“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Rossville in Walker County, Georgia — The American South (South Atlantic)

McFarland's Gap

The Battle of Chickamauga Ends in Retreat


Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails

McFarland's Gap Marker image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 20, 2019
1. McFarland's Gap Marker
Inscription.  By nightfall on Sunday, September 20, 1863, more than two-thirds of the surviving Federal “Army of the Cumberland” had retreated from the Chickamauga battlefield through this narrow gap in Missionary Ridge. One of the Federal army's necessities during its fight at Chickamauga was to protect communications with its base at Chattanooga. Two routes they needed to hold leading through McFarland's Gap were the Dry Valley and McFarland Gap's roads. Losing access to the gap could result in disaster for the Federal army.

Shortly after 12:00 noon on the 20th, commanding Union Major General William S. Rosecrans decided the Battle of Chickamauga was lost following the routing of the Federal right and center. Upon reaching McFarland's Gap he spoke with survivors of Major General James S. Negley's division, who said Negley was farther north “rallying stragglers.” This news heightened Rosecrans fears that his army had been badly defeated. Around 1:00 pm weary and often wounded Federal soldiers began streaming through McFarland's Gap. Overturned wagons, abandoned caissons and the like littered the road.

McFarland's Gap Marker on right. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 20, 2019
2. McFarland's Gap Marker on right.
Just north of the gap many demoralized infantrymen encountered the 15th Pennsylvania Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, known as the “Anderson Cavalry." They had orders from Rosecrans to stop stragglers. The Pennsylvanians halted a large number of men before being ordered to the rear.

Many men rested on the farm of Xzanders G. and Lucy Ann B. McFarland, about a mile north. Unlike the ground between the Chickamauga battlefield and McFarland's Gap, which was “broken, rugged and densely-wooded,” according to General Negley, the McFarland farm offered “the first open ground where the troops could be collected and reorganized.” Brigadier General Jefferson C. Davis and Major General Philip H. Sheridan also reorganized some Federal troops. Davis rallied over 1,000 men from his division while Sheridan brought some 1,500 survivors from the battlefield through the gap.

By 3:00 pm the Federal panic waned, as officers continued reorganizing some semblance of an army. General Davis ordered an artillery battery positioned to protect the gap, and fear about a possible attack by Confederate cavalry subsided. Around 4:00 pm, Generals Negley, Davis, Sheridan and Lieutenant Colonel Arthur C. Ducat of General Rosecrans' staff, met at the McFarland's home to discuss a course of action. A "heated discussion” ensued, reported

McFarland's Gap Marker looking north on McFarland Avenue. image. Click for full size.
By Mark Hilton, November 20, 2019
3. McFarland's Gap Marker looking north on McFarland Avenue.
Union Captain Alfred L. Hough, a member of Negley's staff, but they “could come to no agreement for common action.” Some decided to return to the Chickamauga battlefield with their commands via McFarland's Gap to reinforce troops still to the fighting on "Horseshoe Ridge” under Union Major General George H. Thomas. None arrived in time.

General Thomas began withdrawing his troops from the Chickamauga battlefield around 5:30 pm. Almost all trudged along the McFarland's Gap road before funneling through McFarland's Gap. Last to leave the battlefield, around 10:00 pm, was Colonel Daniel McCook, Jr's brigade, also passing through the gap. By the next morning both McFarland's Gap and the McFarland farm were nearly deserted. The bulk of the Federal army had reached Rossville safely, and eventually Chattanooga.
Erected 2019 by Georgia Civil War Heritage Trails, Inc. (Marker Number 6.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Georgia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 34° 56.92′ N, 85° 17.716′ W. Marker is near Rossville, Georgia, in Walker County. Marker is on McFarland Avenue north of Mission Ridge Road, on the left when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is at

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or near this postal address: 1897 McFarland Avenue, Rossville GA 30741, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The Xzanders G. McFarland House and McFarland Gap (approx. 0.7 miles away); Battery A, 1st Ohio Light Artillery (approx. 1.6 miles away); 9th Michigan Infantry (approx. 1.7 miles away); 96th Illinois Infantry (Two Companies) (approx. 1.8 miles away); Deas' Brigade (approx. 1.8 miles away); 96th Illinois Infantry (approx. 1.8 miles away); Barnett's Battery I, 2nd Illinois Light Artillery (approx. 1.8 miles away); McCook's Brigade (approx. 1.8 miles away).
Regarding McFarland's Gap. This marker is along the Chickamauga Campaign "historic driving route" portion of the Atlanta Campaign Heritage Trail.
Categories. War, US Civil

More. Search the internet for McFarland's Gap.
Credits. This page was last revised on November 22, 2019. This page originally submitted on November 22, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama. This page has been viewed 57 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 22, 2019, by Mark Hilton of Montgomery, Alabama.
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