Gap is located on Pigeon Mountain
Oak Gap is located on the eastern side of Sand Mountain
overlooking Trenton in Lookout Valley below. The area is
shown on the New Home, GA/AL/TN quadrangle of the U.S. Geological
White Oak Gap on Sand Mountain approaching Trenton.
White Oak Gap is a natural break that provides access to
Lookout Valley from the rugged heights of Sand Mountain
west of Trenton. Several divisions of the Federal Army of
the Cumberland used this gap in their invasion of Georgia
in September 1864. Captain Francis W. Perry, Company I,
10th Wisconsin Infantry Regiment later wrote: I shall never
forget the laborious and hazardous march as we approached
the southern declivity and commenced the descent The night
was dark, and as we commenced our descent the valley was
one expanse of impenetrable darkness, except for the camp-fires
of advanced regiments dotting the darkness hundreds of feet
below, like so many stars scattered along the valley, forming
a grand and most beautiful site. The descent was hazardous
for heavy teams. Wheels were chained, fires or other lights
placed at every dangerous angle, and every precaution taken
for safety. Yet, some loads became unmanageable and went
over the precipices below to meet destruction, or broke
down and had to be rolled out of the way."
after another, the regiments of soldiers in blue uniforms
passed through the gap on their way to the Battle of Chickamauga.
Two divisions of General George Thomas' 14th Army Corps of
the Federal Army of the Cumberland and one division of General
McCook's 20th Army Corps used this route. Two months later,
General William T. Sherman brought his army from Mississippi
to aid the besieged Federals at Chattanooga. Sherman feared
that his army would come under attack while on the march along
the railroad to Chattanooga. As a diversion, he sent a division
led by his brother-in-law, General Hugh Ewing, over Sand Mountain
and through White Oak Gap into Lookout Valley.
Near where Federals shelled Trenton in November 1863.
Colonel James Cooper Nisbet had returned to Dade County for
a visit to his home at the same time General Ewing's Federals
came off Sand Mountain. "As I rode into Trenton," he later
wrote, "I saw two old citizens watching a signal flag that
was being waved in the White Oak Gap on Sand Mountain opposite
the town. After greetings, they asked me if I knew what that
flag meant, and said they had heard that morning that there
was a force of Yanks advancing from Bridgeport, Alabama, which
had camped on Sand Mountain the previous night. While we were
talking, a regiment of cavalry was seen in the gap. They wound
down the mountain road, and then a Battery appeared, halted
and planted a gun on an open bench, and directly a shell came
shrieking over us. I was cut off from going home via the valley
road. I watched a blue regiment of cavalry until they reached
the outskirts of the town."
Nisbet was able to escape, and even visited his parents in
the south of the county before returning to his command. General
Ewing burned Trenton and made the Confederates think that
all of Sherman's Army was with him before proceeding on to
Chattanooga to take part in the Battle of Missionary Ridge.
For the rest of the war, White Oak Gap was used as a regular
landmark by military patrols on periodic visits to Dade County.
Records of the War of the Rebellion
Archive and files Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military
Park Raymond Evans, The Civil War in Dade County
A good viewshed for this feature exists along modern State
Highway #301 that comes off Sand Mountain through the gap.
Setting: The site
is located in an area of residential housing and overlooks
the modern commercial section of the town of Trenton. There
are no period structures or features visible from the road.
Sites and Features: The only features are the natural
attractions that the men saw during the war.
Presumed Wartime Features:
This was the major route for troop movements during the Chickamauga
campaign. A short term artillery position was set up here
during General Ewing's invasion of the valley in November
The general terrain in the vicinity of the gap has been heavily
impacted by highway building and residential housing. Aside
from this, however, the area is still rural and has much of
its wartime appearance
Related Sites: Trenton
and Johnson's Crook.