Office of Army Reserve History Visit to Vicksburg and Chickamauga (September 2005)


Good afternoon.    We have two staff rides in September, and I would like to know if you all would like to participate, please?  The first one is 9 through 11 September in Vicksburg, Ms, and the second one is Friday 16 September to Chickamauga, which is near Chattanooga, TN.

The Office of Army Reserve History sponsored a staff ride to Chickamauga, Ga and nearby Chattanooga, Tennessee on the weekend of 25 and 26 February.  Dr. Lee Harford, the United States Army Reserve Historian, said,  This event and the program emphasizes Army Values and instills the Warrior Ethos.   He also said that the staff ride program provides soldiers with an on-site experience on an actual battlefield.  Dr. Harford added that it offers them an opportunity to apply current Army policy and doctrine to think out of the box to defeat the enemy in the Global War On Terrorism.

Army Regulation 870-5 (Military History: Responsibilities, Policies, and Procedures) directs the Office of Army Reserve History to support unit commanders and staff chiefs by offering activities such as staff rides.  The staff ride is a true force multiplier for personnel serving in combat operations.  This program gives American soldiers the chance to apply Army Field Manual (FM) 7-1, which is Battled Focused Training, Leader Training and Development, and the principles of war at authorized sites.  The goal of the field trip involves placing participants on the actual terrain of a critical battle, confronting them with an actual tactical and operational situation, and, thus, stimulating them to reach conclusions or derive important lessons from the past to enhance professional competence in the future. 

This series of staff rides primarily focuses on the following learning objectives: exposure to the "face of battle" and the timeless human dimensions of warfare; a case study in good and bad leadership and the resulting command climates, applicable at any level of leadership; a case study in how logistical considerations affect tactical operations; and a case study of the effects of terrain upon plans and their implementation.  In addition, the experience provides a laboratory for concrete examples of the current Army Values and Army Civilian Corps Creed in actual military situations and on the ground where they really happened!

The Union Army lost the Battle of Chickamauga, which was September 18th through the 20th of 1863, and they retreated from the victorious Confederates to Chattanooga.  Then the Confederate Army placed the Union Army of the Cumberland under siege, but the Union Army later defeated the Confederate Army at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.

The February staff ride began with a three-hour campaign overview on Friday evening at a hotel in Chattanooga.  Dr. Harford managed the event and Jim Ogden, Historian with the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, was the speaker. Mr. Ogden discussed the significance of the battles and provided a summary of their impact on the rest of the Civil War.  

Thirty-eight people participated in this activity, and the group included Army Reserve soldiers from all over the United States, spouses, and retirees.  Additionally, Dr. Harford gave a slide presentation that illustrated the highlights of the battles.  Also, Major Ward Zischke, Office of Army Reserve History Training Officer, performed a living history role as a Confederate soldier for the group.  Major Zischke wore a full Confederate Army uniform, and he presented an exhibit of all of the gear such as an ammunition pouch and a rifle.  The group watched film about the Chickamauga-Chattanooga campaign as well.

Saturday morning the group departed from the hotel by bus to study the Chickamauga battlefield (ten miles south of Chattanooga), and that afternoon they examined the Lookout Mountain battlefield, which is within the city.  Mr. Ogden explained the timeline and the implications of the brutal confrontations between the Union and Confederate armies at these sites.  Additionally, Dr. Harford said,  I facilitated a discussion on Army Values, the Warrior Ethos, and leadership.   Dr. Harford contributed to the effectiveness of the staff ride by dressing as a Union Army Colonel.  He also persuaded the participants to learn about Civil War tactics by actually guiding them through some of those actions.  

Sunday morning the staff ride went to analyze the battlefield of Missionary Ridge in the suburbs of Chattanooga.  Mr. Ogden described the consequences of the inability of the Confederate Army to successfully contain the Union Army under siege at Chattanooga.  Major Zischke offered supplementary comments from the view of the average enlisted soldier to enhance the learning experience.  At noon the staff ride ended and the participants returned to their duty stations. 

The group members gave positive feedback about the staff ride.  Major John E. Halvorson, Executive Officer of the 2nd Battalion in the 411th Regiment told Major Zischke,  I just wanted to thank you for the superb staff ride to Chattanooga.  It was an excellent training event...   
Furthermore, Lieutenant Colonel Steve March, Activity Based Costing Officer at the Enterprise Services Activity for the U.S. Army Reserve Command, commented to Major Zischke,  Overall, I found the staff ride to be extremely well done and one of the best that I have been on. Jim Ogden provided great explanations of the events of the two battles. His grasp of the facts is amazing.

You can go on the next Army Reserve staff ride to Vicksburg, MS on 9 through 11 September. The point of contact (POC) for the Army Reserve staff ride program is Tyrone Scott, Field Historian, at (404) 464-8462.  All commands must pay for the transportation and lodging costs of their participants.

Staff Ride Article on page 9 of the Georgia Unionist
Staff Ride article on page 10 of Fort Stewart News on link below
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