From Stones River I went south on Manchester Pike (Hwy. 41) which parallels I-24 to the little crossing of Beechgrove, TN.
After the battle of Stones River which was pretty much a draw as I understand, Gen. Bragg and the Confederate Army of Tennessee withdrew 20 or so miles to the south and built a fortified line along the Duck river from Shelbyville to Wartrace. Gen. Rosecrans and the Union Army of the Cumberland mean while resupplied and rested in Murfreesboro. The powers in Washington were putting pressure on Rosecrans to move south and engage Bragg and keep his forces from helping relieve the siege of Vicksburg to the southwest. Rosecrans resisted for almost 5 months before making a move. The Confederate line was more easily defended by rugged terrain to the east with gaps through the mountains and the majority of troops to the west where it was more open ground. One important thing the Union forces did these 4 months was train an elite calvary force supplied with new 7 shot Spencer repeating rifles commanded by a Col. John T. Wilder. On June 24, 1863 Wilder's 'Lighting Brigade' spearheaded an advance into Hoovers Gap through which the Manchester Pike passed. Following in support was Gen. Thomas and his XIV Corp. Grandpa Orange and the 18th Infantry were along for the ride...
Gen. Thomas's forces soon overwhelmed the Confederates and they fell back to Tullahoma and soon thereafter, Chattanooga. This ended up being a major Union victory and some say lead to the victories at Atlanta and beyond.
More backroads and small towns on the way south...
Saw this enclosed marker and had to stop. Doesn't seem too controversial? Why the chain link and barbed wire?
Gen. Bragg had dug in at Chattanooga, a vital railway and gateway to the heart of the Confederacy. Bragg concentrated his forces to the northeast of the city defending the crossings on the Tennessee river where he expected Rosecrans to attack. I continued to ride south, generally following the advance of Gen. Thomas and his XIV Corps to the southwest of Chattanooga.
Bragg again withdrew, this time into northern Georgia.
I crossed the Tennessee river into the northeast corner Alabama and then into Georgia.
I started to see the damage caused by the tornado outbreak that hit this area in late April.
Next stop was the Chickamauga battlefield just to the south of Chattanooga. Gen. Bragg gathered reinforcements and his forces grew to over 66,000 men. He made his move September 19, 1863 along Chickamauga creek. This was a heavily wooded battle ground and commanders on both sides had difficulty directing their troops. The 18th Infantry under Gen. Thomas made the best of a bad situation and held their ground. Gen. Thomas earned the nickname 'Rock of Chickamauga' for his efforts, but the Confederate forces ruled the field this battle. The Union forces this time withdrew and retreated into Chattanooga. Unfortunately for Orange, he was captured by the rebels and soon found himself on a train headed to the prisoner of war camp in Danville Virginia.
I headed east and the north on Georgia back roads and back into Tennessee. My seconds night camp along the Ocoee river. Neat but rustic camping at Ocoee River Rats. Again I had the place almost to myself.
A full day at 372 miles...
A few beers and some beanie weenies and I'm done.
Tomorrow it's up to Tellico Plains and on to the Blue Ridge as I make my way to Danville, VA.