Chickamauga Campaign Heritage Trail
In mid-September 1863, General John M. Palmer's division of the 21st Army Corps was assigned to the duty of guarding the fords on West Chickamauga Creek. A primary Federal objective was keeping the Confederates on the east side of the creek while the federal army moved up to position. Two of the most important of these crossing places were Owen's and Gower's Fords. "On September 15, [I] started at daylight for Chickamauga Valley," General Palmer reported. "Marched by way of Crawfish Spring, and then up the valley to Gower's, two brigades occupying and covering the crossing at Gower's, and one was posted at Matthew's new Owens' Ford."
Early in the morning of September 17th, around 4:00 a.m., a mounted contingent of the 4th Georgia Cavalry Regiment rode over the pickets of General William B. Hazen's Brigade, posted on the Dry Valley Road near Gower's Ford. General Hazen, with an aide, was personally at the picket post when the attack occurred. "The attack was so sudden," he wrote, "that the horsemen were upon us, and some passed us and were captured before they could check their horses. The pickets took cover, while I sought the friendly shelter of a field of high corn. The affair was over almost in an instant with a repulse and a loss to the enemy of one captain and several men."
The next day, September 18th, brought more prolonged fighting north of Gower's Ford in the vicinity of Owen's Ford and Bird's Mill. Around 9:00 a.m., the Federal pickets along the creek near Owen's Ford noted the enemy advancing in force on the opposite bank. Shortly thereafter Confederate artillery, probably form A.L. Huggin's Tennessee Battery, began firing shells into the camps of Colonel Sidney M. Barnes's Brigade. The shells caused much confusion but no injury in the Federal camps. Barnes had been ordering his men into line of battle when the attack commenced. After completing the maneuver the troops marched 200 yards to the rear, occupying "a commanding position in an open field." To protect his front and flank from the advancing infantry, Colonel Barnes ordered the 26th Pennsylvania Battery to unlimber on a nearby commanding hill.
The following day troops at the ford were moved further north to take park in the Battle of Chickamauga.
Near the ford there is a small church cemetery established by the Cove Methodist Church. It is sometimes called the Porter Cemetery, Among the wartime individuals buried in this cemetery is the "widow" Glenn, a young woman whose husband had been recently killed in Confederate service. She lived on the battlefield and had her house used as Federal headquarters by General William S. Rosecrans. The cemetery is significant to the present study because many other individuals from the wartime local civilian population are buried here. It is possible that one or two of the unmarked graves could be the burial place of unidentified Confederate casualties of the fighting in the local area.