NPS Chickamauga and Chattanooga
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  • Transcript Stop 7

    Tour Stop 7: The Tan Yard

    To the west is a ridge across the open field.  Around 11:30 a.m. on the morning of September 20th, Union Brigadier General William Haines Lytle's Brigade of Major General Phillip Sheridan's Division marched north from the Widow Glenn's house, near the Wilder Brigade Monument at Tour Stop #6, and began occupying this position in an attempt to support crumbling  Union troops in their front. Confederate troops from General Zachariah C. Deas' Brigade burst through the woods to the south, sweeping Davis' Division and Laiboldt’s Brigade of Federal troops before them.  General Lytle, who had achieved national fame as a poet, was killed while attempting to rally his men on this ridge across from you. The Confederates recognized his remains, and returned him to Union forces after the battle. This entire field quickly filled with Confederates as they pushed west and north after their breakthrough at the Brotherton Cabin.


    Caught up in the chaos of this fight here around the Dyer family’s farm were a number of African Americans. In the Confederate ranks, enslaved men were often forced to accompany their owners into the army to serve as “body servants.” These men would be tasked with carrying their enslaver’s belongings, doing his laundry, and preparing meals. During battle, these enslaved men often found themselves near the front, as they would be used as litter bearers to evacuate the wounded. Most famous of these body servants was Silas Chandler, who followed the 44th Mississippi Infantry into the fight across this field just to the north of where you are standing. After his enslaver was critically wounded, Silas carried him to the hospital and eventually back home to Mississippi. African Americans could also be found with the Union Army as well. From here you can see cannonball pyramid monument that marks General Rosecrans’s headquarters, and next to it the monument to the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry.  Jack Hines, who had escaped from slavery in Kentucky, served as a cook with Company K of the 15th Pennsylvania Cavalry, which was serving as General Rosecrans’s escort during the Battle of Chickamauga. During the Confederate breakthrough, Hines was severely wounded and nearly captured on the ridge line opposite from your position. On the ridge just to the north your position, Thomas Coles, who had escaped from Huntsville, Alabama the previous year, served as a hired servant to a Union officer on General John Mendenhall’s artillery line. In the chaos of the breakthrough, Coles found himself helping to crew an artillery piece. In a twist of fate, his former enslaver, Robert Coles, was charging across this very field with the 4th Alabama Infantry.


    This field later became the focal point of military operations in Chickamauga Battlefield. In 1865, this was the campground of a regiment of United States Colored Troops, who were tasked with sweeping the battlefield to recover remains for reinternment at Chattanooga National Cemetery. Mark Thrash, a formerly enslaved man, worked on the battlefield for years, and lived in a small cabin just below General Rosecrans’s headquarter site.  D World War I and the Spanish American War, this field was covered with tents and barracks of soldiers training to fight overseas. During the Spanish-American War, this area was called Camp Thomas, named after Union General George Thomas, who achieved fame for his heroic stand at Snodgrass Hill, which is the scene of your final tour stop. Continue north along Glenn-Kelly Road to Tour Stop 8.