Strategy and grit abounded in the Civil War’s vast Western Theater. It was there that Union commanders employed tactics that hit the Confederacy at its most vulnerable points, impeding the ability to move supplies and men.
As the conflict unfolded, Tennessee became a particular hotbed for combat, with conflicts at iconic spots the American Battlefield Trust now works to protect.
As part of this ongoing effort, the trust has launched a new fundraising campaign to save 301 historic acres at a battlefield on Lookout Mountain.
As an additional incentive to secure donations and set the landscapes aside forever, donors to the campaign receive first access to the trust’s new book, “Battle Maps of the Civil War: The Western Theater,” the second book in a series collecting the group’s historic maps in bound form for the first time.
“If you’ve ever stood on the Chattanooga Battlefield and turned your eyes toward the slopes of Lookout Mountain, then you know just what a New York infantryman meant when he quipped, ‘What? Does the general expect us to fly?’” says Trust president David Duncan.
“There have been times when saving our nation’s valuable hallowed ground from destruction has seemed nearly as impossible as scaling the sides of that formidable peak. But just as those Union forces persevered, the trust intends to do the same. We cannot turn away from this pristine opportunity to save land of such great heights at Lookout Mountain.”
In November 1863, the 1,400-foot Lookout Mountain appeared to be a seemingly impregnable position for Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg and his Army of Tennessee. But Union Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker found Bragg had dramatically shortened the south end of his line, providing the perfect opening.
On the morning of Nov. 24, Hooker ordered his troops to attack the Confederate units entrenched on the mountain slopes. In doing so, he commanded Brig. Gen. John W. Geary’s division to cross Lookout Creek and traverse the 301 acres that the Trust is now working to place under conservation easement at Chattanooga.
This substantial acreage is one of the single largest tracts yet available to preservationists that is associated with Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, established in 1895 as America’s first national military park.
The conservation easement is worth $3.8 million, but thanks to a donation from nonprofit landowner Reflection Riding Arboretum & Nature Center and anticipated federal and state grants, the trust is left to raise only $50,000 in order to finalize the effort.
Once completed, this project will bring the trust’s total of preserved land at Chattanooga to 420 acres, including recently finalized work at Brown’s Tavern.
“We’re seizing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to permanently conserve this property that our community has loved for more than half a century,” says Reflection Riding President and CEO Mark McKnight.
“While our mission remains the same, this agreement will ensure that our children and grandchildren and those who come after them will experience the same beautiful, historic landscape. While individual buildings may come and go, this historic landscape and the botanical heritage we’ve inherited will stay unchanged for future generations once this extra layer of legal protection goes into place.”
As a limited-time incentive, donors who give $50 or more toward the campaign will receive “Battle Maps of the Civil War: The Western Theater,” which tracks the course of the war from Fort Sumter to Joe Johnston’s surrender at Bennett Place. Learn more at www.battlefields.org/MapBookVol2.
Source: American Battlefield Trust