June 17, 2024

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We expected, as it was all over the news, a massive cicada symphony on our journey, but I guess we were a tad late, as they were not nearly as boisterous as expected. We did see a fair number being hounded by birds earnestly looking for a juicy meal. The fella above was the only one we witnessed in stillness. Those eyes!

Our journey from Nashville to Chattanooga took an extra two hours as a result of the aforementioned downpours, plus a couple of car crashes. As a result, we were quite famished upon our arrival and made lunch the first order of business. I am delighted to report that Uncle Larry’s made me a convert to catfish. Well, fried, at least. It definitely smacked me!

Johann Nicholas Sohn, my Great Grand-Father times two, was the reason I landed on Chattanooga for our second stop in Tennessee. At the age of twenty-one, he enlisted in the Union Army on May 12th 1861, in Pendleton, Ohio, and mustered into the 2nd Kentucky Infantry Company B, on June 3rd 1861.

He was present in Cruft’s Brigade at Chickamauga (in Georgia, just south of Chattanooga) on September 19th 1863, when he was bayoneted and shot in the leg. He recovered at the Union Hospital in Chattanooga before mustering out in Kentucky a year later.

Initially, I was happy to visit the battlefield and get the general feel for the terrain. Then, upon further searches, I learned I could find the exact location of his company. What a great privilege it was to stand on on the same ground where my Grandfather fought.

As it was at Gettysburg, I was struck by the beauty and serenity of a place with such a history. The land bore no visible wounds, but the cannons and markers make clear the horror of the Campaign. Chickamauga was second to Gettysburg in the number of casualties.

The marker indicating Grandpa Nicholas and the 2nd Kentucky is just to the right of the cannon.

It reads:

The Brigade as the left of Palmer’s Division was formed on this ground during the night of September 19th, with the Battery on the right of the first line, the 31st Indiana on its left, the 2nd Kentucky being the left of the front line. The second line, which relieved the regiments in front about 11 a.m. consisted of the 90th Ohio and the 1st Kentucky.

The Brigade was so strongly protected by log works that not an enlisted man was killed and but few wounded while occupying them. The attacks made by the enemy up to the time of the general withdrawal were repulsed. About 3 o’clock, Hazen’s Brigade on its right was sent to Snodgrass Hill, and the second line of Cruft’s Brigade tool its place. At 5:12 p.m. it was ordered to withdraw across the Kelly Field.

The Brigade moved in column of regiments at long intervals, encountering a very severe artillery fire from both flanks, but suffering little loss. Upon crossing the LaFayette Road the Brigade proceeded to Rossville. Strength in action September 19th, 1,408 officers and men. Casualties: Killed 24; Wounded 213; Captured or Missing 53; Total 290. Percentage of Loss, 20.58.

Such early birds! This place was packed when we left.

At Stir now, in the old Chattanooga Train Station, which is glorious! Stir is famous for their cocktails and even more so for their penchant for fine ice making. They have a special filter process and freeze water in 300 pound blocks, before making cubes in every shape. As you can see above, I was most interested in the sphere. The process is a whiz-bang affair and how pretty and perfectly clear! Another fine dining and drinking experience. I also recommend the lobster and shrimp mac and cheese and chocolate cake. Mmmm…

This reminds me, I am not much of a drinker, maybe partaking in one cocktail a month, but with the heat, humidity, and sheer number of tempting beverages on offer, I drank in ten days what I normally consume in a year. Quite the trip!

Do you know the Glenn Miller song?

After dinner, and while the Juper-dog was happily ensconced in her crate, we ventured up Lookout Mountain to visit Rock City Gardens. How to describe? A garden, to be sure, for there are lovely trees, shrubs, and plants everywhere, but it is really more about the experience of walking through them, with all the crevices, caves, and bridges to cross. Then there are the fanciful decorations, stunning views, and birds galore. It is truly unique!

Extra, super bouncy bridge. Not for the faint of heart.

Worth the view!

I see you…

Chickamauga is behind me!

Small, with a mighty voice!

What you can’t really see here is a wonderfully cooling mist rolling down. We came at the right hour, both for the temperature and the sparse crowd.

Rock City Gardens was one of the first places to play with paint and black lights. This space was neat, but it gets even better!

This was a very small fraction of the cool cavern scenes (literally and figuratively). What a truly magical place! Greg and I were surprised and delighted. If ever you are in the neighborhood, please do visit.