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Tri Cities Civil War Round Table welcomes historian James Ogden

Submitted by Wayne Strong • Jan 14, 2019 at 1:18 PM

This month's Tri Cities Civil War Round Table (TCCWRT) will turn its attention to Col. John Wilder - a figure with numerous ties to Johnson City and our region as a whole.

Guest speaker James Ogden, chief historian at Chicamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, will present “Lightning Strikes at Chickamauga: Wilder’s Mounted Infantry Brigade” at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 14 in Room 219 of the Toy F. Reid Eastman Employee Center in Kingsport. The program is free.

A colonel in the Union army during the Civil War, Wilder personally ensured that his 'Lightning Brigade' of mounted infantry was equipped with the Spencer repeating rifle. When they captured a key mountain pass (Hoover's Gap) in the Tullahoma campaign in Central Tennessee in June 1863, the victory was attributed largely to Wilder's persistence in procuring the new rifles which totally disoriented the enemy.

After the war, Wilder found employment as draftsman and then an apprentice millwright at a foundry - jobs that would lay the groundwork for his career. From 1884 to 1892, while living in Johnson City, he helped promote and construct the Charleston, Cincinnati and Chicago Railroad. While living here, he developed the then-booming industrial suburb of Carnegie, named for industrialist Andrew Carnegie, and a host of iron making and railroad-related manufacturing facilities. He alsoconstructed the 166-room Cloudland Hotel, located near the summit of Roan Mountain intended to serve tourists on the narrow gauge railway line. Two of Wilder's homes in Tennessee - the General John T. Wilder House in Knoxville and the John T. Wilder House in Roan Mountain - are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. He eventually served as commissioner of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park - where the TCCWRT's featured speaker currently serves as the staff historian.

Ogden, a native of St. Mary's County, Maryland, has been interested in the Civil War since childhood. He obtained a degree in American History through the Civil War period and American Military History from Frostburg State College.

During college, he worked summers for the Maryland Park Service at Point Lookout State Park, Maryland - site of the largest Civil War prison – and completed an internship at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, West Virginia.

Since starting his career with the National Park Service in 1982, Ogden has been stationed at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Georgia and Tennessee; Russell Cave National Monument, Alabama; and Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Virginia.

Ogden speaks regularly to historical organizations across the eastern half of the United States, including Civil War Round Tables in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans and Austin. In addition to doing tours of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga battlefields, he periodically takes groups to Shiloh, Perryville, Stones River, some of the Atlanta campaign sites (including Dalton, Resaca, Cassville, New Hope, Pickett’s Mill and Kennesaw Mountain), and Franklin and Nashville.

He has taught a number of Civil War history courses for the Continuing Education Department of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and in the spring of 2012 taught UTC's for-credit Civil War and Reconstruction course. He has published a number of short articles and has appeared on Greystone Communications/Arts and Entertainment Network's "Civil War Journal," the History Channel’s “Civil War Combat,” PBS’s “History Detectives,” and C-SPAN.

Each month, members of the TCCWRT enjoy dinner with the guest speaker at The Chop House at 5 p.m. on the day of the program. To make reservations to join them, call Wayne Strong at (423) 323-2306 or email him at [email protected] The program begins at 7 p.m. in Room 219 of the Eastman Employee Center, located at 400 South Wilcox Drive in Kingsport.

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