Imagine if you organized a sesquicentennial symposium on two of the Civil War’s major battles at the actual sites, and the battlefields were suddenly not available for tours. That is what has happened to planners in Chattanooga, Tenn., where some 3,000 people have begun to arrive for the event, which is scheduled to run from today through Saturday.
The “Occupation and Liberation” symposium, a Tennessee Civil War Commission’s Signature Event, was to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battles of Chickamauga and Chattanooga. However, the national battlefield parks where tours and living history demonstrations were scheduled are closed because of the federal shutdown.
The show must go on, and planners are now emphasizing other parts of the program that include lectures by 13 historians, a Civil War concert, exhibits, demonstrations by soldier reenactors and book signings by authors. The keynote speaker, University of Kentucky associate professor Amy Murrell Taylor, is not a federal employee and is still on the schedule for Thursday evening. She is to discuss the first wartime encounters between Tennessee’s refugees from slavery and its occupying Union soldiers.