2010 Torchlight Tour
Chattanooga National Cemetery

Memorial Day, May 31, 2010
Home     Photos     2010 Miller & Wentworth     2010 James Watkins Posted June 7, 2010  

Missionary Ridge Camp #63, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, was pleased to present Mr. James Ogden of the National Park Service, historian at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, for the annual Torchlight Tour of the Veterans Administration Chattanooga National Cemetery. Nearly forty persons attended this year's event - always unique in that Jim conducts his tour by the light of replica 1860s period torches.

This year, the tour began at the "Memorial Circle of Honor" high atop what was known as Brushy Knob during the Civil War. Shown below, behind our gathering participants, is Missionary Ridge. General Sheridan's division assembled on this knob and protected General Wood's division during its attack on Orchard Knob, just to the left of the photo, on November 23, 1863. Sheridan's men camped just beyond the treeline in the foreground that night, then moved closer toward Missionary Ridge on the 24th. In the afternoon of the 25th, four Union divisions scaled Missionary Ridge in a spectacular battle that eventually ended Confederate control of both Chattanooga and East Tennessee. General Sheridan's men attacked the ridge in the dip to the right center of the photo. This is known today as "the Ridgecut" where Interstate 24 goes over the Ridge.
Torches are lit At left, Jim prepares the torches for flame, while we get a good look at another of Chattanooga's battlefields in the background - Lookout Mountain.
Missionary Ridge Camp #63 member, Charlie Engle read the follow order designating May 30, 1868 as the day to remember the Union dead from the late War. This started the traditional May 30th Memorial Day that continued up until the National Holiday Act of 1971 made it into a 3-day holiday weekend. The order, in part, reads: "General Order No. 11, Headquarters, Grand Army of the Republic, Washington, D.C, May 5, 1868....
Reading of General Logan's Memorial Day Order ...."We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. 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 Original Plan At left is an early version of the cemetery's plan. Below is today's map which is roughly similar to that original plan.
Above, we hear the stories about Jesse Whiteman of the 21st Indianna Regt., Abram McCorkle of the 18th Indianna Battery, and Solomon Mitchell of the 2nd Minnesota Regt. - all dieing of wounds received during the Battles for Chattanooga. Below, we stopped at Private Merritt J. Simonds of the 42nd Illinois Infantry. Jim read his diary entries made while he lay wounded for days on Chickamauaga Battlefield. Private Simonds was eventually exchanged, but he died in a Chattanooga military hospital.
Once again, we leave this cemetery, taking with us a small glimpse into the lives of several soldiers who gave their full measure of devotion. We can only imagine the suffering and sorrow they endured. They did their duty by giving themselves; so, let us do our duty by not forgetting them.