Today was our last day in the Chattanooga area. Since the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park was closed because of the ongoing Federal Government shutdown, we had to seek out other places to visit. Fort Oglethorpe, GA is a town I read about before we got here and has an interesting story. Chickamauga Post was established in 1902 to serve as a cavalry post for the 6th Cavalry. It was later named Fort Oglethorpe after James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia. The “Fighting Sixth” Cavalry was stationed at The Post at Fort Oglethorpe from 1919 to 1942. During World War I and World War II, it was also a war-time induction and processing center, and also housed German and Italian prisoners of war. Fort Oglethorpe was a major training center for the Women's Army Corps during World War II. The post was declared surplus in 1947 and sold to civilians, forming the nucleus for a city that was incorporated in 1949. All that is left of the fort is the polo field/Parade ground surrounded by the large houses that the officers lived in.
A museum has been established by the 6th Cavalry Association next to the parade ground to honor the era of the 'horse soldier'. The 6th has an illustrious history. It was organized in 1861 in Pittsburgh, PA and fought throughout the Civil War. It also participated in the Indian Wars, the Spanish American War, the Boxer Rebellion, Philippines uprising, the Mexican Punitive Exhibition, and WWI. The 6th was attached to Patton’s 3rd Army and participated in the same campaigns as the 87th Infantry Division although they arrived in Europe several months earlier. When we visited the museum, we found they were staging the 4th Annual Remembering Our Heroes, a day of living history and remembrance of the Armed Forces. We were fortunate to see one battle reenactment representing American, British, German, and Italian troops from reenactment groups throughout the southeast. There were even a couple of women singers in period dress providing entertainment after the battle. We got a chance to talk to some of the reenactors as well as some of the old vets that attended the event. We sat down to lunch with “Rosie the Riveter” who it turned out was a life long resident of Fort Oglethorpe and had written a history book about the post and the town. She had some great stories about her research for the book. While we were walking around the reenactment displays we talked to a WWII vet. He had a big set of lipstick lips on his cheek from a smooch from one of the singers. He told us had served in Europe and had a picture of Patton peeing in the Rhine River when the 3rd Army crossed into Germany. We went with him to find it in his car, but must have left it at home. Sue’s Uncle Joe had one of those pictures too, but it got lost when he died. He did show us a picture of him when he was in the Army. He has served with the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. He said they were called the Cottonbalers; they got the name when they fought with Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans at the end of the War of 1812. The Cottonbalers had the distinction of serving the most combat time of any US Army unit in WWII. They fought the Axis from 1943 in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Southern France, and Germany. It appears the 7th participated in the same campaigns as my Father’s unit, the 976th Field Artillery Battalion. Elements of the 7th were given the honor of capturing the Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden in 1945. What a great day at the 6th Cavalry Museum.
One of the American reenactors brings a Jeep he rebuilt to the various events they participate in and tells the story of the 3 years it took to rebuild it. His wife walks up and jokingly says she is a Jeep widow, but he’s honored her by putting her name, Jerrie, on the side of the jeep and using their wedding date as the serial number for the Jeep. Isn’t that a touching story?
We headed up to Lookout Mountain to see Point Park that overlooks Chattanooga and the Tennessee River Valley. It was closed. It’s managed by the National Park Service and is a unit of the National Military Park. All we could do was look through the gates. A few people were daring enough to climb the stone wall to walk around the park. I’m too old to be climbing walls or fences. Instead of the park we went into the Battles of Chattanooga. It’s a privately run 3-D, think diorama not movie, presentation of the battles that took place around Chattanooga. It lasted about a half hour, was entertaining and informative. There also a small museum with relics from the various battlefields in the area and a gift shop.
We finally got to the Lookout Mountain Incline. It was built in 1895 and is billed as the steepest incline in the world. You can understand why when you get in the car and you sit in the seats that are raked back to give you a view once you begin the climb. It’s a cable operated similar to the inclines in Pittsburgh with one track and two cars that meet in the middle of the slope where the track splits to allow the passage. It’s about a 15 minute ride to the top (or bottom depending on where you start). We started at the bottom across the street from the big ice cream cone from Thursday. When we got to the top, I walked down the street to take some pictures while Sue walked through the gift shop. I was walking by a house and was taking some pictures of the yard when the owner, who was working on the landscaping, asked me where I was from. As we were talking, he asked me if I liked daffodils. I said they were nice and that we had a lot around Delaware. He was planting daffodil bulbs and said he was tired of doing it and had a small bag and offered them to me. I took them and told him I’d plant them when I got home. I hope the ground isn’t frozen when we get home. After riding the incline back to the bottom, we headed back to Trav-L-Park. We’ll be packing up tomorrow to travel up to Townsend, TN where we’ll be for about a week. Chattanooga is a great place to visit and worth a trip to southeast Tennessee.