Here’s what happened.
On September 20, 1863, Confederate forces won a major battle in North Georgia. With nearly 35,000 combined casualties, Chickamauga was second only to Gettysburg as the bloodiest battle of the USA’s Civil War. From then on, Chickamauga Creek would fulfill the name it had in some Native American translations: River of Death. The battle caused devastating consequences for Chattanooga, Tennessee and Atlanta, Georgia.
Here’s why it matters.
Changes in the fortunes of several generals led to Chickamauga. Ulysses Grant captured Vicksburg in July 1863, a day after George Meade had defeated Robert E. Lee at Gettysburg. But President Lincoln was so frustrated by Meade’s reluctance to pursue Lee that he gave Grant control of all Union forces. Grant sent William Rosecrans to take Chattanooga; Lee sent James Longstreet to help Braxton Bragg defend the city.
As Rosencrans approached, Bragg moved south away from Chattanooga and crossed into Georgia. Heavy fighting began on September 18 and continued until September 20, when Rosecrans retreated north.
Here’s an interesting fact!
Two men at Chickamauga had significant connections to the White House. Confederate Brigadier General Benjamin Hardin Helm, Abraham Lincoln’s brother-in-law, was mortally wounded. Union Brigadier General James Abram Garfield served as Chief of Staff to General Rosecrans. In 1880 he was elected U.S. president. But like his Commander-in-Chief during the war, Garfield was murdered while in office.