Soldiers battled fatigue, thirst, and cold
On the night of September 19, 1863, when the first day of bloody fighting had ended, the two armies re-grouped and planned their strategy for the next day. The Federal left withdrew to a line which extended to your left and right from this point. The Confederate line was at your back.
Already weary after the day's fighting, the Union soldiers here could not rest. Their axes rang as they built breastworks of logs, rails, and earth to defend against the attacks that would come in the morning.
Cold and thirst plagued the Federals through the night. Their canteens ran dry, and Confederates blocked their access to Chickamauga Creek and other water sources. It was unusually chilly for a September night, but with the enemy so near, campfires were prohibited. A Wisconsin soldier wrote: "... we had a slight frost. We lay on our arms without blankets or even coats, having thrown away everything but gun and ammunition."
The President Mourns
Initially wounded not far from here on the morning of September 20 was Confederate Brig. Gen. Benjamin Helm, the brother-in-law of President Abraham Lincoln. Helm had been leading his Kentuckians against the Union breastworks when a bullet pierced his right side. He died that night.
Lincoln had offered Helm, a West Point graduate, a commission in the Union Army, but Helm joined the Confederate Army instead, When President Lincoln learned his favored brother-in-law had been killed at Chickamauga, he was visibly stricken. It is said that Helm's death hurt Lincoln as much as the death of his son Willie, stricken with fever in 1862.
This section includes photographs of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, and Brig. Gen. Benjamin H. Helm, C.S.A.