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Chickamauga National Military Park, GA (2-21-07) : The Battle of Chickamauga was the culmination of weeks of fighting between Major General Rosecrans Army of the Cumberland and the rebel Army of the Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg.  The Union forces had forced the Confederates steadily backwards before, on September 19, 1863, Bragg decided to make a stand near the West Chickamauga Creek.  The battle raged for two long days.  The Confederates slowly pushed the Union back before, on the second day, a fatal blunder by the Union command opened a gap in the center of their lines just as the Confederates under James Longstreet attacked.  Half the Union army promptly fled the scene, along with their commanding general, William Rosecrans.  Fortunately for the Union army another general by the name of George Thomas made a defiant stand at Snodgrass Hill which stemmed the Confederate tide preventing the Army of the Cumberland from total annihilation.  Chickamauga was one of the bloodiest battles of the war with combined casualties numbering over 34,000 men.

Unfortunately, we didn't have much time to explore the area in detail so we made a quick loop along the auto tour route.  Additionally, I didn't resurrect these photos until nearly two years after I took them.  This combination means that making a linear story of the battle, like I am fond of doing in my other albums, was impossible.  I've done my best to match my shots with reports from others and maps I carried home with me.  I always welcome comments if you notice that something isn't quite right.  Anyway, enough of me...please, enjoy the album!!

Battle Statistics

United States of America
Armies Engaged:  Army of the Cumberland
Commanding Officer:  Major General William Rosecrans
Strength:  60,000
Casualties:  16,170 or 27.0% (1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded, 4,757 captured/missing)

Confederate States
Armies Engaged:  Army of Tennessee
Commanding Officer:  General Braxton Bragg
Strength:  65,000
Casualties:  18,454 or 28.4% (2,312 killed, 14,674 wounded, 1,468 captured/missing)

Chickamauga National Military Park, G...

The Battle of Chickamauga was the culmination of weeks of fighting bet ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 7:53am PST

Battle of Athens State Historic Park, MO (1-3-11) : Today's Athens, Missouri is nothing more than a loosely clustered mix of farms and riverfront homes, with nothing but a small, virtually unknown, state park bearing its name to draw anyone's Attention to it on a map.  At the outbreak of the Civil War the town was a bit larger and was a fairly important town in the region.  A small but growing town in 1861, Athens was home to a large grist mill and the only ferry to allow passage across the Des Moines River for quite a distance in either direction.  Like the rest of Missouri, loyalties at the outbreak of war were sharply divided and it became a target for Union loyalists in neighboring Iowa.  Seeking to suppress southern sympathies in the region and gain control of the ferry, which provided the most direct line of supply from nearby Keokuk, a small band of some 500 local militia under command of Colonel David Moore moved in and occupied the town on  July 22, 1861.

A secessionist force of around 2,000 had already been assembled under Colonel Martin Green and soon moved out to dislodge the Yankees from Missouri.  They arrived on the outskirts of Athens on August 4, 1861 with three cannon.  The federals were surrounded in the town on three sides with the Des Moines River to their backs.  The attack came with first light on the 5th.  Though outnumbered nearly 4 to 1, the federal militia managed to repel the two hour rebel attack, largely due to their superiority in firearms.  The federals held the town and, as such, northeastern Missouri remained in Union hands for the entirety of the Civil War.

Today, a small Historic State Park preserves the surviving buildings that existed at the time of the battle.  This park is much different from more well-known parks farther east.  A small room at the main office holds a few artifacts and important info on the battle and the only other displays to be found are at the Thome-Benning, or Cannonball House, which still bears a large scar from the battle.  Aside from this the grounds are open and quiet, at least when I visited, which contrasts pleasantly with larger, busier battlefields.  Here's the tour...

Battle Statistics

United States of America
Armies Engaged:  Missouri Home Guard
Commanding Officer:  Colonel David Moore
Strength:  500
Casualties:  23 or 4.5% (3 killed, 20 wounded)

Confederate States
Armies Engaged:  Missouri State Guard
Commanding Officer:  Colonel Martin E. Green
Strength:  ~2,000
Casualties:  31 or 1.6%

Battle of Athens State Historic Park,...

Today's Athens, Missouri is nothing more than a loosely clustered mix ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 7:49am PST

Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, VA (8-18-06) : Appomattox Court House was the scene of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, Robert E. Lee commanding, to General Ulysses S. Grant effectively ending the Civil War. The McLean House, where the surrender was signed, is open to tour as are a number of buildings portraying the village as it was in the mid-to-late 1800's...

Appomattox Court House National Histo...

Appomattox Court House was the scene of the surrender of the Army of N ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 7:47am PST

Antietam National Battlefield, MD (6-27-09) : The Battle of Antietam marked the single bloodiest day in American history.  Some 23,110 men were killed or wounded in action here on September 17, 1862.  The fighting here was a result of Robert E. Lee's first attempt at taking the war north and the Union's attempt, under George McLellan, to stop him.  The battlefield preserves such famous landmarks as the Dunker Church, the infamous Cornfield, the Sunken (or Bloody) Lane, and Burnside's (Lower) Bridge.

This album follows the course of the battle as told along the self-guided auto tour that circles the park.  Where I have been able to find pictures from the time of the battle I have included links to accompany my shots and descriptions...

Battle Statistics

United States of America
Armies Engaged:  Army of the Potomac
Commanding Officer:  Major General George B. McLellan
Strength:  75,500
Casualties:  12,401 or 16.4% (2,108 killed, 9,540 wounded, 753 captured/missing)

Confederate States
Armies Engaged:  Army of Northern Virginia
Commanding Officer:  General Robert E. Lee
Strength:  45,000
Casualties:  10,316 or 22.9% (1,546 killed, 7,752 wounded, 1,018 captured/missing)

Antietam National Battlefield, MD (6-...

The Battle of Antietam marked the single bloodiest day in American his ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 7:44am PST

Andersonville National Historic Site & Cemetery, GA (2-23-07) : Andersonville was perhaps the most notorious prison camp of the Civil War. Though it was only operational for 14 months over 13,000 prisoners died here due to malnutrition, exposure, and murder. Of all the Union Prisoner of War deaths, Andersonville accounted for nearly half half.  This was a very moving place to visit, and very different from other Civil War sites...

Andersonville National Historic Site ...

Andersonville was perhaps the most notorious prison camp of the Civil ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 7:38am PST

Mesa Verde National Park, CO (7-3-08) : Mesa Verde is a place truly umatched by any other in the country.  The area was occupied by native Puebloans between 600-1300 A.D.  Within the park are literally hundreds of ancient structures from ancient pit dwellings to the cliff dwellings the park is most famous for.  We only had a short day but were fortunate to be able to auto tour most of the park as well as enjoying two guided tours (Cliff Palace & Balcony House).  The combination of the stunning scenery and historical sites a millennia old make this the most spectacular park I've ever toured...

Mesa Verde National Park, CO (7-3-08)

Mesa Verde is a place truly umatched by any other in the country. The ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 6:36am PST

Valley Forge National Historic Park, PA (6-9-13) : Valley Forge National Historic Park preserves the site of the Continental Army's infamous winter camp of 1777-78.  After another disastrous year of campaigning which had culminated in the loss of Philadelphia to the British, General Washington had led his army of 12,000 men to the northwest of the city.  From this highly defensible position along the Schuylkill River, Washington was in a strategic position to harass the British without serious threat of being attacked.  Despite beliefs to the contrary, the winter at Valley Forge was not unusually harsh from a weather standpoint, rather the hardships experienced here were the result of a breakdown in supply and an almost criminal disregard of the needs of the army by the Continental Congress.  Living primarily in tents to start the winter, the army immediately set about constructing the nearly 2,000 log huts which would provide a better measure of protection from the elements.  Conditions were more often wet than wintery and the constant dampness was the primary cause of disease that was the scourge of the army through the encampment.  Somewhere around 2,500 soldiers died during the six months at Valley Forge.  Much good came of the stay here, however.  With the arrival of Prussian Baron von Steuben, Washington's Army gained badly needed experience in the conduct of European war.  Von Steuben immediately set about training small groups of soldiers which, in turn, would train others.  Through this method the Continental Army which marched out of Valley Forge in the spring of 1778 was a much better disciplined and organized force than what had marched into camp six months before.  No longer would the British Army find them quite so easy to push around.  Through amazing determination and courage, the experience of Valley Forge transformed a demoralized army on the verge of collapse into a fighting force that would remain a threat to the British for the remaining three years of the conflict, when they ultimately claimed victory.

The National Park itself is huge by Revolutionary War standards, encompassing some 3,500 acres.  We had a paltry two hours to rush through it so the album that follows is understandably brief, hitting highlights along the auto tour loop that winds through the park.  I could easily have spent a day or more here which I recommend you do if you're planning a visit.  Enjoy...

Valley Forge National Historic Park, ...

Valley Forge National Historic Park preserves the site of the Continen ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 5:52am PST

Ninety Six National Historic Site, SC (6-24-12) : Ninety Six is a historic Revolutionary War site situated about an hour south of today's Greenville, SC.  A small village on the edge of the frontier in the late 18th Century, Ninety Six was so-named due to the belief that it was about ninety six miles from the Cherokee town of Keowee (in reality it is closer to 70).  A fairly important stop at the time for traders heading back to Charleston from the Indian lands to the north and west, Ninety Six's diminutive size belies the scale of historic events that would take place here in the late 1700's.

The town itself was established around 1751 and from the beginning was a very lively place to make a living.  During the Indian Wars of the 1760's the small outpost was attacked on a number of occasions by the local Cherokee, though it was never captured.  A decade of relative peace followed before, even in this remote backcountry outpost, the rumblings of Revolution began to be felt.

Unlike areas to the north and along the coast the struggle here would not be between American and Redcoat, but rather it would be between Patriot and Loyalist, Americans alike.  There was a sharp division in this region as to whether loyalties should be to the Crown or to a new independent nation.  As such, the revolution took the for of a localized Civil War in the backcountry of the south.  The first wave of battle swept over Ninety Six in November 1775, barely six months after the battles of Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill to the north.  On the 19th of that month a band of 600 Patriots had fortified themselves at Ninety Six and were attacked by a much larger force of 1,900 Loyalists.  The attacks proved fruitless and after a number of days of fighting the two sides called a truce and went their separate ways.  Losses were light but none-the-less it was a historic moment.  It was the first land engagement in the south and, as such, the first battle in the south to cause casualties in the Revolution.

For the next six years the residents of Ninety Six endured an uneasy peace before, once again, the Revolution found its way to their doorstep.  In 1781 the British once again were determined to subdue the south and, thus, split the American colonies in two.  The campaign was disastrous.  The British suffered defeats at both Kings Mountain and Cowpens before finally defeating the Americans at Guilford Courthouse.  The victory came at such a horrific cost, however, that the British followed up their victory with a withdrawal back to the coast.  With the British on the retreat, it was time for the Americans to take the offensive.  In their crosshairs was an important trading outpost on the edge of the frontier, Ninety Six.

The Loyalists in the area knew the attack was coming and made every preparation to meet it.  Improvements on the old wooden stockade were made as well as the stockade around the town.  The biggest project, however, was the construction of a new earthen "Star Fort", named so due to its shape which provided unlimited angles from which to fire upon the enemy.  Surrounded by 15-foot deep trenches the fort presented a formidable obstacle to the arriving Patriots.  A frontal assault was quickly deemed suicidal so the Patriots settled in for a siege.  Over the next couple weeks the Patriots dug a series of trenches to gradually close on the fort to a point where it could be assaulted.  Unfortunately for the Patriots, time was not on their side.  A detachment of 2,000 British troops had been dispatched to relive the force in the fort, a number that would overwhelm the attackers.  Therefore, a preemptive attack on the fort was made on June 18, 1781.  Doomed from the start, the bloody battle lasted only an hour and resulted in over 50 Patriot casualties.  Convinced that the fort could not be taken the Patriots withdrew after a siege lasting 28 days, the longest of the Revolution.  Despite the victory, the Loyalists knew that they could not hold out forever at Ninety Six and abandoned and burned both the fort and the village a month later.

Today, the Historic Site is home to what remains of the original star fort and trenches, as well as a reconstructed replica of the 1775 stockade.  There is nothing left of the original town but a pleasant, well-marked, one mile trail leads across the grounds and through the old town site giving a good overview to the visitor how places were arranged during the time period.  Just like 250 years ago, Ninety Six turns out to be a much more interesting place than its size suggests!

Battle Statistics

Continental Army
Commanding Officer:  Major General Nathanael Greene
Strength:  1,000
Casualties:  147 or 14.7% (57 killed, 70 wounded, 20 captured/missing)

Loyalist Army
Commanding Officer:  Lieutenant Colonel John Cruger
Strength:  550
Casualties:  85 or 15.5% (27 killed, 58 wounded)

Ninety Six National Historic Site, SC...

Ninety Six is a historic Revolutionary War site situated about an hour ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 5:50am PST

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, SC (5-13-13) : The year 1780 was not going well for the Patriot cause in the South.  In May of that year General Charles Cornwallis and his army occupied the city of Charles Town (today's Charleston).  After setting up his base of operations on the coast he set out to subdue the Carolinas by sending his troops into the Carolina backcountry where hopefully they would be reinforced by bands of loyalist militia.  Then came what seemed to be the fatal blow to the Patriot cause in the South.  On the 16th of August, near the South Carolina town of Camden, the British dealt the American Army under General Horatio Gates a humiliating defeat that would have almost certainly broke the spirit of the Patriot cause in the Carolinas if not for one seemingly minor event.  That event was the Battle of Musgrove Mill.

Musgrove Mill was located (at the time) deep in the Carolina backcountry about midway between today's Spartanburg and Columbia along the Enoree River.  A small mill, built by one Edward Musgrove, stood alongside a ford of the Enoree which provided the only suitable crossing for men and supplies for miles in either direction.  Thus, this seemingly innocuous location became vital for the British to control if they hoped to subdue the backcountry.  At the same time the British began their campaign of subjugation small bands of Patriot militia started popping up all over the region.  Too small on their own to challenge the might of the British Army these roving bands of militia were content to harass the British through quick strikes against supply lines and remote outposts.  Musgrove Mill was just such a remote outpost.

To secure the vital Enoree ford, the British had detached a force of around 200 loyalist militia who had encamped on the property of Edward Musgrove along the river.  It was this camp that a similarly-sized force of 200 mounted Patriot militia under Colonels Isaac Shelby, James Williams, and Elijah Clarke hoped to surprise and attack.  Unfortunately, unbeknown to the Patriots, the garrison at Musgrove Mill had recently been reinforced by over 300 Provincial (i.e. Loyalist) Regulars so when they arrived at the camp they were more than a little distressed to find themselves about to confront a force three time their number!  A tactical retreat would have been prudent but British scouts discovered the Patriot force before they had a chance withdraw.  With retreat out of the question and attacking almost certainly being suicidal the Patriot force's only choice was to somehow draw the British out for a defensive battle on ground of their choosing.  On August 19, 1780 a small band of Patriots rode down, crossed the Enoree, and attacked the British camp.  When the Loyalists formed up and counterattacked the Patriots feigned retreat drawing the Loyalists across the river and up the hills on the far side.  Thinking they had won an easy victory the Loyalists continued their pursuit until suddenly they broke out into a large clearing where the Patriot "retreat" was suddenly recognized for what it was.  

Awaiting their arrival was the remainder of the Patriot force arrayed along the ridge line ahead and barricaded behind hastily constructed breastworks.  Despite the commanding position of the Patriots the Loyalists still had the advantage in numbers and they proceeded to advance and complete what they assumed would be a quick victory.  The Loyalists opened fire first from 150 yards, long range for the period, and did little damage to the Patriots.  Meanwhile the men atop the ridge waited patiently until the Loyalist line reached a point 70 yards away before opening up with a devastating volley of fire.  Scores of Loyalists fell in this first volley but yet they came on.  At a point only 10 yards from the Patriot lines, with a breakthrough nearly won, the Loyalist commander Colonel Alexander Innes was struck and mortally wounded.  The Loyalist attack collapsed and the bloody rout back to the river began.  Chasing them the entire way the battle degenerated into a hand-to-hand brawl that only ended when the Loyalists regained the relative safety of their camp on the far side of the Enoree.  The battle had lasted little more than and hour yet the Loyalist forces had lost nearly 200 men, or almost 50% of their entire force.  Against this the Patriots had lost only 4 men killed and 12 wounded.  It was one of the most one-sided victories for the Patriot cause during the entire war.  At first the intent was to follow up the battle with an attack that would finish off the Loyalists but then the devastating news of the American defeat at Camden arrived.  Suddenly isolated in country now controlled by the British, the small band of Patriot militia prudently withdrew and headed back north across the mountains.

What at first seemed a lost opportunity, the overwhelming victory at Musgrove Mill helped dull the sting of the defeat three days earlier at Camden.  Despite that humiliating defeat, the Battle of Musgrove Mill helped keep the Patriot fire smoldering in the Carolina backcountry and the men who had been forced to withdraw would, a short 6 weeks later, return as part of a much larger force of 'Overmountain Men' who would meet and defeat the British at the Battle of Kings Mountain which would in turn set off a chain of events leading to ultimate American victory.

Today the battleground has been preserved within the South Carolina State Park system.  Though little remains of the original landmarks, man-made or natural, a small visitor center designed to resemble the old Musgrove home houses historic artifacts and gives a good overview of the events that took place here.  Outside, a pair of interpretive trails circle the sites of the old Loyalist camp along the Enoree River and the battlefield itself.  You can also see the remains of one of the old mills, the foundations of what may have been the Musgrove home, and beautiful if small Horseshoe Falls.  

Come along with me on a tour of one of the Revolutionary War's most significant, yet unknown, battlefields...

Battle Statistics

Patriot Army
Commanding Officer:  Colonel Isaac Shelby, James Williams, Elijah Clarke
Strength:  200
Casualties:  16 or 8.0% (4 killed, 12 wounded)

Loyalist Army
Commanding Officer:  Colonel Alexander Innes
Strength:  500
Casualties:  133 or 26.6% (63 killed, unknown wounded, 70 captured/missing)

Musgrove Mill State Historic Site, SC...

The year 1780 was not going well for the Patriot cause in the South. ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 5:47am PST

Kings Mountain National Military Park, SC (9-13-12) : Kings Mountain was the battle which unquestionably turned the tide of the American Revolution in the southern states setting in motion an unbroken string of American victories that led, eventually, to the final British surrender at Yorktown.  

The battle took place on October 7, 1780, some five months after the British had established themselves in the Carolina's by capturing Charleston.  The British plan was to subdue the south by drawing upon what they assumed to be a large loyalist population living in the region.  A Major by the name of Patrick Ferguson was ordered to assist in this goal by recruiting and training troops from the area and turning them into a feared fighting force meant to intimidate those on-the-fence concerning their loyalties to come to the British side.  He went a bit too far, however.  Ferguson issued a proclamation that summer stating that Americans "must stop resisting British authority or face destruction with fire and sword."  Intended to intimidate, the proclamation had the opposite effect.  Settlers to the north on the wild edges of the Carolina's, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia saw this as a direct threat to their homes and way of life.  Men for whom the war had little or no interest now turned upon those who would threaten them.

Marching from Sycamore Shoals in northeastern Tennessee, these now-famous Overmountain Men headed south, through the high mountains and into the piedmont, over 200 miles in search of Ferguson's force.  They covered this 200 miles in little more than 10 days when, On October the 6th, 1780 it was discovered that Ferguson had set up position 30 miles away atop a ridge named Kings Mountain.  The American forces numbered around 900 men and made the forced march to the battlefield by late the next morning.  What they faced were approximately the same number of Loyalists, under Ferguson, dug in around the crest of the ridge.  Though, technically, the Americans were under command of Colonel William Campbell the individual units were more loyal to their own than the whole and so the battle had a somewhat disjointed nature to it.  The Americans attackers, though rather uncoordinated in their assaults, had the Loyalists' surrounded with no place to go.  The steepness of the terrain might at first seem to favor the defenders above but the tactics of the two armies and the nature of the terrain negated that advantage.  The ridge itself, though devoid of trees, was an island in a sea of trees...trees that the attackers gladly used to their advantage as sources of cover.  The Loyalists above were trained in the traditional British style involving massed volley's and the use of the bayonet.  In a forest engagement this style of fighting looses much of its effectiveness, to say the least.  Hidden behind fat trees, the expert riflemen from over the mountains, could easily pick off soldiers above outlined against the sky.  Inevitably, Ferguson's forces fell back, reforming into an ever-tightening circle atop the ridge.  Surrender soon followed.  Suffering 345 killed and wounded out of a force of 900, the utter defeat of this loyalist 'army' so shook the trust of would-be British sympathizers that civilian aid and volunteerism in the Carolina's all but vanished overnight.  General Cornwallis was now on his own in increasingly hostile territory.  After Kings Mountain would come Cowpens, after Cowpens would come Guilford Courthouse, after Guilford Courthouse would eventually come Yorktown.  Thus, Kings Mountain, as British General Henry Clinton would later state was, "the first link in a chain of evils, that resulted in the total loss of America."

Kings Mountain National Military Park is located about a mile and a half south of the North Carolina state line about midway between Spartanburg and Charlotte.   The battlefield is accessed by following a 1.5 mile interpretive loop trail which highlights the events of the battle and allows you to see both the American attackers perspective from below and the Loyalist perspective from above. Unlike other battlefield albums I have done, which try to arrange photos chronologically as events progressed, the disjointed yet simultaneous nature of the attacks at Kings Mountain mean that the best way to arrange the album was to simply follow the battlefield loop trail.  Therefore, this album is essentially what you would see walking the path through the battlefield as it exists today...enjoy!

Battle Statistics

Continental Militia
Commanding Officer:  James Johnston, William Campbell, John Sevier, Joseph McDowell, Isaac Shelby
Strength:  900
Casualties:  87 or 9.7% (29 killed, 58 wounded)

Loyalist Militia
Commanding Officer:  Major Patrick Ferguson (killed)
Strength:  1,100
Casualties:  453 or 41.2% (290 killed, 163 wounded)

Kings Mountain National Military Park...

Kings Mountain was the battle which unquestionably turned the tide of ...

Updated: Dec 26, 2014 5:43am PST