Tour

This will be my last post for a little while. Next Tuesday I close on my first house. I'll then be busy the rest of the week painting and getting it ready to move in. When I'm done with that I'm sure I'll be too tired to give the blog much thought. But I should be back to my regular schedule on January 28th.

In the meantime you can see what I'll be working on.

After coming in the front door, into a small hallway with coat closet, it opens to the right onto our living room. I took these pictures from the stairwell, you can see it intruding into the picture. Our entry is off to the left. I like the window seat, I can see myself reading the paper or books there. Once it has a cushion it will be a wonderful place to read and relax. I’m not that excited about having a fireplace, I didn’t grow up with one and its no big deal to me if we have one. I may never light a fire in there but ya never know.

To the right of the living room pics is the hallway that goes to the kitchen area. In that hallway is the furnace and hot water heater and a half bath (no pics). The kitchen is old and will need to be updated, eventually, but its livable. There is also plenty of room for our dining room table. Off the kitchen is a small alcove where the washer/dryer and pantry is (no pics).

This will be our son’s bedroom. Of the two bedrooms it is the smaller of the two by a little bit.

We’ll use the other bedroom as a computer room, storage, guest room, etc.

This is the bath across the hall from the two bedrooms. As it will primarily be our son’s bathroom it will have a kid theme to it, he picked dinosaurs.
Remarkably I have no pictures of the master bedroom to share. But it is a fair sized room with a walk in closet.
The master bath, which has the same vanity as the half bath on the main level. They were probably recently updated for the sale.

Sorry this is such a long post, and very heavy on pictures. Once we move in and start painting I’ll have more to share.
One funny story to share about all this. Jess said she wanted to avoid doing Civil War themed decorating. She knows its part of my life, she just didn't want my pictures and nick-knacks to take over the space. That's fine with me, I think that's the way it should be. Have an area for my stuff but not have the whole house be Civil War themed. When we were picking out colors to paint the master bedroom she came up with the idea of painting it gray, with a blue accent wall. Her: "Do you think that's okay?" Me: "Sure, honey." All the while thinking, blue and gray, does she realize what she's proposing? I tried to not show much of an opinion on it thinking I'd tip my hand that she was intending to do a Civil War bedroom without realizing it. Eventually I did bring it up Me: "Darling, do you know what colors signified the two sides in the Civil War?" Her: "Blue and Gray, wait, just like our bedroom" Once she realized that we did stick with those colors, all the more reason I love her.
If you're in the Littleton area on Saturday, January 26th, pop on by and help me move. Email me for directions. :)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cry Havoc Book Review

Cry Havoc! The Crooked Road to Civil War 1861 by Nelson D. Lankford

When this book first came out I had wanted to get it but somehow I never picked up a copy. Then a few months ago the publisher, Penguin, sent me a review copy of the paperback edition. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It covers a period of time that normally isn't dealt with in such detail. Basically the focus is the period from the inauguration through the end of April, with most of the action taking place in Virginia and Maryland. That was my only complaint, that events in Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, etc were not discussed in much detail at all, in fact they are barely mentioned. I understand that this is because Virginia's secession convention was a leader, however that state went would influence what other states did. If Virginia had gone the route of neutrality then perhaps Tennessee and others would have followed a similar path leaving us with a neutral upper South that might help bring about a compromise solution to the impending war. So focusing on what Virginia was doing probably was the best way to tell the story of this brief time early in the conflict.

One thing that bothered me, and I've seen some commentary about it online in other reviews, is that on the cover is a quote from the New York Times that says, "Nelson D. Lankford ... disturbs the time-honored march of history with a series of what-ifs." I don't think that is what Lankford really did. There are several times when he points out that if a particular decision had been made, or not made, that the course of events would likely have changed. I don't think this really qualifies as a what-if. This is the way I was taught history. When you research and present your findings, in a book or oral presentation, you need to show all the various options the decision maker had at the time. You also need to clarify what they knew so that while in hindsight we can see a decision as foolhardy it may have been the best option at the time. And along those lines you need to show the logical immediate outcomes of those options; basically put yourself back into the position the decision make was in at the time. This works for generals in battle or politicians trying to lead their country through a difficult period.

This is exactly what Lankford does, in my mind that is not giving what-ifs, its showing the reader the logical options and outcomes to be had at various steps along the path. Only then can you understand why they made the decisions they made. I think Lankford did a good job of this. Too often when I read about battles it ends up being more of a blow by blow account than the author thinking critically about why certain decisions were made. In the case of a battle book it would have to be done well so that it does not clog the flow of the action. In Cry Havoc Lankford handled this well and provided a very readable and enjoyable book.

Here is some measure of how well I liked this book. Usually when I receive a review copy I pass it along to a friend or donate it to the roundtable book raffle when I'm done with my review. A few I've kept. This is one I'm keeping. I think I will end up using it again as a source and also just to read again for entertainment.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Point Park - New York monument

While the other New York monuments we've seen so far are for individual brigades or units this New York monument is for all New York troops involved in the Battle Above the Clouds. The top has a Union and Confederate soldier shaking hands in a sign of peace. This monument is known for this as I've seen it most often referred to as the New York Peace monument.

I'm not sure why but this monument draws me like a magnet whenever I'm in Point Park. Maybe its because Point Park is so small that a huge monument like this is a natural attractant. For those who don't know Point Park is national park property at the top and tip of Lookout Mountain. It offers a few monuments, some plaques and cannons, but mostly it offers great views of the entire countryside. At the tip of the park you can easily see into Lookout Valley and the Wauchatchie fighting, then over to Brown's Ferry and Moccasin Bend, into Chattanooga, and finish off with the entire length of Missionary Ridge (a later post will show some of these views).

Around the circular base are many panels which describe what the New York troops did in the battle.

Here I was just playing around a little bit with the tree.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Winter Lightning Book Review

Winter Lightning: A Guide to the Battle of Stones River by Matt Spruill and Lee Spruill.

This is the fourth guidebook from Matt Spruill, the others being for the battles of Chickamauga, Chattanooga and the Seven Days. They all follow the War College guidebook format, in fact his first book (Chickamauga) actually is part of that series.

Basically a series of driving and walking directions take you to a specific part of the battlefield. there you read the reports of the men who were there, with maps that show you where you are in relation to the units and people being discussed. The reports mainly come from the Official Records, with a few from other sources.

I love guidebooks, it is hard not to walk battlefields without them. Even a place I've been to often can be seen in a new way by using a new guidebook. I would definitely recommend everyone to add this guidebook to their collection for a variety of reasons.

First, Stones River is a hard battlefield to understand with just the park brochures. For one thing they limit you to only park land, but even in the park they do not do much outside the scope of the driving tour. The park does not have a good set of troop movement maps you can buy to take with you in the field (at least they did not when I was there about two years ago). This book also takes you to sites outside the park boundary, plus does a better job inside the park than the current driving tour does.

Second, I think Matt Spruill has achieved a reputation in the guidebook field that I can safely recommend any of his guidebooks to fellow battlefield wanderers. His directions are clear and easy to follow. The way he separates the editorial content from the historical narrative is easy to understand so you know who is talking to you as you read it.

Third, the maps are great. I initially had a problem with the maps in that the top of the page is not always north. But if you pay attention to the reading (and this would be crystal clear in the field) the maps are orientated in the book so that you don't have to twist your book around to line up map north with field north. Put another way, if you follow the directions when you stop to read the section and look at the map it will be orientated to the field so that you then do not have to figure out which way is north so you can turn yourself around to line up the map. When reading away from the battlefield this did bother me a bit but I soon figured out what Matt Spruill was trying to accomplish.

I think this guidebook is a must have for anyone wanting to know more about Stones River, especially those who will be wandering the fields there.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Confederate Positions near Craven's

Between the Craven's House and the New York monument are two cannons, which represent Howell's Geaorgia Battery. If one takes the time to read the plaque however you find out that this battery did next to nothing. Walthall's Brigade was in their front and they were not able to fire for fear of hitting their comrades. When Walthall's Brigade fell back they retreated fast enough that the battery was not able to make a stand and had to abandon these two guns. Casualties are listed as none on the plaque but no mention is made if they were able to fire off any rounds at all, though it appears that they did not.

This is the final Confederate line for the Battle Above the Clouds. After they withdrew from the Craven's House area they fell back around the mountain to this point. Its not too far from the Craven's House but it was starting to get dark and the Union did not have much opportunity to attack this line.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A few other monuments at Craven's

While there are a few other other monuments, mostly from Illinois, there are only two others I find interesting. (All Illinois regimental monuments are the same and the design isn't exactly that interesting to begin with but after seeing a hundred of the same thing it really gets boring.) They are the 28th and 147th Pennsylvania monuments. They were part of the White Star Division, named for their corps badge in the eastern theater and now in the west to help turn the tide at Chattanooga.

These monuments are located up the mountain a bit from the Craven's House. I wish I could give a better south or west direction but the trail from the Craven's House to these monuments has a few switch backs on it so I'm not quite sure of the actual distance and direction. But it does not seem too far away. Guess I need to start taking a GPS on my trips.
I like the kepi, its simple but looks nice.
I know I just complained about the Illinois monuments for being too simple, and this is also a simple monument, but I like it. Maybe if I saw 100 just like this I wouldn't think much of the design but as a one time example it is nice.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Craven's Plateau - New York Monument

The New York monument near the Craven's house is actually for Ireland's Brigade. This brigade, composed of the 60th, 78th, 102nd, 137th and 149th New York, was formerly Greene's Brigade of Culp's Hill fame. Four months later they are the ones attacking a rock strewn hill. The modern pictures don't really show how narrow of a plateau this is, the older pictures though do show it, primarily because of the difference in vegetation. The cannon in the top picture is a Confederate position, the Craven's house would be over our right shoulder, I'm sure there are times the shadow of the New York monument falls on the Craven's house.

Looking out into Chattanooga.
The rock outcropping on the left is the palisades at Point Park (which will be coming up in a future post), that hotel is no longer there. The New York monument is in the fuzzy part of the scan on the right side of the picture.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Craven's Plateau - Iowa Monument

I love the Iowa monuments in Chattanooga. Partly its because it seems like Iowa wanted to offer one more shot at the Confederates. These monuments went up in the period of conciliation but there is also a sense in the inscriptions that Iowa wasn't totally over the war. The monument near the Craven's House offers these two messages:

"Iowa remembers her patriot sons who went forth at the call of duty to honor their country in the dreadful carnage of war." Not much of a poke at the Confederates, the "honor their country" part might have upset some Confederates.

"May the heroism which dedicated this lofty field to immortal renown be as imperishable as the Union is eternal." That one had to sting for any Confederates who came across that one. Iowa is stating that the Union being eternal is a definite. That must have upset any Confederate veterans who saw this monument as they fought a war precisely because they didn't feel that the Union had to be eternal. For some reason I like that about the monument, that in some small way Iowa wanted to remind everyone that the Union is eternal. Its almost as if Iowa is saying "Don't try secession again because we hate fighting a war just to prove what we all know." Maybe I'm reading too much into it. Also because of where it sits this monument probably sees very few visitors. When I was there I didn't see a sign directing me to which road to take to see it. I simply parked by the Craven's House and walked the road that seemed the most likely. I'm glad I walked it because I'm not sure I could have turned my truck around on that road.

Looking up the mountain towards the Craven's House.
And the view from the Craven's House.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Craven's Plateau - Ohio Monument

Near the Craven's house are three large state monuments, Ohio, Iowa and New York. The Ohio is probably the simplest, it lists the units from Ohio involved in this fight and has two reliefs, one of a solider and one of a woman apparently symbolizing peace and peacetime pursuits, although there is a sword at her side.

I also like the eagle on the top, just wish the terrain allowed me to get a better angle for the shot.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Hooker Monument

This monument is a relatively new monument, which has apparently been defaced as I doubt that blue circle was part of the original design. It is located near the nose of Lookout Mountain. I lack a map to show you, but there were a few places near here to cross Lookout Creek, which was very important as Hooker needed to cross the creek before he could engage the Confederates on Lookout Mountain.

I believe Tyndale and Smith Hills are actually just out of the right of the frame. When we stopped here we were not positive which hill was which. This is the view looking west so Tyndale and Smith Hills would be on the right of the picture, and might be outside the frame unfortunately.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Tyndale Hill

Just south of Smith Hill is Tyndale Hill. This is another area that when I visited it in the fall of 2006 was park property but was closed to visitors. Luckily I happened onto that ranger led tour. Access to Tyndale Hill is from behind the McDonald's at the Brown's Ferry exit off the interstate. You have to park at the bottom of the hill, just about in the McDonald's parking lot, and walk to the top. At the time the park service had yet to cut any trails into the area, I'm not sure if they have done so yet. So with the ranger in the lead we did a bit of bushwhacking. If you're going there you should probably check at a visitor's center before you go wandering around this area.

From the top you have a nice view of Lookout Mountain.
There are also some entrenchments still visible. Even though Tyndale's Hill achieved its name for the October fighting, these entrenchments are most likely for the November fighting as they face Lookout Mountain

A bit hard to make out, but this is a very steep hill on the Lookout Mountain side.