Like many of the earlier battles in Virginia, the battle of Chickamauga was an example of the inefficiency of the Union army. Although they outnumbered the Confederates and had superior weapons, the Union was often defeated by its own mistakes and inability to command its own army. During this battle, two Union generals fled the battlefield. Rosencranz, the one in command, was later replaced by President Lincoln, who brought in Ulysses S. Grant to lead the Union. As the generals and their men fled, only one brigade was left to defend the field.
In order to allow the Union forces to retreat and allow remaining General Thomas to reform his brigade, Colonel John Wilder and his forces, known as the Lightning Brigade, held off the advances of Generals Hood and Longstreet and their forces. For his bravery, Wilder became known as the Rock of Chickamauga. Wilder is honored by a tower which rises nearly 100 feet over Chickamauga.
The civil war divided the nation. In so doing, it divided friends, families and pitted brothers against each other on the same battlefield. No one was exempt from such a heartbreaking situation, not even the leader of the Union.
President Lincoln attempted to persuade his favorite brother in law to join the Union's attempt to keep the country together. Lincoln's offer was refused. The President's brother in law was killed during one of the battles, to the devastation of the Lincoln family.
The civil war brought about a great change in how wars were fought. Previously, hand to hand combat and short range weapons were the norm. But the invention of artillery which could fire at long range changed the old ideas.
When General Robert E. Lee first proposed the idea of digging trenches to fortify the soldier's positions, he was dubbed "The King of Spades" and the idea was mocked. Men were supposed to stand up and fight. But, after Lee's troops marched upright in columns and were mowed down in rows like toy soldiers from a single blast of a cannon, the ideas began to change.
The events of the civil war were not photographed, which is, in many, many respects, a blessing. But the lack of documentary evidence meant that the events that took place would not be remembered throughout the course of history. To prevent this, Congress commissioned the creation of the National Military Parks, with Chickamauga and Chattanooga being the first. These parks are filled with monuments and markers which attempt to re-create the events of the battles by identifying what happened on particular areas of the field. In creating the park and placing the markers, park personnel relied on the memories of those who survived. The park is, in a sense, a marble and stone recreation of the events that happened there- a collection of markers which continue to stand after those who witnessed the events are gone and which will continue to stand throughout time.
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