Battle of Chickamauga History

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The Civil War Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia, History Homepage

(L) General Rosecrans (R) General Bragg
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Commanding generals at Battle of Chickamauga

Battle of Chickamauga Map
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Civil War Battle of Chickamauga

The Battle of Chickamauga was the second bloodiest battle of the entire Civil War and only one battle surpassed its carnage - the place known as Gettysburg. (See Ten Bloodiest and Costliest American Civil War Battles.)
James Garfield, furthermore, served as Major General William S. Rosecrans' Chief of Staff at Chickamauga. Four months after becoming President of the United States, Garfield was shot in the back by a disgruntled office seeker and died two months later on September 19, 1881, the anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga.

Battle of Chickamauga: History

Battle of Chickamauga Painting
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(Painting by Kurz and Allison, 1890)

Battle of Chickamauga: Orders of Battle

Battle of Chickamauga Map
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Chickamauga Battlefield Map

(Right) Battle of Chickamauga Map. It indicates the Union and Confederate armies, Missionary Ridge, Lookout Mountain, the lines-of-battle, and the distance between Chickamauga and Chattanooga - two critical Civil War battles. Map courtesy People's Cyclopedia of Universal Knowledge, Vol 1.

Recommended Reading: This Terrible Sound: THE BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA (Civil War Trilogy) (Hardcover: 688 pages) (University of Illinois Press). Description: Peter Cozzens is one of those amazing writers that brings you onto the field and allows you to experience the campaign. You advance with Cleburne's Division as it moves through the dusk shrouded woods and your pulse races as you envision Gen. Lytle's command trying to decide whether to save their dying commander or flee as the Rebs pound up that smoke-filled hill. Continued below...

This account of the Battle of Chickamauga is first rate and thrilling. The profusion of regimental and brigade disposition maps are particularly useful for any serious visit to the battlefield. There are some intriguing ideas introduced as well. Forrest's role in the early stages of the battle is fascinating to read and to contemplate. Also revealing are the ammunition problems that plagued the mounted units; a problem that would hinder Forrest's command at Spring Hill a year later.

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Recommended Reading: Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns (Great Campaigns of the Civil War). Description: When Vicksburg fell to Union forces under General Grant in July 1863, the balance turned against the Confederacy in the trans-Appalachian theater. The Federal success along the river opened the way for advances into central and eastern Tennessee, which culminated in the bloody battle of Chickamauga and then a struggle for Chattanooga. Continued below...
Chickamauga is usually counted as a Confederate victory, albeit a costly one. That battle—indeed the entire campaign—is marked by muddle and blunders occasionally relieved by strokes of brilliant generalship and high courage. The campaign ended significant Confederate presence in Tennessee and left the Union poised to advance upon Atlanta and the Confederacy on the brink of defeat in the western theater.

Recommended Viewing: The Battle of Chickamauga (DVD) (Special Widescreen Edition). Description: WINNER OF THE 2008 SILVER TELLY AWARD, The Top Prize At The Ceremony! The Battle of Chickamauga proved to be one of the fiercest engagements of the American Civil War. Over a period of two days in September 1863, more than 100,000 men struggled for control of the south's most strategic transportation hub, the city of Chattanooga. Along the hills and valleys surrounding the Chickamauga Creek, over 34,000 casualties would be suffered, and the Confederate Army of Tennessee would achieve their last, great victory. Only one battle would surpass the bloodshed and carnage of bloody ChickamaugaGettysburg. Continued below…

Shot on location using High Definition cameras, this 70-minute documentary film dramatically recreates the battle by including more than 50 fully animated maps, period photographs, historical documents, and reenactors. This Special Edition DVD also contains over 30 minutes of bonus features, including an in-depth tour of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park's very own Fuller Gun Collection. Absolutely a must have for the Civil War buff. FIVE STARS by


Recommended Reading: Chickamauga 1863: The River Of Death (Campaign). Description: By the autumn of 1863 the Confederacy was in dire straits. In a colossal gamble, Confederate President Jefferson Davis stripped forces from all the major Confederate armies to reinforce the Army of Tennessee in a last ditch attempt to crush the Union. On 19th September the Confederates attacked the Union army along Chickamauga creek south of Chattanooga. On the second day of bloody fighting the entire Union right collapsed and the army retreated headlong for Chattanooga, all except General George H. Thomas' Corps who fought on doggedly until nightfall delaying the confederate advance, saving the Union and earning his fame as the "Rock of Chickamauga". Continued below…

About the Author: James R. Arnold is a US-born freelance writer who has contributed to numerous military publications. James spent his formative years in Europe and used the opportunity to study the sites of historic battlefields. He has more than 15 published books to his credit, many of them focusing on the Napoleonic campaigns and American Civil War.

Recommended Reading: Chickamauga and Chattanooga: The Battles That Doomed the Confederacy (Paperback). From Booklist: This slim, eminently readable book by an established novelist and historian covers the two major battles of the Tennessee campaign in the fall of 1863. The Confederacy then had its last clear chance to reverse the course of the war. Continued below...
But its army proceeded to throw away what might have been a decisive victory at Chickamauga and was then driven from Tennessee at Chattanooga (the best-known episode of which is the Battle of Missionary Ridge). Bowers gives us almost straight narrative history, providing little background and less analysis but many memorable pen portraits of specific units and commanders (he adds notably to the well-deserved scorn heaped on Braxton Bragg).

Recommended Viewing: Shadow in the Valley: The Battle of Chickamauga (DVD). Description: An impressive and epic commemoration of the 145th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga, tells the story of the pivotal 1863 battle in the western theater from the common soldier's point of view. This battle was the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theater, and fought with the second highest number of casualties in the war after Gettysburg. Generals Rosecrans and Bragg locked in a fight to the death. Continued below…

Our one of a kind, high-definition re-enactment footage is the background to an epic spectacle. Featuring nearly 5,000 re-enactors, no other docu-drama or film has placed you on the battlefield at Chickamauga quite like this. From multi-award winning filmmaker Kevin R. Hershberger (Wicked Spring), our cameras were embedded with the soldiers on the field of battle for five large-scale re-enactments between September 19-21, 2008; each taking place on a portion of the original battlefield. About the Director: Filmmaker Kevin R. Hershberger graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and served as a Military Intelligence Officer in the United States Army for eight years. Kevin next wrote and directed the multi-award-winning feature film, Wicked Spring (2001) -- An epic character study of lost soldiers during the American Civil War, released worldwide by Ardustry Home Entertainment in December 2003. The release has been a phenomenal success so far with nearly 100,000 DVDs sold. As director, producer and screenwriter, Kevin completed his second feature film, No Retreat From Destiny in 2006. Kevin worked as '2nd Unit Director' for Eleventh Day Entertainment's new documentary For Love of Liberty the story of African-American soldiers from the Revolution to Iraq. Kevin wrote his first screenplay while at VMI and most of his 15 scripts, thus far, deal with his passion for American history. Kevin's films have won 57 film festival and international industry awards, including six for directing.


Recommended Reading: Rock of Chickamauga: The Life of General George H. Thomas. Reader's Review: Cleaves' book is an excellent read for the person who wishes to learn more about one of the best (North or South) and overlooked generals of the Civil War. While many books focus on Lee, Jackson, Grant, and Sherman, Cleaves succeeds in bringing to light the very important accomplishments by General Thomas. Continued below…

Included in the book are Thomas' many military victories: the complete defeat of a Confederate army at the battles of Mill Springs and Nashville, repulse of Hood's attacks at Atlanta, and of course, perhaps his most stunning achievement - holding the Confederate Army at bay on Snodgrass Hill while the rest of the Union Army retreated from Chickamauga. Throughout the book, Cleaves describes Thomas as a man who willingly subordinated his desires for the best of the nation, something lacking in most "leaders" today. Several times Cleaves describes Thomas as a calm, confident, and not easily shaken man in whom soldiers took great comfort in knowing he was in charge. “[A] great read…refreshing change from the status-quo.”


Recommended Reading: Historic Photos of Chickamauga and Chattanooga (Historic Photos) (Hardcover). Description: The campaign from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, to Chickamauga, Georgia, followed by the siege of Chattanooga, is one of the most dramatic stories of the entire Civil War. Union Major General William S. Rosecrans led a brilliant advance into Georgia, taking Chattanooga with the loss of only six men. Near Chickamauga Creek, Confederate General Braxton Bragg routed Rosecrans army, then laid siege to it from the heights around Chattanooga. Continued below…

Major General Ulysses S. Grant, recently given command of virtually all Federal armies in the Western Theater, arrived to break the siege. A climatic Union charge routed Bragg s demoralized army. Historic Photos of Chickamauga Chattanooga tells this story and much more, for it includes the important struggle to preserve America’s Civil War battlefields, which began with Chickamauga. Striking black-and-white images of aging veterans, reuniting to preserve their history, join photos of the rugged terrain over which they fought in 1863. This is a compelling American story told in photographs, with text by a noted historian.


Editor's Choice: CIVIL WAR IN WEST SLIP CASES: From Stones River to Chattanooga [BOX SET], by Peter Cozzens (1528 pages) (University of Illinois Press). Description: This trilogy very competently fills in much needed analysis and detail on the critical Civil War battles of Stones River, Chickamauga and Chattanooga"Cozzens' comprehensive study of these three great battles has set a new standard in Civil War studies....the research, detail and accuracy are first-rate." Mr. Cozzens' has delivered a very valuable, enjoyable work deserving of attention. The art work by Keith Rocco is also a nice touch, effecting, without sentimentality...historical art which contributes to the whole.

Picture of Rosecrans and Bragg courtesy National Park Service

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