29 November 2016

Tennessee River in Hamilton County

Here you’ll find listed, in order of occurence moving downriver, all of the ferries, fords, landings, islands, and navigation hazards on the Tennessee River when it was king, before the locks closed on the Hales Bar, Chickamauga, and Nickajack Dams.  Sites designated as landings served steamboats, flatboats, keelboats, and other craft moving passengers and cargo up and down river.  Ferries had landings too, and occasionally one would double as the other kind, but mostly were just used to transport passengers and goods across river.

I’ve had an interest in river culture since I first saw, then read, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I’m glad I had the chance to take my son on both the Blythe’s Ferry and the Old Washington Ferry, before they closed, as well as a lengthy ride on the Chattanooga Star.  The Tennessee River played more of a part of life in Hamilton County north and east of Chattanooga, especially the eastern side, than the county south of it due to the lack of railroad.

I’d originally intended to write separately about the islands and river hazards (most of which are gone due to the dams) on the one hand and about the former ferries and landings on the other, but realized both would make more sense in context.  I’ve used left bank/right bank terminology rather than north bank/south bank because it has the benefit of always being precise and staying the same whether you are pointing descending the river at the first leg of Moccasin Bend or ascending it on the other side.

It starts north in the vicinity of Jolly’s Island and Blythe’s Ferry, which was actually in Meigs County, because much of the northern extreme of the county relied on the ferry and Blythe’s Landing on the left bank.  I continued downriver all the way to Hale’s Bar because it didn’t make much sense to stop at the Marion County line which split a former hazard known as The Kettle, or The Suck, and leave out the rest of the hazards of Cash Canyon, aka Tennessee River Gorge.

Locations of many are approximate due to their actual sites being underwater.  A couple I could only guesstimate by their known geographic relation to other sites.

Zeigler Island is and was just upriver from Jolly’s or Hiwassee Island

Jolly’s Island sits at the confluence of the Tennessee and Hiwassee Rivers, named for John Jolly, adopted father of Sam Houston and later Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation West, who was headman of the Cherokee town here.  While people here knew it by this name for well over a century, since the archaeological work in the New Deal era it is more commonly known now as Hiwassee Island.

Hiwassee Shoals are north of Jolly’s Island on the opposite side of the mouth of the Hiwassee River.

Cayuga Island was a tiny island, or towhead, just below Jolly’s Island, so-called after the Cherokee name for John Jolly’s town and for the ante-bellum community on the mainland just south of it.

Blythe’s Ferry ran just below Jolly’s Island.  Founded in 1809 by William Blythe and Nancy Fields, and operating until 1994 when it was replaced by a bridge, Blythe’s Ferry was not only the earliest ferry in the vicinity but the long-running.

Blythe’s Landing, on the left bank of the river, was for decades the main trading post of the quad-county area (Hamilton, Bradley, Meigs, Rhea).

Daughtery’s Ferry, or Doughty’s Ferry, served those travelling between Birchwood in the east and Sale Creek in the west.  Its memory survives in a Daughetry Ferry Road on either side of the river it crossed for a century, 1830-1930.

Daughtery’s Ford was just below the path of the ferry.

Daugherty’s Island was halfway between Daughtery’s Ferry and Sale Creek.

Sale Creek Shoals lie along the left side of the river across from Daugherty’s Island.

Roark’s Ford crossed the river just above Sale Creek Island.

Roark’s Landing, named for John Roark, lay on the left bank of the river just below the ford.

Sale Creek Island once rose above the water just below the mouth of the Sale Creek.

McCallies Hayshed Landing, named for W. T. McCallie, was on the left bank of the river just above McCallie’s Ferry.

McCallie’s Ferry crossed the river in the vicinity of Hobo Bluff on the right bank and Johnson Slough on the left bank.  Earlier, it was known as Campbell’s Ferry.

Old Hickory Landing, established by Joseph Roark, was on the left bank of the river, below McCallie’s Ferry

Eldridge’s Landing, named for John Eldridge, was on the left bank, northeast of the current mouth of Eldridge Slough.

Thatcher’s Ford was on the left bank roughly halfway between Eldridge Slough and the mouth of Opossum Creek on the right bank.

Thatcher’s Ferry crossed the river below the ford.

Thatcher’s Landing sat on the left bank of the river just below the ford.

Upper Biggs’ Ford crossed the river just above the mouth of Possum Creek on the right bank.

McGill’s Ferry, established by William McGill and inherited by his children, crossed the river near the mouth of Possum Creek.

Churcher’s Landing, named for J.C. Churcher, was on the left bank of the river, possibly in this vicinity.  This location is iffy, given that the only information I can find is that it was between Thatcher’s and Moon’s.

Biggs’ Towhead was a little upstream from the mouth of Soddy Creek.

Lower Bigg’s Ford crossed the river over the towhead.

Klipp’s Island, also known as Soddy Island, was midstream of the Tennessee River at the mouth of Soddy Creek on the right bank.  Big Soddy Creek was once known as Squay Creek and Little Soddy Creek as Spring Creek.

Soddy Ford crossed the river over Klipp’s Island.

Soddy Shoals were just below Klipp’s Island.

Soddy Landing lay on the right bank below the mouth of Soddy Creek.

Moon’s Landing, named for J. Harvey Moon, was on the left bank of the river, possibly in this vicinity.  This location is iffy, given that the only information I can find is that it was between Churcher’s and Igou’s.

Penney’s Ford crossed the river at roughly the same parallel as Poe’s Tavern in the west and Whiteoak Mountain’s Taliferro Gap in the east.

Penney’s Ferry, operated by Thomas Penny, crossed the river just below the ford.

Igou’s Ferry, sometimes known as Blue Springs Ferry, was just above Blue Springs Landing.  It was first known as Teenor’s Ferry when it was established by Jacob Teenor.  James T. Gardenhire bought it from Teenor, and it became Gardenhire’s Ferry.  Samuel T. Igou bought it from him.  It operated 1830-1930.

Blue Springs Landing, serving the Blue Springs community, was roughly west of Chigger Point and Blue Springs Slough.

Dallas Ferry, just north of Hamilton’s or Dallas Island was first established by Cherokee Moses Fields, under whom it was known as Fields’ Ferry.  Later it was own by Robert Hunter, and sometimes call Hunter’s Ferry.  It operated 1830-1870.

Lovelady Landing lay on the right bank of the river just below the landing for Dallas Ferry on that side, serving the community of Dallas.

Upper Dallas Ford crossed the river over the upper tip of the island.

Hamilton’s Island, sometimes called Dallas or Harrison Island, was midstream in a leftward bend of the river above the mouth of Ooltewah (Wolftever) Creek and below the community of Dallas, seat of Hamilton County between Poe’s Tavern and Harrison.

Lower Dallas Ford crossed the river over the lower tip of the island.

Harrison Ferry, also known as Vann’s Ferry (though Joseph Vann was long gone) and later as Brown’s Ferry, operated just above Harrison 1840-1930.

Brown’s Shoal was/is below the mouth of Ooltewah Creek and above Harrison.

Vann’s Landing was the wharf for Vann’s Town during the Cherokee Nation days, then for Vannsville and Harrison after the Removal.

Nelson’s Ferry crossed the river southeasterly from the right bank to the vicinity of Harrison Bluff on the left bank.

Chickamauga Shoals lie close to the right bank of the river close to Lakeshore Marina.

Chickamauga Island was opposite the mouth of North Chickamauga Creek, which was first known as Laurel Creek, toward the left bank of the river.  On maps, it was sometimes called Friar’s Island.

Friar’s Towhead was just below Chickamauga Island, closer to the left bank.

Friar’s Ford crossed the river over the towhead.

Rogers’ Ferry crossed the river above the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek.

Colwell Bar lies near the right bank of the river just above the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek, which was originally called Chickamauga River.

Crutchfield Bar also lies near the right bank of the river, a little below the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek.

Beck’s Ferry, established by Joshua Beck, son of David Beck who owned most of what is now Riverview up to and including Dallas Heights, crossed from the point where the Chattanooga Golf and County Club adjoins Heritage Landing (formerly known as Beck Bottoms).  Besides the usual river crossing, the ferry provided service to Chattanooga Island and Ross’ Landing.  The stones for the pillars holding up the County (Walnut Street) Bridge came from the Beck's quarry, hauled to the site by this ferry.

Citico Bar lies in the river close to the left bank upstream from the mouth of Citico Creek.

Ross’ First Shoals are the shallows just upriver from Chattanooga Island.  During summer (or a lengthy drought), the water was often merely knee-deep before Hales Bar Dam, then Nickajack Dam, and thus a good fording place.

Gardenhire’s Landing, named for William Gardenhire, was at or just below Ross’ First Shoals.

Gardenhire’s Ferry crossed the river from the eponymous landing to the right bank.

Chattanooga Island, also called Crutchfield Island, Maclellan Island, and Audobon Island, is first mentioned in writing in accounts of the Tristan De Luna expedition for the year 1560.  On Union army maps, it is refer to it as Ross Island No. 2.

Chattanooga Shoals lie between Chattanooga Island and the right bank of the river.

Ross’ Landing (Upper) was the trading post of John Ross, who later signed his interests over to younger brother Lewis, and Timothy Meigs.  It sat on the left bank of the river, at the foot of the bluff, near where the Bluff Furnace later stood.  It was bought by James C. White before the Cherokee Removal.

Swing Ferry was a swing or flying ferry attached to the foot of Chattanooga Island by a metal cable kept above water with buoys.  Originally called Gentry’s Ferry after its founder, Billy Gentry, it is almost always mistakenly called Ross’ Ferry, even by me, due to its southern dock being Ross’ Landing.  After the Removal, John Cowart ultimately came into its possession, and it became known as Cowart’s Ferry.  It ceased operation when the Army of the Cumberland opened the Meig Allee bridge in 1864.  However, when that was washed away in the 1867 flood, Cowart’s widow, Cynthia Pack Cowart (daughter of Betsy Pack, beloved in Jasper, TN, and granddaughter of John Lowery) reopened it.  It operated from well before the Removal until the County (Walnut Street) Bridge opened in 1891. 

Upper Ferry ran between the end of Market Street on the south and Upper Ferry Road (now North Market Street) in the north.  Also known as Frazier’s Ferry, after its founder, Samuel J. A. Frazier, who, along with Richard Colville, opened Hill City for development in 1884.  It operated from 1882 until the John Ross (Market Street) Bridge opened in 1917.

Lower Ferry was one of the river-crossing points from the city to what at that point was the northern bank.  Its southern landing was at the end of Pine Street, now Power Alley.  On the northern side, Stringer Street became Lower Ferry Road after crossing what is now Manning Street down to the riverbank.  Begun by Meredith Legg near the Removal who later sold it to Abe Beason, for whom it was known respectively as Legg’s Ferry and Beason’s Ferry.  It operated from about 1837 until the John Ross (Market Street) Bridge opened in 1917.

Rolling Mill Shoals lie midstream roughly opposite the end of Molly Lane, at what might be called the beginning of Moccasin Bend.

Moccasin Bend is the unique bend of the Tennessee River around the peninsula of land properly called Moccasin Point.

Buffalo Ford at Ross’ Towhead was just above the the tiny Ross’ Towhead, its name bearing witness to the presence of bison (probably wood bison) in the region.

Ross’ Towhead was a tiny island across the river from the big toe of Moccasin Point.  With the narrow gap between it and the riverbank filled in, it became part of the ground supporting I-24 highway.  Union army maps refer to it as Ross’ Island No. 1.

Ross’ Second Shoals lie in the river near its right bank, close to the tip of the big toe of Moccasin Point.

Ross’ Landing (Lower) served the tannery and plantation of Daniel Ross, in the vicinity of northern St. Elmo.

Lookout Shoals lie near the left bank of the river downstream from the mouth of Lookout Creek, opposite the pink toe of Moccasin Point.

Brown’s Landing served the trade and shipping needs of the community and of Brown’s Tavern.  It was about a mile upriver from the eponymous ferry, in proximity to the modern Brown’s Ferry Marina.

Brown’s Ferry operated from the end of Brown’s Ferry Road in the west (now a private road from its intersection with Burgess Road) across the river to the northern side of the Moccasion Bend Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Williams’ Island divides the river just above the entrance into Cash Canyon.  Its earliest known name was Tuskegee Island, so called for the Cherokee town established by former residents of the same named town on the Little Tennessee River.  Later it was known as Brown’s Island, after it Cherokee owner after the wars, John Brown.  Chattanooga pioneer Samuel Williams became its owner after the Cherokee Removal and it is now known by his name.

Williams’ Island Ferry ran between the right bank of the Tennessee River and the east side of Williams’ Island.  Dating from the Cherokee Nation days, it used to be known as Fields’ Ferry after the Cherokee owner, David Field.  Ephraim Hixson bought it and the reservation that went with it, along with the nearby John Brown reservation, and the ferry became known as Hixson’s Ferry until bought by Samuel Williams.

Jackson Bar sits close to the western side of Williams Island at its midpoint.

Burris Bar sits close to the eastern side of Williams Island two-thirds of the way downstream.

Cash Canyon, as the Tennessee River Gorge is more properly known in local tradition, was world famous during colonial times for its nearly impassable hazards.  Even Thomas Jefferson wrote about it, calling it the Suck.  Other early writers called it the Narrows.

Tumbling Shoals started about a half mile down from Williams’ Island, above the mouth of Shoal Creek on the right bank of the river.

Holston Rock protruded from the water below the mouth of Middle Creek on the right bank of the river.

The Kettle, also known as the Suck, was a huge, almost permanent whirlpool just above the mouth of Suck Creek on the right bank of the river that disturbed the channel for some distance below the confluence of the two streams.

Suck Shoals lay in the channel toward the right bank just as the river started to turn south.

Dead Man’s Eddy ran between the mouth of Dividing Hollow on the left bank to the point where Stanley Independent Baptist Church is on the right.

The Pot was a disturbance in the channel just below the mouth of Chestnut Bridge Hollow on the right bank of the river.

The Skillet was a disturbance at the apex of the westerly starboard bend downriver from The Skillet below Pot Point on the mountain on the right bank.

The Pan, according to Union military maps, was a disturbance a little below the mouths of Scout Hollow and Pan Gap Branch on the left bank of the river.

Savannah Towhead was at a southerly bend to port about halfway between McNabb Spring and the end of McNabb Road, both on the left bank.

Kelly’s Bar was just upriver from the ferry.

Kelly’s Ferry, established by John Kelly, crossed the river at the western end of Kelly’s Ferry Road from Lookout Valley, now part of Robert E. Lee Highway, to a spot near the Kelly’s Ferry Community Church.

Kelly’s Shoals were just below the ferry.

The Narrows are a section of Cash Canyon which is especially narrow and tightens the stream considerably, reducing room for manuever.

Oates Island in The Narrows was across from the mouth of Bennett Cove, now Bennett Lake.

Gardenhire’s Old Ferry, as it is referred to in Union military records, crossed just upriver from Hale’s Bar across from the end of Alley’s, or Cummings’, Trace (now Aetna Mountain Road).


Hale’s Bar, toward the left bank, marked the end of both The Narrows and of Cash Canyon.

22 November 2016

First Thanksgiving in Chattanooga (Civil War)

By “first Thanksgiving Day”, no, I do not mean the harvest thanksgiving meal which the Separatist colonists of New Plymouth shared uncomfortably with their Wampanoag neighbors.  Nor do I mean any of the thanksgivings proclaimed on a one-time basis by a U.S. President after that.  In this case, the “First Thanksgiving Day” means the inaugural event of those that have taken place every third or fourth Thursday of November since.

At the height of the Civil War, in the aftermath of losses of Chancellorsville and Chickamauga as well as the horrific Union casualties at Gettysburg and Vicksburg, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the last Thursday of November would be a day of national thanksgiving every year.  Essentially, it was a public relations move to distract a war-weary population. 

The Confederacy held a similar observance on 21 August of that year for similar reasons.  In that case, the observance in Chattanooga was interrupted by the guns of John T. Wilder’s brigade on Stringer’s Ridge.

* * * * *

I first got interested in the battles the day after the big battles on 25 November when Becky Eaves, historian to East Brainerd and to Concord Baptist Church, told me about how her brothers used to gather up minie balls by the bucket-load to sell as fishing weights.  They gathered them from all over the farm which their parents had inherited from the Blackwell ancestors.  I became even more so after moving to Grays Drive and realizing the Army of Tennessee had probably retreated right through my front yard.

* * * * *

Little did Lincoln know when he made that proclamation on 3 October 1863 that on the day so designated, 26 November that year, the Confederate Army of Tennessee would be fleeing in desparation and somewhat disarray after its disastrous defeat on Missionary Ridge at the hands of the Union Army of the Cumberland.  According to reports in the Official Record of the War Between the States and letters from participating soldiers, there were several engagements fought during the retreat that day.

The day before, Hardee’s Corps of the Army of Tennessee had just been settling down to celebrate Patrick Cleburne’s victory at the “Battle of Tunnel Hill, Tn.” over William T. Sherman at at the northern end of the ridge, when the Confederate line on Missionary Ridge broke in the face of the charge by the Army of the Cumberland against its front and the sudden belated appearance Hooker’s corps from the Army of the Potomac at Ross’ Gap. 

Having saved the day, or so it thought, Cleburne’s Division now found itself assigned rearguard for the withdrawal to Chickmauga Station after having fought in heavy battle from 9 am to 4:00 pm against a vastly superior force.  In fact, Hardee’s entire corps had remained intact and held its positions, withdrawing in good order starting at 7:45 pm beginning with Cheatham’s Division, then Walker’s Division, then Stevenson’s Division, and finally Cleburne’s Division.  Smith’s Brigade of Cleburne’s Division, which had born he brunt of the worst of the fighting, did not leave Tunnel Hill until 9:00 pm.

* * * * *

The first post-Missionary Ridge engagement occurred that evening, between forward elements of Philip Sheridan’s 2nd Division of the 4th Corps of the Army of the Cumberland and unknown elements of the Army of Tennessee, including artillery. 

After leaving the ridge, Sheridan’s division followed the trail over the ridge well past nightfall.  In that time, Bird’s Mill Road followed Talley Road until it veered north, then ran down what is now Old Mission Road (referring to the former Brainerd Mission).  At the point where the road ran over Talley Hill, Confederates from the rearguard had set up a number of cannon and a line of infantry, which slowed Sheridan’s pursuit enough that he and his division had to stop for the night at Bird’s Mill and the old mission.

* * * * *

Chickamauga Station, the depot of which stood across the road from the airport terminal, was the designated rendezvous point for the retreating forces after Gen. Braxton Bragg’s catastrophic loss at Missionary Ridge.  From there the next day, the Army of Tennessee began withdrawing in two columns ideally following two separate routes.  Maj. Gen. John Breckenridge commanded one column, with Walker’s Division (under Brig. Gen. States Rights Gist) as its rear guard, while Lt. Gen. William Hardee commanded the other, with Cleburne’s Division as its rear guard.  (Col. John W.) Grigsby’s Brigade of Kelly’s Division of (Maj. Gen. Joseph) Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps divided to protect the two rearguards. 

(Brig. Gen. Lucius) Polk’s Brigade of Cleburne’s Division and (Brig. Gen. George) Maney’s Brigade of Stevenson’s Division, temporarily detached to Cleburne’s Division, were detailed to destroy the vast commissary stores at the depot, but there was too much.  (Brig. Gen. Joseph) Lewis’ Orphan Brigade out of Kentucky, part of Breckenridge’s Division but also seconded to Cleburne, formed the rear of the rear guard, covering for the other two brigades.

* * * * *

The vanguard of the Union pursuit was Brig. Gen. Jefferson C. Davis’ 2nd Division of the 12th Corps of the Army of the Cumberland.  Behind him came the 11th Corps of the Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. Oliver Howard (for whom Howard High School and Howard Elementary are named).  When he learned from scouts the troops of the Confederate reaguard were the Kentuckians of Lewis’ Brigade, Davis made his 1st Brigade under James D. Morgan, also Kentuckians, the forward element of his division.

The first encounter between the two opposing units of Kentuckians took place at a hill north of Chickamauga Station, the same which Polk’s Brigade of Cleburne’s Division had held the day before.  After a brief skirmish, the Confederate Kentuckians withdrew to Chickamauga Station, where soldiers of Maney’s and Gist’s Brigade were vainly attempt to burn everything while stuffing as much food as they could wherever they could.

When Morgan’s Brigade reached the outskirts of Chickamauga around high noon, the Orphan Brigade covered the withdrawal of their in the second encounter of the day.  Once Maney’s and Gist’s Brigades were gone, the Orphans withdrew to Milliken Ridge.

On two knobs on Milliken Ridge, Dupree Hill to the north and Stein Hill on the south, soldiers of Cleburne’s Division had that summer built two redoubts overlooking the station.  Here, the Orphans made their third stand against their fellow Kentuckians, then withdrew.

The fourth and final stand of the Orphan Brigade that day took place in Hickory Valley, which at that point ran between Milliken Ridge on the west and Concord Ridge to the east.  In this, the Orphans held postions on the ridgeside while Morgan’s troops dug in along Hickory Creek, which the Union commanders dubbed Shepherd’s Run, after Margaret Shepherd, who came out from Altamede (the Shepherd mansion patterned after James Vann’s Diamond Hill) to scold the Union soldiers for ruining her flowerbeds.  When the Orphans withdrew again, probably along Igou Road, Davis gave the soldiers of Morgan’s Brigade a break.

* * * * *

While this was going on, Howard moved his corps to the left of Davis’ division to sweep wide and prevent straggling Confederates from escaping.  To cover his own left flank, Howard used the 55th Ohio Volunteers (2nd Brigade, 2nd Division) under Capt. Charles B. Gambee.  Gambee and his troops encountered the Orphan Brigade’s 4th Kentucky Infantry under Col. Thomas Thompson at Tyner’s Station.  After a brief encounter from which their opponents swiftly withdrew, the 55th Ohio captured a 1st lieutenant, four privates, and two teamsters.  Howard then moved the corps south down the valley roughly along what’s now known as Silverdale and Gunbarrel Roads.

* * * * *

The largest engagement of the day, and one which could definitely be called a proper battle, due to the number of soldiers involved, took place in Concord, or East Brainerd proper.  From the descriptions in various letters and reports of the commanders, this battle can only have taken place east of Concord Ridge, near Mackey Branch.  Sam Watkins of “Co. Aytch” in Maney’s Brigade refers to the stream as Cat Creek while the Union officers called it Shepherd’s Run under the mistaken impression or memory it was the same as Hickory Creek. 

Several references to the encounter’s proximity to Graysville, Georgia (“about a mile”) leave no other option.  The Union Army Cyclopedia of Battles, in fact, gives its location as Graysville, but it was clearly a bit north of there.

Facing their opponents across the creek and fields from a stretch of woods in hastily built ifle pits and breastworks, Maney’s Brigade lined up in what they thought was going to be a suicidal last stand facing Davis’ division.  At the last moment before the battle, units of Grigsby’s Brigade (its three Kentucky regiments) appeared, and settled down to fight alongside Maney’s troops dismounted.  They were supported by one of the Mississippi field artillery units, most likely (by process of elimination) Stanford’s Mississippi Battery.

Seeing the opposition, Davis sent forward his 2nd and 3rd Brigades under Brig. Gen. John Beatty and Col. Daniel McCook respectively.  Supporting them from Concord Ridge were guns from Battery I of the 2nd Illinois Light Artillery.  Davis kept Morgan’s Kentuckians in reserve.  After the engagement had begun, Howard’s 11th Corps arrived from the north.  Howard sent his 2nd Division under Brig. Gen. Adolph Steinwehr to Davis’ right and put his 3rd Division under Maj. Gen. Carl Schurz in reserve.

The fight lasted but an hour as darkness was falling, and at dusk the Confederates gratefully withdrew.  Brig. Gen. Maney was severely wounded in this encounter and remained out of action until returning to command a division under Hardee during the Atlanta Campaign.

* * * * *

While the above engagements were taking place, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker’s command, including the 12th Corps of the Army of the Potomac under Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum, the 14th Corps of the Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. John Palmer (minus Davis’ division), and the 1st Division of the 15th Corps of the Army of the Tennessee under Brig. Gen. Peter Osterhaus, proceeded from Ross’ Gap toward Ringgold down the Old Federal Road hoping to cut off Bragg’s Confederates.  Destroyed bridges and flooded creeks caused serious delays.

While Hooker was stalled at Red House Ford while a bridge was built over the flooded West Chickamauga Creek, he sent cavalry across which encountered Liddell’s Brigade of Cleburne’s Division, commanded by Col. Daniel Govan, which easily turned them back.

When the road to Graysville divided from that to Ringgold, Palmer took his corps to the former while Hooker maintained his path to the latter.

Palmer’s vanguard was his 1st Division under Brig. Gen. Richard Johnson.  Johnson sent his 1st Brigade under Brig. Gen. William Carlin toward Graysville while his 2nd Brigade under Col. William Stoughton went toward Indian Springs, the area around the crossroads of the way to Graysville and the way to Ringgold.

In the dark of early evening, Carlin’s brigade stumbled into Gist’s Brigade, then attempting to cross Chickamauga River at Graysville.  Some fighting ensued, but in the dark no one was hit, and the Confederates were able to escape and ford the river upstream.

Meanwhile, Stoughton’s brigade surprised pickets from Stewart’s Division near the crossroads of the Lafayette and Ringgold roads, capturing some along with their guns, and causing the rest to flee in disarray.

As for Hooker’s column, Brig. Gen. John Geary’s 2nd Division of the 12th Corps of the Army of the Potomac encountered Breckenridge’s rearguard (i.e., Walker’s Division), including (Capt. T.B.) Ferguson’s South Carolina Battery, at Peavine Creek, and a skirmish ensued, resulting in some soldiers and artillery captured.

After crossing Peavine Creek and Chickamauga Swamp, Osterhaus’ division encountered what appeared to be a large body of Confederates encamped and entrenched atop what Geary calls the Pigeon Hills. The two generals formed their troops into lines-of-battle and commenced firing as they advanced.  By the time they reached the summit, the camp was deserted.

* * * * *

Related to the actions of these days was the raid of the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Cavalry Division attached to the Army of the Cumberland, then under Col. Eli Long.

On 24 November, Maj. Gen. George Thomas, commander of the Army of the Cumberland, dispatched Col. Long and his troops to raid and destroy along the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad. 

That day, as reported Lt. Col. Edward Kitchell of the 9th Illinois Mounted Infantry, the unit involved, troops burned two caissons and tore up the rails at several points near Tyner Station (Thomas reported up the chain that they had burned the station and tore up all the tracks).  Later in the day, they encountered a wagon train coming out of Ooltewahand destroyed it.

On 25 November, while the Battles of Tunnel Hill, Tn., and of Missionary Ridge were being fought to the west, Long and his brigade captured Cleveland, Tennessee. 

On 26 November, Long sent the 3rd Ohio Cavalry under Lt. Col. Charles Seidel to search and destroy along the railroad to the Hiwassee River, Maj. Thomas Patten and the 1st Ohio Cavalry to do the same along the railroad to Dalton, and Maj. George Dobb and the 4th Ohio Cavalry back toward Chattanooga for the same.

At Charleston, Seidel found troops of (Brig. Gen. John H.) Kelly’s Division of Wheeler’s Cavalry Corps, which he drove across the Hiwassee River into Calhoun.  There, Kelly’s command, including (Col. William) Wade’s Brigade and all of the division’s artillery, was firmly entrenched.  Knowing when to quit, Seidel withdrew to Cleveland.

* * * * *

The next day, 27 November, Cleburne’s Division held Taylor’s Gap at Ringgold, Georgia, against Hooker’s entire command, though the main units involved on the Union side were the divisions of Osterhaus and Geary.  While Cleburne and his troops kept Hooker’s men thus tied up, the rest of the Army of Tennessee retreated from Catoosa Station to Dalton.  Cleburne and his men later followed, stopping at Tunnel Hill. 

The same morning, Kelly attacked Seidel’s troops at Cleveland, driving out the federals, then withdrew to Dalton the very same day, to join the rest of the Army of Tennessee.


19 November 2016

Equality (for Ungagged 9)

The following is the text of my section of the Ungagged podcast "Looking Backward", which can be found at https://leftungagged.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/looking-backward/ and http://ungagged.podbean.com/e/looking-backward/ .

When Neil gave us the theme of equality, the first thing that came to my mind was the title of the sequel to the 19th century novel which was the 3rd best selling of that century in America, behind Ben-Hur: A Story of Christ and Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  That novel was Looking Backward, written by Edward Bellamy, cousin of co-founder of the Society for Christian Socialism and Pledge of Allegiance author Francis Bellamy. 

Looking Backward has the distinction of being not only one of the first socialist-oriented novels in America but also one of the first utopian science fiction novels dealing with time travel.  The story of the movement inspired by that novel, which I will go into at another time, is one of the reasons why I have decided to start calling America Neverland instead of the Great Satan.

During the primary season, my son David was driving me somewhere and we were discussing the elections.  I had supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries which were so heavily rigged in favor of the would-be coronee, and was going off about all of my reasons, which included such things as drastic income inequality, rule by oligarchy, destruction of the social welfare system, etc.  When I finished, he told me, “You sound just like Johnny”.  His step-father, who liked Bernie but was supporting Donald Trump. 

Though there are certainly plenty of exceptions, I suspect that most of those voting for Trump, the “deplorables” as Clinton referred to them, did so for many of the same reasons as those voting for Bernie, the “basement-dwellers” as Clinton referred to them.  Much in the same way the foot-soldiers of the original Tea Party movement resembled in their grievances the foot-soldiers of the Occupy movement.

So, do not be afraid that with the election of Donald Trump that Neverland has become overrun with folks in white sheets waving Confederate flags and folks in khaki waving the swaztika, because many of them are folk just like me, and, I suspect, like you too.

In their Declaration of Independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain, America’s so-called Founding Fathers wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…”, meaning, of course, that they were male, white, landed property-holders, over the age of 21, and of the fourteen colonies that rebelled, Congregationalist in the colonies of New England and Anglican in the colonies from New York south, the only two of the fourteen not having religious requirements for voting being Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.  And yes, it was 14 colonies not 13, the tiny proprietary colony of Gardiner’s Island almost never being counted.

The tripartite motto of France— in its original form among the Cordeliers Clubs liberty, equality, fraternity, or death—was but one such triad passed around during that country’s revolution, all of which with but one or two exceptions included liberty and equality.  The country only adopted the triad as its official motto with the advent of the Third Republic in 1870. 

Another such triptych, likewise dating back to the French Revolution, made into the original version of Bellamy’s Pledge of Allegiance as “liberty, equality, and justice for all”.  As soon as he wrote it out, however, Francis realized that “equality” in the morning twilight of Jim Crow and in the face of then staunch resistance to women’s suffrage would not go over, so he dropped it before even submitting what he’d written.

As a social value, in the 18th and 19th centuries, “equality” meant equality of rights, specifically civil rights.  But equality thus defined and limited becomes destructive of itself.  I prefer Bellamy’s borrowed triptych to the French motto because without justice equality is incomplete.  Justice in this case means equity rather than criminal jurisprudence, what is often called social justice.  The boxes V mentioned in the post-US clusterfuck podcast demonstrate the difference between equality—all three game watchers standing on boxes of the same size—versus equity (or justice)—all three able to see the game over the fence with their eyes at the same level. 

In both, it occurred to me finally when looking at various spins on this theme, all three are equally outside.  Outside of those able to afford a seat in the stadium.  Outside those those considered socially acceptable.  Outside those considered human.  Even in the scenes showing equity between them, their only equity is with each other.  Like refugees in Europe, America, and Australia, standing on the outside looking in.  Or Palestinians outside colonies of their occupiers.  Or Native Americans outside

Much has been made of President-elect Trump’s declared intent to deport two to three million so-called “illegals” from Neverland.  Not as much note of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s saying, “Uh, no, actually, we have no plans to do that”, nor of the fact that by the time he leaves office, Barack Obama will have deported 3.2 million.

One of my favorite quotes on equality comes from American labor activist and socialist icon Eugene Debs, from his statement at his trial for sedition under the same law which the Obama administration has used to persecute and silence more whistle-blowers than any other president in American history.  “Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth.  I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” 

As long as our brothers and sisters do not have what we have, do not have what they need to not only survive but thrive, do not have available what should be readily available if all of us took only what we need until everyone has enough, and have to stand beyond the fence looking in no matter how many boxes they get to stand upon, then none of us are free.


14 November 2016

Rifle pits and Missionary Ridge

One of the most common criticisms of Gen. Braxton Bragg on the Army of Tennessee defense of Missionary Ridge is that he ordered, or at least allowed to be ordered, the placement of the rifle pits, or trenches, along the actual crest of the ridge rather than the military crest, which would be on the side facing the enemy but just below the edge of the actual crest.  That particular criticism of Bragg is an unfair and inaccurate anachronism.  Two other known placements of rifle pits by commanders recognized for their tactical skill demonstrate that this placement of rifle-pits was the standard practice of the time. 

After the troops of Maj. Gen. Sherman’s command, mostly his own 15th Corps of the Army of the Tennessee, dug in the afternoon of 24 November 1863 on Billy Goat and Angora Hills (two hills joined by a short narrow ridge), they did so along the actual crest of the conjoined heights.  You can still see the remains of these rifle pits along the crest of the ridge above Battery Heights, along with several well-preserved gun emplacements created at the same time.

When the troops of Cleburne’s Division of the Army of Tennessee dug in at first on Trueblood/Tunnel Hill at the north end of Missionary Ridge across Lime Kiln Hollow from Sherman’s troops, they likewise did so along the actual as opposed to what’s now called the military crest. 

The reason for the later repositioning of Cleburne’s defences had more to do with the fact that his opponent came from the north instead of the west, necessitating the single brigade of his division in active combat (Smith’s) dig in perpendicular to the original trench in tighter formation just below the apex of the hill at Sherman’s Reservation where the cannons and plaques are now.

Recognized by anyone who knows very much about the Civil War as the best division commander of both armies, had placement of trenches along the actual crest not been standard military doctrine at the time, Maj. Gen. Patrick Ronayne Cleburne would not have employed it.  The remains of those initial rifles pits along the crest of Tunnel Hill are clearly visible at Sherman’s Reservation and better preserved than those at Billy Goat-Angora Hill.

The most-often cited as the best division commander of the Union army, by the way, is Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, then of the Army of the Cumberland.

Notably, one of Bragg’s brigade commanders, Col. Arthur Manigault of Anderson’s Division, dissented in the placement of the rifle pits, only to be told by Bragg’s engineer Capt. John Green that Maj. Gen. Breckenridge, whom Bragg had charged with the belated construction of defense works, had ordered that they be dug along the actual crest. 

Disregarding those orders, Manigault had the rifle pits of his brigade placed along the “military crest” and futilely tried to convince the two commanders on either side as well.  As a result, Manigault’s line held while those on either side collapsed, though his troops had to withdraw to keep from being overrun.

It was, in fact, about the time of the Battles of Tunnel Hill, Tn., and of Missionary Ridge, that the doctrine of a “military crest” came into being.  I posit that this change in military doctrine came about specifically because  to the experience of the quick collapse of the Army of Tennessee’s line before the onslaught of the Army of the Cumberland on that day (25 November 1863) due in large part to the blind spots created by the traditional placement.


Remember Ronald Reagan?

Remember when Ronald Reagan opened his presidential campaign at the Neshoba County Fair, in the same community in which the three civil rights workers were murdered by the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in 1964?

Remember when the week before Super Tuesday Ronald Reagan gave a “tough on crime” speech in Stone Mountain, Georgia, birthplace in 1915 of the Knights of the Ku Klux, Inc., flanked and backed by white Dixiecrats in front of ranks of black prisoners?

Remember how the Reagan administration sponsored legislation targetting primarily Afro-Americans which increased use of the death penalty, eliminated higher education for inmates, prohibited education assistance for felons, increased money for new prisons, gave money to states for keeping prisoners inside longer, supported the private prison industry, allowed for states to pass three-strikes laws, and barred ex-cons from public housing?

Remember how the Reagan administration sponsored legislation that “ended welfare as we know it” by placing a lifetime limit on welfare benefits, devolving responsibility for welfare to the states and handing them block grants of money, nd instituting a workfare-for-welfare program requirement, drastically cut back on the food stamp program, and all but abolishing Medicaid?

Remember how Reagan pressured his party’s national committee to drop from its platform statements expressing anti-monopoly sentiments that had been there since 1880?

Remember how the Reagan administration sponsored legislation that abolished the prohibition against a bank holding company in one state acquiring a bank headquartered in another state, allowed for media cross-ownership, deregulated broadcast and telecommunications markets, eased regulations on creditors and made it more difficult for clients to sue firms for securities fraud, loosened supervisory regulations over financial institutions and lessened creditor liability, overruled all state laws that regulated savings and loan credit activities, abolished the Glass-Steagall provisions separating commercial banks and investment firms, deregulated over-the-counter derivatives, attempted  to privatize Social Security and Medicare, made it harder of buyers to get out of lender required insurance on mortgages, and made it harder to consumers though not businesses to discharge debts through bankruptcy?

Remember how the Reagan administration sponsored legislation that defined marriage as being between one man and one woman and nothing else?

To all you neoliberals and other pseudo-progressives who have not yet gotten the joke, I have to point out that Ronald Reagan only did one of these things.  The rest came from “America’s first black president”, Bill Clinton, in partnership with his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.  So, you see, when true progressives and others whom the policies of the Clinton joint-administration have harmed withheld our votes from this year’s Democratic Party nominee or else voted against her, it was not because of misogyny, sour grapes, and contempt for her ability, rather it was because we highly respected her abilities but feared what she would have done with them.

Ronald Reagan may have started the change of the War on Poverty into the War on the Poor, but the Bill Clinton took it to Warp 10 and made it cool.  For liberals, the best gift from the Clintons was that they made it acceptable to be dog-whistle racism-spouting, poor-shaming bigots again and still call themselves “progressive”.

Also, it’s way past time for dynastic politics to end.  No more Rockefellers, no more Kennedys, no more Bushes, no more Clintons, no more of any families who have had several members in political office.  After having spent four years in the Philippines, I learned well what placing such a concentration of power in so few hands can do to a country.


10 November 2016

For Veterans/Remembrance/Armistice Day

to strifemongers
to chickenhawks
to war-profiteers
to all those whose idea of patriotism
is sending out young people to die
trying to kill other young people
trying to kill them:
FUCK YOU.

to all those more concerned
with  the profits and interests of corporations
than the cost of permanent war
on individual humans and societies
including our own:
FUCK YOU.

to all those who sow strife and dissension
to divide humans from each other
within artificial invisible boundaries
created for the sole purpose of dividing turf
between wealthy and powerful elites
who then turn those same humans against other humans
on the "other side" of those artificial boundaries
humans who are likewise at the mercy
of wealthy and powerful elites
more similar to the elites on their side
than to humans on either side
including how they manipulate their humans
FUCK YOU.

to all who believe corporations are people
whose money is speech
whose rights to religious freedom trump
that of actual humans
FUCK YOU.

to all whose ideology trumps
concern for human welfare
for liberty, equality, and social justice
FUCK YOU.

And the horse you rode in on.



03 November 2016

Rise Up and Abandon the Creeping Meatball (for Ungagged 7)

This is Chuck Hamilton, a Yank from Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, a poet, writer, historian, activist in various causes, and a Scottish nationalist for as long as I can remember.


Remember what Jean Shepherd said about creeping meatballism being the passive acquiescence of people who surrender to the demands of the consumer culture and collaborate in their own manipulation?  In the Great Satan back in the 1960s, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, and three of their friends founded the counterculture-oriented Youth International Party whose slogan was “Rise up and abandon the creeping meatball”.  It’s in the yippie spirit, in fact, that I’m now referring to America as the Great Satan, certainly not out of any respect for that chicken-fucker Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, who coined the term.  Uncle Sam may be the more common nickname, but in that guise America is the uncle comes to your bedroom at your parents’ house at night with its trousers unzipped.

I remember a story I heard on the radio (remember those), on National Public Radio, I think, about a couple who had this pet chimpanzee, a female they’d named Jane.  There came a point when they couldn’t care for her anymore, and thinking she should be with her own kind, they gave her over to the local zoo.  The first time they came to visit her, she became extremely excited, especially when they gave her a bunch of treats.  They came again and did the same, failing to notice the agitation from the other chimps.  When they returned the third time, Jane wouldn’t come near them, and had clearly been beaten.  Asking the zookeeper what happened, he explained that they should have brought enough for all of the group.

There’s a quote going around falsely attributed to Jody Foster that was actually a computer-generated meme.  Maybe machines are not as stupid as we thought.  The quote goes, “Attacking the rich is not envy; it is self-defense.  The hoarding of wealth is the cause of poverty.  The rich aren’t just indifferent to poverty: they create it and maintain it.”  That’s the end of the so-called quote, but if it had continued, the computer would’ve added that they maintain it through the power of the political state and informal means of social control such as the creation of patriotism and making the poor ashamed of the poverty inflicted upon them in order to maintain the wealth of the few, as if it is somehow their fault rather than the wankers and cunts who have thrust it upon them. 

Another meme I’ve seen in relation to the suffering visited upon Greece by the European Union which should make one have second thoughts about that body, that just because Brexiters were so obnoxiously bigoted does not mean the EU is a good thing anymore than Donald Trump makes Hillary Clinton a good thing or Donald Cameron and Theresa May make Tony Blair a good thing.  This meme, describing the chain of events leading to the crash of 2007 and the ongoing Great Recession, quite accurately describes austerity.

It goes like this: Rich people cause economic crisis.  Rich people demand bail out from state for causing the crisis.  Rich people do better than ever before.  Rich people demand austerity, which is a fancy word for cutting services for the non-rich, to pay for bailing out rich people.  Rich people blame poor people for the crisis they themselves have created, and become angry that poor people think they deserve better, calling for more sacrifice…sacrifice from the poor, that is.

So, the answer to the age-old question of why is there so much poverty in the world, as answered by a computer no less, is that there is poverty because there is wealth.  Wealth is, in fact, is the sole cause of poverty.  Without a greedy few amassing hoards of resources out of the reach of the rest of humanity, there would be more than enough for all.  The needs of the many should outweigh the greed of the avaricious few.

Much is made of the divide between the basement dwellers who supported Bernie Sanders and the deplorables who support Donald Trump.  The truth is that both sets of us are driven by the same underlying motivation; less and less available for the many as the few, the 1%, hoard more and more to themselves.  Like the grassroots of the Occupy movement vis-à-vis the rank-and-file of the Tea Party movement in its early days.  The differences are superficial and ephemeral, just like the illusory divide between grassroots supporters of Brexit and grassroots opposers of Brexit.  The more we buy into this division which is as artificial as any national border, the more we collaborate in our own manipulation and allow the meatball to creep on until it rolls over us like a boulder.  We can’t abandon the creeping meatball unless we first rise up and demand what all of us deserve, a cooperative commonwealth of the many, by the many, and for the many, even the then formerly wealthy whose hoards have been more fairly distributed.

I’d like to close out with a poem I wrote back in 1997 during the dark years of the Clinton machine’s first ascension to the throne of the Empire, which has a liberation theme of sorts.  It was one of my most popular on the local open mike circuit back then.  It’s about emancipation of the mind and the spirit.  It’s called,

Random Thoughts, the day after a really weird night that I spent at Kilroy's Coffeehouse, and no, I'm not on acid

I don't really care whether I go to heaven
Or whether I go to hell

I don't believe in that version of reality
Somehow I think the Otherside
If there is one, that is
Would blow the fucking minds
Of the purveyors of guilt and fear

But even if -- and that's a big IF
The truth does conform
To their mythological paranoid psychosexual fantasies
I'd rather burn with the righteous sinners
Than sing with the sanctimonious saints
At least the sinners are honest
About who they are
They're a whole lot more real
Than the ones who sit in judgment
Over the rest of us outside
Worrying about gossip
And what's "appropriate" and "polite"
Serving the capitalist Leviathan
And the conformist Behemoth
With the labor of their hearts and minds
Buying whatever the creeping meatball
Tells them they need
Eating vanilla food and having vanilla sex
Walking the line in the middle of the road
And getting their spirits squashed like a grape

Give me spice, give me pepper
Give me the odd, the strange, the wonderful
Give me the outrageous and offensive
Give me the culturally blasphemous
Give me the really weird
Give me cookies and cunnilingus
—oh wait....for me that's fellatio—
Give me true freedom and liberty
In all their anarchic, iconoclastic, orgiastic splendor

And speaking of hell
Since James Dobson is on such good terms
With the Almighty
Maybe he can tell me the answer
To a question that's just come to mind...

(And here, existing for a moment
In Never-Never-Land
We have to pretend
That heaven and hell are real)

This is my question:
Where does God send sinners who are masochists?
Certainly not to hell
Where await fire and brimstone
Assorted tortures and all manner of pain
The ultimate experience of S&M
An eternal orgasm stretching to infinity

And speaking of torture and pain
Brings to my mind the scourging,
The crowning with thorns,
And the crucifixion
Certainly Christians must all be sadists
Since seeing the crucified victim's agony
Brings them such orgasmic joy
As they torture themselves with
Autoerotic shame and mental emotional pain

Wouldn't it have been tacky
If the Big Boy himself had been a masochist
Bottom to Pilate's top?

And another thing…
If Jesus Christ really DID take all humanity's sins
Upon himself that day
(And good GOD....where would he fit THAT load)
Why do Christians these days
Give Satan such a bum rap
Laying all their sins
At his feet and at his door
How would you like to be the Devil
Hearing what they say?

A story in the Talmud teaches
That Satan is God's most loyal servant
Testing the faith of his children
By tempting them to sin
Courting ridicule, scorn, and outright hatred
And by offering them a choice
Making real their gift of free will
Courting ridicule, scorn, and outright hatred
Like the prostitute hired by the king
To test his heir and find out his worth

No, it's not false witness that they fear
Coming from the "Father of Lies"
But rather that he'll tell the truth
So they would condemn the Accuser
Who holds up the mirror
Showing them their true selves

Come on, people, grow up
Take some fucking responsibility
Don't scapegoat another, even Auld Hornie
After all, the serpent in the Garden
Was the only one who told the truth

I remember a quote from Isaiah's Song
"He was despised and rejected by men
Wounded for our transgressions
And bruised for our iniquities"
And I get a way far out idea
About an intriguing possibility:
If good and evil are really the same thing
Created by God when he formed light and darkness
Since that quote could apply with equal truth
Though perhaps for different reasons
To Lucifer, son of the morning
Or to Jesus, bright morning star
Maybe, just maybe
They're the same person