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Opening the CraCKer Line

October, 1863   October 27-29, 2017

US Forces besieged in Chattanooga are short on food and supplies.  In an effort to relieve them, the Cracker Line Operation was commenced on October 26, 1863 in order to open a supply road from Chattanooga to Brown's Ferry on the Tennessee River while simultaneously advancing along Lookout Valley to secure the Kelly's River Ford. While IV Corps establishes a beachhead, portions of US Brig. Gen John Geary's division are posted at Wauhatchie Station on the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad in order to protect the line of communications south and west. Confederate forces decided on a bold plan, a risky night attack on Geary's position, attacking at midnight on October 28th. The evening was partly cloudy skies with a near full moon. 

153 years later to the day, the moon was near full again.

We were able to recreate Bratton's Confederate brigade (Jenkins' division, Longstreet's Corps), recently detached from the Army of Northern Virginia. moving down from Lookout Mountain to attack the Federal position. 

We were able to recreate Greene's US Brigade (3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, XII Corp) as they stood through the maelstrom, and try desperately to hold on to their position against a fearsome night-time onslaught. 

The weather in 2017 was a major challenge for us, but the core of participants persevered and had an epic event. The mud was legendary, the rain was cold and constant, but the fight....that fight....

Even though I was soaking wet and cold, you all planned a battle that was so good that I don't think I heard anyone who stayed for it say it wasn't worth the misery.  Most events couldn't say that. -MH

I don't know about your side, but our officers and colors wrapped in so much smoke . . . I'll never forget that view. Or the explosion of fire when a volley went off in the dark. It was damned impressive from the Federal left.-JN

That was truly amazing. What I saw that night was the most terrifying display of firepower I'd ever seen in my time as a reenactor. The blasts flapped my clothes as they kept up. That and coupled with that rebel yell and volley after volley it actually made me emotionally distraught. The reasons being it's still amazing to me how Americans were able to do that to each other and it was actual fear. I felt actual fear. -BC

The struggle just to keep warm in dry is something is something that makes me feel for my ancestors, and the adversity they went through. That battle itself was amazing.-LB

My hat is off to everyone who had a hand in this. I have been at this since 1983, and I can't think of a single thing that could have been done better (within our control). It is hopefully obvious to everyone who participated that good events don't just happen, they come about from a TON of behind the scenes work and effort. Thank you to everyone involved.-AR

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
And bacon for convoy put into his haversack;
We would not die in that man's company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call'd the feast of the Corncrib.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,
And rouse him at the name of Mamaw.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say "To-morrow is Corncrib day."
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say "These wounds I had on corncrib day."
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words—
Palmetto Sharpshooters, Hamptons Legion, the 5th South Carolina
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And the Corncrib, Corncrib shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberèd-
We few, we happy few, we warm few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in hotels, and homes now a-bed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Wauhatchie's day.

    -bastardized by Tom Hopkins....

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