Sunday, July 22, 2007


Last Saturday, I had the honor and pleasure of visiting Chickamauga National Battlefield, just south of Chattanooga, TN in the northwestern corner of Georgia.When I visit battlefields I usually set out with the expectations of seeing and photographing everything, and then once I get there I get overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. And reality slaps me in the face. To be sure, the Chickamauga Battlefield is a very large place, and the Park Service Tour covers the ground where most of the fighting took place, it is only a fraction of the actual battlefield. To see all of what is to be seen in a one day visit, is to say the least next to impossible, let alone to take it all in and understand the enormity and complexity of what happened there.

That being said, it was a throughly enjoyable visit. As always I had done some reading before my visit: "This Terrible Sound, The Battle of Chickamauga" by Peter Cozzens, which gave a very detailed accounting of the battle. I always like to read up on a battle before visiting the battlefield, so I know what I'm looking at and for when I get there.

And let me say, there's nothing like a battlefield visit to let you know just how out of shape you are. Walking up hills and down hills, and across feilds and over trails in 90 degree heat. I was exhausted... that battlefield kicked my ass and I wasn't even wearing a wool uniform or carrying a rifle. And if that wasn't enough I just had to climb up the 136 steps of Wilder Tower, I thought I was going to die before I reached the top, but what a specatular view of the battlefield.

I was mainly interested in Lytle Hill, which is where my great great Grandfather, Walter Partridge saw action and was wounded. He received a slight wound to the forehead, and it's my theory that he recieved the wound when a runaway wagon hit a tree, knocking a portion of that tree into the rank & file of Company F of the 36th Illinois Infantry.

From History of the Thirty-Sixth Illinois Volunteers, During the War of the Rebellion by L. G. Bennett and Wm. M. Haigh, Chapter 28: “Battle of Chickamauga,” p. 468:

"They were falling on every hand thick and fast, but they formed a good line and moved rapidly to the crest of the hill. This was the ground which the second brigade had tried to hold, and their wounded and dead obstructed the way, while men, horses and artillery were scattered in Great Confusion. One battery wagon swinging round with almost lightning speed struck a dead tree which casused the top to break off, coming down into Company F and striking two men, one of whom was Oscar Hobbs, supposed to be killed, but he afterwards revived."

Also from that same work on page 482: List of Casualties at Chickamauga - Company F.Sergt. Burgo Thompson, head; Sergt. Geo. Neff, hip; Corp. Gunner Gunnerson, shoulder; James H. Hall, died in enemy’s hands, Sep. 22; Ira M. Johnson, neck; Oscar Hobbs, head; Walter E. Partridge, head; William McLary, finger; Chas. Sweetland, captured.

Since Walter Partidge is listed right after Oscar Hobbs and both are listed as having received head wounds, it is my theory that Walter Partridge was the other man that was hit by the tree.

Though I was unable to locate a monument for the 36th Illinois Infantry I did find the mortuary marker for their Brigade Commander, General Lytle.

However I did find monuments for the regiments of my 3rd Great Grandfather, Phillip Delong and his brother John A. DeLong: the 31st and 90th Ohio Infantry, respectively as well as my Great Great Grandfather, Alonzo Luce's regiment, the 19th Illinois Infantry (though he was not in the battle but rather in a hospital in Nashville, TN with Chronic Diahorhea), and also for Battery C, 1st Illinois Light Artilery (the regiment of my 3rd Great Granduncle, James Cottew - though he also was not there as he was discharged on 7 MAR 1863 for a wound received near Nashville, TN the previous November).

After my visit to the battlefield, I had a nice visit with Ron & Ray, a couple of new friends I have made through the internet, and a great supper, and watched a movie with them before heading home exhausted from a long day.

Next up: Lookout Mountain and the Battle for Chattanooga - but not until it's cooler.

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