Chickamauga 158th Anniversary Events 09/18-20/21

lelliott19

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The NPS provided a number of events this past weekend to commemorate the 158th Anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga. I've been to the battlefield several times but it's expansive and, like Gettysburg, the battle occurred over a 3-day period. So it's complex and there's a lot to learn. I am only familiar with a few certain parts, so I was really excited for an opportunity to learn more.

As I arrived Saturday morning, I was unsure exactly where the morning tour was to meet. Driving past the visitor center, I turned on a road that I thought led to the general vicinity. There in the road, setting up a sign, was Jim Ogden, the Historian of Chickamauga NMP. I was in the right spot! He directed me down the road to a gravel pull off. I was early so only a few other cars were there. As I parked, I realized I had brought only two very small waters and no bug repellent. If you've ever been in the woods at Chickamauga, you know you must have bug repellent!
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So, first things first. I immediately went on a quest to borrow some DEET. Parked just two cars away, I ran into @uaskme What a surprise! We've toured together before, but I made plans late and didn't think to ask if he was attending. He had water he was willing to share, but no bug repellent. A couple more cars away and there was @Gettmore and his wife Donna. Another surprise! I knew they were attending some of the events, but wasnt sure when I might see them. @Gettmore had DEET of the highest calibre and was willing to share. So it was an unexpected mini-muster at Chickamauga as CWT members ran into each other in the parking lot. :biggrin:
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The first tour of the day was a 3 mile hike entitled "Occupied after a Brief Skirmish: Buckner Seizes Thedford's and Dalton's Fords" led by Jim Ogden described as follows:
Braxton Bragg's designated crossing of the steep-banked Chickamauga on September 18, 1863, included Thedford's and Dalton's Fords. Alexander Stewart's and William Preston's divisions of Buckner's Confederate Corps were to cross there. National Military Park Historian Jim Ogden will lead this 2 1/2 hour, three mile hike to the creek and back and will examine the action at these two key but often overlooked crossings on the "River of Death."​
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Here I learned that the Eufaula Light Artillery Battery (of Eufaula, Alabama) was armed with 3-inch ordnance rifles manufactured at the Noble Brothers foundry in Rome, Georgia. These artillerists heartily claimed to have fired the first cannon shot from the Confederate side of the battle of Chickamauga --- and also the last. Jim Ogden didnt comment on whether that was actually true, but he didn't say it wasn't either. So who knows?
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Mr. Ogden kindly provided some wonderful maps. I'd post photos of them, but it rained. A LOT. And my maps got wet, folded into my rain jacket, and haven't dried yet. Perhaps I'll get industrious and iron them? Or maybe @uaskme or @Gettmore will post a picture of theirs?
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Did I mention that it was raining? A LOT? It was still so much fun! And these Boy Scouts from Madison, AL were along with our group.
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Here we are again @uaskme me @Gettmore and Donna. I needed longer arms. :D Some of us attended all three of Jim Ogden's programs on Saturday; @Diane123 and her daughter attended some programs on Sunday; and I attended one today --- so there's lots more to come. TO BE CONTINUED
 

lelliott19

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Mr. Ogden's second tour on Saturday was scheduled to start in less than an hour. @Gettmore ran Donna back to the hotel, while @uaskme and I decided to go grab a coke. We returned just in time. As we were walking from the parking area, you could tell who had gone on the morning hike by the mud on their shoes and pants. I was wearing shorts and had to wipe mud off my legs with a towel!
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So I look over at this one guy in his neatly pressed khakis, spotless dress shirt, and clean shoes and I joke, "Obviously, you weren't on the hike this morning." pointing down to my own muddy shoes. It was Dr. Keith Bohannon from the University of West Georgia. I hadn't seen him in about 5 years! So another great surprise!
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The second program of the day was entitled "The Fight at Alexander's" If you are at all familiar with the Battle of Chickamauga, you have heard of Alexander's Bridge. The program was described as follows:
The West Chickamauga Creek Bridge at John P. Alexander's was supposed to be one of the key crossing points for Confederate General Braxton Bragg on September 18, 1863. As Confederates approached, however, they found that they were going to be in for a fight. In this 90-minute program, National Military Park Historian Jim Ogden will relate the events that unfolded on what was the largest farm on the battlefield and how those events shaped the developing battle.​

The position at John P. Alexander's house defending the bridge crossing was occupied by Wilder's Lightning brigade (armed mostly with Spencers) and the artillery battery of Eli Lilly (later of pharmaceutical fame.) There's more to come -- TO BE CONTINUED
 

Vicksburger

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View attachment 414868Mr. Ogden's second tour on Saturday was scheduled to start in less than an hour. @Gettmore ran Donna back to the hotel, while @uaskme and I decided to go grab a coke. We returned just in time. As we were walking from the parking area, you could tell who had gone on the morning hike by the mud on their shoes and pants. I was wearing shorts and had to wipe mud off my legs with a towel!
View attachment 414867
So I look over at this one guy in his neatly pressed khakis, spotless dress shirt, and clean shoes and I joke, "Obviously, you weren't on the hike this morning." pointing down to my own muddy shoes. It was Dr. Keith Bohannon from the University of West Georgia. I hadn't seen him in about 5 years! So another great surprise!
View attachment 414866
The second program of the day was entitled "The Fight at Alexander's" If you are at all familiar with the Battle of Chickamauga, you have heard of Alexander's Bridge. The program was described as follows:
The West Chickamauga Creek Bridge at John P. Alexander's was supposed to be one of the key crossing points for Confederate General Braxton Bragg on September 18, 1863. As Confederates approached, however, they found that they were going to be in for a fight. In this 90-minute program, National Military Park Historian Jim Ogden will relate the events that unfolded on what was the largest farm on the battlefield and how those events shaped the developing battle.​

The position at John P. Alexander's house defending the bridge crossing was occupied by Wilder's Lightning brigade (armed mostly with Spencers) and the artillery battery of Eli Lilly (later of pharmaceutical fame.) There's more to come -- TO BE CONTINUED
Really neat pictures. I have always wanted to know more about this confusing battle. Did you get a feel for it or is it too big for just one visit?
 

lelliott19

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Really neat pictures. I have always wanted to know more about this confusing battle. Did you get a feel for it or is it too big for just one visit?
Thanks @Vicksburger It was so much fun! We had a blast! I understand kind of what happened at the beginning --- Reed's bridge and Alexander's bridge. And at the end since it involved the two brigades of McLaws' division that had arrived and participated. You know Im working on Wofford's brigade so McLaws' whole division is really my main interest. But if you want to know what happened in between those two, you'll need to rely on someone else.

I did learn that Bragg changed command and Army structure like most people change underwear :D --- so figuring out who reported to who; what brigades were operating in what division; and even what regiments were with their brigades and which ones weren't is a mystery to me.

Here's my best explanation of Reed's bridge in text speak
Reed's Bridge 9/18/1863
US

ColMinty: any rebs?
detachcav4MI7PA4US: rebs in front
ColMinty: wats that cloud of dust?
detachcav4MI7PA4US: more rebs
ColMinty: can u hold em?
detachcav4MI7PA4US: ummm no

CS
BigGenBragg: BushyJohn u at the bridge?
BushyJohn: yup but we got more yankez
BigGenBragg: wat kind?
BushyJohn: cavalry wheres CavWizNBF?
CavWizNBF: we r up w 200 Ill lead
BushyJohn: thank goodness
CavWizNBF: u ready u got cannon?
BushyJohn: 2 battries
CavWizNBF: wat u waitin 4 BushyJohn?
BushyJohn: sendin McNair, Fulton, Gregg ...on 3

US
ColMinty: WindyTrdBatty u ready?
WindyTrdBatty: ready
ColMinty: 4MI7PA4US horses to rear?
cav4MI7PA4US: yep
ColMinty: whos that woman?
cav4MI7PA4US: mrs reed and she dont like yankez
ColMinty: geter outa there

CS
CavWizNBF: BushyJohn use cannon
BushyJohn: ooooops
CavWizNBF: what now?
BushyJohn: who was that lady?
CavWizNBF: was?
BushyJohn: new gunner on cannon 3
CavWizNBF: :nah disagree:

US
ColMinty: tear planks off bridge so rebs cant follow
cav4MI7PA4US: ColMinty...2 late on mrs reed
ColMinty: :nah disagree:

For clarity, the texters are
BigGenBragg is General Bragg
CavWizNBF is Nathan Bedford Forrest
WindyTrdBatty is the Chicago Board of Trade Battery
BushyJohn is Bushrod Johnson
ColMinty is RHG Minty - Colonel at the time but later Bvt Maj Gen.
 

lelliott19

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Mr. Ogden kindly provided some wonderful maps. I'd post photos of them, but it rained. A LOT. And my maps got wet, folded into my rain jacket, and haven't dried yet. Perhaps I'll get industrious and iron them.
Here are the handouts that were provided for the Saturday morning tour entitled "Occupied after a Brief Skirmish: Buckner Seizes Thedford's and Dalton's Fords" led by Jim Ogden. I forgot to mention that the maps were printed in color which was especially appreciated.

They finally dried enough for me to smooth them out. Still - not completely flat :D
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Georgian183

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Thanks for taking us along on your trip! The woods around the battlefield are definitely thick.....probably thicker than they were at the time of the battle. My wife and I are visiting Antietam/Gettysburg next week......be prepared for lots of pictures of our adventure!
 

lelliott19

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The third and final program of the day on Saturday presented by Jim Ogden. Its worth mentioning that there were other ranger programs to choose from, but having the opportunity to tour with Mr. Ogden was one I didn't want to miss. This one was entitled "Hood Sweeps up the Chickamauga" and it was described as follows:

"...on crossing at or near Reed's Bridge, will turn to the left by the most practicable route and sweep up the Chickamauga." Those were about the only instructions Confederate General John B. Hood received when, on the afternoon of September 18, 1863, fresh off the train from Virginia, he joined a Confederate column crossing at Reed's Bridge. Join National Military Park Historian Jim Ogden for the part car caravan, part walking tour exploring the role of Hood and his column west of the Chickamauga on the afternoon of the 18th.​
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Image by @Buckeye Bill borrowed from here
By 4:30 pm on September 18th, 1863, Brigadier General Bushrod Johnson's provisional division had reached Jay's Mill. Major General John Bell Hood traveled from Catoosa Station near Ringgold and caught up with Johnson's command at Jay's Mill. Johnson relinquished command to the higher ranking Hood - even though Hood was less familiar with the situation and the terrain. It would be a mistake. Bragg's orders - "turn to the left by the most practicable route and sweep up the Chickamauga." intended to engage the enemy near Lee & Gordon's mill.
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Map from Wikipedia
Moving west along the Brotherton Road (highlighted in yellow) would have resulted in an intersection with the Lafayette Road, north of Thomas' troops, potentially isolating them there between Bushrod Johnson and West Chickamauga Creek. But Hood took the orders literally and instead instructed the command to move south along the Jay's Mill Road toward Lee & Gordon's Mill. The rest as they say, is history.

But the best part of the entire day happened back at the parking area. Someone asked for clarification on the roads in 1863. Mr. Ogden picked up a piece of limestone gravel and began sketching the various roads onto the asphalt. It was classic Jim Ogden.
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At one point, he joked that his scale might be getting a little bit off and we laughed that the park needed bigger roads to better facilitate his artwork. :D
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To say I was impressed with Mr. Ogden's knowledge and enthusiasm would be a HUGE understatement! He knows literally everything about the Battle of Chickamauga - including that the Eufaula Light Artillery Battery was equipped with 3 inch ordnance rifles manufactured at the Noble Brothers Foundry in Rome, GA and the length of time (2 nights) that Confederate nurse Kate Cumming spent nursing the wounded at the Hunt house near Dalton's Ford. If you ever have the opportunity to tour with him DO NOT PASS IT UP!
 
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GREAT report on your experience! Thanks for sharing!
Did you get to Brock Field at all? The battery I portray for reenactments is Scott's TN Battery. During the battle, Lt. John Marsh was wounded in the arm at Brock Field. I've been to that location. It certainly is off of the "beaten path"!
 

lelliott19

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You obviously had a great time, although a "damp" one.
Yes and it got worse on Monday. :D

I had other plans so did not attend any of the Sunday programs. But I went back on Monday for the afternoon program entitled "Slowing Down the Breakthrough: Mendenhall's Line" and described by the NPS as follows:
On September 20, 1863, Confederates successfully broke through the Union Army of the Cumberland's center. If not for the heroic stand on the ridge in west Dyer Field by Union artillery and infantrymen, the battle might have been more catastrophic.​
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It had rained quite a bit on Sunday, and continued raining on Monday. By the time I got there, it was a mess. Drainages were overflowing and the rain continued, unabated. But the show must go on! and so off we went to Poe Road to follow the route of Benning's brigade onto Dyer field. After a short soggy hike through the woods, and just short of the destination, we encountered one of those drainages - about knee deep in rushing run-off. Back to the cars and a slight detour around the drainage to Glenn-Kelly Road brought us to Dyer field.
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I was particularly interested in participating in this program because the artillery of "Mendenhall's Line" impacted Longstreet's assault on September 20, 1863 - the brigades of Hood's and McLaws' divisions. As the Union right fell back in disorder, Chief of Artillery, Major John Mendenhall, was determined to make a difference. He cobbled together a line of batteries - 23 cannon total - and attempted to resist the breakthrough up there at that woodline in the distance. Six of those cannon belonged to the 3rd Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery, which reported a loss of 26 of 52 men engaged (50%) and five of six cannon captured.
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bdtex

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Yes and it got worse on Monday. :D

I had other plans so did not attend any of the Sunday programs. But I went back on Monday for the afternoon program entitled "Slowing Down the Breakthrough: Mendenhall's Line" and described by the NPS as follows:
On September 20, 1863, Confederates successfully broke through the Union Army of the Cumberland's center. If not for the heroic stand on the ridge in west Dyer Field by Union artillery and infantrymen, the battle might have been more catastrophic.​
View attachment 415015
It had rained quite a bit on Sunday, and continued raining on Monday. By the time I got there, it was a mess. Drainages were overflowing and the rain continued, unabated. But the show must go on! and so off we went to Poe Road to follow the route of Benning's brigade onto Dyer field. After a short soggy hike through the woods, and just short of the destination, we encountered one of those drainages - about knee deep in rushing run-off. Back to the cars and a slight detour around the drainage to Glenn-Kelly Road brought us to Dyer field.
View attachment 415016
I was particularly interested in participating in this program because the artillery of "Mendenhall's Line" impacted Longstreet's assault on September 20, 1863 - the brigades of Hood's and McLaws' divisions. As the Union right fell back in disorder, Chief of Artillery, Major John Mendenhall, was determined to make a difference. He cobbled together a line of batteries - 23 cannon total - and attempted to resist the breakthrough up there at that woodline in the distance. Six of those cannon belonged to the 3rd Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery, which reported a loss of 26 of 52 men engaged (50%) and five of six cannon captured.
View attachment 415014
So this was yesterday huh?
 

bdtex

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Here are the handouts that were provided for the Saturday morning tour entitled "Occupied after a Brief Skirmish: Buckner Seizes Thedford's and Dalton's Fords" led by Jim Ogden. I forgot to mention that the maps were printed in color which was especially appreciated.

They finally dried enough for me to smooth them out. Still - not completely flat :D
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You need one of those map cases like we bought Norman. I need to get one too.
 

lelliott19

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GREAT report on your experience! Thanks for sharing!
Did you get to Brock Field at all? The battery I portray for reenactments is Scott's TN Battery. During the battle, Lt. John Marsh was wounded in the arm at Brock Field. I've been to that location. It certainly is off of the "beaten path"!
Thanks Albert. It was great being in the places on the exact day, 158 years later! Unfortunately, I did not make it to Brock Field. Jim Ogden did a program Sunday on William Carnes' Steuben artillery battery aka Marshall's Company, Tennessee Artillery entitled "William Carnes' Troubles" and described by the NPS as follows:
The woods of the valley of the "River of Death" were proving to be a problem for the artillery. The youthful Captain William Carnes' ordered his Confederate batterymen to unstrap the axes from the limbers to cut some trees in order to get the carriages through the forest. He was determined to support the Tennessee infantry brigade to which he was attached, but then, the situation began to turn south for the young officer and his men. National Military Park Historian Jim Ogden will relate Carnes' fight of the afternoon of September 19, 1863, in this two hour, two mile walking tour. This program will begin on Brotherton Road near Brock Field.​
So this was yesterday huh?
Yes! All the programs took place on the exact day that the activity occurred, 158 years later. It was fabulous. Wish you had been there with us! You would have had a grand time marching off in the rain and slogging through the drainages. :D
 

bdtex

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Yes! All the programs took place on the exact day that the activity occurred, 158 years later. It was fabulous. Wish you had been there with us! You would have had a grand time marching off in the rain and slogging through the drainages. :D
My eyes woulda been sweeping the ground. Wish I could've been there today if the rain was gone.
 

Georgian183

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Yes and it got worse on Monday. :D

I had other plans so did not attend any of the Sunday programs. But I went back on Monday for the afternoon program entitled "Slowing Down the Breakthrough: Mendenhall's Line" and described by the NPS as follows:
On September 20, 1863, Confederates successfully broke through the Union Army of the Cumberland's center. If not for the heroic stand on the ridge in west Dyer Field by Union artillery and infantrymen, the battle might have been more catastrophic.​
View attachment 415015
It had rained quite a bit on Sunday, and continued raining on Monday. By the time I got there, it was a mess. Drainages were overflowing and the rain continued, unabated. But the show must go on! and so off we went to Poe Road to follow the route of Benning's brigade onto Dyer field. After a short soggy hike through the woods, and just short of the destination, we encountered one of those drainages - about knee deep in rushing run-off. Back to the cars and a slight detour around the drainage to Glenn-Kelly Road brought us to Dyer field.
View attachment 415016
I was particularly interested in participating in this program because the artillery of "Mendenhall's Line" impacted Longstreet's assault on September 20, 1863 - the brigades of Hood's and McLaws' divisions. As the Union right fell back in disorder, Chief of Artillery, Major John Mendenhall, was determined to make a difference. He cobbled together a line of batteries - 23 cannon total - and attempted to resist the breakthrough up there at that woodline in the distance. Six of those cannon belonged to the 3rd Battery Wisconsin Light Artillery, which reported a loss of 26 of 52 men engaged (50%) and five of six cannon captured.
View attachment 415014
Don't feel too bad about the rain, it seems as if the entire state was covered in it over the weekend. We received around 4 inches of rain in southeast Georgia from Saturday to Monday!
 

lelliott19

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All the pictures I shared earlier in the thread were shots of actual programs that occurred as part of the NPS's Anniversary events. But I arrived late on Friday afternoon, before the programs started on Saturday. I was just ahead of the rain and decided to run out to the battlefield to take some pictures of my favorite brigades at Chickamauga -- Joseph B. Kershaw's brigade of South Carolinians (CS) and Charles Harker's brigade of Ohioans and Kentuckians (US).

This one is taken from the Glenn-Kelly Road. That's the North end of Dyer Field behind me and the South Carolina monument up the slope....where Kershaw's brigade attacked Snodgrass Hill.
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And here's another one where you can see their approach and a better view of the monument -- still from across Dyer field though.
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Heres a picture in front of the 125th Ohio's monument. The 125th Ohio was one of the regiments in Harker's brigade that defended Horseshoe Ridge, so their monument is located up there on Horseshoe Ridge. The men of the 125th Ohio supplemented the $1500 State of Ohio allocation with their own money and insisted that the design submitted by one of their own, veteran Charles H. Clark, be used. I just love the "growling tiger" Clark chose for the top of it! The regiment was nicknamed Opdyke's Tigers for their Colonel Emerson Opdyke. I believe he was still the Colonel at the time of the battle of Chickamauga but maybe @Norman Dasinger Jr or @uaskme can confirm that?
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And finally a panoramic view of Horseshoe Ridge. Its pretty small so maybe panoramic isn't the best word but this view will give you an idea of its size. You can see the 125th Ohio monument in the distance on the right center.
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Some time over the weekend @Gettmore took some great pics of the South Carolina monument and other regiments of Harker's brigade. Hopefully he will post them in this thread.
 

lelliott19

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Wow!!!! Very nice images of the 65th Ohio monument. They were part of Harker's brigade (with the 125th OH) --- tasked with defending Snodgrass Hill and Horseshoe Ridge.

But those pictures of the South Carolina monument are amazing @Gettmore !!!! It's large so it's hard to take good pictures of it. If you get close enough to see the detail, you cut off the top. And if you get far enough away to get the top, you don't capture the detail. You were able to photograph it perfectly -- detail and complete. And the light is great! Thank you so much!
Here's a picture in front of the 125th Ohio's monument. The 125th Ohio was one of the regiments in Harker's brigade that defended Horseshoe Ridge, so their monument is located up there on Horseshoe Ridge. The men of the 125th Ohio supplemented the $1500 State of Ohio allocation with their own money and insisted that the design submitted by one of their own, veteran Charles H. Clark, be used. I just love the "growling tiger" Clark chose for the top of it! The regiment was nicknamed Opdyke's Tigers for their Colonel Emerson Opdyke.
For those who may have an interest in the 125th Ohio, @Norman Dasinger Jr wrote a great article about the monument for Blue & Gray Education Society that was published in May 2021. You can find the article in its entirety at this link. https://blueandgrayeducation.org/pdfs/newsletters/BGES.Dispatch.05.24.21.pdf
 
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