Civil War Reenactment - The Battle of Tunnel Hill
Tunnel Hill, Georgia - Sept. 10+11, 2005
196 photos, 1 panoramic by Wes Mayhle of AZITWES
Battle of Tunnel Hill
At Tunnel Hill, Georgia the 14th Annual reenactment was held on Sep 10th and 11th, 2005. This small town saw several small military actions during the War Between the States. In 1863, on September 11, a small skirmish happened here, just days before the Battle of Chickamauga. After Chickamauga CSA Gen. John Bell Hood, along with many sick and wounded, were brought to the hospital here. Tunnel Hill had a major hospital for the Army of Tennessee where thousands of tents and shelters housed the most critical patients. Lesser wounded were sent on to Atlanta. Many residents of Tunnel Hill served the wounded. In November of the same year Gen. Bragg retreated through the area after the Missionary Ridge battle and were able to hold off the pursuing Union troops here. Another skirmish in January 1864 saw the Federal troops driving Confederate outposts to the Tunnel but retiring back to their base at nearby Ringgold, GA. Union Gen. Sherman took over the town in 1864 during his "March to the Sea".
The town is aptly named for the railroad tunnel constructed by the 'Western and Atlantic Railway’. Construction began in 1848 and was completed in 1850. This was the first railroad to link the Atlantic Ocean with the Mississippi River Valley. It was an important link in the Confederate Railway system. It later served the Union troops as a key supply line during US Gen. Sherman's campaign to take Atlanta. After the Civil War the tunnel remained a key element in Georgia's transportation. It is estimated that 25,000 troops passed through the tunnel on their way to seaports during World War I. In 1926 it was abandoned and a new modern tunnel was bored. It remained boarded up till 1976 and then partially filled in 1992. In 1996 the Tunnel Hill Historical Foundation helped the town purchase the old tunnel and has made many improvements to the site.
The area has many stories of hauntings and ghosts from the Civil War era and the untold suffering endured by those who died here. You can read more about the ghost here.
My fictitious 1860’s character Azzit Mightabin reports on the reenactment battles.
Sat. Sept 10, 2005
When I finally saw the smoke and heard the sounds that large armies make I turned off the main road. Felt like I had traveled the entire length of Georgia searching for the action, something to report and record. I was not wrong this time. Breaking through the tree-line, I spotted a group of Confederate infantry across a wide and long field. The field is dominated the rather small homestead in place at its center. Consisting of a small house, corncrib, and privy, the little farm looked rather lonesome and surely was apprehensive about the gathering of so many military. Skirting the field I passed a fort named "Keys" and I heard the sounds of a railroad to the north and understood the reason for the troops. They were either here to defend it or to destroy it. Since being known as a neutral observer I was able to casually stroll through the ranks of the Rebels when I heard my name being called. I was pleasantly surprised to see some old friends from Florida. After a few words and a promise to visit after their inspection time I moved on a bit. I then realized, by the large number of town folk assembled, this was no inspection. There were assuredly Union troops about the place and a fight was a-brew. I was thankfully pulled into the woods surrounding the large sloping field just minutes before shots rang out.
Some brave Confederates dashed out to the small house probably to save whoever might be inside. Quite a few boys eventually went out there because the buildings and small garden provided good cover. Cavalry from both sides took to the field to spy out what forces they were a-facing. Several Union cannon appeared in the northwest corner and between them and the Rebel cannon inside Fort Keys (in the southeast corner) they proceeded to plow the field without the use of livestock or plow. The Confederates sent out some more infantry to draw out the Union boys while the cavalry from both sides attempted to quell each others desire to see or spy. After a while it devolved into a stalemate, the small cabin still standing but the privy was now sporting a dangerous lean. Then a good number of Union soldiers came out from behind the cannon and slowly forced the Confederates to retire from the little shack and most of the field. There was a good number of Union troops (300-400) but I knew the Rebels had near about as many hiding in the woods. Sure enough when the Union showed all it had, the Confederate officers brought out the men from the tree-line along with a couple field pieces and 2 mountain howitzers. Slowly and with precision they pounded the boys in blue all back to where they came from and further ... out of my sight into the tree-line on the opposite end. The cost in lives was horrible and fallen soldiers lay all over the field.
Sun. September 11
I spent the night alone recording my thoughts and tending to my person. The next day it seemed both sides had been reinforced because the numbers were the same as before and still evenly split. (300-400 for each side). The Union must have studied their business harder overnight because they moved all their artillery closer where it could take more of a toll on the fort and not the outhouse. I stayed a little closer to the Rebel fort to record the artillerymens' efforts. The battle again started to unfold much the same as the day before with each side anxious to defend or attack the little dwelling in the field. But this time the Union artillery had more of an effect. Today they stayed together and seemed to have more discipline, concentrating the fire better. The Confederate boys were confident but were soundly beaten and before long the Federals had charged and fairly overrun Fort Keys. Once again my neutrality saved me and Union officers let me walk unharmed out of the battle area. I hurried to telegraph station as fast as I could to send out this report. Azzit Mightabin
See other Tunnel Hill photos: 2007 Battle
Go to our US Civil War page to learn more about the war.