Sunday, November 24, 2013

Civil War Sunday - The Battle Above the Clouds

The Battle Above the Clouds.  Such a poetic name.

Lookout Mountain, in Northern Georgia near the Tennessee border, today is the home of several tourist attractions. These include Ruby Falls, Rock City, and the ride I chickened out of (after seeing how steep it was) in my only visit to Lookout Mountain, in 2006, the Incline Railway.

You can see seven states, on a clear day, from the top of Lookout Mountain:  Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama.   Now, think of a battle being fought on this steep mountain, some 2392 feet tall, near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Several times a year, a special weather phenomena occurs at Lookout Mountain, where clouds form at the base and travel up the mountain.  This happened on November 24, 1863, and the resulting battle is called The Battle Above the Clouds.

One Union artillery man from Illinois wrote, "It seemed like a fire and cloud capped Sinai". 

You don't think of bloodshed and suffering at all when you think of a battle above the clouds.  You think of heavenly beauty.

Union General Grant wrote in his memoirs:

"The Battle of Lookout Mountain is one of the romances of the war. There was no such battle and no action even worthy to be called a battle on Lookout Mountain. It is all poetry."
A man whose great-great grandfather died in this battle blogs about its personal meaning to him.

Read the descriptions of the battle in the links above, and form your own conclusion.

What I think about is something a bit more personal - what happened on the 100th anniversary of this battle, November 24, 1963. Our President had been assassinated just two days before, and on November 24, the man who was accused of killing him was himself gunned down before he could be tried in a court of law.  Shortly after, the body of our President was moved to our Capital rotunda to lie in state while the public was able to file past and pay their final respects.

I saw it live on television when I was 10, as it was happening, and I was able to see it again today on a livestream of the recorded coverage.  I was struck by TV commentators mentioning how people from all over the country had traveled, some driving for many hours, to be able to see Kennedy lie in state.  Those whose ancestors fought for the Union, perhaps, and others whose ancestors fought for the Confederacy, came together in Washington, DC that day to file past a coffin.

I can only hope our country never faces another War like the war of 150 years ago, nor another national tragedy such as the assassination of a President.

3 comments:

  1. That's strange, there was a documentary on about JFK the other day & I watched it. I think the story still shocks people 50 years on!

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  2. My hopes are the same as yours, Alana. From the texts written, it certainly sounded like there was a "battle above the clouds". I wonder why General Grant would write the opposite?

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  3. A beautiful part of the country and sad that such losses occurred there. Odd about Grant's denial. And yes, interesting how tragedies often bring us together.

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