You would think that no added horror was necessary. After two days of fierce fighting, the terrain around the Chickamauga Creek was strewn with bodies.
But it did actually manage to get worse.
It was the evening of September 20th 1863. Women picked their way through the corpses with lanterns held high. They were searching for, and dreading to find, their loved ones lying there. Husbands, sons, fathers, brothers and sweethearts were lost somewhere in that valley.
In the vicinity of Snodgrass Hill, their grim and heart-breaking hunt gave way to screams of shock and terror. There was something there and it was not human. It stood amidst the fallen soldiers, staring back at the search party. In this lonely, isolated location, they had nowhere to run. But they didn't need to. The thing disappeared.
The creature had looked vaguely humanoid, albeit much taller than even a large man. It stood on two legs, with light-colored hair covering it to the waist. (Its legs always seem lost in the darkness, thus never fully described. Those who do imply that those limbs are also covered in hair.) Fangs stuck out from a misshapen mouth and its jaw protrudes. Others have stated that its visage is ape-like. But its most notable aspect was that which earned its nickname - Old Green Eyes. Two orange-green eyes, which appear to glow in the twilight.
For those ladies about their terrible task, the encounter must have been the last straw. But their meeting was just one in a long tradition of sightings in that particular area. Old Green Eyes features in Cherokee legends pre-dating the battle. It's been seen many, many times since.
Chickamauga National Battlefield rangers have been amongst the more modern witnesses. They include Edward Tinney, who worked there in 1981. Old Green Eyes stepped out of the edge of the woods right in front of him, but was then frightened away by a passing vehicle.
Motorists have also spotted it, generally at night. During the 1970s, it was cited as the cause of two separate car crashes on one of the many public roads crossing the park. In both cases, the drivers had been startled by its sudden appearance, swerved to miss it and lost control of their vehicles.
Many stories have sprung up to explain the presence of Old Green Eyes. He is the ghost of a Confederate soldier, or the totem spirit attached to a battalion killed there. It is the guardian of the dead, there to ensure no grave is ever disturbed. She's the ghost of a bereft woman with emerald ear-rings, who is still looking for her lost lover killed in battle.
All of these theories seem to ignore the Cherokee legends, which placed Old Green Eyes along that creek long before the American Civil War. To my mind, it's obvious. Old Green Eyes is a sasquatch.