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Staff File Photo by Robin Rudd / Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park historian Jim Ogden will adapt his presentations on the Battle of Chickamauga to a virtual audience this weekend as the park commemorates the 157th anniversary of the battle.

It won't have the production values of a Ken Burns documentary, but a series of programs this weekend will help tell the story of the Civil War just outside of Chattanooga — for the first time via screens because of the coronavirus pandemic.

To commemorate the Battle of Chickamauga, fought Sept. 18-20, 1863, rangers and historians from the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park will guide viewers through the events of those days — to the day — 157 years later. Park historian Jim Ogden will take the lead, presenting programs that broadly correspond to battles and troop maneuvers, said Kim Coons, the park's public information officer.

"Jim's programs will be specific to the days and times of the battle in a general way," she said. "The other programs presented by other rangers will occur throughout the days in different areas."

Programs may be viewed on the park's Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/ChickamaugaNPS/, and YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/chchnps.

Presenters will be positioned in relevant locations around the park, using visual aids to supplement their talks.

"All of this will be captioned and audio-described," Coons said.

The Battle of Chickamauga was the biggest battle fought in Georgia. With 34,000 casualties, it is generally accepted as the second bloodiest engagement of the war, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia. Only the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, with 51,000 casualties, was deadlier.

The Union Army of the Cumberland was led by Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, who advanced southeastward from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, against the Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by Gen. Braxton Bragg. Rosecrans' goal was to capture the city of Chattanooga, an important rail junction and gateway to the Deep South.

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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / The sun sets beyond the Florida Monument in Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. This year, the commemoration of the Battle of Chickamauga will be presented virtually.

What lay ahead will be detailed in a brief introduction on Thursday evening. For the next three days, programs will be presented from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Coons said the ambitious schedule is based on how visitors interact on the park's social media.

"We see a wide range of times, and we wanted to provide programs that would be convenient," she said. "We also expect visitors to watch these programs well after they are presented."

Viewers will be able to ask questions of the presenters during the live broadcasts.

Children's activities will be offered at noon each day, highlighting the soldiers' typical food, shelter and games.

"We will be showing the kids different things they can do at home, some with the assistance from their parents," Coons said.

Their intention, she said, is to show that "the sacrifices that these men made on these grounds 157 years ago continue to be preserved and protected to this day."

History buffs who want to supplement the virtual information with a tour of the park will find that all roads and trails are open, but the visitor centers remain closed.

Email Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com.

SCHEDULE

*Thursday, Sept. 17

8 p.m. Welcome/Introduction

*Friday, Sept. 18

7 a.m. "Took Them by Surprise and Checked Their Advance: First Shots at Peavine Creek and Reed's Bridge"

10 a.m. "Bragg Moves to Crush Rosecrans" with park historian Jim Ogden

10:45 a.m. Q&A with Jim Ogden

Noon. "Camp Life: Sheltering While on Campaign" (kids activity)

2 p.m. "The Battle of the Crossings" with Jim Ogden

2:45 p.m. Q&A with Jim Ogden

4 p.m. "A Unique Way of Service"

8 p.m. "A Soldier's Strength and Determination: The Story of Capt. John Newton Sloan"

*Saturday, Sept. 19

7 a.m. "For They Were Falling in Heaps: Eli Lilly and the Ditch of Death"

10 a.m. "A Different Battle Opens" with Jim Ogden

10:45 a.m. Q&A with Jim Ogden

Noon. "Camp Life: Hard Times With Hardtack" (kids activity)

2 p.m. "The Battle Moves South" with Jim Ogden

2:45 p.m. Q&A with Jim Ogden

4 p.m. "From the Terrible Spot: The Destruction of Carnes' Tennessee Battery"

8 p.m. "All the Caution and Courage I Am Capable of: Heg's Final Stand on the Viniard Farm"

*Sunday, September 20

7 a.m. "Saddle Up and to the Front: The Fight at Glass' Mill"

10 a.m. "Sunday Morning's Fight" with Jim Ogden

10:45 a.m. Q&A with Jim Ogden

Noon. "Camp Life: Games Soldiers Would Play" (kids activity)

2 p.m. "The Battle Decided" with Jim Ogden

2:45 p.m. Q&A with Jim Ogden

4 p.m. "Absalom Slain on the Altar of Freedom: Helm's Death and Lincoln's Lament"

8 p.m. "I Was Going to a Free Country: The Many Roads to Freedom"

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