In the midst of Civil War, both armies sought to control Chattanooga, the gateway to the Confederacy, and so they came to clash in the summer of 1863 at a nearby creek called Chickamauga. The Confederates won, and so they met again, this time at Chattanooga. The Confederates nearly dominated again … and then entered Union Gen. U.S. Grant, changing the tide of history. Historian Norm Dasinger, Jr., who leads the upcoming tour, “The Battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga,” slated for November 13–16, 2019, is one of the leading experts on these battles that show the Confederates with one of their great opportunities and how they mismanaged it. We caught up with Norm and posed some questions about himself, the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga, and his tour.
BGES Blog: What is your personal interest in the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga?
ND: First, it is near my home. The battlefields of the Chattanooga area are a short drive from Gadsden in northeastern Alabama. Second, the unique stories of the men—on both sides—that fought in that area are amazing. President Lincoln being the most recognizable of the intertwined legends associated with the massive battle of Chickamauga. Other notable men with a part in the stories of the area battles include: Custer, Grant, President John Tyler, the Andrew’s Raiders, Cleburne, and Hooker.
BGES Blog: Why this tour? What do you offer that others don’t?
ND: The Chattanooga Campaign is complex. The movements of the troops and the sites associated are many. For one to truly understand the campaign, it requires simplification. In my opinion, this is what I do best. I simplify the complex. In doing so, I mix in the different stories of the characters that fought in the Chattanooga area.
BGES Blog: What on-the-ground elements are you most excited to share with your tour participants in the upcoming tour?
ND: When we visit the University the South as the first stop on day one, and see the beautiful campus and the stupendous view off Monteagle Mountain, it sets the agenda for a fabulous tour. I also like the way I can introduce some American Indian and World War II history into the tour.
BGES Blog: How would you sum up the importance of the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga within the scope of the entire war?
ND: Massive slaughter! Only Gettysburg has more casualties. Within this death, CSA Gen. Bragg was very close to destroying the Union’s Army of the Cumberland. Also, the continued emergence of U. S. Grant onto the larger Civil War scene as he found success here was important to the entire Civil War.
BGES Blog: What do you hope BGES tours—and your tour specifically—adds to the discussion about what the Confederacy means today?
ND: As our country moves toward removing aspects of its history, it is important for Civil War historians— amateur and professional—to remember that there were two opposing sides to the war: Union and Confederate. If we lose the fact that the CSA existed and that nearly 1 million men served in its armed forces, then sometime in the future, the Civil War will simply be known as a one-sided affair with an unnamed opponent that fought against the Union. Chattanooga-area battles, like all other Civil War battles, give Americans a chance to learn that ALL of our precious history is important.
BGES Blog: Any last words?
ND: The tour includes a BGES favorite restaurant: Beas. The place is incredible and one of a kind! This will be a BUSY four days of touring.