Winchester TN to the Battles of Chattanooga
Photos by Jeff King
Winchester TN – The state historical sign at Winchester’s Courthouse discusses Franklin County voting to secede from Tennessee and asking for admittance to Alabama on 24 February 1861. This is very similar to the state historical marker in Mayfield KY when seven of Kentucky’s westernmost counties voted to secede from that Commonwealth. The old Jail Museum nearby has Civil War Trails markers at US 41 Alt and Porter Street. It is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The Peter Turney (governor/secessionist) state marker to the 1st TN in the Army of Northern Virginia is on 41 Alt about 0.1 mile from Old Mill Avenue.
Cowan TN – The Railroad Museum is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday May-October. This was a key area because of the nearby railroad tunnel.
Sewanee TN – University of the South was partially founded by General Leonidas K. Polk, and the All Saint’s Cathedral is one of the best Civil War sites anyone can visit. The words "breathtaking" and "awesome" are overused in our present society. They should be reserved for places such as this house of worship. Any traveler would enjoy this stop. The stained glass alone is worth an hour of anyone’s time. Be sure and see the stained glass scene of Union Troops blowing up the church’s cornerstone in the Narthex - rear lobby. Be prepared to be in awe of the cathedral’s interior. While on campus, visit the grave of General Kirby Smith at the Sewanee Cemetery two blocks from the Chapel on Georgia Avenue.
Mont Eagle TN – A late breakfast at the Mont Eagle Diner on Route 41 Alt about 0.5 mile west of I-24 exit 124 offered pork tenderloin with grits or gravy, good biscuits but no potatoes. Ambience was mainly old Chevrolet pictures, hubcaps, etc. from the Booby Wiggins collection (pre 1960) with separate room for non-smokers. I am surprised that the majority of folks order soda as a breakfast drink in almost all the places I have stopped in Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee this week. The only fruit juice offered was orange. Service and food worth stopping in for a visit.
Signal Hill on Signal Mountain – A National Park Service site north of the city off Route 127/27 on Signal Mountain. Signal Point is off Mississippi Avenue. I highly recommend beginning your Chattanooga visit here as it lays out the city and its battles in a remarkably scenic way. Restroom facilities, interpretative signs, and a wonderful overlook are at this site.Stayed at Raccoon Mountain Campground – Easy access off I-24 exit 174 with good bathhouse and facilities. Go-Kart track and 405 miles of caves for those so inclined.
As you quickly discover, Chattanooga was a series of battles. There is nothing to see of Brown’s Ferry. Most of the Wauhatchie Battlefield is covered by a large high school. Maybe the only easily visible markers of the Wauhatchie battle are the New York Monument off to the side of I-24 South near mile marker 175, and the state marker at 100 Wauhatchie Pike. So the next logical stop is the Battles for Chattanooga Museum, 1150 Brow St., Lookout Mountain. Here you can visit a well stocked gift shop, and see the video/electrical map presentation of all the battles. This private business makes a very good presentation for understanding what otherwise can be a very confusing jumble of events. It is located next door to the National Park Service Visitor Center, which is across the street from the entry gate for the Lookout Mountain site. On-street parking requires pumping in quarters. Go around the corner and park behind the NPS VC, which is free.
Lookout Mountain Point Park NPS site - Pay the $3 at the visitor center for the entry fee, and go across the street through the memorial gate. There were ranger presentations, which were open to all questions about the Battle above the Clouds on Lookout Mountain, other local NPS sites, and the Trail of Tears Memorial, which is centered here in Chattanooga. As always, I had several questions and the ranger was helpful, friendly and informative. As was true at Signal Point, the views of the Chattanooga area from Point Park are spectacular. This is the highlight of the NPS sites in Chattanooga. Once you have toured the Point Park at Lookout Mountain site, the next stop should be the Cravens House, which you most likely will pass on the way up the mountain.
Cravens House NPS site – House is not period, but most of the critical portions of the Battle above the Clouds happened here. Several monuments are at this site, some storyboards. Don’t forget to see the Confederate Rifle Pits (picture attached) on the trail near the parking area.
National Medal of Honor Museum - Near the Sears entrance to Northgate Mall on TN 153 at Hixson Pike. Small but nice display on Andrews Raiders and a reunion picture are highlights.
Chattanooga National Cemetery – Seeing the thousands of unknown graves decorated with American flags was unique and exciting. I did not find the USCT section as I arrived after closing of the Grounds Office. The Andrews Raiders Monument and the graves are tasteful and well marked. There is a Memorial Circle of Honor to many “other wars” near the peak of the cemetery that is unique and enjoyable.
Silverdale Confederate Cemetery – From Bragg’s first visit in 1862 on the way to Kentucky. Located next to a Harley-Davidson dealership, scene of quite the party that night, but just short of loud enough to wake the dead. Just off I-75 exit 7B on route 11/Lee Highway. Gates locked, but well worth the outside view.
Chattanooga Confederate Cemetery – Signage specifically asks for anyone visiting to call what I believe is University of Tennessee - Chattanooga Security, so I didn’t go over the wall. If I had I could've walked the area that has a speaker’s stand, several markers, two UDC plaques, obelisk, flag pole, and an unusual headstone marked "Negro Man CSA" in grass that was not yet mown this year.
Missionary Ridge – The “Reservations” are more than frustrating. The Bragg, Turchin, Ohio and Pennsylvania reservations have no parking and probably never will as all of Crest Road is developed under private homes. Limited parking is available at the Sherman Reservation. Sufficient parking is available at the DeLong Reservation. I was hoping to have some sort of trail up the Ridge and at least walk in the footsteps of the 75th Indiana and other hometown men who conquered this formidable looking position. I’m guessing the only way to truly tour this area is to park at DeLong and walk on the narrow Crest Road, taking your life in your hands. I will say there are many tablets and descriptions along the way to explore. This battle area that helped to break the back of the Confederacy is a definite disappointment.
Orchard Knob – Locked after 5 p.m. Driving gate locked both in the evening and at 9 a.m. the next morning. The monument area at the peak is well mown and interpreted. The rest of the knob is overgrown. Getting a clear view of Missionary Ridge is a challenge due to the trees. Walking entry gate is at the corner of East Fourth Street and Orchard Knob.
Tomorrow: The Last Day