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Important Civil War trail uncovered at Moccasin Bend

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Lawrence Alexander, principle investigator for Alexander Archeological Consultants, shows a segment of the Old Federal roadbed to board members from the Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park Wednesday. Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press Lawrence Alexander, principle investigator for Alexander Archeological Consultants, shows a segment of the Old Federal roadbed to board members from the Friends of Moccasin Bend National Park Wednesday. Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press
CHATTANOOGA, TN (Times Free Press) -

In 1803, it was a well-used Cherokee trail. Sixty years later, it was a major supply line for Union forces. Now, it is a road rediscovered. Archaeologist Lawrence Alexander stood knee-deep in a trench, spade in hand, gesturing to a thin layer of dark soil on Moccasin Bend.

"You can't see the road anymore, but you can hear it," Alexander said as he lightly scraped his spade over the 2-foot-tall cross-section of soil. There was only a smooth sound of soft clay until he hit the thin layer of 150-year-old gravel.

"That's it, you hear it?" Alexander asked, scraping his trowel over the coarse rock.

This 40-foot-wide gravel bypass was a key to allowing Union forces to hold the city after being defeated at the Battle of Chickamauga, according to James Ogden, historian at Chicka-mauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

Read more from our news paternews at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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