Georgia: Chickamauga Battlefield Prepares for 150th Anniversary

CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. — You won’t have to be a Civil War buff to appreciate the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga.

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Its coming up on September 14th and 15th, and the National Park Service is planning something for anyone who shows up.

There are more than 600 monuments on the grounds of the Chickamauga National Military Park.

Most were put here years after the war.

They dot the landscape along side actual cannons used in that historic 1863 battle.

One hundred and 50 years later, north and south united, Americans still want to know what happened here.

KIM COONS, PARK RANGER “Well, the big highlight that we’re doing is…we’re doing a timeline of what it was like from 1860 to 1864 here at north Georgia.” “It really is an immersive activity..we’re doing it with small groups of people …to really connect to people.”

In the fall of 1863, bloody Civil War battles raged in these fields and on the slopes of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.
It was part of a five-month campaign for control of Chattanooga’s key rail center, and its role as the gateway
to the Deep South.

KIM COONS “It took a little longer, but eventually, once Chattanooga fell it was only a matter of time before the war was over. Chattanooga was vital.”

You can get a feel for that era at the visitors center.

KIM COONS, PARK RANGER “We’ve got things going on here at the visitor’s center …artillery demonstration, the 8th Georgia bank is playing here…we’ll have education tents.”

The battle at Chickamauga might be remembered only as a side-note in history if it weren’t for small groups of veterans, from the north and the south.

KIM COONS “Really what happened..there was a drive to the veterans of both sides in 1889..and 1890 it became a National Military Park and that;s when the monuments began top be put out…from 1890 to it was mostly the veterans.”

All of that will be covered during the 150th celebration on September 14th and 15th.

Ranger Kim Coons says that although there’s no charge for any of the events on the 14th and 15th, some require reservations.
You can get more information at the Chickamauga National Battlefield park headquarters.


Georgia: Battle of Chickamauga Re-Enactment Hits Snag

McLEMORE’S COVE, Ga. — Both the North and South used hot air balloons to study troop movements during the Civil War.

Now, aerial photos taken from a private plane of some county-owned land have put a hitch in preparations for the Battle of Chickamauga’s 150th anniversary re-enactment.

A state agency this week halted some of the work that Walker County, Ga., is doing at Mountain Cove Farm, the 1,839-acre site of the Sept. 19-22 event that’s expected to draw 4,000 Civil War re-enactors and thousands of spectators.

The from above of of Mountain Cove Farms in Walker County, Ga. A complaint has been filed over environmental concerns about water runoff. Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

The from above of of Mountain Cove Farms in Walker County, Ga. A complaint has been filed over environmental concerns about water runoff.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

After receiving aerial photos of a roughly 10-acre field that the county scraped to dirt to build a 28-space recreational vehicle park, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division told the county to halt work until it filed the proper environmental paperwork and installed erosion controls. The work is taking place on part of the county’s 295 acres in the cove.

“The good news environmentally is … there’s no evidence of significant runoff or any problem,” said Bert Langley Jr., manager of the Cartersville, Ga.-based Mountain District Office of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

The state agency was tipped off by Ales Campbell, who in November 2012 ran an unsuccessful write-in campaign to unseat county Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell.

Campbell sent Langley an Aug. 30 email that included three aerial photos of “this huge clearing” that she said a friend had taken that morning. Campbell wrote that no silt fence, hay or erosion barriers were in place, and she wondered if the state had issued permits.

The state agency inspected the site Tuesday, Langley said. The county — which has finished grading the site — voluntarily stopped the remaining RV park work.

Walker County has hired CTI Engineers Inc., of Chattanooga, to prepare environmental documentation required by the state to get the RV park under way again, said county Coordinator David Ashburn, who’s in charge of work at Mountain Cove Farm.

“We felt like we were in compliance,” Ashburn said. “If I weren’t on such a tight schedule, I might argue the point.”

The county still has lots to finish before the re-enactment, according to Ashburn, including laying down gravel roads and grass seed at the RV park — which is already rented out for the re-enactment — and finishing a pub and restaurant that will serve food, beer and wine in an annex of the 178-year-old Daugherty manor house on site.

“It’s a game. It’s a political game,” Ashburn said of Campbell’s complaint. “This is in the middle of a grass field not near any creeks. We have no runoff.”

Campbell said, “I just want them to do things the way they’re supposed to do things. That’s not politics.”

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division last year required Walker County to spend $65,000 on environmental projects as the penalty for releasing sediment into Rock Creek on March 26, 2012, from trail construction work done by a county crew.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at or 423-757-6651.


Maryland: Klan rallies at Civil War battlefield

SHARPSBURG, MD — On a Civil War battlefield where tens of thousands of men clashed fifteen decades ago, eight Ku Klux Klan members unfurled their group’s banner Saturday afternoon and called for a new uprising to oust President Barack Obama.

The Klansmen — who jostled for numerical superiority with a herd of cows grazing nearby — were watched by officers from the United States Park Police and about 15 spectators, as one of them explained how he believes Obama’s foreign, economic and immigration policies are threatening America.

“Barack Hussein Obama has been out to destroy American from the beginning,” said the hooded speaker over a microphone. “Our forefathers would have already started something.”

The speaker explained that he did not believe the president is a United States citizen and described the Affordable Care Act health care law as “communism at its finest.” The group, known as the Confederate White Knights, has a petition calling for Obama’s impeachment on its website.

The group obtained a permit to demonstrate at the battlefield, which is operated as a national park, the second time a KKK group had done so. A now-defunct outfit known as the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan was the first in 2006.

Sgt. Paul Brooks, a spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, said any group regardless of their views is welcome to hold a demonstration as long as they apply for a permit and follow the rules.

“That’s the First Amendment, and that’s the beauty of living in America,” he said.

The police carefully marked out areas with orange fences for the KKK group, sympathizers, media and counter-demonstrators. Spectators were asked to watch from the back, about 125 yards from the hooded Klansmen.

The Klan members were driven into the park in a U.S. Department of the Interior minibus flanked by four motorcycle outriders. Mounted police officers stood nearby during the rally.

Brooks said the police were not expecting any problems but that they wanted to be prepared.

But the hooded speaker questioned the need for all the security and said the KKK’s reputation for violence was ill-deserved.

Richard Preston, the leader of the Baltimore area group who uses the title Imperial Wizard, explained in an interview Friday that the organization was not racist at its origins, saying that it lost its way during the civil rights era of the 1960s.

“There was a lot of conflict … it gave the Klan a very bad name,” he said.

But David Harty, 61, the lone person occupying the designated area for counter-demonstrators, said he found that hard to swallow.

“The KKK is not racist? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” he said. Harty, who held a sign reading “KKK go away,” said he used to come to the battlefield with a Scout troop to light candles to remember the soldiers who fell there on Sept. 17, 1862.

He described the Klan’s use of the place for its rally as a “desecration.”

The Battle of Antietam, fought near Sharpsburg in Washington County, was the bloodiest single-day engagement of the Civil War, with 23,000 casualties. The battle was not a clear win for either side, but ended the first Confederate invasion of the Union and led President Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the rebel states.

The KKK was founded after the Civil War to oppose Reconstruction, a set of policies designed to cement the rights of freed slaves.

While Preston said that “slavery should have never happened” he added that “things for the United States started to go wrong with Lincoln. … He was the first liberal president.”

-Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun


North Carolina: Bentonville Battlefield Civil War Symposium


FOUR OAKS, N.C. — Time is quickly approaching for North Carolina, 1865: A Civil War Symposium. Plenty of seats remain for the Saturday, Sept. 14, program organized by Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site and presented at Johnston Community College in Smithfield. The program will examine military engagements in North Carolina and their role in the concluding days of the Civil War.


Speakers include Ed Bearss, chief historian emeritus of the National Park Service and renowned battlefield guide. Others include historians Dr. Mark Bradley, Dr. Chris Fonvielle, Col. (Ret.) Wade Sokolosky, Eric Wittenberg and Bert Dunkerly. Each will present on a different aspect of the Carolinas Campaign, from Fort Fisher, to Bentonville, to Gen. Joseph Johnston’s surrender at the Bennett Farm in Durham. The presentations will be at Johnston County Community College’s Paul A. Johnston Auditorium.


Tickets for Saturday’s lectures are available for purchase at the Friends of Bentonville Battlefield’s website,, or at the historic site. Tickets may also be purchased at the door for $25; students $15 with a valid student ID. Unforeseen circumstances may prompt a change in presenters or guides. All proceeds benefit Bentonville Battlefield State Historic Site.


The Battle of Bentonville, fought March 19-21, 1865, involved 80,000 troops and was the last Confederate offensive against Union Gen. William T. Sherman. Bentonville Battlefield interprets the battle and hospital, where many Confederates were left in the aftermath. The site is located at 5466 Harper House Road in Four Oaks, and is about one hour from Raleigh and 45 minutes from Fayetteville. It is within the Division of State Historic Sites in the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources. Visit Bentonville’s website or call (910) 594-0789 for more information.


Kentucky: Camp Nelson marks 150th Anniversary

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. — This weekend’s Civil War Days in southern Jessamine County will mark the 150th anniversary of the creation of Camp Nelson, a Union recruiting center for black troops during the war.

The camp was established by an order of President Abraham Lincoln in June 1863 on the high plateau above the Kentucky River. It was named for Maj. Gen. William “Bull” Nelson, who started the first Union recruitment camp at Camp Dick Robinson in Garrard County.

(Nelson never saw the camp named for him. He was shot and killed in September 1862 at the Galt House in Louisville following a disagreement with another soldier.)

In March 1864, when the enlistment of blacks began, Camp Nelson became an important recruiting and training center for black soldiers.

As many as 10,000 black troops trained there. Eight regiments of “U.S. Colored Troops,” as the regiments were called, were founded at Camp Nelson, and five others were stationed there, making it the third largest such center in the nation.

It was also a supply depot and had a hospital. At its peak, Camp Nelson had 300 buildings.

After the war ended in 1865, the federal government sold most of the original 4,000-acre site, leaving only a camp for black refugees and a small cemetery. It was expanded to become Camp Nelson National Cemetery in 1867.

In the summer of 1868, 2,203 Union dead from Perryville, Richmond, Frankfort, London and Covington were reinterred at Camp Nelson National Cemetery. Veterans and their spouses continue to be buried there.

Today, the restored Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park draws 13,000 visitors a year — 2,000 for the two-day Civil War Days, said Mary Kozak, special projects director for Jessamine County. The entire Civil War Heritage Park covers 525 acres.

This year’s Civil War Days commemoration begins at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday with cannon firing. An estimated 150 re-enactors from several states will converge on the camp to portray life as it was at the original site from 1863 to 1866 and to perform infantry, cavalry and artillery demonstrations.

A panel discussion will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday to discuss the meaning of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Children can sign up for the “School of the Soldier” at 11 a.m. both days. The school will train “recruits” to perform drills in the infantry and artillery camps.

At 2 p.m. both days, a re-enactment based on events around Camp Nelson will deal with Confederate guerilla John Hunt Morgan’s retreat from Cynthiana in 1864.

Some of Morgan’s raiders came in the direction of Camp Nelson “but he realized how well protected the Camp was with the Palisades (the limestone cliffs of the Kentucky River) on three sides and the (earthen) fort on the other,” Kozak said.

Civil War artifacts uncovered from the heritage site will be on display along with museum exhibits depicting life in the camp. Stephen McBride, the camp’s director of archaeology and interpretation, will discuss artifacts found on the land at 3 p.m. each day. Participants will be able to see a dig and “get in the dirt,” Kozak said.

Tours of the restored “White House,” also known as the Oliver Perry House, which served as the officers’ quarters, will be given both days. The barracks replica will also be available for tours, and there will be a walking tour on Saturday of a section of the northern line of fortifications.


-Greg Kocher, Lexington Herald-Leader