In the spring of 1861, Chattanooga was a city divided.
Even after the first shots of what became known as the Civil War were fired 150 years ago, there were powerful factions both for and against the state's secession from the union in the city.
That February, Hamilton County had voted overwhelmingly with the state against secession, according to "The History of Hamilton County and Chattanooga, Tennessee" by Zella Armstrong. Yet a volunteer company already was being solicited in the city for Confederate service.
After the fall of Union forces at Fort Sumter, S.C., on April 12, 1861, a June secession vote in Tennessee resulted in separation. However, Hamilton County still voted against the division, though the vote was much closer than the first one.
Now, 150 years later, descendants of area families who fought on both sides are commemorating the sesquicentennial of the war, which didn't involve major battles in the area - at Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and Chickamauga, Ga. - until 1863.
"Unlike most [one-day or several-day] events, this spans four years," said Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park management assistant Sam Weddle. "The public will be introduced to it over the next four years but [with information from] different places, different times. We'll connect the dots. There are many other [Civil War-related] things going on, and many of them have linkages to the area."
National park personnel will be heavily involved in such events, but officials acknowledge there will be numerous collaborators.
John Culpepper of Chickamauga, Ga., chairman of the Georgia Civil War commission, said the Tri-State Civil War Association will serve as a promoter for commemoration activities in Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama.
He said interest is growing locally and globally about the anniversary. He's had inquires, for instance, from a woman in Norway who wants to bring her grandson to see where one of their forebears fought, and from the largest broadcasting network in Germany, which will be doing a segment on the war.
"Things are beginning to pick up, to catch fire," Culpepper said.
Among the events coming up through the remainder of 2011 are a National Park Service-backed second annual symposium featuring four historians at Girls Preparatory School in May; an exhibit of photographs from the war at Hunter Museum of American Art from May through August; a series of programs that connect early war battles elsewhere to the Battle of Chickamauga in May, July and August; and a "Gone With the Wind"-type ball that will serve as a fundraiser for a traveling exhibit on the medical aspects of the war at the Gordon-Lee Mansion in November.
There are also battlefield bike rides, monument rededications and battle re-enactments, among other things.
"There are definitely a lot of things going on," said Weddle. The sesquicentennial of area events "will be here before we know it."
CIVIL WAR COMMEMORATION CALENDAR
Editor's Note: This list, compiled from online Civil War sites, includes activities through the end of the year and range geographically from Cleveland, Tenn., to Dalton, Ga. It does not contain every event but is meant to include highlights.
Today-April 24 - National Park Service fee-free days.
April 23, 11 a.m. - Confederate Memorial Day service led by United Daughters of the Confederacy, at grave of Pvt. John Ingraham, Alexander's Bridge Road, Chickamauga Battlefield.
April 25, noon - 150th anniversary of Union flag raising in Cleveland, Tenn., courthouse yard following fall of Fort Sumter, S.C., Courthouse Plaza.
May 7, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. - "The Face of Battle: The Struggle Begins," Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park Civil War 150th Symposium features four historians, Girls Preparatory School, 205 Island Ave., free, www.nps.gov/chch or 706-866-9241.
May 7-Aug. 28 - "Between the States: Photographs From the American Civil War," exhibit from George Eastman House Collection in Rochester, N.Y., Hunter Museum of American Art, 10 Bluff View, 267-0968.
May 15, 9:30 p.m. - Ranger-led historical bike tour through Chickamauga Battlefield, Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, 706-866-9241 or www.nps.gov/chch.
May 21, 2-3 p.m. - "Secession on the Border: Slave States That Did Not Secede," program covers reasons why certain states supported slavery, chose not to secede from the United States but sent soldiers to fight for both sides during the war. Chickamauga Battlefield (Kentucky monument), free, 706-866-9241.
May 26, 6-7:30 p.m. - Civil War Sesquicentennial program on Tennessee secession, led by Dr. Daryl Black, executive director of the Chattanooga History Center, and Jim Ogden, chief historian for Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park, Sheraton Read House, $12 (includes dessert).
May 28-29, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. - "Tennessee Secession Debate," living historians portray politicians debating the state's secession, Point Park, Lookout Mountain, $3 (park entrance fee), 821-7786.
May 30, 2-2:30 p.m. - "Casualties of War," program describes what happened to the "missing," the casualties that were often forgotten; free; 706-866-9241.
June 11, 2 p.m. - Monument rededication by Cleveland United Daughters of the Confederacy, service at green space adjacent to Cleveland/Bradley County Public Library.
June 19, 9:30 p.m. - Ranger-led historical bike tour through Chickamauga Battlefield, Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, 706-866-9241 or www.nps.gov/chch.
June 21 - National Park Service fee-free day.
June 23, 6 p.m. - Exploration of Hunter Museum of American Art exhibition "Between the States," led by Dr. Daryl Black of Chattanooga History Center and Dr. Andrea Becksvoort of the UTC History Department, 10 Bluff View, $9.95.
July 17, 9:30 p.m. - Ranger-led historical bike tour through Chickamauga Battlefield, Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, 706-866-9241 or www.nps.gov/chch.
July 21, 7-8 p.m. - "Bull Run at Chattanooga," Chattanooga National Military Park historian Jim Ogden leads two-hour car caravan from Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center and walking tour on the Chickamauga Battlefield examining role here of some men who fought in the 1861 Battle of Bull Run, then at the 1863 Battle of Chickamauga, free, 706-866-9241.
Aug. 10, 6-7 p.m. - "Wilson's Creek at Chickamauga," program focuses on 150th anniversary of engagement around Wilson's Creek, Mo., by soldiers fighting for control of the state who would later fight at Chickamauga; free; 866-9241.
Aug. 21, 9:30 p.m. - Ranger-led historical bike tour through Chickamauga Battlefield, Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, 706-866-9241 or www.nps.gov/chch.
Sept. 10-11, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. - Battle of Tunnel Hill re-enactment, 215 Clisby Austin Road, Tunnel Hill, Ga., 706-876-1571.
Sept. 17-18, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. - 148th Anniversary of Battle of Chickamauga, presentations by National Park Service personnel, volunteers and living historians, Chickamauga Battlefield, free, 706-866-9241.
Sept. 17-18 - War Between the States Day & Chickamauga Yesteryear, features continuous living-history activities, vendors, Chickamauga, Ga., 706-375-3177.
Sept. 18, 9:30 p.m. - Ranger-led historical bike tour through Chickamauga Battlefield, Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, 706-866-9241 or www.nps.gov/chch.
Sept. 24 - National Park Service fee-free day.
Oct. 16, 9:30 p.m. - Ranger-led historical bike tour through Chickamauga Battlefield, Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center, 706-866-9241 or www.nps.gov/chch.
Oct. 21-23 - "Image of War," programs, lectures and tours sponsored by the Center for Civil War Photography in Chattanooga, www.imageofwar.org.
Nov. 10-12 - 19th annual Symposium on the 19th-Century Press, the Civil War, and Free Expression, sponsored by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Department of Communications, 425-4219.
Nov. 11 - National Park Service fee-free day.
Nov. 12 - "Gone With the Wind"-era barbecue/ball is fundraiser for traveling exhibit on medical aspects of war, Gordon-Lee Mansion.
Nov. 19-20, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. - 148th Anniversary of the Battles for Chattanooga, park personnel, volunteers and living historians talk about the siege of the city and other battles for control of the city, Point Park and other National Park Service units, free but $3 Point Park entrance fee applies, 821-7786.