Fort Negley Nashville Tenn

Fort Negley Nashville Tenn
Nashville Skyline from Fort Negley in Tennessee

Friday, December 30, 2016

Civil War sites on Lookout Mountain TN and GA

There is a lot I want to say about the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

I will leave out the specifics of the battle (you can look those up, and there are other sources that do a great job of telling that story), but let me tell you a little bit about my visit to the Chattanooga part of that National Park.

It gets a little confusing here, with the names, two states, etc.  And, there is about 15 miles between the two parts of this park.

We spent some time at the Chattanooga half.  We did go to a brief presentation by a very informative ranger.  He explained how important the area was during the Civil War, because of railroads mostly. 

It is $5 to get in to the main area on Lookout Mountain, and the views of Chattanooga alone are worth the price.

Right next to the National Park office is the Battles for Chattanooga which is a very unique attraction that is not affiliated with the National Park.  It is mostly a well stocked Civil War related gift shop.  But it is also a small movie theater/museum.

The theater itself is exceptionally small.  A movie about the Civil War in the area is shown in a large, panoramic 3 sided screen which is directly over a large diorama of Lookout Mountain and the surrounding area.  Light projected onto the diorama show where forces were at, paths taken down the river, and fighting occurred.  You kind of feel like good watching down on the battles as they happen.

The film/experience is about half an hour long, but it is very informative, and easy to understand.  I felt the $10 ticket was a good value.  There is a one room museum area to visit after the film that has a lot of nice relics on display.

An unexpected highlight of our visit here was the 13 foot by 30 foot James Walker painting (see photo).  Gettysburg has the Cyclorama, and many other sites have similar, amazing, over the top art pieces associated with their battles.  I personally love this sort of thing.

The painting, titled, "The Battle of Lookout Mountain" is overwhelming.  The artist had witnessed the battle and spent 1870-1874 working on it.  See more specific info on the painting here.  I ended up talking to a couple of rangers about it, and they told me that it was donated, by a descendant of the artist in 1987.  It was commissioned by Joseph Hooker, who is at the center of the painting.  The artist was paid $20,000 for his work. 

There has been criticism of the painting for its many inaccuracies.  There is a LOT (an excessive amount) of red in the painting, noting artillery.  Also, many of the soldiers have the same faces.  Still, it is an incredible painting, and since it was done only a few years after the Civil War, it has a very direct connection to the battle.

Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain are such nice places, and we really liked this park and area.  We had some nice chats with several rangers, and there is just a great feel here.  We will be back.

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