Civil War  |  Historic Site

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park


110 Point Park Road
Lookout Mountain, TN 37350
United States

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This heritage site is a part of the American Battlefield Trust's Road to Freedom: Tennessee Tour Guide app, which showcases sites integral to the Black experience during the Civil War era. Download the FREE app now.

Silas Chandler, an enslaved body servant in the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment
Silas Chandler was an enslaved body servant in the 44th Mississippi Infantry Regiment and helped save his owner’s leg from amputation following the Battle of Chickamauga. Date: c. 1861-1863. Library of Congress

Though the Civil War battles commemorated by Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park took place before the formal end of slavery in Tennessee, enslaved and self-emancipated African Americans played essential roles with both armies during these engagements.

Thousands of enslaved African Americans followed the Union army as it moved to capture Chattanooga in 1863. Encouraged by Union soldiers, 10-year-old John McCline ran away from Clover Bottom Farm. McCline worked as a teamster for the 13th Michigan Infantry and witnessed Union casualties pour into Chattanooga after the clash at Chickamauga. Peter Dabney escaped a plantation in northwestern Tennessee and hired himself out as a servant in the 15th Wisconsin Infantry. Dabney remained with the regiment throughout the siege of Chattanooga and eventually enlisted in the United States Colored Troops.

African Americans working within the Confederate lines performed similar duties as their Union counterparts but experienced the battles differently. Most importantly, enslaved persons could not choose the work they performed for the Confederates. Silas Chandler, a body servant, helped his wounded enslaver avoid a leg amputation following the action at Chickamauga. Richmond Bennet left Davies Manor in 1862 as the enslaved body servant to his owner who joined the 38th Tennessee Infantry. Bennet was likely present at many of the most significant battles for Tennessee, including Shiloh and Murfreesboro. While these men could have run away during the chaos of war, they often chose to stay, as leaving might’ve resulted in never seeing their families again.

Whether their work was voluntary or forced, the actions of these individuals offer a glimpse into the complicated choices that Black Tennesseans faced during the Civil War.

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park: What's Nearby

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