This excerpt is a description of Chattanooga, written just after his arrival, after the battle of Chickamauga and the siege, but just before the climactic battles of Chattanooga.
One part is still true of the city today, actually even more so, as the city has stretched its boundaries far beyond where they were in the 1860s: "But never think you have seen the town at one glance; it is down here and up there and over yonder; the little hills swell beneath it like billows; you will gain the idea if I say it is a town gone to pieces in a heavy sea."
"Within this sweep of grandeur lies a thing whose name shall endure when yours and mine have been effaced by Time, like a writing upon a slate by a wet finger - Chattanooga.
"Once a town with one main business street to give it a little commercial pulsation; residences, some of them beautiful, a few of them stately, sprinkled all around upon the acclivities, interspersed with more structures built up in the true Southern architecture, holes in the middle, or balconies, or the chimneys turned out of doors. A stinted, rusty-looking market house subdued beneath a chuckle-headed belfry, four or five churches of different fashion, two or three hotels whose entertainment has departed with the Boniface, and straggling tenements 'of low degree' are pretty nearly all that remain.
"As you pass along the central street, the dingy signs of old dead business catch the eye. Where 'A. Bake,' attorney at law, once uttered oracles and tobacco juice, Federal stores have taken Blackstone's place; where ribbons ran smoothly over the salesman's fingers, boxes of hardtack are piled, like Ossa and Pelion come again.
"Fences have gone lightly up in camp fires, tents are pitched like mushrooms in the flower-beds, trees have turned to ashes, shrubbery is trampled under foot, gardens are nothing better than mule pens, shot or shell have left a token here and there, and, across the whole, War has scrawled his autograph.
"But never think you have seen the town at one glance; it is down here and up there and over yonder; the little hills swell beneath it like billows; you will gain the idea if I say it is a town gone to pieces in a heavy sea.
"But a new architecture has sprung up; slopes, valleys, hills, as far as you can see are covered with Federal camps. Smoky cones, grander wall-tents, narrow streets of little stone and board kennels, chinked with mud like beavers' houses, snugly tucked into the hillsides, and equipped with bits of fireplaces that sometimes aspire to the dignity of marble, are everywhere. It is nothing but camps and then more camps.
"I wrote about 'dead business,' but I was too fast. It is all business, but conducted by the new firm of 'U.S.' The anvils ring, the stores are filled, wagons in endless lines and hurrying crowds throng all the streets, but the workman and the clerk is each a boy in blue.
"Chattanooga is as populous as an ant-hill. And there is more of the new architecture; breastworks, rifle-pits, forts, defenses of every name, crown the slopes. Here, at your left elbow, is Fort Wood that can talk to Mission Ridge; and there are Negley and Palmer and so on around the horizon. And then, as if they had been poured out of the town like water, spreading away to left and right and south, as you stand facing Lookout, are Federal camps, drifting on almost to the base of the mountain and lying bravely beneath its grim shadow.
"The more you look the more you wonder how it can all be. It overturns your notions of hostile armies, this neighborly nearness. You see two thin picket-lines running parallel and a few rods apart - not so far as you can jerk a peachstone.
"They pass lovingly together from your left, down Mission Ridge, curve to the right along the lowlands and pass the foot of the great mountain. They are the line of blue and the line of gray."