I Went Searching For an Indian and Found I Was a Dutchman

I Went Searching for an Indian and Found I Was a Dutchman.
I've always been interested in history so when my Uncle Wayne gave me some information about our family roots I had to begin changing the way I've always thought about where I came from. We had always been told, "there's Indian blood in our ancestry, we just haven't been able to prove it". I have been surprised to learn that while searching for an Indian link, I found a Dutchman. Now I'm not saying there may not be some Indian blood somewhere but the prospect looks dimmer the more I find out.
I also have had some general prejudices about folks back east, especially areas like Ohio (I grew up in the Woody Hayes era and couldn't stand Ohio State). What a surprise (and God ordained I believe) to find we arrived in Ohio in the early 1800s, my ancestor fought in an Ohio Regiment in the Civil War, and came to Kansas afterwards. That, and some visits to Ohio, has adjusted my thinking.
And the other reason why-to keep communication between the far flung members of my family and encourage them to drop a note so we can keep in touch with the details of their lives. We miss too much by not being there in the day to day workings of life. So, leave a post for all of us.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Grandpa's Victory Tour-Part IV

August 13, 2014 Wednesday. Afternoon.
War is Hell
I'm sitting here in my Sherman's Bummers-War is Hell Victory Tour shirt trying to decide how I will write about the last two days in a sensible way while describing the ton of information that's been raining on my head and corralling all of the "Wow" and "Aha" moments into something read-able.  I'm also kicking myself for something stupid. I wish I had remembered to bring my copy of Cozzens "That Terrible Sound" about the battle of Chickamauga since it has good maps and I could have used some.  Dragging out and reading my copy of Daniel's "Days of Glory", Cist's "The Army of the Cumberland" and Van Horne's "History of the Army of the Cumberland" along with NPS maps and maps along the park tour still was leaving me a bit foggy on what was happening where. But leaving Cozzens behind wasn't why I was kicking myself. This afternoon I got a text from my good SUV brother Kent Melcher, who's GGF Swartz was on Snodgrass Hill. He told me to go by and visit the 115th Illinois memorial and
115th Ill Monument on
Snodgrass Hill
reminded me he had gotten the opportunity to visit Chickamauga tour guided by the author of "The Maps of Chickamauga". Wow that would be cool. It was then I realized that I had left MY copy of "The Maps of Chickamauga" on my bookshelf as well. Blast! It has hour by hour descriptions of where each unit is at and what was going on. Now THAT'S why I'm lookin' for my kickin' boots so I can boot myself.
Oh well, back to pondering how to do this with what I've learned. To start out, the Hurricane and I visited Chickamauga yesterday am (Tuesday) and was it muggy and hot.  We went to the Visitor Center (remember-the rangers are very helpful) and it was there that they printed out all the locations of grandpa's unit and marked them on a map. He also reminded us of earlier mentioned ticks, snakes, briars, poison ivy and such. He noted one of the sites where the monument and a marker were at, was back in the woolies.  Oh goody, and I HAVE to visit that one. We were also pleased to share the morning off and on with a group of military officers, apparently from the US and other countries.  I wondered if they were from Fort Leavenworth's
Military at Brotherton Field
Command Staff College but didn't want to but in and ask. We sat through the movie with them and later caught up with them doing a training lecture under some shade trees by the Brotherton Cabin.
We toured all of the sites where grandpa's unit was and got pictures since I knew once I had compiled that, I could relax somewhat and enjoy the overall picture better. I will describe more in detail about the battles themselves and grandpa's role later but first I think I'll just tell you about our days.
The ranger had marked five sites on the map so we headed out seeing all five, then when we got done, we had to make another stop at the Visitor's Center for the bathroom and bookstore. I got another one of those nice maps that show all the monuments and markers. Its a little more pricey here ($12) as the battlefield's bigger and a lot more markers than at Shiloh. One thing to note: this was the first National Military Park in the nation and was instigated by  veterans of both sides who felt that it should be preserved. Many of the actual soldiers who fought took part in the making of the park and gave input to where the unit monuments and markers should be.
We did have to tromp over some fields in hot weather and back through the woods to get to some things but the NPS had at least mowed or cleared paths to each one and they weren't that difficult to find with a little initiative. On top of that, there was the thrill of discovery when we finally found them. So our day wasn't that
Back in the Woods-the 59th OVI Monument
Note the 21st Army Corp Symbol-the Traingle
hard especially given the deprivations the soldiers had to endure. At the very least, no one was trying to kill us and we weren't seeing the area through eyes filled with terror. So we mustered on.
After we had seen the sights of Chickamauga, we pulled out, planning to come back Wednesday to do the official tour and fill in some more blanks. We left there to go and see Missionary Ridge.  This was very helpful to me as I had always, for some reason, envisioned MR to the SE of Chattanooga-even east of Chickamauga-and this drive cleared a lot of things up for me.  That and the fact that the Hurricane had recently read Shaara's book on the Battle of Chattanooga.  MR actually sits further north than I thought and overlooks the downtown area of Chattanooga. MR actually runs from the Tennessee river east of Chattanooga and south for many miles, but the battle site is on the north end.  When we arrived on Monday we had gone down US 27 which cuts through MR at the Rossville gap and we're staying in Ft Oglethorpe on the eastern slope.  When you go there, it's easy to find. Follow US 27 out of Chattanooga into Rossville and as the highway turns east and you head up the hill, you'll see the huge Iowa monument on the left. Take that road (West Crest) up the hill to South Crest and follow all along the ridge staying on South and North Crest drive. It's a grand tour among a lot of big old houses (the park ranger said the reason why it's was never taken as part of the NPS is that the movers and shakers of Chattanooga lived there after the war and still do today!).  There are several plots of land or "reserves" held by the NPS with some monuments but most of
the information you'll look for are on informational and unit markers simply placed along the roadway and in foks yards (My friend Ron Krestan told me of one where the cannon is in the front yard facing the door and we found it.And it is! about 10' off the front porch is a cannon aimed right at the front door. Kind of daunting).
The earlier feeling that MR wasn't that big of a deal we felt when on Lookout Mountain changed as we drove the crest. MR drops away steeply on the west side and is covered with trees, brush, and undergrowth.  Originally, the Confederates had rifle pits at the base of the ridge and then troops and cannon at the top. At it stretches for about 3 miles so you can imagine how difficult it looks from the top. I can only imagine what it was like at the bottom looking up!
Confederates view from Missionary Ridge. You can see how
these heights commanded the town

As we wound our way along the crest I began to see unit signs that were familiar as we slowly made our way. We had to watch out for other cars as the road is narrow, apparently made in the early 20th century. Parts of it are quiet and easy to drive slowly but there are parts where the traffic picks up.  On one of the quieter stretches between the Turchin and DeLong Reservations suddenly there it was! The marker for the location of the 59th Ohio is in the front yard of 132 North Crest. It had started to rain a bit but I wasn't to be dissuaded. The Vibe was basically sitting in one lane with the flashers on since there was little room to pull over. As I was taking pictures,the lady of the house came out and I said "hi". She said "Hello, where are you from?" I told her "Kansas and my grandpa was here 150 years ago" hoping to spur a conversation with the
132 N Crest-Me & the 59th
lady lucky enough to have the marker to my grandpa's unit in her front yard. "That's interesting" she said and got into her car to leave.  Oh well, I would have liked to asked her what she knew about the 59th and fill her in on what I knew I know if it was in MY front yard, I'd be an expert on the subject. But that didn't happen so on we went to the north end and the last reservation-Sherman. The Hurricane voted to sit in the car and I went on the hiking trail to see if I could see the end of the ridge. It wound upward through the trees on...and on...and on...until it came out in about a half mile to a clearing with more markers and cannon. Sadly I couldn't see to the north because of the trees but wow it was an invigorating hike.
Back down the hill and head for the Vibe and we decide on the way back we'd like some ice cream. Having not found any by the time we reach the Super 8 I say we ought to find a Wendys since they have good vanilla frostys.  That sounds good so we find one back towards town in a not-so-good part of town but we're driving through so what's the big deal. I wheel up to the drive through to order: "One chocolate Frosty in a waffle cone and one large vanilla Frosty in a cup" "Uh-can you say that again and a lot slower?" came the southern lass's voice at the other end. "O...K..." and I repeat it real slow, trying to make my Yankee voice soften and drawl a little bit.  Then we wait. And wait.  "Uh,are those both chocolate?" "No..." and I repeat it real slow again. Now we're good and up to the window. I hand in my card to the nice girl and she hands me back a chocolate waffle cone that looks like it was made yesterday. I'm glad it's the Hurricane's. Next comes my card and the receipt. Then my large cup, with lid. That's it. "Have a nice day!" she says. "Wait, wait!" I says. "Could I possibly  have a straw or a spoon?" "Oh yeah, sure!" I got the straw. On the way back to the Super 8 I alternated with opening the lid and sucking what I could while I drove and putting the lid back on and sucking my brains out trying to get it through he straw. Later the next day we found a nicer Wendy's-about 500 yards the OTHER direction from the Super 8. Go figger.
Well this morning dawned nice and cool with low humidity and almost chilly as we went back to Chickamauga and down into the woods. But before that we had a nice breakfast at the all the waffles you can eat continental breakfast at the Super 8. We met a nice mom and dad with four little boys and one in a car carrier. I asked the dad, "another boy?" "No, we finally got a girl". We had a good chat with them and when I asked the boys what the adventure of the day was, they said,"we're moving into our new house!" They were moving from Texarkana to Ringgold and starting a new life. I told them how fortunate they were to be going to live with so much history around them. Momma said they were all home-schooled and seemed a bit bashful but we broke that ice when the Hurricane said we'd home-schooled our youngest and then they were off to the races. Felt like we were old friends by the time we'd left.
We went on to the battlefield and took the real tour which filled in a lot of gaps (more on that later if you want to hang around and hear the battle stories) then the Hurricane wanted to visit Orchard Knob, the site of
Orchard Knob and Grant's view East to the 59th's position
on Missionary Ridge. "Who told those troops to take the
ridge?" Grant. "Wasn't me"-Thomas.On their own initiatve
yelling "Chickamauga!" they took the ridge
another battle and location of Grant's HQ before the battle of Missionary Ridge. We drove back into town after a nice time of cheese, crackers, and cherries on a picnic table at the west end of the park. The NPS site is in an older, less affluent part of town and it's literally a knob.  The streets are around it's base on four sides and it's an upward climb from any direction.  It's a good hike almost straight up and I felt bad for the horses who had to bring couriers and cannon up that slope. But once up you could get a grand view of what Grant and his army would have seen as they looked towards MR.  Although there are houses everywhere, one can imagine the rifle pits along the bottom and the difficulty of the climb to the top. There were quite a few monuments and such but the view was the best. You could of course see MR to the east, but also across Chattanooga to Lookout Mountain on the west.  Quite a gem in the middle of town.
Well, we stopped at a roadside fruit market with some very helpful folks on the way back.  The helpful guy was describing what they had and the prices but between my ever increasing hard hearing and his southern mumble jargon I simply looked sheepish and waited for the Hurricane to do the dickerin'. We came away with a melon and a bag of Georgia peaches. Yummy!
One other thing-all through the days while I was sitting and eating some crackers, the Hurricane would mumble,"I can't stand it", get a bag and start picking up trash.  When I said something to her about it, she
said,"even if it's a picnic area, it's in a National Park, a battlefield, and hallowed ground, like a cemetery. It should be respected". Yep she's a keeper..So if you're in a national park , or a cemetery, and tempted to litter-think of a veteran, help out the Hurricane and PICK YOUR D*** TRASH UP! We're raising a generation of selfish, disrespectful pigs.  Ok I'm done.
Be respectful-she is!
In the next part I'll get on to describing the battles and grandpa's part for those of you interested.  If you're not well...don't read 'em!

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