Explore the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
There are multiple parts to the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park. The two major locations are Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia and Lookout Mountain Battlefield in Tennessee. Each played an important role in the history of the Civil War.
Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park
Our family makes it a point to mix history and culture into our itinerary whenever we can. As you can imagine, Georgia and Tennessee are rich with United States history, and it should come as no surprise that there are abundant Civil War locations to tour, even this far west. The things we have learned as a family at the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park have led to a fuller understanding of our country's past and a better appreciation of the sacrifices that have been made.
If you are blessed with a day of near perfect weather, you could easily be distracted from the hallowed grounds that you are about to explore. Chickamauga Battlefield in Georgia is the site of one of the hardest fought and bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The Battle of Chickamauga was fought on September 18 –20, 1863, between Union and Confederate forces in the American Civil War. Union and Confederate losses over the course of the 3-day battle amounted to nearly 35,000 men – hallowed ground indeed.
- Admission: Free
- Address: 3370 Lafayette Road, Ft. Oglethorpe, GA
- Military Park Hours: sunrise to sunset
- Visitor Center Hours: 8:30am - 5pm daily; closed Christmas Day and New Year's Day.
- Time Needed to Visit: 2-4 hours
- Parking: Free
- Prohibit: No drones and possession of a metal detector within park boundaries is a federal crime.
- Courtesy: Please respect the battlefield and those that suffered and died on it. Only use designated areas for picnicking or other recreational activities. No climbing on monuments or cannons.
Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center
Our first stop was at the Chickamauga Battlefield Visitor Center to watch the informative film "The Campaign for Chattanooga: Death Knell of the Confederacy. " It gave our family an excellent overview of the battle before our tour of the military park. The movie follows Union and Confederate soldiers through the use of historical records and letters with the actual filming taking place on the authentic battlefields.
- Film: 26 minutes long; shown on the half-hour from 9am and ending at 4pm.
- Caution: Intense movie battle scenes - Battle of Chickamauga was the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War
Auto Touring Chickamauga Battlefield
We picked up the battlefield driving map and then used the cell phone for the seven-mile auto tour to follow eight key points of interest. Minimum time needed: 1.5 hours, but longer if hiking areas at the stops.
Stop #2: The Battle Line
Monuments mark Union positions along Battleline Road. The acorn symbolizes the 14th Army Corps firm stand, “like an oak tree,” during the battle on Snodgrass Hill.
Stop #4: Confederate Breakthrough at Brotherton Cabin
Through a confusion in communication, Union General Rosecrans sent troops to unknowingly fill a nonexistent gap, which, ironically, created a real gap in the Union line allowing Confederate troops to break through and split the Union Army. The topographic intelligence gained from Tom Brotherton, the long-time owner of the cabin, gave the Confederate troops a distinct advantage.
Stop #6: Lightning Strikes
Union Colonel John Wilder's "Lightning Brigade," armed with the superior Spencer repeating rifles, successfully halted a portion of the Confederate troops on the southern battlefield.
If you get a chance, climb the 85-foot towering Wilder Brigade Monument for a bird's eye view of the surrounding area.
Stop #8: Horseshoe Ridge and Snodgrass Hill
The last stop of the tour, it was here that the Union troops under General Thomas, later named "The Rock of Chickamauga," made a heroic stand against repeated Confederate assaults until ordered to retreat under the cover of the night to Chattanooga.
Chickamauga Battlefield Ranger Guided Tours & Programs
During the summer season, a regular schedule of ranger-guided tours and programs are available. Check in at the front desk in the visitor center for the daily programs offered. We took part in a Living History Program held at the Brotherton Cabin where guides in period costumes assisted in learning about the life and times of the people who lived during the Civil War.
- Car Caravan Tours: daily 10am & 2pm; starts at visitor center; minimal walking required.
- Living History Programs: Fri-Sun 10:30am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, 2:30pm, 3:30pm
- Junior Ranger program: Need to visit both parks to complete booklet.