FLASHBACK: On a day like today exactly five years ago, August 3rd 2010, the movie Water For Elephants wrapped in Chickamauga.

Mark “Doc” Thrash - Born When James Monroe Was President And Died During The Time Of Franklin D. Roosevelt

Doc Thrash went with his master to the war as a servant, was captured back and forth several times, winding up in the hands of the Yankees which, luckily for him, entitles him to a pension, which he enjoyed in his later years. The coat that he is wearing in the picture was given to him General Grant.

Thrash arrived at Chickamauga, three days after the fierce battle and would live out the remaining 80 years of his life at the park. He would see it become a National Military Park.  He would work for the National Park Service until age 101 (1893-1922) and be the oldest person on federal payroll and pension.  During his life time, he would go from being a slave to a free man. 

On The Battle of Chickamauga: “You could walk a mile on dead bodies and never put your foot on the ground.” -Mark Thrash

Claimed to have been born Dec 25, 1820 in Richmond, Virginia, six months after his parents had arrived as slaves from Africa. He was married 4 times, father of 29 children, 10 in his first family, 12 in his second, 7 in his third and none in his last marriage to Mary Arnold, 6 Mar 1897 in Walker County. An article in the History of Walker County, Georgia, published in 1932, page 130, says that he has one son now 88 years old.

This information was submitted by Margy Miles (See website below for contact info) who per the webpage would like to share and exchange information about Mark “Doc” Thrash with his descendants. Please contact her for more information.

This information from: Walker County Georgia


September 19th-20th, 1863

The Battle of Chickamauga ends the Chickamauga Campaign in Tennessee and Georgia. The Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg engage the Union Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans, aiming to force the Federals out of Chattanooga, which they occupy. After misinformation, a gap accidentally appears in the Union line and is exploited by Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. A new defensive line is formed and after many costly assaults from Southern forces, the Union forces retire back to Chattanooga, leaving the Confederates to occupy the heights.The battle was the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theater of war and had the second highest number of casualties after Gettysburg. (x) (x) (x)

Ambrose Bierce- Civil War Soldier And “Master Of The Macabre”

Bierce was the only major author to have actually been a front-line soldier in the Civil War

In 1913, he traveled to Mexico to gain first-hand experience of the Mexican Revolution. While traveling with rebel troops, he disappeared without a trace.

He enlisted in the Union Army at nineteen. The Civil War cast a long shadow over his life and work, shaping him into the writer he would become, and spawning his fascination with the supernatural. Bierce evolved into a Master of the Macabre and though he became most widely known for his ghost stories, his war stories are considered by some critics to be the best writing on the Civil War.

He fought at Shiloh, Pickett’s Mill, Chickamauga, Kennesaw Mountain, Philippi, Girard Hill, Shiloh, Stones River, Corinth, Missionary Ridge. He resigned in 1865 after taking a bullet wound to the head. Causing him dizziness and black outs. 

Two days spent at Shiloh made an indelible impression on Bierce. Many years later, for example, he would write a haunting autobiographical short story, “The Coup de Grace,” which describes wounded men being burned alive in brush fires and wild pigs eating the corpses. As horrific as it had been, Shiloh would not be the bloodiest battle that Bierce would experience.

  • Dead horses were everywhere; a few disabled caissons, or limbers, reclining on one elbow, as it were; ammunition wagons standing disconsolate behind four or six sprawling mules. Men? There were men enough; all dead apparently, except one, who lay near where I had halted my platoon to await the slower movement of the line — a Federal sergeant, variously hurt, who had been a fine giant in his time. He lay face upward, taking in his breath in convulsive, rattling snorts, and blowing it out in sputters of froth which crawled creamily down his cheeks, piling itself alongside his neck and ears. A bullet had clipped a groove in his skull, above the temple; from this the brain protruded in bosses, dropping off in flakes and strings. I had not previously known one could get on, even in this unsatisfactory fashion, with so little brain. One of my men whom I knew for a womanish fellow, asked if he should put his bayonet through him. Inexpressibly shocked by the cold-blooded proposal, I told him I thought not; it was unusual, and too many were looking.
    —from “What I Saw of Shiloh” (1862)

His Civil War Stories

One of the Missing A Baffled Ambuscade The Affair at Coulter’s Notch
A Son of the Gods  One Kind of Officer  A Tough Tussle
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge  Chickamauga
The Coup de Grâce  One Officer, One Man
The Story of a Conscience  Parker Adderson, Philosopher
An Affair of Outposts  Jupiter Doke, Brigadier-General
A Horseman in the Sky  The Mocking-Bird
George Thurston  Killed at Resaca
Three and One Are One  Two Military Executions
The Major’s Tale  A Resumed Identity
A Man with Two Lives  The Other Lodgers

Memories never lie still.
                                             They circle the landscape
Like hawks on the wind,
Turning and widening, their centers cut loose and disappearing,
Tiny cracks in the mind’s sky,
Sheenlines, afterglint.
The world is small and blue.

Charles Wright, from “Lines on Seeing a Photograph for the First Time in Thirty Years,” Chickamauga (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995)

“The Rock of Chickamauga”- General George Thomas - Virginia native, a veteran of the Mexican War (1846–1848), and a Union general

Thomas’s decided to remain in the Union Army in 1861, rather than join the Confederacy like many of his Southern peers. Thomas’s decision was not well received by his fellow Southerners. Stuart called him a “traitor” and wished to see him hanged. Members of his own family were incensed, particularly his sister, who remained on the family plantation and wrote that Thomas “had been false to his state, his family, and to his friends” and effectively disowned him.

During the Battle of Chickamauga, he held his position, rallying broken and scattered units to prevent a hopeless rout. Future president James Garfield reported to Army of the Cumberland commander William Rosecrans that Thomas was “standing like a rock,” and the name stuck; the “Rock of Chickamauga” was soon elevated to command and rose to greater fame.

Thomas commanded African American troops during the Battle of Nashville, and their bravery during the battle permanently changed his views on race. He had been a racial conservative during most of the war, but he changed after Nashville and became a staunch supporter of the rights of freedmen.

During Reconstruction, Thomas used his military power to protect African Americans from white violence and economic exploitation and sent troops to safeguard the polls so that freedmen could vote. When local courts refused to prosecute whites for attacking blacks, Thomas tried them in military tribunals. When local city officials adopted discriminatory racial policies, he threatened them with military detention. Thomas recognized early the power and organization of the Ku Klux Klan and tried to stamp out the organization with military force. Unfortunately, these efforts failed as a result of a lack of troops on the ground and the refusal of local white civil authorities to cooperate.

Thomas was assigned to command of the Department of the Pacific in 1869 and he died of a stroke in San Francisco, California, on March 28, 1870. He was the first major Union general to die after the Civil War.


“Green Eyes” - The Ghost of Chickamauga

The Internet is awash with accounts of Old Green Eyes, some of which say the ghost isn’t a soldier but a spirit known to the Cherokee Indians. The ghost even has its own facebook page. Link below.

The Chickamauga Battlefield, where in 1863, as the Civil War was approaching the end, 37,000 Confederate and Union soldiers lost their lives in a bloody battle along the banks of the Chickamauga Creek. Chickamauga is a native word meaning “river of blood.” 
Some say “Green Eyes” is the ghost of a soldier whose head was blown off in battle, and all that’s left is his glowing green eyes atop his body, and that he wanders the battlefield looking for his head.
Others say that “Green Eyes” was haunting the Chickamauga Creek area long before the famous battle. Green Eyes is also a well known Native American legend that talks of a strange half man, half beast that walks upright on two legs, and has long stringy hair, huge jaws and fangs. One of the earliest ghost sightings shortly after the Civil War ended is documented in Susie Blaylock McDaniel’s book “The Official History of Catoosa County.” facebook page for the Ghost of Chickamauga- Photo Credit

I remember the word and forget the word
                                                                               although the word
Hovers in flame around me.
Summer hovers in flame around me.
The overcast breaks like a bone above the Blue Ridge.
A loneliness west of solitude
Splinters into the landscape
                                                          uncomforting as Braille.

Charles Wright, from “Tennessee Line,” Chickamauga (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995)

Haunted Battlefields

It seems that every battlefield, whether significant or minor, seems to inhabit its share of Civil War ghosts. Experts of the supernatural say that people who die sudden, unexpected, violent deaths are the ones whose souls get caught in limbo. Common occurrances are the sounds of gunfire, men yelling and marching, and ghostly apparitions of soldiers roaming around.

Gettysburg is the most famous haunted battlefield. It is believed that this is because it lies on a lei line (mineral deposits under the soil that criss-cross). These places attract apparitions because the electrical current caused by the lei lines coaxes spirits like moths to a flame. Voted “America’s Most Haunted,” Devil’s Den on the battlefield is so charged with energy from ghosts that people have difficulty taking pictures. The spirits drain the charge from their batteries within minutes. Besides the battlefield, numerous structures in town are also rumored to be haunted.

Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi has plenty of supernatural inhabitants as well. It is no wonder, since the citizens and Confederate army were under siege for weeks, forced to live in caves along the riverbank and eat vermin, dogs, etc. in order to survive. The town is filled with old abandoned buildings, but it is rumored that many are not completely empty. Spirits have been seen wandering the streets at night, along with frequenting local establishments, including old antebellum homes that have been converted into bed-and-breakfasts.

The Battle of Chickamauga was the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War (Gettysburg being the first). Besides sightings of the usual soldier-ghosts, an entity that has come to be known as “Old Green Eyes,” and over the years, has been sighted by thousands of people. The creature sounds like something straight of a Grimm fairytale. With a hairy body, fang-like teeth, and glowing green eyes, it walks upright on two legs and wears a cloak. Besides Old Green Eyes, a woman in a wedding dress roams the area, as does a creepy soldier who stares at visitors until they leave.

I Fought In Nine Major Civil War Battles And Survived

Conrad Grassmeck enlisted as a private in Company D, 15th Missouri Infantry, on August 9, 1861, in St. Louis, Missouri.

The 15th Missouri was organized in St. Louis in August and September 1861, and saw considerable action during the war, including the battles of Pea Ridge, Perryville, Stones River, Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Kennesaw Mountain, Spring Hill, Franklin, and Nashville.

Grassmeck was mustered out of service with the 15th Missouri Infantry on December 25, 1865.

Carte-de-Visite by Morse Photographic Gallery, Nashville, Tenn. Image Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 11608