Full volley of Civil War sites
A unit of Confederate re-enactors open fire on the outnumbered Federal forces during the battle Saturday afternoon. Civil War re-enactors gathered at the Williams/McCraw family farm in Bridgeport, Ala., on Saturday to re-enact the siege of Bridgeport. Attendance was down from last year, according to event coordinator Glen Hill . Hill attributed the issue to stormy and chilly weather.Photo by Jake Daniels.
The cannons and monuments of Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, but Civil War buffs know there are plenty of other Civil War sites in the region.
History books are dotted with names like Bridgeport, Resaca, Dalton, Tunnel Hill and Ringgold Gap, and in most of those communities, locals have taken steps to keep that history alive.
"They all are insightful to the bigger story in one way or another as you learn what happened on that piece of ground," said Jim Ogden, the historian at the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park.
Bridgeport, Ala., located 35 miles from downtown Chattanooga, holds one of the oldest re-enactments in the country. Every March, 1,800 re-enactors bring their cannons, horses, sabers and muskets to a field to act out parts of the battle. Re-enactors also flock to Tunnel Hill each September, Resaca every May and a farm near the Chickamauga Battlefield for a large-scale re-enactment every five years.
Each of those events will have even more significance in the next few years as the nation commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
"What I have experienced is a greater awareness among many of the visitors that it is the anniversary," Ogden said. "We're getting some more informed questions and a heightened level of interest."
But even when there's not a re-enactment going on, the monuments, parks and placards that dot the local landscape provide history lessons for those interested or just greenspace to relax.
Cyclists, hikers, horseback riders, paddlers and picnickers also flock to the Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain battlefields, which have a combined 100 miles of trails.
"There are almost endless ways in which someone could come out here and hike and walk," Ogden said. "You would walk many a mile and make many visits before you had to walk the same way again."