On this day 151 years ago, September 5, 1863, two great armies were stirring in North Georgia. William S. Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland had successfully crossed the Tennessee River, while in Chattanooga, Braxton Bragg was at last aware of his peril.
And yet, war is as much waiting as it is marching and fighting. With time on thier hands, men find ways to occupy themselves. By sightseeing, for example.
Generals were not immune to playing tourist. On September 5th Rosecrans indulged his scientific proclivities and explored Hill’s Cave (now modern-day Cave Spring, Georgia.) During this adventure, he had a bad moment. “The General’s rather bulky form became wedged in a narrow passage. and for a few minutes it was a question whether the campaign might not have to be continued under the next senior general…He seemed pretty well frightened.” Fortunately, Rosecrans was extricated without harm, and the campaign would continue as intended. Supposedly Rosecrans left his name written on the wall there, as well.
Also on the 5th, party of officers from the XXI Corps, including the corps chief of staff Colonel Lynn Starling and Major General Horatio Van Cleve made a point of visiting the cornerstone marking the boundaries of Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. At the age of 53, Van Cleve was one of the oldest generals in the army, but he took a boyish delight in recording his trip to the stone, included in a letter to his wife: “Sept 5th 12 M,” he wrote, “I am now in the state of Georgia. Sept 5th, 12.2 M. Now in Alabama. Sept 5th 12.4 M. Now in Tennessee.”
It’s all fun and games until someone gets stuck in a cave.