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Battle of Chickamauga

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“…I see a hog and
black sheep dead. poor things they
ought to keep away from where man
meets in fearful combat. it is strange
that the most intelligent beings on earth
endowed with reason and sense cannot
settle disputes without resorting to
…brute force”

–John A. Vaughn, Confederate soldier, Sept. 22, 1863

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga, a strategic win for the Confederates — but at a terrible loss of life for both sides. Of the approximately 125,000 troops involved, over 34,000 (almost 30 percent!) were killed, wounded, or captured. It ranks as one of the costliest battles of the Civil War, second only to Gettysburg.

One of our digitized diaries from the period was written by a soldier who participated in the battle and lived to tell the tale. You can read John A. Vaughn’s account by clicking on the pages below, which have been transcribed here.

Vaughn diary page

John A. Vaughn diary, pg. 62, Sept. 19-21, 1863

 

Vaughn diary page

John A. Vaughn diary, pg. 63, Sept. 22-25, 1863

Sept 20
The fight is general to day. we join our command & Col Wade is placed in Command of the Brigade. late in the evening we reach “Lee & Gordons Mills“, on the Chickamauga creek. on our right a heavy discharge & musketry is heard. we are dismantled and marched across the creek in the direction of the enemys lines. we take water very well. it is the first time I have “taken water” in a long time. we march on in double quick and take an ambulance & soon after a Hopsital with sick & wounded. John [Jawes?] of the 34th Ala was in this Hospital wounded and a prisoner, but we released him & pushed on & took another Hospital with sick and wounded, we return to “Lee & Gordons Mills” & Bivouac for the night. we get nothing to eat, but our boys are cheerful, anxious for the fight. we have to make the enemys comisarys our comisarys

Sept 21st
To day we operate in the Chattanooga Valley. Wharton is in advance. he attack the enemy & they flee & leave their wagon train & some comisarys; which the boys put to a good use. we followed [pg. 63] in hast through the thick and disagreeable dust but are unable to catch up. we capture the wagon train & a great deal of plunder. some of the wagons are burnt but the most of them are safely carried out we return to “Lee & Gordons Mills” & find Major Wright who has brought something for us to eat, but the Major got in too late to have “a hand in the drawing”

Sept 22
We pass over the Battleground and see the mangled dead in every direction, some one shot in the leg, some in the breast and one poor fellow has his head shot off completely & another is burnt up caught from a burning fence. dead horses are laying piled on the battle field and I see a hog and black sheep dead. poor things they ought to keep away from where man meets in fearful combat. it is strange that the most intelligent beings on earth endowed with reason and sense cannot settle disputes without resorting to force and brute force the enemy’s loss is great they have been driven in confusion from the field

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