Yesterday, we started out at our daughter’s house north of Atlanta and ended the day in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Here are the highlights.
1. Finding the place where the First and Third Florida units fought in the Battle of Chickamagua.
As many of you know, I am currently writing a book about my great great great grandmother from North Florida who lived from 1822 until about 1870. During the Civil War she had several relatives who served on the side of the Confederacy. There were several dozen in all.
These relatives included her husband, several sons, several brothers, and many in-laws cousins and uncles. Two of them, who were very close to her, did not come back. This is the battlefield where they fell. I’m here today to gather more research.
One boy was in the First Florida and the other was in the Third Florida, and the two units had been combined under Col. William Denham, a Monticello resident. Both of the boys were from Jefferson County. One was 29 and the other 27. Both of them died on September 20.
2. Chicken fried steak with white gravy, sliced tomatoes, braised cabbage, pole beans, and cornbread done right.
In Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia just north of the Chickamauga Battlefield is a restaurant called Old South. We stopped and had dinner this evening. What a meal! It was truly old south cooking.
But best of all was the “not sweet” cornbread! Good old southern cornbread has a pinch of sugar at the most,
2. Visiting Fort Oglethorpe.
In 1917 a young 24-year-old named Tom Roe arrived at Fort Oglethorpe for induction and training for World War I. He is my grandfather. He and his brother-in-law went there together.
Fort Oglethorpe today is a city of about 9500 people but Fort Oglethorpe in 1917 was a military fort. It is only a few miles south of Chattanooga but just inside the state of Georgia. In 1905 it was built to house the 6th Calvary, and during World War I it was used as an induction center and training facility.
Before World War I the Calvary was especially important in battle for shock tactics such as the mounted charge, but that was changing. Horses were used less for battle and were instead used to pull ambulances, carry supplies and ordinance, and act as cavalry mounts.
At the beginning of the war, they pulled field kitchens, as well as ammunition wagons. They were used by messengers and dispatch riders and often drew artillery. The deep mud common in some parts of the front made horses and mules vital, as they were the only means of getting supplies to the front and guns moved from place to place. Someone had to know how to manage this livestock, too; and in the past it was the Calvary who did it all.
Before the war, Uncle Duff was a timber rider and spent every day of his working life on horse back grading and appraising timber stands, He and my grandfather grew up working with mules and horses in the timber operations in the north Georgia mountains. I believe this is how my uncle and my grandfather ended up in Fort Oglethorpe. They already knew how to work with these animals.
So after the country fried steak dinner, Chuck and I decided that we needed a long walk. We drove into Fort Oglethorpe and found the perfect place. The military fort was decommissioned in 1947, and its buildings and grounds were sold to civilians, Today, the parade grounds remain, though some of the grounds are now recreational ball fields.
Also, the officers housing remains around the perimeter of the grounds. These are old stately early 20th century homes. In front of several of the lots with newer buildings are plaques telling where the old barracks used to be. Chuck and I took a long perimeter walk in the early evening. It was good to walk where my grandfather had surely walked before.
3. Finding the post hospital where my grandfather convalesced and where he later worked.
When my grandfather and Uncle Duff got to Fort Oglethorpe, I imagine they spent the first weeks in basic training. However my grandpa was unable to finish the training because he developed mastoid disease in one ear within a very short length of time.
While he was in the service they performed a mastoidectomy, where they removed a piece of the bone so the infection could be treated. Antibiotics were not an option then, as they hadn’t been developed yet. The surgery was done on the base.
About the time he was able to return to duty he developed the same disease on the other side and had to have more surgery. It was done in this hospital, which was built in 1905 when Fort Oglethorpe was built.
Granddaddy spent most of the war in this hospital and later served in an ambulance corp. He never went overseas. Uncle Duff, though, did and thankfully was able to come home.
My Uncle James, my grandfather’s only surviving son, and I have discussed on occasion what might have happened if Tom Roe hadn’t been fortunate enough to be drafted and operated on by Uncle Sam free of charge.
Now days they operate and put tubes in our ears or they prescribe an antibiotic, but back then usually the patient went deaf and other even more threatening things happened such as meningitis when the infection moved into the brain, Even death was a possibility. The older ones in our family said that what was done to Granddaddy was a very new procedure.
Well, that is all for tonight. Tomorrow, we move on to Murphreesboro, TN.