Friday, September 20, 2013

Battle of Chickamauga 150th, Day 2

A print -- more artistic than accurate -- of the Battle of Chickamauga by Kurz and Allison.

20 September 1863 -- 150 years ago today -- the sun rose on a second day of vicious fighting between US General Rosecrans' Union Army of the Cumberland and CS General Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee along the banks of the Chickamauga Creek in North Georgia.

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Morning action at Chickamauga, 20 September 1863 [Credit: Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

Rosecrans had used the night hours to contract the Union lines along the LaFayette Road, in order to present a stronger defensive front.  US General Thomas, commanding XIV Corps and the Union left, requested more troops to bolster that end of the army -- anticipating Bragg's attempt to cut the Army of the Cumberland off from the safety of Chattanooga to the north.  Starting at 9:30AM, and lasting until about 11AM, the Confederate Wing of Lt. General Polk battered the Union left, but failed to crush it.

File:Chickamauga Sep20 2.png
Mid-day action and the collapse of the Union right, 20 Sept 1863. [Credit: Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

It was the mid-day attacks of James Longstreet's wing -- and the famous "gap" formed in the Union lines by miscommunication causing Union General Wood's shifting his troops out of the battle line -- that, starting around the Brotherton Farm in the center of the lines, caused the right of the Union Army of the Cumberland to crumble.

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The final phase of the battle, evening of 20 September 1863. [Credit: Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

Famously, while William Rosecrans fled the field, swept away with the right of his army, US General George Thomas oversaw the stubborn resistance of the remaining pieces of the Union army on Snodgrass Hill.  This action allowed the Union Army of the Cumberland to withdraw to Chattanooga, and foiled CS General Bragg's hopes of cutting the Yankees off from the north and their supply lines.  Thomas would soon replace Rosecrans as commander of the Army of the Cumberland, and earned the name: "Rock of Chickamauga."

George Henry Thomas - Brady-Handy.jpg
Virginia-born US General George Thomas, "Rock of Chickamauga."

The cost was high for a battle that failed to destroy the Union army as Bragg hoped: the Union lost some 16,000 casualties out of 60,000 to the Confederate 18,500 out of 65,000 in their victory.

This campaign left the Union Army of the Cumberland stunned and downtrodden in Chattanooga, and the Confederate Army of Tennessee battered but victorious on the heights around that city.  It would only to the arrival of a confident commander like U.S. Grant, however, to turn the momentum back the other direction, as would happen in November...

For more details, you might note:

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park official site

NPS Battle Summary: Chickamauga

Civil War Home: Chickamauga Campaign (including official reports)

Live well!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Battle of Chickamauga 150th, Day 1

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Left: US General William Rosecrans; Right CS General Braxton Bragg.

Today is the 150th anniversary of the first day of significant fighting at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia (some reckon 18 September as the first day).  This battle would be one of the bloodiest of the western theatre of the Civil War, and served only to prolong the conflict in the west.

The Union Army of the Cumberland, 62,000 strong, under the command of US Major General William Rosecrans had, since the January fight around Murfreesboro, Tennessee, managed, in two stages, to secure the state of Tennessee with minimal loss.  Mid-summer -- alongside the Battle of Gettysburg and the Siege of Vicksburg -- Rosecrans had secured Middle Tennessee with his rather brilliant, yet little known, Tullahoma Campaign (cf., which captured a great deal of ground with minimal loss.

The follow-up to the Tullahoma Campaign -- Rosecrans maneuvers for Chattanooga, August to September 1863.  [Credit: Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

General Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland would repeat the performance in the late summer, this time outmaneuvering the Confederate host to capture Chattanooga, Tennessee, without a fight on 9 September 1863.

Opposing him, though will something less than great success, was Confederate General Braxton Bragg and his reinforced CS Army of Tennessee, 65,000 in number.  Bragg had received two notable additions to his force as the summer of 1863 came to a close: almost 18,000 men of CS General Simon Buckner's Department of East Tennessee, and, soon before the battle that we commemorate today, two divisions with CS General James Longstreet, detached from Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

While he may have been forced out of Tennessee without a fight, Bragg, now reinforced to a size comparable, even slightly larger than his foe, saw an opportunity to strike back at the widely dispersed Union force.  US General Rosecrans, for his part, was perhaps a bit sanguine about his ability to simply keep forcing the Southerners back simply by a series of nearly bloodless flanking movements.

A fanciful rendering of the battle by Kurz & Allison.

It would be in North Georgia, along the banks of the Chickamauga Creek, that Bragg launched his attack.  Rosecrans came to realize that his forces were vulnerable so widely dispersed -- part of his army was nearly trapped south of Chickamauga in McLemore's Cove.  This clash at Davis's Cross Roads came on the 10 & 11 September 1863 -- click here for a description:

The prelude battle -- Davis's Cross Roads, 11 September 1863, where Negley's force was nearly trapped in McLemore's Cove.  Notice how dispersed the Union forces are a week before the fight at Chickamauga. [Credit: Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

Rosecrans ordered his several Corps -- XIV Corps of George Thomas, his best subordinate, XX Corps of Alexander McCook, XXI Corps of Thomas Crittenden, the Reserve Corps of Gordon Granger, and the Cavalry Corps of Robert Mitchell -- to concentrate in an area along the banks of the Chickamauga Creek, south of Chattanooga.

For Bragg, his army was broadly divided into two "wings" each under the command of a Confederate Lieutenant General: the "right" under Leonidas Polk and the "left" under James Longstreet.  Bragg intended to interpose his concentrated army between the Yankees and Chattanooga, and drive the Union force south, to corner and destroy them in some hollow -- McLemore Cove was ideal.  When the armies first engaged, however, on 18 September, Bragg would find that the Union left was not where he envisioned.  Flanking movements would become frontal assaults.  The opening moves of the battle on the 18th saw the Southern troops force their way across Reed's Bridge at the northwest corner of what would be the battlefield.

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Actions of late afternoon, 19 September 1863. [Credit: Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

On 19 September 1863, after initial clashes the day before, the battle raged in earnest.  Bragg initially had expected that he would be turning the left flank of the XXI Corps at Lee and Gordon's Mill on the Chickamauga, only to find the XIV Corps of Thomas in the way.  A day of intense fighting followed, generally playing out from north to south on the battlefield.  Particularly notable: the Confederate Division of CS General Stewart actually forced its way across the LaFayette Road in the center of the battlefield.  Still, the Union lines would, at great cost, and with the timely arrival of US General Negley's Division, hold.  The general assaults along the battle line were but a bloody prelude for the conclusive fight that unfolded the next day.  For more, you can consult these splendid sites:

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park official site

NPS Battle Summary: Chickamauga

Civil War Home: Chickamauga Campaign (including official reports)

We shall conclude the battle tomorrow!

Live well!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Passport to your Parks in DC

Having earlier this summer discovered the "Passport to Your National Parks" program, this blogger has enjoyed collecting a few stamps when he happens to pass by or visit a park.

The Washington, DC area has a wealth of stamps, actually, but only scattered on-line guidance as to what is to be found where.  In short, there are a ton of stamps to get in DC, but it can be hard to know where to get them!

If you know of a stamp hotspot besides the four I list here, do please comment and let me know!

So, as of this summer of 2013, these are the stamps available at these locations around metro Washington [all stamps are presumed red Capital Area stamps, except those with a *, which would be blue Mid-Atlantic offerings]:

@ George Washington Parkway Headquarters, Turkey Run Park, McLean, Virginia ( [34 total stamps here]:
-Arlington House - Robert E. Lee Memorial, Arlington, VA*
-Arlington Memorial Bridge & Memorial Avenue, Arlington, VA*
-Captain John Smith Chesapeake NHT, Chesapeake Bay*
-Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, DC, MD, VA*
-Civil War Defenses of Washington, DC, MD, VA*
-Clara Barton Historic Site, Glen Echo, MD*
-Clara Barton Parkway, GWMP, MD*
-Claude Moore Colonial Farm, McLean, VA*
-Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, Alexandria, VA*
-Fort Hunt Park, Alexandria, VA*
-Fort Hunt Park, P.O. Box 1142*
-Fort Marcy, McLean, VA*
-George Washington Memorial Parkway, McLean, VA*
-George Washington MEM PKWY, Passport 25th Anniversary*
-Great Falls Park, McLean, VA*
-Glen Echo Park, Glen Echo, MD*
-Greater Washington National Parks, DC, MD, VA*
-Jones Point Park, Alexandria, VA*
-Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, GWMP, VA*
-Mount Vernon Trail, Northern Virginia*
-Netherlands Carillon, Arlington, VA*
-Potomac Heritage Trail, Northern Virginia*
-Star Spangled Banner NHT, DC, MD, VA*
-Turkey Run Park, McLean, VA*
-Underground RR Freedom Network, GWMP, VA*
-U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, VA*
-Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route NHT, DC, MD, VA*
-Women in Military Services for America Mem, Arlington, VA*
-Lady Bird Johnson Park, Washington, DC
-Lyndon Baines Johnson Memorial Grove, Washington, DC
-Navy-Marine Memorial, Washington DC
-Theodore Roosevelt Island, Washington, DC
-Theodore Roosevelt Island, Passport 25th Anniversary
-LBJ MEM Grove on the Potomac, Passport 25th Anniversary

@ Old Stone House, Rock Creek Park, Georgetown, Washington, DC ( [7 total stamps]
-C&O Canal NHP - Georgetown, Washington, DC
-Civil War Defenses of Washington, Washington, DC
-Francis Scott Key Memorial, Washington, DC
-Georgetown Waterfront Park, Washington, DC
-Montrose and Dumbarton Oaks Parks, Washington, DC
-Rock Creek Park - Old Stone House, Washington, DC
-Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway, Washington, DC

@ Washington Monument Bookstore {just east of the monument}, Washington, DC ( [21 total stamps]
-Constitution Gardens, Washington, DC
-DC World War Memorial, Washington, DC
-Ford's Theatre NHS - Petersen House, Washington, DC
-George Mason Memorial, Washington, DC
-Japanese American Memorial, Washington, DC
-John Ericsson Memorial, Washington, DC
-John Paul Jones Memorial, Washington, DC
-Korean War Veterans MEM, Washington, DC
-Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
-Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Washington, DC
-National Capital Region, Washington, DC
-National Mall, Washington, DC
-National Mall & Memorial Parks, Washington, DC [I think!]
-Old Post Office Tower, Washington, DC
-Pennsylvania Avenue NHS, Washington, DC
-Signers of the Dec of Ind MEM, Washington, DC
-Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, DC
-Ulysses S. Grant Memorial, Washington, DC
-Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC
-Washington Monument, Washington, DC
-West Potomac Park, Washington, DC
[Nearby at the memorial site: World War II Memorial, Washington, DC]

@ National Capital Parks-East Headquarters, Anacostia Park, Washington, DC {Yes, you have to drive past the Park Police HQ and be buzzed into this building!}( [18 total stamps]
-Anacostia Park, Washington, DC
-Baltimore-Washington Parkway, Washington, DC
-Capitol Hill Parks, Washington, DC
-Carter G. Woodson Home NHS, Washington, DC
-Civil War Defenses of Washington, DC, MD, VA
-Fort Circle Parks, Washington, DC
-Fort Dupont Park, Washington, DC
-Frederick Douglass NHS, Washington, DC
-Greenbelt Park, Greenbelt, MD
-Harmony Hall, Fort Washington, MD
-Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens, Washington, DC
-Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS, Washington, DC
-National Capital Parks-East, Washington, DC
-National Capital Parks-East, Presidential Inauguration [January 2009]
-National Capital Parks-East, Passport 25th Anniversary
-Oxon Cove Park, Oxon Hill, MD
-Suitland Parkway, Wash, DC/Suitland, MD
-Underground Railroad Freedom Network, Frederick Douglass NHS

Good luck finding more!

Live well!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Leisure on Labor Day

On this day we celebrate labor in these United States.  This holiday is the result of agitation by the labor movement and a desire by authorities to appease, but also to establish something distinct from the Communist-leaning May Day!  For many of us, that means we don't labor today.  So, in honor of leisure, here are a few great hobby or leisure related websites to browse today:

For those interested in fishkeeping and the aquarium hobby, I have found FishLore to the be most useful site, and the folks that visit the chat room are most helpful!  There is a wealth of great information here:

Many folks like to drink beer, but for those that take it a bit more seriously, and are interested in better brews, Beer Advocate boasts a good site.  I find it most useful for  the ratings and reviews of beers from all over the world, which can give a great idea of whether or not something is worth buying, or will be to your palate:  Often, too, I might simply do a web search of "[name of beer] beer advocate" to skip straight to the review.

Getting outdoors is key, too, and if you like to hike, it is certainly helpful to have a site like this, which offers some good elevation-change charts, topo maps, and ratings, though it focuses only on Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia:  Not as good, I think, especially if you don't subscribe, but covering the whole country is:  It includes maps, descriptions, pictures, and a number of other details.

UPDATE: This site is splendid for those that might like to hike specifically to the tops of peaks & mountains:

While you are out hiking around, you may well find yourself interested in identifying some birds.  Amateur ornithology is a worthwhile pursuit, and this website will surely be of use in that pursuit:

To close then, and still outside, this site is wonderful for identifying those objects in the night sky over your head!  It is the best source for information on visible satellites, asteroids, and comets, that I am aware of; and it has good sun, moon, and planet data as well.  It is:

Live well!