Friday, August 09, 2013


The 150th anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga (19-20 September 1863) is fast approaching. Nine out of ten articles about the battle will tell you that “Chickamauga” means “River of Death” in Cherokee.

But wait…

The word has no meaning in the Cherokee language. It is more likely Shawnee, Creek, or Chickasaw in origin.

The northern Georgia creek received that appellation long before the battle. Why would they name it that? There’s no record of any sort of major conflict occurring there prior to the Chickamauga battle, or of any epidemic or similar episode of mass deaths.

It seems much more likely that Chickamauga means “dwelling place by the water” or something similar:

Chickamauga: an Introduction

“Chickamauga” and “Chattanooga”: Legacies of the Shawnee

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