It was an angry Braxton Bragg who rode out of McLemore’s Cove on the evening of September 11th, 1863. Recalcitrant subordinates had frittered away an opportunity to have crushed a significant portion of George Thomas’ Fourteenth Corps! But while the 11th had proved to be (another) day of frustration, intelligence had been gathered that more clearly showed how widely separated were the major elements of the enemy’s force. Perhaps there were still offensive opportunities. Even before the 11th ended, orders began to stream from Bragg’s LaFayette headquarters to units unengaged in McLemore’s Cove—be ready to march at daylight.
There’s essentially a week between the missed opportunity of McLemore’s Cove (September 10-11, 1863) and what became the Battle of Chickamauga (September 18-20, 1863). In this day long bus tour, we’ll look at Bragg’s second try for a battle in the West Chickamauga Creek watershed and set the stage for what did become the Battle of Chickamauga as we know it. We’ll return to Bragg’s LaFayette headquarters and then ride with the North Carolinian as he went to join Leonidas Polk for a strike on Tom Crittenden; we’ll see ground of the Rock Spring-Lee & Gordon’s Mills venture and visit the surviving post-war Lee & Gordon’s Mills where the Assistant Commissary of Subsistence will provide us with our mid-day repast catered by Oakwood Cafe, the Dalton eatery that supplied our delicious meal in April! We’ll then transition to an exploration of what became Bragg’s plan that does bring on the Battle of Chickamauga we know, in no small part thanks to the accurate intelligence gathered by the “Wizard in the Saddle” Nathan Bedford Forrest’s cavalry. We’ll visit sites like Leet’s Tanyard and Peavine Church that take us to the eve of the history book’s clash in the valley of the “River of Death.” It will be a day that further illustrates that there’s much more to the Civil War than just the big battles and that as it was lived, it might have been a very different war. Join us as BRAGG TRIES AGAIN!