Growing up on a Battlefield

One of the wonderful things about Facebook is that for someone like me that left my hometown after high school, I’ve been able to reconnect with people.  The daily happenings of people that I haven’t seen in decades, pop up on my news feed.  I think it’s pretty neat.  Today a high school friend, John Godfrey, changed his cover photo.  And I was flooded with memories.

John has given me permission to use his gorgeous photograph of Wilder Tower in Chickamauga Battlefield.  But you can bet that my next trip home will include some time in the park with my camera.

The Battle of Chickamauga was the greatest victory of the Confederacy.  It was also one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, second only to the Battle of Gettysburg.  In September of 1863 during a three day period, a total of over 37,000 soldiers died.  It is said that afterwards, the Chickamauga Creek ran red with blood for days.

Having been a school age child in the south during a time when the Civil War was less than a hundred years in the past, we studied the war of northern aggression.  I probably couldn’t have told you who was president, but I knew Generals Bragg and Longstreet.  Countless school field trips to Chickamauga Battlefield, Chattanooga’s Confederama and Atlanta’s Cyclorama to watch reenactments of the battles.  Seeing Gone with the Wind (and reading it a zillion times) added the characters to the story in my head.

Some of my earliest memories are of slipping through the cow fields and finding my way to the forbidden Chickamauga Creek.  I rode my bicycle in Chickamauga Battlefield — I could fly on the smooth roads compared to the yellow chert road where I lived.  With my learner’s permit, I practiced driving in the park.  On those school field trips, we would run up and down the hills over the battlefield, playing on canons, hiding among the huge trees and climbing the musty, spiral stairs to the top of Wilder Tower.  As teenagers, we were always drawn to the battlefield seeking the ghosts that roam — the crying soldiers and the Lady in White searching for her lost lover.  As a college student, I brought a lover and we flew kites on Snodgrass Hill.  Later, when I had children,  each trip back home always included a trip to the battlefield.

The beauty and the overwhelming sadness that you can feel in the air has always drawn me to this battlefield.  We are fortunate that the battles of today are not in our backyards, but the horror still exists.  What is it in human nature that compels us to kill one another?


  1. John Godfrey says:

    Constance, I really enjoyed your blog post about the Battlefield. Sometimes we (the ones that still live close) forget what a treasure it is and the awesome history here. Thanks for reminding us and for sharing a few of your memories.


  2. Cynthia Brinkley Suggs says:

    I really enjoyed this. Lots of memories there.

  3. Rick Haston says:

    Constance, your blog brought back a lot of memories of my own. I was born and raised, for the early part of my life, in Chattanooga and lived almost right down town on Patten Parkway. So, when my family moved to Ft. Oglethorpe I was new to the Battlefield and had only made a couple of trips to it in my life! While in high school I met up with James Rogers and Terry Pennington an some others, inculding you, my dear :), and we spent a lot of time in the Park. We used to walk from James’ house (which was very close to the Park) all the way to the Tower….in the dark, sometimes at midnite! At that time, the Tower was never locked at night, so we would dare each other to walk up those smelly stairs ALONE!! Talk about hair raising! Moving to Ft. O and meeting you and all of my wonderful friends and spending time at such a historic site as the Battlefield, well, it was just the best time of my life growing up there. Oh, speaking of Snodgrass Hill, don’t forget about ole’ “Green Eyes”! LOL

  4. Constance I really enjoyed reading your blog post and how you captured so many of your childhood memories and your writing about the Civil War. Beautiful photograph also.

  5. Love that picture – it’s postcard perfect! Violence has always been a mystery to me, and seems counterproductive. They say that violent people are really just looking to be loved and accepted. ♥

  6. My Dad lives near Gettysburg, so when we go to see him, we go and visit the fields. So much death in the air, even a century later. Very sad. Interesting to see how it is woven into the fabric of your childhood. Cool.

  7. I enjoyed your post. It was nice to explore your memories as you shared. I wonder myself what it is that makes people kill each other…it makes no sense to me…

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