Monday, October 28, 2013

Lightning Strikes at Chickamauga

"This is a white man's nation... This is a white man's republic!... Do you want these northern abolitionists to take away your Constitutional right to your own property?!?"

"Long live the Constitution!"

"Long live the Constitution indeed! And long live the Union! It is your choice, good people of Georgia, who you want to represent you as the next President of the United States."

"Do not let these bickering Democrats confuse you. The platform of the Constitutional Union party is very simple; Maintain the primacy of the Constitution, uphold the sovereignty of the Union, and enforce the laws democratically passed by our people."

It was with such exhortations that visitors were greeted as they stepped off the bus for the special "timeline" program at Chickamauga during the 150th anniversary commemoration of the battle. The program was truly unique, taking visitors on a journey through north Georgia from 1860-1864. The timeline began with 1860 political stump speeches with representatives of John Breckenridge, Stephen Douglas, and John Bell making statements like the ones you just read, and then moved through recruitment into the Confederate Army in 1861, the homefront in 1862, the Battle of Chickamauga in 1863, and the aftermath of battle in 1864. It was a fascinating way to present the information that truly stood apart from anything else I have seen as part of the sesquicentennial.  I am working on a series of videos of the timeline, but had to put the project aside when the government shut down on October 1 and have been unable to pick it back up since returning. 

This program was far from the only thing that was new and unique about spending a week in north Georgia. It was a part of the country I had really only driven through before and a great chance to learn more about a crucial Civil War battle and campaign that I was far too ignorant of.

It could well be argued that the Battle of Chickamauga, despite being a Confederate victory, was actually the death knell of the Confederacy. Events leading directly out of this battle culminated in Lee's surrender to Grant nineteen months later. It is also second only to Gettysburg in regard to casualties sustained in a single battle. Yet it is largely unknown and unreferenced in the eastern theater of the war. I too was largely ignorant of much of its story before spending ten days helping to tell it.

I split my time between photography and video, successfully producing these four videos during the time that I was there.

Artillery Demonstration

Killed at Chickamauga

What the Monuments Speak to Us

Lightning Strikes at Chickamauga

Eight more videos are in process and I will hopefully be able to turn my attention back to them after finishing a promotional video for the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

Although most of my focus during programs and tours was on video, I did take some pictures as well. You can see some of them in this Album from the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga. As was the case at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, my favorite images were captured when I went out at sunrise or sunset. Although trees abound at Chickamagua, making it quite difficult to capture the sun, I ended up with some pretty decent images from my various attempts to photograph the light and the clouds.

Spending ten days in Chickamauga was not without its complications. It was no simple thing to miss an entire week of school, especially sine I am taking three classes this semester and was already feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work. Indeed, had it not been for The Government Shutdown, I don't know how I could have recovered from the trip and gotten everything done. Despite the impact it had on my schoolwork, I am very glad I got to be a part of it, especially since the event was most likely my My Last Battle of the Sesquicentennial. I have said it before, but in light of the recent abuse directed toward the Park Service, it bears saying again: I get to do some pretty meaningful things and work in some pretty special places as a National Park Ranger!

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