Chattanooga and Area
Located just north of the Georgia border on the banks of the Tennessee River, Chattanooga was a major prize for both sides almost from the beginning of the war in Tennessee. Its railroads provided links to all points in the Confederacy and were the key to any Union invasion of Georgia. After many false starts, Union forces drew close to Chattanooga in the fall of 1863 after maneuvering the Confederate army into north Georgia. Following the battle of Chickamauga, fought only a few miles south of the city, the defeated Union army retreated in disarray into Chattanooga. Confederates quickly occupied the heights above the city and cut Union supply lines. The Confederate stranglehold on the city finally was broken during a series of dramatic Union victories in late November 1863. The city then became a key supply base for Union operations in Georgia.
Visiting Chattanooga’s Civil War sites
Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP
Point Park, Point Park Road, Lookout Mountain TN 37350
Highlight of the 3,000-acre Lookout Mountain Battlefield is Point Park, which overlooks Chattanooga and the bending Tennessee River.
Confederates defended this seemingly impregnable position following the Battle of Chickamaugua in September 1863. With Confederates on these and other heights and blocking roads and railroads entering the city, the Union army was in trouble, hunkering down in the city. But Federal reinforcements arrived and a slender supply line opened in late October. Gen. U.S. Grant, placed in overall command in Chattanooga, ordered assaults on the Confederate positions in late November. Aided by a heavy fog on the mountain, Union attacks Nov. 24 against Confederate positions on Lookout Mountain were successful.
The next day, similar attacks on Missionary Ridge also won success. The Confederate stranglehold on Chattanooga had ended. Gen. Braxton Bragg, who commanded the Confederate army at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, resigned after the defeats. He was replaced by Gen. Joseph Johnston, who consolidated his defeated army in north Georgia to await developments. The Union army turned Chattanooga into a vast supply depot and used the city as a base for future operations in Georgia.
The Lookout Mountain Visitor Center is located across the street from Point Park. James Walker’s 13-by-33-foot painting “Battle of Lookout Mountain” is displayed there with a short narrative of the fighting. Open daily 8:30 am–5 pm. $3/adult admission to Point Park.
The Cravens House, home to early Chattanooga industrialist Robert Cravens, was the site of some of the heaviest fighting during the Lookout Mountain battle. The house and grounds are located below the point. The grounds are open year-round (free admission). The house is open for tours during the summer. Call for hours.
See the Lookout Mountain Unit map on the park’s website (www.nps.gov/chch) for more features of the site.
Battles for Chattanooga Museum
1110 E Brow Road, Lookout Mountain TN 37350
Very good 3-D electronic map presentation of the Battles for Chattanooga. Nice introduction to the area terrain and action including the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.
East Third Street and North Orchard Knob Ave, Chattanooga TN 37404
The “Orchard Knob Reservation” is officially part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. On Nov 23, 1863, Union Gen. U.S. Grant moved a substantial portion of his army forward from his lines in Chattanooga toward Missionary Ridge. After a brief fight, the Federals swept Confederate resistance aside and captured this little hill halfway there. Two days later Orchard Knob became Grant’s vantage point for viewing the dramatic victory on Missionary Ridge. Lots of monuments, but little interpretive material ,greet visitors. Worth it for the Union viewpoint of Missionary Ridge. Open daylight hours.
Begin tour at Route US 27 and South Crest Road, Rossville GA 30741
This steep 20-mile-long ridge east of Chattanooga rises about 400 feet. It was one of the strong points in the Confederate line and considered nearly impregnable when attacked Nov. 25, 1863. Grant watched from Orchard Knob as spontaneous attacks by the Army of the Cumberland overran the defenses at the top of the ridge. The fall of Missionary Ridge, combined with the defeat at Lookout Mountain, ended the Confederate presence at Chattanooga. The battlefield is now an upscale neighborhood accessible from Crest Road. Only glimpses of the slopes attacked in 1863 are available. Small park areas, known as “reservations,” are located along Crest Road with monuments and interpretive markers.
1200 Bailey Ave, Chattanooga TN 37404
Union Gen. George Thomas first ordered that Union soldiers who died in the Chattanooga area be buried here, near the Orchard Knob battlefield, in 1863. After the war, the U.S. government purchased the land and began to consolidate the graves of Union soldiers buried in the wider area. More than 12,000 Civil War soldiers are buried there now. One of the highlights of the cemetery is a memorial to the Andrews Raiders with a replica of “The General,” the locomotive they stole in Georgia. (link to Raid) Six of the conspirators who were hanged after the event are buried here. Open dawn to dusk.
Civil War Trails Sites
All the following are marked with Tennessee Civil War Trails signs. Begin your tour and pick up a Trails map at the Choo Choo Complex, 1400 Market St, Chattanooga TN 37402. Road map
In August 1863 Union soldiers under Gen. William Rosecrans, stationed on the ridge opposite this site, began shelling the city and Confederate positions near here. After successfully moving south of the city, Rosecrans forced the Confederates from Chattanooga. Early Union occupiers crossed here to take the city a few weeks later.
Hazen’s Raid at Brown’s Ferry
By October 1863 the Union army suffered greatly from food shortages and the supply route was tenuous at best. This raid, begun by Gen. William Hazen near here, floated down the river and established a beachhead on the south bank at Brown’s Ferry. The raid began an offensive that eventually established a more secure Union supply line.
In August 1863 Confederate artillery responded to its Union counterpart across the river from Cameron Hill to little effect. A few weeks later, Union soldiers established a signal station on the hill. Observers from here reported the Union victory Nov 24 on Lookout Mountain.
Commanders from both sides used the Richardson House, located nearby at 320 Walnut St, as headquarters. When U.S. Grant arrived he first used the house but moved to the Lattner house at the corner of First and Walnut streets. Grant prepared his campaign to relieve the city from there. William T. Sherman used the house after Grant departed.
The small two-story building stood across the street from this site and was home to the (James) Andrew’s Raiders following their capture following “The Great Railroad Chase” in April 1862, when they made off with the locomotive “The General.” Confederate authorities held the raiders in the basement here. Andrews later was hanged in Atlanta followed by seven other raiders.
The city’s first railroad hotel, opened in 1856, hosted Jefferson Davis after he resigned from the U.S. Senate. Violence nearly broke out when the pro-Union owner confronted the future Confederate president. The hotel served travelers on both the Western and Atlantic Railroad and the Nashville and Chattanooga. During 1862, Confederate officers occupied the building followed by Union hospital.
At the outbreak of the Civil War, Chattanooga had become one of the most important rail centers in the South. Lines here connected the Atlantic Ocean with the Mississippi River and Atlanta to Virginia. After Union occupation of the city in late 1863 and the relief of a Confederate siege, Gen. William T. Sherman staged his Atlanta Campaign from here.
Chattanooga Creek Picket Lines
Chattanooga Creek in the valley that separated Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain often was the only thing that separated warring troops during the Siege of Chattanooga. Pickets along this line often declared truces, exchanged conversation, and traded food and other goods much to the chagrin of their officers.
The Tennessee Riverfront here underwent significant change during the war. Confederates built forts near the river beginning in 1862. Union occupiers, arriving in September 1863 constructed saw mills and ship repair facilities on the river. Escaped slaves lived near the river in Camp Contraband and provided labor on Union construction projects. Many in the camp enlisted in the United States Colored Troops.
A series of city Civil War interpretive signs is located in the park, on the north bank across the Market Street Bridge.
- Camp Contraband – This was the site of a large camp of ex-slaves liberated by Union occupation of the area.
- 1864 Military Bridge – The Union army constructed a wooden bridge here, the first to cross the river.
- Union Blockhouse – The foundation remains of a Union-built blockhouse that protected the bridge here during the war.
- United States Colored Troops – This area was also used as a campground for the USCT. By the end of the war more than 24,000 black troops served in Tennessee. They were first employed as laborers and guards but also saw combat, suffering nearly 4,500 casualties during the war.
Trails sign located 1110 E Brow Road, Lookout Mountain TN 37350
The region’s natural beauty attracted soldiers from both sides to the views from Lookout Mountain. Even Union Gen. U.S. Grant posed for pictures from one of the scenic vantage points.
Attack at Suck Creek
Trails sign located at 1831 Suck Creek Road, Chattanooga TN 37402
Early in the siege, the fragile Union supply line ran along the bank of the Tennessee River here and it proved to be vulnerable to Confederate harassment from the other side. On Oct. 8, 1863, Confederates assembled across the river, shooting at the supply trains moving along the river. This action forced the Union supplies to an even more tenuous route for several weeks.
Trails sign located at Raccoon Mountain Caverns, 319 West Hills Drive, Chattanooga TN 37419
Union Gen. U.S. Grant recognized this Confederate-occupied mountain as the key to supplying his hungry troops in Chattanooga in the fall of 1863. On Oct. 27, 1863, Union forces cleared out Confederate sharpshooters here, opening up the “Cracker Line” of supply into the city.
Signal Point on Signal Mountain
Interpretive signs located in the park, 116 Signal Point Road, Signal Mountain TN
Union soldiers stationed here used this spot – the only high point under their control in September-November 1863 – to help guide wagon trains and communicate with supply bases before Grant opened up the “Cracker Line.” Later, the spot was used to observe Confederate troop movements.
Sherman Crosses the River
Trails sign located off Hamill Road at Greenway Farm, 5051 Gann Store Road, Hixson TN 37343
On Nov 24, 1863, Union troops under Gen. William T. Sherman made a surprise crossing on pontoon boats assembled here and approached the north end of Missionary Ridge. Sherman’s attack on the ridge stalled, however, and the major assault against the final Confederate position at Chattanooga was made elsewhere.
Website links to these places: Tennessee Links