Chestnut Grove Baptist Church 150th Anniversary and Alabama Marker Dedication – September 18, 2011

Camp Commander Jim Fletcher requested Missionary Camp #63 participation in the Chestnut Grove Baptist Church 150th Anniversary Celebration which also included a State of Alabama Historical Marker dedication. The two events captured the historical significance of this location atop Sand Mountain – the peaceful and joyous occasion of establishing a Christian church for this rural community (now known as Ider, Alabama) in the mists of the dark clouds of war already making itself known in the East; and, the realities of the War as 20,000 troops in blue marched past this new church only two years later. Shown below, the Church celebrated its birthday with many in the congregation wearing period clothing. A very nice covered dish lunch followed the church services. The historical marker dedication was just outside and in front of the church building.

The road immediately in front of the church was the actual road used by the troops during the War. At left, we see two of McCook’s men following a line of Confederates and somewhat copying on a much smaller scale what actually happened here 148 years ago. Mark Kemp and Harvey Scarborough, as federals, fell in with the Confederates and assisted with the three-volley rifle salute.Below, left the Honor Guard prepares to fire. And below right, two more members of Missionary Camp #63 are also part of the ceremonies. Mark Steele at far left and Camp Commander Jim Fletcher fifth from right.

At left, one of three rifle salutes.
Below, a cannon salute added a tremendous climax to the festivities with three thunderous roars!

All photos courtesy of Debbie Kemp
The marker reads: “The Road To Chickamauga – On August 29, 1863, the Union XX Army Corps under Maj. Gen. Alexander M. McCook and the Army of the Cumberland’s cavalry under Maj. Gen. David S. Stanley broke camp at Stevenson, AL and crossed the Tennessee River at Caperton’s Ferry. This force of 20,000 troops was one of three columns dispatched by Union Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans to compel a Confederate retreat from Chattanooga, TN, the transportation hub of this region.McCook’s men ascended Sand Mountain and marched east on Caperton’s Ferry Road, past Chestnut Grove Baptist Church (est. Sept 1861) to camp sites along Town Creek. On September 4th, this column reached the plantation of Winston O. Winston at Valley Head. Four days later, McCook sent his men over Lookout Mountain at Winston’s Gap into Broomtown Valley. From that point his column could intercept Gen. Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee as it withdrew from Chattanooga.

The armies led by Rosecrans and Bragg eventually clashed on Chickamauga Creek, about thirty miles east of this site. The Union cause suffered its most significant defeat in the Western Theater of the Civil War in the Battle of Chickamauga, Sept. 19-20, 1863.
Alabama Historical Association         2011

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