2009 Torchlight Tour
Chattanooga National Cemetery

Memorial Day, May 25, 2009

Home     Photos     Torchlight Tour 2008 Posted May 31, 2009  

The Chattanooga National Cemetery, in conjunction with James Ogden of the National Park Service and Missionary Ridge Camp #63, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, once again held a tour of select graves. This year, approximately one hundred and ten persons attended the dusk-to-night tour enhanced by the special lighting effect from replica 19th-Century period torches.

The GatheringThe Gathering
The Torches
At left, we see replica torches that will provide the light tonight. These were used during the 1860s whenever crowds gathered after sundown.

At right, Charlie Engle books Jim Ogden for a future meeting of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.

Jim & Charlie
We visited about seven graves scattered about the cemetery - taking time to hear stories about each soldier buried beneath the markers. The graves visited were Union soldiers killed or mortally wounded during the Atlanta Campaign 145 years ago almost to the day. Jim Ogden read passages from the diary of Miss Hattie Dada. She had served as a nurse under Miss Dix in the Eastern Theater since shortly after the First Battle of Bull Run. Attached to the 12th Army Corps, she followed those troops west to Chattanooga shortly after the Battle of Chickamauga. She stayed in the Chattanooga area for over a year and recounted her daily events in a journal. Chattanooga became a large supply depot and hospital for the Union Army after the Battle of Missionary Ridge and all during the Atlanta Campaign. Her stories brought home the almost daily war experience found in Chattanooga throughout 1864.
The Talk
At Dark
At left, the city lights intermingle with the torch lights of the group. Some lightening and thunder of an approaching storm was detected in the distance.

At bottom left, two members of the Sons of Union Veterans provide light with their torches.

And below, the "distant storm" zeroed in on the cemetery for a direct hit!

Mark & Jim
Unfortunately for all of us, an evening thunderstorm came upon us very quickly. Jim could hardly be heard above the din of thunder and the driving rain pelting umbrellas and ponchos. A good many in the crowd had no protection at all. And... something about being outside in a thunderstorm just did not set well with a lot of folks. So, Jim had no choice but to bring about an early end to this year's tour.

We called it an evening and walked back to our vehicles. This was made all the worse as we had made it nearly to the opposite side of the cemetery when the storm hit. But, that is the way it is sometimes... and we braved the elements as best we could. It was still worth the soggy clothes and brief moment of dampness to pay tribute to those that had suffered so much more. We were all able to head back home and dry out. But, those soldiers we visited, and the many more that we walked among, did not get the chance to return home. We can not forget that their sacrifice allows us to return home today and everyday. We gladly say "thank you soldiers" on this Memorial Day.