Division Leaders Visit Chickamauga Battlefield

By Maj. Anthony S. Harrison

Leaders from 98th Training Division (IET) conducted a Chickamauga Battlefield Staff Ride at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia on March 5. James “Jim” Ogden, the park’s chief historian/park ranger, who is a noted historian known to have an encyclopedic mind, was the staff ride host. Ogden has been featured on C-SPAN and PBS’s History Detectives, just to name a few accolades. His multiple YouTube videos educate viewers about the Civil War and the Battle of Chickamauga. This Park Ranger has also hosted more than 400 staff rides for the US. Army and other organizations, educating current and future leaders of the Nation along the way.

Overlooking several major areas of the battlefield from the Chickamauga Welcome Center, Ogden painted a picture of the Chickamauga Battle taking place in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia from September 18-20, 1863. He expounded how the campaign would be the first battle of the war fought in Georgia and presented the battlefield to give the leaders a clearer vision of where the United States and Confederate forces were during the battle. Ogden took the 98th leaders to the various fighting areas where both the Union and Confederate Soldiers fought, outlining lessons learned logistically, operationally and tactically.

Ogden incorporated the importance of leaders making wise and calculated decisions regarding self-care measures, affording optimum levels of care for Soldiers in the trenches and resulting in peak performance while on the frontlines. Leaders were educated on the Confederate and Union formations, weapons of destruction, logistics, communications and medical support. In addition, leaders left with an appreciation of the overall effects of the Chickamauga Battle from an operational, strategic and tactical level, which are the essence of military staff rides for Army leaders. 

Ogden joined the leadership on the bus as they stopped at different forward operating bases. By incorporating current military doctrine terminology, while sharing overlay maps, he allowed the leadership to see the operational picture in the same way the leaders at the time saw it. 

98th Training Division leaders said the Chickamauga Staff Ride was not only enjoyable, but informative as it allowed them to take the past operational plans of a battle and apply them to current operational missions. Essentially, experiences like this are a way to apply the ‘train as you fight’ mentality. 

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