Monday, March 13, 2017

Chickamauga Study Group Weekend

OH...IO - The Ohio monument at the Cravens House on Lookout Mountain
Last weekend saw another edition of the Chickamauga Study group, hosted by Dave Powell and Jim Ogden.  I have talked about the study group previously so I will not delve into the details of how that weekend functions, but the amount of Civil War talk always sparks many ideas about what else I (and others) could be doing.  More on that in a moment.

The weekend really started on Wednesday as I arrived at the Cravens House on Lookout Mountain shortly before noon and met up with fellow study group members Andy and Bill.  We walked the trail from Cravens up to Point Park and explored the area's various markers, monuments, and tablets.  Bill had not been to this area, and it has been years since I was last at Point Park, and the weather was excellent for battlefield tramping.  From there we had a late lunch at the Chattanooga Brewing Company (not a bad joint for a good beer and a bite), and then headed down to Fort Olgethorpe to check into our motel.

Bill at Point Park

Historic Pickett's Mill Road
Thursday we drove south to Pickett's Mill State Park, site of one of the numerous Atlanta Campaign battles.  Author Brad Butkovich guided a small group through the woods and up and down ravines, giving us one heck of a perspective of the battle.  If you ever want to study Pickett's Mill, Brad is the guy to guide you.  The state park is in excellent condition, the trails (some of the historic roads) are well marked, and the visitor's center has solid displays and a good selection of related books.

The Cravens House
On Friday the study group headed to Resaca for the bus tour portion of the weekend.  I personally wanted to spend more time in the Chattanooga area as there is so much there to explore, and Resaca, which would have been an interesting trip, is just not on my radar at the moment.  So I skipped the bus portion this year and headed to Signal Mountain for some hiking.  The weather kept threatening rain, so I only explored a few miles of trails, then headed to the Cravens House area again.  By this time the clouds had dissipated and the day turned out to be another excellent day for being outdoors.  After nosing around the Craven House area, I headed to the National Cemetery, and stopped at Orchard Knob.  I had never taken the time to see the cemetery, and wow, what an impressive place.  Might have had something to do with the beautiful weather, the view of Lookout Mountain, and the flag flying at half mast, but it was a moving experience, and I wanted to see the Andrews Raid monument.  The boys from the 21st and 33rd Ohio are well represented.

Andrews Raid monument with Lookout Mountain in the distance

I met back up with the study group that evening for a round table-like discussion.  Headed by Ogden, Powell, and park ranger and author Lee White, it is a chance for the group to ask deeper questions than what we typically do while touring.

Saturday dawned cool and clear, but the cool turned to cold and the clear turned into solid gray skies as we knocked out the walking portion of the tour.  The morning was focused on Breckenridge's repulse from Kelly Field, with a lot of talk on Stoval's and Adams' Brigades, and there was a bit of talk on two of my favorite regiments, the 9th and 35th Ohio.  The afternoon walk was part of Longstreet's breakthrough, and a discussion on the order that moved Wood's Division out of line.  It was indeed a cold day, but the precipitation stayed at bay, and at least we didn't add wet conditions to the cold air.

Each evening a small group of us gathered in one of our motel rooms for our nightly bull sessions.  While mostly focused on Civil War topics, the chatter can turn quickly into either Cubs baseball or the Little Big Horn in a New York minute.  It is during these bull sessions that we gain some insight as to what Dave is working on for his next book project (can't wait for Chattanooga!) or some of the happenings at the park.  We also are building some great friendships that lead to other trips together (such as our recent Heiman, Henry, and Donelson excursion).  This is also where a lot of ideas are tossed about, including the Perryville study group idea....

I have previously mentioned trying to do a study group at Perryville.  While I do believe it is a great idea, it also has to have local support, and I am just not convinced that local support could be garnered in such a way to make a study group a successful annual event.  However, perhaps instead of complaining about the lack of local support, maybe it is time to drive this idea forward and try to establish relationships to create such an event....


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