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The Chickamauga is a quiet brown stream that meanders between steep muddy banks on its unhurried way through a long Georgia valley to the Tennessee River. In 1863 its rich bottomlands were mostly cultivated, but beyond the open fields the land rolled upward in forest-covered hills dotted here and there with a farmstead and hard-scrabble field. The farmers' hogs, cattle, and goats ranged and rooted in the woods and kept the underbrush down so that a man could see a hundred yards or more through them except in a few dense patches of blackjack oak thicket. The name Chickamauga had come from the Cherokees, and legend said it meant "River of Death" in their tongue. It had seen its share of death when white man and Cherokee had struggled for the land the century before, but it had known little but peace since then until in the third year of America's Civil War, the tides of conflict carried two great armies to its banks for one of the bloodiest clashes of the war.