The Battle of Chickamauga was fought on September 19 through 21, 1863, just south of
Chattanooga, Tennessee. The forces of Confederate General Braxton Bragg defeated Federal
troops under General William Rosecrans in a ferocious battle that claimed a combined
total of almost 35,000 lives. As was so often the case, the victorious Confederates
were unable to take advantage of their success and allowed the Federals to retire to
Melville's poem is a tribute to those who gave their lives in a contest the outcome
of which they were never to know.
"Memorial on the Slain at Chickamauga"