“His command…merits the thanks of the country for its noble stand at the crossing of the Chickamauga…”, affirmed Major General William Rosecrans speaking of the role played by Col. John T. Wilder’s vaunted “Lightning Brigade” in the opening act of the Battle of Chickamauga.
Major General George Thomas was equally effusive in recommending Wilder for a promotion to brigadier citing his “ingenuity…in occupying the attention of the entire corps of the rebel army”, his “valor”, and “excellent service” … “before and during the battle of Chickamauga”. Three stars clearly shone brightly in the dark of the Union disaster at Chickamauga.
One was that of Old Pap Thomas whose heroic stand at Snodgrass Hill saved the Union army and garnered him the sobriquet of “Rock of Chickamauga”. The second was that of Gordon Granger who marched to the sound of the guns and, with Thomas, helped save the day.
And the third was none other than that of an Indiana industrialist, now colonel, John Thomas Wilder. In the six months leading up to the battle, through scouting and raiding in Middle Tennessee and giving battle at Hoover’s Gap, Wilder had crafted and molded one of the most powerful and unique units of the Civil War.
Come join on January 15 (please note the date) us as Historian Jim Ogden relates the story of Wilder’s famed Mounted Infantry Brigade and how they proved their mettle at Chickamauga. From a key role on the initial Union left to the application of deadly firepower on the Union’s new right, Wilder’s Brigade shaped the action wherever they were on the field. Famously armed with the Spencer Repeating Rifle, the Brigade’s success was due not just to the new arm, but also to the leadership exercised by Wilder and his lieutenants and the character of the men under them. All of this and more will be a part of Ogden’s talk, “Lightning Strikes at Chickamauga.” This is one you’re not going to want to miss!
Jim Ogden, Chief Historian at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, is an historian, teacher, and tour guide par excellence. A frequent speaker at Round Tables and historical organizations across the U.S., Jim is a longtime friend of the KCWRT, our most visited speaker, and the first historian to be awarded with an honorary lifetime membership to our organization.
A native of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, Jim joined the National Park Service in 1982 and served at Chickamauga and Chattanooga, Russell Cave, and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania before returning to Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP in 1988 as historian, the position he now holds. Jim has taught numerous history courses, led hundreds of tours and army staff rides, and written several articles on the Civil War. He also has appeared in several TV productions including “Civil War Journal”, “Civil War Combat”, and “History Detectives”.
Over the years Jim has been the recipient of a host of awards for his scholarship, preservation and advocacy work. His most recent awards include the United States Army Commander’s Award for Public Service and the Civil War Trust’s National Park Service Preservation Advocate Award, both bestowed in 2017.
Jim, his wife Lora, and their son Jamie (born on the133rd anniversary of the Battle of Fredericksburg) live in Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia near the Chickamauga Battlefield.