Sunday, April 2, 2017

Woo, Woo, Chattanooga!

Steam Locomotive on display at Terminal Station

When you hear the whistle blowin' eight to the bar
Then you know that Tennessee is not very far
Shovel all the coal in
Gotta keep it rollin'
Woo, woo, Chattanooga there you are.
~ lyrics to Glen Miller's popular song, Chattanooga ChooChoo

Tim and I continued to roll north towards Nashville for a planned weekend with our daughter Jillian.  Yet, woo, woo!  There was Chattanooga, a city we'd driven through before but never had time to explore.  So we pulled our RV, the Dawntreader, off the interstate and camped three nights at Holiday Travel Park of Chattanooga.

Although I majored in history as a college undergraduate, I didn't focus my studies on the Civil War.  However, Tim and I became Civil War buffs when we moved to Virginia back in 1987.  Ever since then, we've tried to visit the war's battlefields; we planned to see three such grounds on this leg of our journey.  Perhaps one day we'll revisit these battles in their proper order by following the victorious path of the Union Army of the Cumberland south towards Atlanta, but that's a future trip.

This time we are heading north.  Our first stop was a brief visit to Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield.  With our Jeep in tow behind the RV, we were limited in what we could do there.  Instead of touring the battlefield, we had to settle for learning what we could of this significant Union tactical defeat at the park's Visitors Center.

Given the objective to capture Atlanta, the South's major industrial center, General William T. Sherman pressed further into Georgia in the summer of 1864.  He sent this report to Washington: "The whole country is one vast fort, and Johnston must have at least 50 miles of connected trenches...and finished batteries.  We gain ground daily, fighting all the time...Our lines are now in close contact and the fighting incessant, with a good deal of artillery.  As fast as we gain one position the enemy has another all the key to the whole country."

But when he couldn't unlock the key of Kennesaw Mountain, Sherman outflanked the Confederate forces time and again as his Union men leapfrogged the twenty miles from Kennesaw to the outskirts of Atlanta.  There overwhelmed at last, Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston's soldiers gave way their defense of the city.  "Atlanta is ours, and fairly won," wrote Sherman in a dispatch dated on September 3, 1864.

After viewing the excellent film and exhibits at Kennesaw Mountain's Visitors Center, Tim and I returned to the Dawntreader and continued north.  When we arrived at our campground on the outskirts of Chattanooga, we found that we were only five miles from the battlefield of Chickamauga.

Before the Union forces could topple Atlanta, they had to first go through Chattanooga.  That small city of 2,500 people lay on the banks of the Tennessee River where it cut through the Appalachian Mountains, allowing four major railroads to converge.  If Union forces could secure Chattanooga, it could cripple Confederate supply lines.

Chickamauga's Wilder Brigade Monument (open seasonally) was an icy challenge to climb.

U.S. General William Rosecrans tried.  In September 1863, Rosecrans moved his Army of the Cumberland south, crossing the Tennessee River and threatening the Confederates from the rear, but his forces were routed in the Battle of Chickamauga by Confederate soldiers led by General Braxton Bragg.  Falling back to Chattanooga, Rosecrans and his men found themselves isolated and surrounded by Confederates. 

Southern Belle Steamboat

Then, newly appointed Major General Ulysses S. Grant focused his sights on lifting the siege of Chattanooga.  He opened the "Cracker Line" using steamboats and a partial overland route to bring food and supplies down the Tennessee River to the beleaguered town.  On November 25, 1863, the reinforced Union troops began to fight their way out of the city.  

At Lookout Mountain and on Missionary Ridge, the battle for Chattanooga raged until the Union emerged victorious, thus sounding the death knell for the Confederacy and opening the way to Atlanta.

Our visit to Chattanooga wasn't all about battlefields.  We also found time to stroll along the Riverwalk where many of the city's attractions are found.

Tennessee Aquarium

Ross Landing where the Trail of Tears began

The Riverwalk switchbacks up to the Hunter Museum.

The Hunter Museum of American Art

The Hunter Museum of Decorative Arts

Walnut Street Bridge, now a pedestrian walkway

Bluff View Overlook

The Riverwalk with Walnut Street Bridge in the background

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's rowing crew

After our promenade along the Riverwalk, we drove by the Terminal Station, a former railroad station and now a hotel (pictured below).  We didn't stop to visit, but perhaps next time we're in Chattanooga, we'll make plans to stay in one of its Pullman train cars.

Photo by Andrew Jameson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

From Lookout Mountain to the banks of the Tennessee River, Chattanooga has captured our hearts, too.  We've added this beautiful city to our list of possible places to settle once we leave the life of full-time living in a RV.
"Chattanooga choo choo
Won't you choo-choo me home?"
But that is years away!  There's still so many places we'd like to see.


  1. Beautiful pictures! Our country is so gorgeous and expansive. It's great you both are experiencing as much as you can! Love Tennessee! Enjoy❤

    1. Thanks, Yas! It's a beautiful state! We've been through there during each of the four seasons and all are lovely. Maybe one day we'll call it home.