Friday, February 29, 2008

Sherman Reservation - Iowa monument

I've previously mentioned that I love the Iowa monuments in Chattanooga. In general it is because it seems that Iowa wanted to offer one more shot at the Confederates. Although these monuments went up in a period of conciliation it seems that Iowa wanted to take one last poke at the Confederates. The Iowa monument in the Sherman Reservation is a bit on the lighter side of the verbal jabs.

The first inscriptions is:
"Iowa dedicates this monument in honor of her sons who on this and other fields proved themselves worthy sons of patriotic sires." Confederates would feel that they too were worthy sons of patriotic sires. I don't want to get into it here in great detail but there was much talk about them continuing the revolutionary spirit of 1776. That the work of 1776 was not yet complete. The memory and image of George Washington was trotted out as a way to give their rebellion a bit of a heritage and legitimacy.

The second inscription is:
"You have made it a high privilege to be a citizen of Iowa" Again, a light jab. Every state could claim that their soldiers' bravery and valor made it a privilege to be a fellow citizen of that state.

The position of the monument is as far as the 6th Iowa made it in the charge on Tunnel Hill. In this first picture Tunnel Hill is behind us. The 6th Iowa made additional attacks up the hill but this spot is the farthest position that they held onto.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sherman Reservation

The Sherman Reservation seems like the most neglected part of the Chattanooga battlefield. It is generally over grown, both in tall trees that block most views outside and in undergrowth that limits the view through the trees.

This is an Illinois monument, up a bit of a steep slope (though not entirely inaccessible) with trees and undergrowth all around it.

Another sad aspect of the reservation is that many plaques are missing. I talked with a park ranger and he said some had been stolen (likely for scrap value) and the rest had been removed to prevent future thefts. The backs of every Illinois monument should have a small plaque but all are missing.

Every Ohio plaque has also been removed, but the base remains so that you know it was once there. I think Ohio and Illinois should replace their plaques with a cast iron plaque, or with some other metal that would be less likely to be stolen.
A bit of a "Where's Waldo?" moment. There is an Ohio base in here. If the plaque was still in place it would be very difficult to get at. Hint: it is in nearly the very middle (both horizontally and vertically) of the picture.
The Missouri markers put the engraving on a flat top, which wind and rain have basically erased. Someone use chalk (I hope it was only chalk) to make the writing on this one visible again. I've heard of people using flour in graveyards to help bring out the old writing, maybe I need to carry a bag of flour on my future battlefield wanderings.
A little hard to see but these are earthworks that Giles A. Smith's brigade erected on the night of November 25th. The next morning they would awake to find out that Cleburne's Division had left their front.
I just like this view of the road that takes you to Sherman Reservation. There is a Missouri marker on the left side of the road.

Although I said earlier in this post that it is hard to see out of the reservation, there is one nice view of Lookout Mountain possible.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Shiloh & Corinth: Sentinels of Stone

An interesting coincidence happened the other day (actually about a month ago, time sure does fly by). I poking around for Shiloh books many months ago I saw that a new book on Shiloh was coming out, Shiloh & Corinth: Sentinels of Stone by Timothy Isbell. I've been burned in the past by buying books sight unseen just because it was on Shiloh. There is some horrible stuff out there. So I requested the book through inter library loan. It came in just as I made the move into my new house. It just so happens that the very day the book arrived a received an email from Timothy Isbell wishing me luck on the move and saying that he reads my blog. A very strange coincidence but something that was pretty cool too.

Anyway, this is a great book. The pictures are amazing but its more than just a picture book as there is quite a bit of text accompanying each picture. This was a nice way to relax after a day of painting and unpacking. This is definitely a book I want to add to my collection (I probably shouldn't announce that here as Jess is sure to ask me where I intend to find a place for another book). I will soon order the Shiloh book and his volume on Vicksburg (he's also done Gettysburg but I need to watch the shelving space somehow). I was excited to learn that a volume on Chickamauga is in the works.

Some of his photos are available online at He definitely has a talent for getting the perfect shot. I have included a picture from his website of the Water Oak Pond at Shiloh so you can see a sample of the great shots he gets. Some of his other work, including a series on the Vietnamese people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Hurricane Katrina damage in the Biloxi area and some scenes from the career of Brett Favre, are also available on his site.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Alton Cemetery

Awhile ago Neil Ashton commented to my old McDonald Field post:

"My GG Grandfather Joseph Ashton was shooting that cannon for Swett’s or Warren’s Light artillery. Joseph was born in Franklin County, Georgia in 1827. Joseph and his family resided numerous years in Ashville, Alabama. Joseph died from wounds received in the battle at Missionary Ridge. He was transported to a CSA Hospital in Marietta, Georgia and is buried in the Confederate Cemetery in Marietta, Georgia. His Brothers Samuel and John were also at Missionary Ridge in the Alabama 58th. John was captured, at Missionary Ridge, and sent to Rock Island, Illinois where he died of typhoid. He is buried there in the Confederate Cemetery at Rock Island. Samuel was captured a year later and sent to Camp Douglas in Chicago, Illinois. Their youngest brother Jeptha would have also been engaged in the battle Missionary Ridge with the Alabama 25th, but he died of measles at Barlow’s mill in Alabama a year earlier."

About a week after that a friend who works in my office building brought in pictures from the site of a different Illinois Confederate prison and cemetery, Alton. Too bad it wasn't either Camp Douglas or Rock Island, then it would tie in better with the earlier comment, but I though these pictures were still interesting and offered a nice tangent from my Chickamauga and Chattanooga posts.

The Alton prison was originally the first Illinois state prison. Conditions were horrible here, bad enough that Dorothea Dix was a constant critic of the place. By 1860 the state prisoners were transferred to a prison in Joliet. When the Union needed a new prison to hold captured Confederates Alton again was pressed into service. During the war 11764 Confederates spent some time here. There is a monument with the names of 1534 men who were known to have died here. Some men are still buried there but others were buried on an island in the Mississippi River that has long since washed away.

Confederate prisoner Samuel Harrison returned in 1935 to take a brick from the wall home to serve as his grave stone.

The remaining walls of the prison.
The monument in the Confederate cemetery with the names of 1534 known dead.
Alton was also the site of a Lincoln-Douglas debate, the seventh and last debate of the 1858 Senate campaign. There is a monument there which apparently is the only one for the debates that shows Douglas as a participant.

All photos courtesy of John Wedding

Monday, February 25, 2008

Franklin: Five Hours in the Valley of Death

This weekend I received a review copy of Wide Awake's film, "Battle of Franklin: Five Hours in the Valley of Death." It was part of a promotional thing for roundtables and I'm listed as the contact for the Rocky Mountain Civil War Roundtable in North and South magazine. I've seen this film before and it is a very good film. This is what National Park orientation films should strive to be. So many of them are quite bad (and quite dated). The only drawback to this being a NPS film is that its 65 minutes long (also Franklin is not a NPS park so it doesn't apply here).

I was surprised to learn that Wide Awake had done 7 other films, I knew they had done some others but didn't not realize they'd done that many. One thing I like is that their focus is on the West. Only 1st Manassas and Spotsylvania (which I've seen and enjoyed as much as I did Franklin) represent the East. The West gets Chickamauga, Perryville, Shiloh, Stones River, Franklin and even one for Bleeding Kansas. Chickamauga, Mansassas and Spotsylvania also won Telly Awards (an award I've never heard of before). Bleeding Kansas and Franklin won Emmy Awards. I feel very safe in saying that if you watch these you will not be disappointed. I'm probably going to order Shiloh and Chickamauga in the near future.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Top 50 books

The other day on Civil War Interactive they asked for votes to decide the 50 best books written about the war. They want readers to submit their top three (ranked) and the editors will figure out the top 50, plus someone will win a prize just for entering. The prize is a brand-new copy of the new biography - "Le Roy Fitch: The Civil War Career of a Union River Gunboat Commander." I don't know much about the book but it sounds intriguing, although honestly very few books do not sound intriguing, that's why I'm facing a library of over 1200 books.

I thought it’d make a great post for me. The only limit I put on my list was that I did not want any novels. I love novels, they are what got me interested in the war in the first place but I thought they should be excluded from a list of the best books on the war. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt was the first Civil War themed book I ever read, not sure what grade I read that for but it certainly was a school assignment. I liked it and it stuck in my mind but did not prompt the madness that currently infects me. Years later a buddy suggested I read The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara, and that gave me the full blown disease of the Civil War. But my favorite novel is Shiloh by Shelby Foote. I reread Aprils once, have never reread Angels, but I’ve reread Shiloh a number of times. Its an easy read, doesn’t take long and is well written.

In no particular order ...........

I think Bruce Catton has to be at the top of the list. I’ve never read a bad Catton book. When just voting for three books its tough to pick out one Catton book. I loved his trilogy on the Army of the Potomac and his general war trilogy. I also think the American Heritage book is a great book, a bit dated but still a wonderful book.

Thinking of sets also brings to mind Douglas Southall Freeman’s trilogy, Lee’s Lieutenants. And Bell I. Wiley’s two books on the common soldier (Life of Johnny Reb and Life of Billy Yank). Another great set is Miller’s Photographic History of the Civil War (10 volumes). Ezra Warner’s Generals in Blue and Generals in Gray is another fabulous pair of books.

Two books I could not live without are Fox’s Regimental Losses and Dyer’s Compendium. Just saying “Fox and Dyer” to most buffs is enough. These are not fascinating for the writing, in fact if you read Dyer cover to cover you’d probably be bored silly, but they are fantastic reference books.

I’m having trouble thinking of a general history book, probably because I don’t read these much anymore so its been quite some time since I read one. I liked James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom. That might be the best single volume out there. If I had to choose between it and Catton’s trilogy I’d pick Catton but as far as one single book for the entire war goes this is probably the best.

I think Service with the 6th Wisconsin by Rufus Dawes is as fine a memoir as you can find. I have an affinity for the Iron Brigade so I also enjoyed Alan Nolan’s Iron Brigade. No western theater unit history sticks out for me except for William C. Davis’ Orphan Brigade.

I think there are a number of battle studies that should be included on the top 50. I’d pick Edwin Coddington’s Gettysburg Campaign: Study in Command, Stephen Sears’ Antietam: Landscape Turned Red, and the Overland campaign series by Godon C. Rhea. I haven’t seen his newest one (Artillery at Gettysburg) yet but I’m a big fan of Maps of Gettysburg and Brigades of Gettysburg, both by Bradley Gottfried. Surprisingly nothing prior to Antietam comes to mind as a great book in the east. In the west I’d pick Peter Cozzens’ western series, plus his book on Corinth (Darkest Days of the War). I liked Albert Castel’s book on the Georgia campaign, Decision in the West: Atlanta Campaign of 1864. I think Larry Daniels’ Shiloh is the best book on that battle, though I also like the edited version of Edward Cunningham’s Shiloh and Western Campaign. I also enjoyed Tim Smith’s Champion Hill and hope he devotes that kind of energy and depth to Shiloh one day.

A few other books that I enjoyed over the years and/or made me think. Confederate Strategy from Shiloh to Vicksburg by Archer Jones, Let Us Have Peace by Brooks Simpson, Lost for the Cause by Stephen Newton, Controversies and Commanders by Stephen Sears (I wish someone would do this for the western theater), Lincoln and His Generals by T Harry Williams, For Cause and Comrades by James McPherson, Two Great Rebel Armies by Richard McMurry, Fourth Battle of Winchester by Richard McMurry, Lincolnites and Rebels by Robert McKenzie Crisis in Confederate Command by Prushankin, Grant’s Lieutenants by Steven Woodworth (I’ve only ever seen volume 1, did I miss the second?) and Attack and Die by Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson.

I think that gives me about 30 books if you count some of those multivolume works as one. There are some great books I know I’m leaving out. I didn’t list any biographies mainly because I don’t read too many of them. I have found some very interesting however many times I’m mainly interested in his Civil War service not his time before or after the war. Sometimes authors treat the war as a minor event in the person’s life. So mainly I read biographies more a reference tool, reading only segments that interest me that day. I’ve read parts of Grant’s memoirs often enough that by now I may have read the whole thing but I’ve never pulled it off the shelf with the goal of reading it cover to cover.

I’ve also not mentioned any guidebooks on my list. I think they are important but most are written to be read on the battlefield and thus are a bit dry when read at home. But they are an essential part of a traveler’s library. I prefer the War College series and books that follow that model. Outside of that series I think the ones that most closely follow that model are the ones being done currently by Matt Spruill. I’m not a big fan of the Hallowed Ground series (various authors but they’ve covered more ground than the War College and Spruill have), primarily because I’m not a huge fan of their maps.

I think my final vote for the three best individual volumes is :
1. Service with the 6th Wisconsin by Rufus Dawes
2. Lincoln and His Generals by T Harry Williams
3. Gettysburg Campaign: Study in Command by Edwin Coddington

I realize these are all considered classics so I decided to do a second list of books that are not yet classics but may one day rise to that level.
1. Controversies and Commanders by Stephen Sears
2. Champion Hill by Tim Smith
3. Maps of Gettysburg by Bradley Gottfried

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Bragg Reservation - views

Cobb's Kentucky Battery was positioned near Bragg's headquarters. The guns were all named for the wives of Confederate officers; Lady Buckner, Lady Breckinridge, Lady Lyon, and Lady Gracey. If this was meant for good luck it apparently did not help much as they lost all 4 guns.
A view of the battery taken in the spring, I've always loved this picture. Everytime I've been there since I hope the tree is blooming like it was this day but it's never been quite right since.
From the north end of the Bragg Reservation a two picture panoramic of the northern end of Chattanooga.

Looking down the ridge to show to some degree the steepness of the slope in this vicinity. Of course modern road building has changed the nature of the slope but you can still see that it is pretty steep here. Cobb's Battery would not be able to fire too effectively here due to that slope.
I tried to post this picture yesterday with the monument post but after 4 tries it still wouldn't load. I got lucky today, it finally worked. This is for the 97th Ohio. In addition to being part of the Missionary Ridge assault force they were the first unit to set foot in Chattanooga on September 9th, 1863.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Bragg Reservation - monuments

The Bragg Reservation is nearly smack dab in the middle of Missionary Ridge. I used this as my base point to walk the entire ridge. One day I parked here and walked everything south of here. The next day I walked everything north of here. On the northern end there were a few other places to park that I utilized but to walk the south end this was the best place to park. If you've ever been on the ridge before you know the road is narrow, that the sidewalk is small and the cars tend to go faster than the speed limit. My tip to walk the ridge is not to get an early start, let everyone go to work than traffic will be minimal and you can walk the ridge with ease. You should also do this on a weekday and will need to clear the road by the time people start returning home from work. This does leave plenty of daylight hours unused but you can use those to walk Sherman Reservation or Point Park, or go down to Chickamauga, its not too far away.

Bragg Reservation is near where Bragg had his headquarters during the siege. Truthfully he was not on top of the ridge but this is what was preserved. The marker explaining his headquarters can be seen in this first picture, if you click on it to get the larger version. If you look in front of the car you will see two tablets along the crest, continue to the right and you will see a smaller marker located closer to the ground and that is the Bragg marker. The marker gives a brief order of battle so I did not include a picture of it, its not too exciting. The large monument in this picture is the Illinois monument to her units that were engaged in taking Missionary Ridge.
A closer view of the Illinois monument.
And the top of the Illinois monument.
Looking along the crest of the ridge. The small stone markers are for individual Illinois regiments, marking their place in the line. They are generally from Sheridan's division in this area.
The Missouri state monument, for units that fought on both sides.
Its not technically in the Bragg Reservation, just south of there by about 50 feet, but since this was the regiment that my realtive fought in I'm going to include it here. This is the 24th Wisconsin's marker. Time and weather has not been kind to it. First Lieutenant and Adjutant Arthur MacArthur grabbed the colors and lead his regiment to the the crest. According to his son's memoirs (Douglas MacArthur's Reminiscences) Sheridan hugged Arthur and told him he'd just won the Medal of Honor. I've read though that at the time it was believed the Medal of Honor would only be awarded to enlisted men as officers received brevets instead of medals so that story is probably more legend than fact. In 1890 though Arthur would receive a Medal of Honor for this charge. Later his as son would win a Medal of Honor too. My relative, Jacob Goll of Company C, was in this charge, what he did or how close he may have been to the colors is forever unknown.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Ohio Reservation

The Ohio Reservation is basically a place to have plaques for all the Ohio units that were not engaged on Missionary Ridge. In all there are 18 Ohio plaques here. There is also a plaque for the 5th Company of Washington Artillery that was positioned here during the battle.

The 5th Company of Washington Artillery was positioned here but had to leave this position after being flanked on both sides. The men tried to escape to the rear but abandoned four guns after they became mired in a ravine to the rear of this position.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Turchin Reservation

The Turchin Reservation is by far the smallest of the reservations, not much more than a wide spot along the road. It probably was preserved because the steep slope behind it did not readily allow a house to be built here. There are two cannon and two markers here. The cannon are for Dent's Alabama Battery. The marker is for Samuel Beatty's brigade. After taking this position the brigade turned north and "joined by the right of Turchin's brigade on the first knoll beyond this position assisted in the capture of four guns." The Delong Reservation is north of this point and the four guns of Water's Alabama Battery are probably the four guns being referred to on this marker.

View of Chattanooga from the reservation.
Another view of Chattanooga from the reservation, this one is a scan of a picture I took before I got a digital camera so the quality is not as nice. I wanted to include it though because you can see the river in a few places and get a feel for how close this part of the ridge is to the river.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

DeLong Reservation

I've decided to show the various reservations along Missionary Ridge first before doing posts with pictures from other Ridge areas. Just a way to group them because chronologically just wouldn't work too well here.

Another of the small reservations is the Delong Reservation. All that is really here is the 2nd Minnesota monument, I previously did a post of the 2nd Minnesota monuments at Chickamauga, and some cannon denoting Water's Battery. This position was taken because the Confederate line to the left had given way and these men found themselves flanked.

You may notice a dog at the base of the monument, he was a stray that stayed there the entire day. I seriously considered adopting him but didn't want to drive two days home with a strange dog in the front seat with me.
This monument also lists the men who were killed in the assault on the ridge.
Water's Alabama Battery. Unfortunately the last two pictures show that this battery has suffered at the hands of locals. "JWM" and "Larry T" and "DTM" apparently do not hold this battery in much reverence.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Glass Reservation

At the base of Missionary Ridge on the north end of the ridge is Glass Reservation, named for the Glass House that was near this spot in 1863. It is near the tunnel of Tunnel Hill and thus is also near the Sherman Reservation on the very northern end of the ridge. This is another part of the battle that is difficult to visit, there is no parking, you just need to find a spot on the street nearby and hope for the best. This is also a rough area, like Orchard Knob. In fact I've had more trouble with people here than I've had at Orchard Knob. That might just be because the people who live in the houses closest to Glass Reservation were bad those days and new tenants may be quite nice today.

This is a tiny parcel of land, I think its the second smallest of the Missionary Ridge reservations, the Turchin Reservation is clearly the smallest. But it does have three monuments and two markers. The monuments are for the 26th and 90th Illinois of Loomis' brigade and the 73rd Pennsylvania of Buschbeck's brigade. These were men Sherman tried to use to flank the Tunnel Hill position from the west side of the ridge but to no avail.

In this first photo there is a road on the other side of the stone wall, that road curves a bit to the left but takes you directly to the Sherman Reservation.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Orchard Knob

Last week in Civil War Interactive's weekly blog review Laurie Chambliss pointed out that my Orchard Knob pictures mostly excluded views of the nearby homes. That reminded me that I should point out that Orchard Knob is in the middle of the city, and in a bit of a rough neighborhood. When I visited there to take those pictures in the fall of 2006 I did so with a plan.

I went in the middle of the day in the middle of the week. I've been there before on a weekend and let's just say that the more deserted the neighborhood the better. Since I was making this excursion alone I needed to be extra cautious. I also had a list of what monuments and views I wanted to take pictures of, and when I got there I went to work and finished quickly. I bet I shot everything in 45 minutes. Also because I know my parents worry I called my dad before and after my visit, plus he'd been there with me before so he knew what I was in for. If I had been with a group I wouldn't have been worried, or not nearly as much, but being alone I decided to err on the overly cautious side.

Clearly Laurie has been to Orchard Knob, I like this description that barely reveals what sort of neighborhood it in, or that it is even in a neighborhood at all:
"Those who have been to the site will appreciate the intensive effort that must have gone into Nick's choices of vantage points to photograph each memorial. Coping with bright sun on what was evidently a beautiful fall day is hard enough for the photographically challenged among us, but he also manages to make it look like a secluded, indeed idyllic spot. Only one shot includes the roofs of some nearby houses."

Friday, February 8, 2008

Orchard Knob - Pennsylvania monuments

Here are the Pennsylvania monuments on Orchard Knob. The text of the monument precedes the picture of the monument.

Knapp's Pennsylvania Battery Monument (320)
(South side)
1861 to 1865
(West side)
Battery "E" PA. Vol
Geary's Div Hooker's Corps
(East side)
Wauhatchie - Missionary Ridge
Lookout Mountain - Ringgold
(North side)
Erected 1895
27th Pennsylvania Monument (322)
(West side)
27th Regiment
Volunteer Infantry
1st Brigade - 2nd Division
11th Army Corps
This Regiment took an active part at Wauhatchie and Missionary Ridge
(East side)
Number of Officers and Men in action at Missionary Ridge 240
One Officer and 45 Men Killed
6 Officers and 80 Men Wounded
46th Pennsylvania Monument (326)
46th Pennsylvania Infantry
1st Brigade - [Knipes]
1st Division - [Williams]
12th Corps - [Slocum]
Joe Hooker's Command
This Regiment rendered important service as rear guard in the movements and actions of the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps in opening and maintaining communications with the Army of the Cumberland at Chattanooga, from Nashville, via Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and the Tennessee River
Organized August 1861
Discharged July 1865
75th Pennsylvania Monument (328)
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
To Her Seventy-Fifth Regiment Infantry Volunteers
Major August Ledig, Commanding
Lookout Mountain,
Missionary Ridge.
Organized at Philadelphia in August, 1861, by Colonel Henry Bohlen
Discharged at Murfreesboro, Tennessee September 1st, 1865
75th Pennsylvania Infantry
3rd Brigade - 3rd Division - 11th Corps
109th Pennsylvania Monument (329)
109th Pennsylvania Infantry
2nd Brigade
2nd Division - 12th Corps
The Regiment, under command of Captain Frederick L. Gimber, was engaged at Wauhatchie, seven miles from here 11:15 P.M. October 28 to 3 A.M. of the 29th, and at Lookout Mountain November 24, 1863.
Curtin's Light Guards recruited in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, mustered in the U.S. Service, December, 1861, Re-enlisted January, 1864; Consolidated with the 111th Regiment Pennsylvania Veterans Volunteer Infantry March 31, 1865, which was mustered out of service July 19, 1865.
The State of Pennsylvania has erected this monument in grateful remembrance of the Officers and Men of the 109th Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteer Infantry who in the time of their country's peril, offered their lives upon this field and many other battlefields to save for the benefit of posterity, a government founded upon the consent of the governed and dedicated to the principles of personal liberty and human freedom.