2007 Memorial Day
Torchlight Tour
Chattanooga National Cemetery

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 SUVMRC Main Page     2007 Torchlight Tour Continued     Photos  Posted June 3, 2007 

Here are a few photos from the May 28, 2007 Memorial Day Torchlight Tour of the Chattanooga National Cemetery. This year's tour was led by Jim Ogden, Historian for the National Park Service, Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, and Louis Varnell, Director and Curator of the Southeast Veterans Museum. Several uniformed members of Missionary Ridge Camp #63, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War made their traditional appearance as well.

Sponsored by the Chattanooga National Cemetery, this tour capped a special weekend during which small National flags are hand-placed by volunteers beside each of the 45,000 plus gravestones. Additionally, both National and Armed Services flags were displayed along the roadways throughout the cemetery. Shown below is a glimpse of this special Chattanooga Memorial Day event.

It was noted that this cemetery was started by General George H. Thomas, Commander of the Union Army of the Cumberland. His General Order #296 dated December 25, 1863 set aside the original acreage that would be used for the burial of Union soldiers from the Civil War. After the war, the cemetery was expanded from 78 acres to the present day size of 120.9 acres. One of the Sons of Union Veterans read General John Logan's General Order #11 dated May 5, 1868 that set aside May 30th as the day to remember the nation's deceased soldiers. Part of his order reads: "Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic."
The group of around 50 assembled at the Memorial Arch to begin the 90-minute, 1-mile walking tour. At left, period replica torches would provide both light and atmosphere. Jim Ogden and Louis Varnell, in the right side of the photo are ready with their talks.


Jim opened this year's tour with appropriate remarks about the history of the cemetery plus a famous quote that set the mood:
"...But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract..."
[Left] With Missionary Ridge just over a mile behind him as a background, Jim tells the listeners about Union soldier Andrew J. Fillinger of the 18th Ohio. On September 20, 1863, he was wounded in the chest during the Battle of Chickamauga. Several accounts of his bravery under fire were related. He managed to linger on for another three weeks while the Union army was under siege in Chattanooga. And like many fellow soldiers who fought at Chickamauga, he died of his wounds in Chattanooga on October 10, 1863.
[Right] Solomon A. Mitchell was wounded during the Battle of Chickamauga. He was able to survive his wound, however, he succomed to pneumonia on October 30, 1863.
[Below] A photo of Private Simonds draws the audience closer and puts a face with an otherwise anonymous marker. Jim read excerpts from Simonds' diary which he kept almost daily. His diary tracks an ordeal of being wounded and left on the field. He is then captured and held for several days by the victorious Confederates. Private Simonds was eventually sent though the lines to Chattanooga to be cared for by his own army. His diary entries end as his medical condition worsens and he passes in October.
[Below] Captain John L. Steel, from Iowa, was killed at The Battle of Ringgold Gap. He, like many soldiers killed following the Campaign for Chattanooga, was brought to this cemetery for burial.
[Below] Standing next to Col. Timothy Stanley's tombstone, Jim tells about the 18th Ohio's commander who eventually settled in Chattanooga after the war.
After Jim's talk about the Civil War soldiers,
Louis Varnell began his talk about several soldiers from other wars.
Click here as the remainder of 2007 Torchlight Tour continues.