Streetwise Professor

October 22, 2019

Chickamauga Connections

Filed under: Civil War — cpirrong @ 6:38 pm

The weekend before last I traveled to northern Georgia to visit the Chickamauga and Chattanooga battlefields. They are among my favorites. Chickamauga was the first battlefield preserved by the federal government (in 1890). This early action, plus the fact that the area was economically marginal, meant that virtually the entire field is preserved. It is well-marked. I quibble with some of the market placements (especially at Snodgrass Hill and Horseshoe Ridge, where I agree with Archibald Gracie rather than the original Battlefield Commission), but the battle was incredibly complex and confusing so no definitive interpretation is possible.

There are family connections here. My GGGF, George Immel, fought with the 92nd Ohio at Chickamauga and the assault on Missionary Ridge. (The 92nd was in Turchin’s brigade, which along with Harker’s, Croxton’s and Vandeveer’s turned in the best performance of any Union brigades in the battle.) My GGM’s brothers fought in the 46th Ohio in the assault on Tunnel Hill at Chattanooga. Here’s yours truly at the Napoleons placed to market the position of Key’s Arkansas Battery, which the 46th and the other regiments of Corse’s brigade, Ewing’s division, Sherman’s corps, attacked on 25 November, 1863:

I hit most of the major important points at Chickamauga, but having been there on the order of a dozen times, I expanded my horizons a bit this trip. I followed the route of Thomas’ 14th Corps over Lookout Mountain, into McClemore’s Cove, and then to Crawfish Spring.

Crawfish Spring is currently the site of the town of Chickamauga. The Spring (pictured below) was the site of a Union hospital during the battle, and also a vital source of water:

Across from the Spring is the massive Gordon Mansion, which was a Union headquarters prior to the battle:

The mansion is particularly impressive, when compared to the hardscrabble cabins (like the Brotherton, Kelly, and Snodgrass houses) that most local folk lived in. Talk about your inequality of wealth!

Walking around the spring and the mansion, I learned some interesting facts. One is that a slave of the Gordon family who buried the dead at Chickamauga (I get the image of Morgan Freeman in Glory), Mark Thrash, remained in the area until his death, reputedly at the age of 122 years, 357 days (making him the oldest man in the world at the time, reputedly).

The other story is even more fascinating. I went to the monument of the 88th Illinois, “The Second Board of Trade Regiment”

but didn’t expect another Chicago Board of Trade connection;

Specifically, the area around Crawfish Springs was a training camp (Camp Lytle, later renamed Camp Thomas) during the Spanish-American War. (Ironically, the 88th Illinois was in Lytle’s brigade, and the monument is on the lower slope of Lytle Hill). Sanitation was horrible, and recruits were dropping like flies from typhoid and dysentery. A Chicago philanthropist, Mary T. Leiter, heard of the disaster, and paid $10,000 to buy the Park Hotel near the springs and convert it to a hospital.

Mary Leiter was the wife of Levi Leiter, the financial/business brain behind Marshall Fields. Her son, Joseph, became a notorious speculator on the CBOT. His massive failed attempt to corner the wheat market in 1897-1898 was the inspiration for Frank Norris’ novel, The Pit: A Story of Chicago. Hence the CBOT connection.

Levi had to pay $5 million to bail out his son after the corner collapsed–and that’s when $5 mil was a helluva lot of money. This would have been a few months before Joe’s mom popped a mere $10k for a hotel/hospital.

One of Leiter’s daughters (Mary Victoria) was famous in her own right, marrying Lord Curzon and becoming the Vicereine of India before her premature death at age 36.

Quite a fascinating story, and an unexpected place to find it.

All in all, a trip filled with connections, personal and professional.

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  1. Always worth quoting:

    My name is George Nathaniel Curzon,
    I am a most superior person.
    My cheeks are pink, my hair is sleek,
    I dine at Blenheim once a week.

    Comment by dearieme — October 23, 2019 @ 4:56 am

  2. Thanks Craig, if you don’t mind I will share this with some CBOT/CME people via trade-talk.

    Comment by Donald Wolfe — October 23, 2019 @ 2:22 pm

  3. @dearieme–amusing.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 23, 2019 @ 2:45 pm

  4. @Donald–Don’t mind at all. Much appreciated in fact.

    Comment by cpirrong — October 23, 2019 @ 2:46 pm

  5. General Thomas was probably the most underestimated General on both sides. Sort of a non traitorous Arnold

    Comment by Sotos — October 25, 2019 @ 5:31 pm

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