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Chattanooga Campaign

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The Chattanooga Campaign was a series of maneuvers and battles in October and November 1863, during the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. Following the defeat of Maj. Gen.
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

 William S. Rosecrans's Union
Union Army
The Union Army was the land force that fought for the Union during the American Civil War. It was also known as the Federal Army, the U.S. Army, the Northern Army and the National Army...

 Army of the Cumberland
Army of the Cumberland
The Army of the Cumberland was one of the principal Union armies in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. It was originally known as the Army of the Ohio.-History:...

 at the Battle of Chickamauga
Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign...

 in September, the Confederate
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

 under Gen. Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army—a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.Bragg, a native of North Carolina, was...

 besieged Rosecrans and his men by occupying key high terrain around Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga is the fourth-largest city in the US state of Tennessee , with a population of 169,887. It is the seat of Hamilton County...

. Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 was given command of Union forces in the West
Western Theater of the American Civil War
This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Theater of operations:...

 and significant reinforcements began to arrive with him in Chattanooga from Mississippi and the Eastern Theater
Eastern Theater of the American Civil War
The Eastern Theater of the American Civil War included the states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, the District of Columbia, and the coastal fortifications and seaports of North Carolina...

.

After opening a supply line (the "Cracker Line") to feed his starving men and animals, Grant's army fought off a Confederate counterattack at the Battle of Wauhatchie
Battle of Wauhatchie
-References:* Boatner, Mark Mayo, III. The Civil War Dictionary. New York: McKay, 1988. ISBN 0-8129-1726-X. First published 1959 by McKay.* Cozzens, Peter. The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. ISBN 0-252-01922-9.* Korn, Jerry, and...

 on October 28–29, 1863. On November 23, the Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas advanced from the fortifications around Chattanooga to seize the minor high ground at Orchard Knob while elements of the Army of the Tennessee
Army of the Tennessee
The Army of the Tennessee was a Union army in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, named for the Tennessee River. It should not be confused with the similarly named Army of Tennessee, a Confederate army named after the State of Tennessee....

 under Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman maneuvered to launch a surprise attack against Bragg's right flank on Missionary Ridge
Battle of Missionary Ridge
The Battle of Missionary Ridge was fought November 25, 1863, as part of the Chattanooga Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the Union victory in the Battle of Lookout Mountain on November 24, Union forces under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant assaulted Missionary Ridge and defeated the...

. On November 24, Eastern Theater troops under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E...

 defeated the Confederates in the Battle of Lookout Mountain
Battle of Lookout Mountain
The Battle of Lookout Mountain was fought November 24, 1863, as part of the Chattanooga Campaign of the American Civil War. Union forces under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker assaulted Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tennessee, and defeated Confederate forces commanded by Maj. Gen. Carter L. Stevenson....

 and began a movement toward Bragg's left flank at Rossville
Rossville, Georgia
Rossville is a city in Walker County, Georgia, United States. The city of Rossville was named after Cherokee Indian Chief John Ross, who resided there until being forced to relocate with his people to Oklahoma in the Indian Removal. Chief John Ross' log cabin home is still located in the city and...

.

On November 25, Sherman's attack on Bragg's right flank made little progress. Hoping to distract Bragg's attention, Grant authorized Thomas's army to advance in the center of his line to the base of Missionary Ridge. A combination of misunderstood orders and the pressure of the tactical situation caused Thomas's men to surge to the top of Missionary Ridge, routing the Army of Tennessee, which retreated to Dalton, Georgia
Dalton, Georgia
Dalton is a city in Whitfield County, Georgia, United States. It is the county seat of Whitfield County and the principal city of the Dalton, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of both Murray and Whitfield counties. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 33,128...

, fighting off the Union pursuit successfully at the Battle of Ringgold Gap
Battle of Ringgold Gap
The Battle of Ringgold Gap was fought November 27, 1863, in northwest Georgia during the American Civil War. The Confederate victory by Maj. Gen...

. Bragg's defeat eliminated the last Confederate control of Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

 and opened the door to an invasion of the Deep South
Deep South
The Deep South is a descriptive category of the cultural and geographic subregions in the American South. Historically, it is differentiated from the "Upper South" as being the states which were most dependent on plantation type agriculture during the pre-Civil War period...

, leading to Sherman's Atlanta Campaign
Atlanta Campaign
The Atlanta Campaign was a series of battles fought in the Western Theater of the American Civil War throughout northwest Georgia and the area around Atlanta during the summer of 1864. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman invaded Georgia from the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee, beginning in May...

 of 1864.

Background


Chattanooga was a vital rail hub (with lines going north toward Nashville
Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville is the capital of the U.S. state of Tennessee and the county seat of Davidson County. It is located on the Cumberland River in Davidson County, in the north-central part of the state. The city is a center for the health care, publishing, banking and transportation industries, and is home...

 and Knoxville
Knoxville, Tennessee
Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city in the Appalachia region...

 and south toward Atlanta
Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta is the capital and most populous city in the U.S. state of Georgia. According to the 2010 census, Atlanta's population is 420,003. Atlanta is the cultural and economic center of the Atlanta metropolitan area, which is home to 5,268,860 people and is the ninth largest metropolitan area in...

), and an important manufacturing center for the production of iron and coke, located on the navigable Tennessee River. In September 1863, the Union Army of the Cumberland
Army of the Cumberland
The Army of the Cumberland was one of the principal Union armies in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. It was originally known as the Army of the Ohio.-History:...

 under Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans executed a series of maneuvers that forced Confederate Gen. Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg
Braxton Bragg was a career United States Army officer, and then a general in the Confederate States Army—a principal commander in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and later the military adviser to Confederate President Jefferson Davis.Bragg, a native of North Carolina, was...

 and his Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

 to abandon Chattanooga and withdraw into northern Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

. Rosecrans pursued Bragg and the two armies collided at the Battle of Chickamauga
Battle of Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign...

 on September 19–20. Bragg achieved a major victory when a gap was opened mistakenly in the Union line and a strong column commanded by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
James Longstreet
James Longstreet was one of the foremost Confederate generals of the American Civil War and the principal subordinate to General Robert E. Lee, who called him his "Old War Horse." He served under Lee as a corps commander for many of the famous battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia in the...

 drove through it and routed a good portion of the Union army. A determined defensive stand by Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas on Snodgrass Hill saved the army from total destruction, earning him the nickname "Rock of Chickamauga" and allowing time for most of Rosecrans's army to retreat to Chattanooga. Bragg did not cut off the escape routes to Chattanooga and did not organize a pursuit that might have seriously damaged the Union army before it could regroup and prepare its defenses in the city. The Union forces took advantage of previous Confederate works to erect strong defensive positions in a tight, 3-mile-long semicircle around the city.

Bragg had three alternative courses of action. He could outflank Rosecrans by crossing the Tennessee either below or above the city, assault the Union force directly in their fortifications, or starve the Federals by establishing a siege line. The flanking option was deemed to be impracticable because Bragg's army was short on ammunition, they had no pontoon for River crossing, and Longstreet's corps from Virginia had arrived at Chickamauga without wagons. A direct assault was too costly against a well fortified enemy. Receiving intelligence that Rosecrans's men had only six days of rations, Bragg chose the siege option, while attempting to accumulate sufficient logistical capability to cross the Tennessee.


However, the Union situation soon became perilous as Bragg's army besieged the city, threatening to starve the Union forces into surrender. The Confederates established themselves on Missionary Ridge
Missionary Ridge
Missionary Ridge is a geographic feature in Chattanooga, Tennessee, site of the Battle of Missionary Ridge, a battle in the American Civil War, fought on November 25, 1863. Union forces under Maj. Gens. Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and George H...

 and Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain
thumb|right|See seven statesLookout Mountain is located at the northwest corner of the U.S. state of Georgia, the northeast corner of Alabama, and along the southern border of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Lookout Mountain, along with Sand Mountain to the northwest, makes up a large portion of the...

, both of which had excellent views of the city, the Tennessee River
Tennessee River
The Tennessee River is the largest tributary of the Ohio River. It is approximately 652 miles long and is located in the southeastern United States in the Tennessee Valley. The river was once popularly known as the Cherokee River, among other names...

 flowing through the city, and the Union's supply lines. Bragg had little inclination to take offensive action against the Federal army because he was occupied in a fight against enemies within his own army. On September 29, Bragg relieved from command two of his subordinates who had disappointed him in the Chickamauga Campaign: Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman
Thomas C. Hindman
Thomas Carmichael Hindman, Jr. was a lawyer, United States Representative from the 1st Congressional District of Arkansas, and a Major General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War....

 (who had failed to destroy part of the Union army at McLemore's Cove) and Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk
Leonidas Polk
Leonidas Polk was a Confederate general in the American Civil War who was once a planter in Maury County, Tennessee, and a second cousin of President James K. Polk...

 (who had delayed attacking on September 20 of Chickamauga). On October 4, twelve of his most senior generals sent a petition to Confederate President
President of the Confederate States of America
The President of the Confederate States of America was the Head of State and Head of Government of the Confederate States of America, which was formed from the states which declared their secession from the United States, thus precipitating the American Civil War. The only person to hold the...

 Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

, demanding that Bragg be relieved of command. Davis personally visited Chattanooga to hear the complaints. After he decided to retain Bragg in command, Bragg retaliated against some of those generals by relieving Lt. Gen. D.H. Hill and Maj. Gen. Simon B. Buckner
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.
Simon Bolivar Buckner fought in the United States Army in the Mexican–American War and in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He later served as the 30th Governor of Kentucky....

.
In Chattanooga, Rosecrans was stunned by the defeat of his army and became psychologically unable to take decisive action to lift the siege. President Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and...

 remarked that Rosecrans seemed "confused and stunned like a duck hit on the head." Union soldiers began to feel the effect of extremely short rations and many of their horses and mules died. The only supply line that was not controlled by the Confederates was a roundabout, tortuous course nearly 60 miles long over Walden's Ridge from Bridgeport, Alabama
Bridgeport, Alabama
Bridgeport is a small city in Jackson County, Alabama, United States. At the time of 2000 census the population was 2,728. Bridgeport is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area.-History:...

. Heavy rains began to fall in late September, washing away long stretches of the mountain roads. On October 1, Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler
Joseph Wheeler
Joseph Wheeler was an American military commander and politician. He has the rare distinction of serving as a general during war time for two opposing forces: first as a noted cavalry general in the Confederate States Army in the 1860s during the American Civil War, and later as a general in the...

's Confederate cavalry intercepted and severely damaged a train of 800 wagons—burning hundreds of the wagons, and shooting or sabering hundreds of mules—at the start of his October 1863 Raid
Wheeler's October 1863 Raid
Wheeler's October 1863 Raid was a large cavalry raid in southeastern Tennessee during the American Civil War. Maj. Gen...

 through Tennessee to sever Rosecrans's supply line. Toward the end of October, Federal soldiers' rations were "four cakes of hard bread and a quarter pound of pork" every three days.

The Union high command began immediate preparations to relieve the city. Only hours after the defeat at Chickamauga, Secretary of War
United States Secretary of War
The Secretary of War was a member of the United States President's Cabinet, beginning with George Washington's administration. A similar position, called either "Secretary at War" or "Secretary of War," was appointed to serve the Congress of the Confederation under the Articles of Confederation...

 Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin McMasters Stanton was an American lawyer and politician who served as Secretary of War under the Lincoln Administration during the American Civil War from 1862–1865...

 ordered Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E...

 to Chattanooga with 15,000 men in two corps from the Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac
The Army of the Potomac was the major Union Army in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.-History:The Army of the Potomac was created in 1861, but was then only the size of a corps . Its nucleus was called the Army of Northeastern Virginia, under Brig. Gen...

 in Virginia. Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

 was ordered to send 20,000 men under his chief subordinate Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, from Vicksburg, Mississippi
Vicksburg, Mississippi
Vicksburg is a city in Warren County, Mississippi, United States. It is the only city in Warren County. It is located northwest of New Orleans on the Mississippi and Yazoo rivers, and due west of Jackson, the state capital. In 1900, 14,834 people lived in Vicksburg; in 1910, 20,814; in 1920,...

. On September 29, Stanton ordered Grant to go to Chattanooga himself, as commander of the newly created Military Division of the Mississippi
Military Division of the Mississippi
The Military Division of the Mississippi was an administrative division of the United States Army during the American Civil War that controlled all military operations in the Western Theater.-History:...

, bringing all of the territory from the Appalachian Mountains
Appalachian Mountains
The Appalachian Mountains #Whether the stressed vowel is or ,#Whether the "ch" is pronounced as a fricative or an affricate , and#Whether the final vowel is the monophthong or the diphthong .), often called the Appalachians, are a system of mountains in eastern North America. The Appalachians...

 to the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 (and much of the state of Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

) under a single commander for the first time. Grant was given the option of replacing the demoralized Rosecrans with Thomas. Although Grant did not have good personal relations with either general, he selected Thomas to command the Army of the Cumberland. Hearing an inaccurate report that Rosecrans was preparing to abandon Chattanooga, Grant telegraphed to Thomas, "Hold Chattanooga at all hazards. I will be there as soon as possible." The Rock of Chickamauga replied immediately, "We will hold the town till we starve." Grant traveled over the treacherous mountain supply line roads and arrived in Chattanooga on October 23.

Opposing forces



Union subordinate commanders

Grant's Military Division of the Mississippi
Military Division of the Mississippi
The Military Division of the Mississippi was an administrative division of the United States Army during the American Civil War that controlled all military operations in the Western Theater.-History:...

 assembled the following forces at Chattanooga:
  • The Army of the Tennessee
    Army of the Tennessee
    The Army of the Tennessee was a Union army in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, named for the Tennessee River. It should not be confused with the similarly named Army of Tennessee, a Confederate army named after the State of Tennessee....

    , commanded by Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, consisting of the XV Corps under Maj. Gen. Frank P. Blair, Jr., and the 2nd Division of the XVII Corps under Brig. Gen. John E. Smith
    John E. Smith
    John Eugene Smith was a Swiss immigrant to the United States, who served as a Union general during the American Civil War.-Early life:Smith was born in Berne, Switzerland in 1816. His father had served under Napoleon Bonaparte and emigrated with his family to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania after the...

    .
  • The Army of the Cumberland
    Army of the Cumberland
    The Army of the Cumberland was one of the principal Union armies in the Western Theater during the American Civil War. It was originally known as the Army of the Ohio.-History:...

    , commanded by Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, consisting of the IV Corps under Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger
    Gordon Granger
    Gordon Granger was a career U.S. army officer and a Union general during the American Civil War. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Chickamauga.-Early life & Mexico:...

    , and the XIV Corps under Maj. Gen. John M. Palmer
    John M. Palmer (politician)
    John McAuley Palmer , was an Illinois resident, an American Civil War General who fought for the Union, the 15th Governor of Illinois, and presidential candidate of the National Democratic Party in the 1896 election on a platform to defend the gold standard, free trade, and limited...

    .
  • The command of Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker
    Joseph Hooker
    Joseph Hooker was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E...

    , consisting of the XI Corps under Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard
    Oliver O. Howard
    Oliver Otis Howard was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War...

     and the 2nd Division of the XII Corps under Brig. Gen. John W. Geary
    John W. Geary
    John White Geary was an American lawyer, politician, Freemason, and a Union general in the American Civil War...

    . (During the Battle of Lookout Mountain, Hooker also commanded divisions detached from the IV and XV Corps.)


Confederate corps commanders

Bragg's Army of Tennessee
Army of Tennessee
The Army of Tennessee was the principal Confederate army operating between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River during the American Civil War. It was formed in late 1862 and fought until the end of the war in 1865, participating in most of the significant battles in the Western Theater...

 had the following forces available in Chattanooga:
  • Longstreet's Corps, under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet
    James Longstreet
    James Longstreet was one of the foremost Confederate generals of the American Civil War and the principal subordinate to General Robert E. Lee, who called him his "Old War Horse." He served under Lee as a corps commander for many of the famous battles fought by the Army of Northern Virginia in the...

    , consisting of the divisions under Maj. Gen. Lafayette McLaws
    Lafayette McLaws
    Lafayette McLaws was a United States Army officer and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

     and Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins
    Micah Jenkins
    Micah Jenkins , was a Confederate general in the American Civil War, mortally wounded by friendly fire at the Battle of the Wilderness.-Early life:...

     (replacing John Bell Hood
    John Bell Hood
    John Bell Hood was a Confederate general during the American Civil War. Hood had a reputation for bravery and aggressiveness that sometimes bordered on recklessness...

    , wounded at Chickamauga). Longstreet's Corps was dispatched to Knoxville
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city in the Appalachia region...

     on November 5.
  • Hardee's Corps, under Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee
    William J. Hardee
    William Joseph Hardee was a career U.S. Army officer, serving during the Second Seminole War and fighting in the Mexican-American War...

    , consisting of the divisions under Brig. Gen. John K. Jackson
    John K. Jackson
    John King Jackson was an American lawyer and soldier. He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, mainly in Florida and the Western Theater of the conflict...

     (Cheatham's Division), Brig. Gen. J. Patton Anderson (Hindman's Division), Brig. Gen. States Rights Gist
    States Rights Gist
    States Rights Gist was a lawyer, a militia general in South Carolina, and a Confederate Army brigadier general who served during the American Civil War. A relative of several prominent South Carolinians, Gist rose to fame during the war but was killed before its end at the Battle of Franklin on...

     (Walker's Division), and Maj. Gen. Simon B. Buckner
    Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.
    Simon Bolivar Buckner fought in the United States Army in the Mexican–American War and in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He later served as the 30th Governor of Kentucky....

     (detached November 22 to Knoxville).
  • Breckinridge's Corps, commanded by Maj. Gen. John C. Breckinridge
    John C. Breckinridge
    John Cabell Breckinridge was an American lawyer and politician. He served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Kentucky and was the 14th Vice President of the United States , to date the youngest vice president in U.S...

    , consisting of the divisions of Maj. Gens. Patrick R. Cleburne, Alexander P. Stewart
    Alexander P. Stewart
    Alexander Peter Stewart was a career United States Army officer, college professor, and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

    , Carter L. Stevenson
    Carter L. Stevenson
    Carter Littlepage Stevenson, Jr. was a career military officer, serving in the United States Army in several antebellum wars and then in the Confederate States Army as a general in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Early life and career:Stevenson was born to a prominent family in...

    , and Brig. Gen. William B. Bate
    William B. Bate
    William Brimage Bate was the governor of Tennessee from 1883 to 1887 and subsequently a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1887 until his death...

     (Breckinridge's Division).


On November 5, Bragg seriously weakened his forces by sending Longstreet's Corps against Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Everett Burnside was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island, serving as governor and a U.S. Senator...

 near Knoxville. On November 22, Bragg further weakened his forces by ordering the division of Maj. Gen. Simon B. Buckner
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.
Simon Bolivar Buckner fought in the United States Army in the Mexican–American War and in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He later served as the 30th Governor of Kentucky....

 to reinforce Longstreet at Knoxville.

Opening the Cracker Line



The chief engineer of the Army of the Cumberland, Brig. Gen.
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 William F. "Baldy" Smith
William Farrar Smith
William Farrar Smith , was a civil engineer, a member of the New York City police commission, and Union general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

, had devised a plan for Rosecrans to open a more reliable supply line to the troops in Chattanooga. He briefed Grant immediately after the new commander's arrival and Grant enthusiastically endorsed the plan. Brown's Ferry crossed the Tennessee River from Moccasin Point where the road followed a gap through the foothills, turned south through Lookout Valley to Wauhatchie Station, and then west to Kelley's Ferry, a navigable point on the Tennessee that could be reached by Union supply boats. If the Army of the Cumberland could seize Brown's Ferry and link up with Hooker's force arriving from Bridgeport, Alabama
Bridgeport, Alabama
Bridgeport is a small city in Jackson County, Alabama, United States. At the time of 2000 census the population was 2,728. Bridgeport is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area.-History:...

, through the Lookout Valley, a reliable, efficient supply line—soon to become known as the "Cracker Line"—would be open. And a force at Brown's Ferry would threaten the right flank of any Confederate movement into the valley.

Hooker left Maj. Gen. Henry W. Slocum with one of his divisions of the XII Corps to guard the railroad line from Murfreesboro
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Murfreesboro is a city in and the county seat of Rutherford County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 108,755 according to the United States Census Bureau's 2010 U.S. Census, up from 68,816 residents certified during the 2000 census. The center of population of Tennessee is located in...

, to Bridgeport. Slocum's remaining division, under Brig. Gen. John W. Geary
John W. Geary
John White Geary was an American lawyer, politician, Freemason, and a Union general in the American Civil War...

, and all of Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard's XI Corps, were ordered to move quickly to Lookout Valley. However, weather conditions delayed the movement, so Grant decided to move ahead with the Brown's Ferry operation even before Hooker could arrive. Smith's plan for the assault on Brown's Ferry was to send one brigade (Brig. Gen. William B. Hazen's) traveling stealthily downriver at night to capture the gap and hills on the west bank of the Tennessee while a second brigade (Brig. Gen. John B. Turchin's) marched across Moccasin Point in support.

Braxton Bragg had no idea that this operation was being planned, but he was aware of Hooker's pending river crossing at Bridgeport, so was concerned about his left flank. He ordered Longstreet to move additional units into Lookout Valley, but, unknown to Bragg, the order was ignored. Furthermore, Longstreet's lack of diligence allowed command mixups to leave only two regiments near Brown's Ferry.


Early on the morning of October 27, Hazen's men floated unnoticed past the Confederate position on Lookout Mountain, aided by low fog and no moonlight. They were able to seize the ground above Brown's Ferry by 4:40 a.m. A counterattack by the 15th Alabama Infantry, commanded by Col. William C. Oates
William C. Oates
William Calvin Oates was a Confederate colonel during the American Civil War, the 29th Governor of Alabama from 1894 to 1896, and a brigadier general in the U.S. Army during the Spanish–American War....

 (of Little Round Top
Little Round Top
Little Round Top is the smaller of two rocky hills south of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It was the site of an unsuccessful assault by Confederate troops against the Union left flank on July 2, 1863, the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg....

 fame) was repulsed and Oates was wounded. Oates's brigade commander, Brig. Gen. Evander M. Law
Evander M. Law
Evander McIver Law was an author, teacher, and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

, placed his brigade blocking the road over Lookout Mountain and reported the Union success to Longstreet. Longstreet dismissed the importance of the report, considering the Union move to be only a feint, and did not bother passing the information on to Bragg. When Bragg learned of it, he ordered Longstreet to retake the ground immediately, but Longstreet once again did nothing and Smith's men spent the day consolidating their bridgehead without interference.

Hooker's column marched through Lookout Valley and linked up with Hazen and Turchin at Brown's Ferry at 3:45 p.m., October 28. Thomas's staff began the preparations to bring supplies over the Cracker Line and he telegraphed General in Chief Henry W. Halleck that he expected "in a few days to be pretty well supplied."

Wauhatchie



Having ignored several direct orders from Bragg to attack Brown's Ferry, Longstreet was ordered by Bragg to attack Hooker's concentration at Wauhatchie instead. There, Hooker had neglected to arrange his force into effective defensive positions, instructing them merely to find good cover for the troops and bivouac. He detached Brig. Gen. John W. Geary
John W. Geary
John White Geary was an American lawyer, politician, Freemason, and a Union general in the American Civil War...

's division at Wauhatchie Station, a stop on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, to protect the line of communications to the south as well as the road west to Kelley's Ferry. Longstreet was amazed to see Geary's bivouacking soldiers with their large wagon train parked directly in front of him.

Longstreet ordered a night attack, a relatively rare occurrence in the Civil War, using only the brigade of Brig. Gen. Evander M. Law
Evander M. Law
Evander McIver Law was an author, teacher, and a Confederate general in the American Civil War.-Early life:...

 and Brig. Gen. Micah Jenkins
Micah Jenkins
Micah Jenkins , was a Confederate general in the American Civil War, mortally wounded by friendly fire at the Battle of the Wilderness.-Early life:...

's division from Lookout Mountain, far fewer troops than Bragg had authorized. The attack was scheduled for 10:00 p.m. on October 28, but confusion delayed it until midnight. Although Geary and his officers expected an attack and had thrown out pickets, its suddenness took them by surprise. Enveloped from the north by Col. John Bratton
John Bratton
John Bratton was a U.S. Representative from South Carolina, as well as a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

's brigade, the Union defenders formed into a V-shaped battle line, facing north and east. Geary's son Edward, an artillery lieutenant, was killed in the battle, dying in his father's arms.

Hearing the sounds of battle, Hooker, at Brown's Ferry, sent Maj. Gen. Oliver O. Howard
Oliver O. Howard
Oliver Otis Howard was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War...

 with two XI Corps divisions as reinforcements. Orders of march were confused and delayed the movement. Hooker mistakenly deployed units from both XI Corps divisions against Law's and Brig. Gen. Henry L. Benning
Henry L. Benning
Henry Lewis Benning was a lawyer, legislator, judge on the Georgia Supreme Court, and a Confederate general during the American Civil War. He is also noted for the U.S...

's brigades, leaving no one to go to Geary's aid. Law's 2,000 men were greatly outnumbered by Hooker's men, but the hilltop position was naturally strong and several vigorous Union assaults were repulsed.

Receiving an erroneous report that Bratton was retreating, Law decided to pull back. Just as his men left their entrenchments, Col. Orland Smith
Orland Smith
Orland Smith was a railroad executive and a brigade commander in the Union Army during the American Civil War. In 1864, he led a spirited bayonet charge during the Battle of Wauhatchie that took a significant Confederate position on a hill that now bears his name.-Early life and career:Smith was...

's brigade (Brig. Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr
Adolph von Steinwehr
Baron Adolph Wilhelm August Friedrich von Steinwehr was a German-Brunswick army officer who emigrated to the United States, became a geographer, cartographer, and author, and served as a Union general in the American Civil War.-Early life:Steinwehr was born in Blankenburg, in the Duchy of...

's division) spilled over them, capturing some stragglers and scattering a regiment that failed to get the order to retreat. Meanwhile, Hooker agreed to let Howard proceed to Wauhatchie with some cavalry. Geary's men continued to hold fast, although they began to run low on ammunition. Just as Bratton began to sense victory, he received a note from Jenkins to retreat because Union reinforcements were arriving in his rear. He withdrew to Lookout Mountain, successfully covered by Benning's brigade.

Both sides had planned poorly for the battle. Hooker's carelessness in placing his men had left them at risk. Grant was disgusted at Hooker's performance and considered relieving him. Longstreet committed too few men for an assault of this importance and Bragg was also disgusted with his subordinate. Bragg's biographer, Judith L. Hallock, wrote that Wauhatchie was, for Longstreet, an "ill-conceived, ill-planned, and poorly coordinated attack" that "resulted in a shambles."

Longstreet departs



While Grant would allow Hooker to remain with the army, Bragg decided to rid himself of Longstreet, regardless of the consequences. Responding to a suggestion from President Davis a few days earlier, Bragg announced in a council of war
Council of war
A council of war is a term in military science that describes a meeting held to decide on a course of action, usually in the midst of a battle. Under normal circumstances, decisions are made by a commanding officer, optionally communicated and coordinated by staff officers, and then implemented by...

 on November 3 that he was sending Longstreet and his two divisions into East Tennessee
East Tennessee
East Tennessee is a name given to approximately the eastern third of the U.S. state of Tennessee, one of the three Grand Divisions of Tennessee defined in state law. East Tennessee consists of 33 counties, 30 located within the Eastern Time Zone and three counties in the Central Time Zone, namely...

 to deal with the threatened advance of Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Everett Burnside was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island, serving as governor and a U.S. Senator...

's Union Army of the Ohio
Army of the Ohio
The Army of the Ohio was the name of two Union armies in the American Civil War. The first army became the Army of the Cumberland and the second army was created in 1863.-History:...

, currently occupying Knoxville
Knoxville, Tennessee
Founded in 1786, Knoxville is the third-largest city in the U.S. state of Tennessee, U.S.A., behind Memphis and Nashville, and is the county seat of Knox County. It is the largest city in East Tennessee, and the second-largest city in the Appalachia region...

. (Davis had suggested Longstreet for this assignment because he intended Longstreet's divisions to return to the Army of Northern Virginia
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

 at the end of the campaign and Knoxville was on the route back to Virginia.)

Bragg compensated for some of the lost Virginians by ordering the divisions of Maj. Gens. Carter L. Stevenson
Carter L. Stevenson
Carter Littlepage Stevenson, Jr. was a career military officer, serving in the United States Army in several antebellum wars and then in the Confederate States Army as a general in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Early life and career:Stevenson was born to a prominent family in...

 and Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham , known also as Frank, was a Tennessee aristocrat, California gold miner, and a General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, serving in many battles of the Western Theater.-Early years:Cheatham was born in Nashville, Tennessee on a plantation...

 back from East Tennessee, but he dispatched much of the cavalry force of the Army of Tennessee to accompany Longstreet. In the face of a rapidly expanding enemy force, Bragg had chosen to divide his army and decrease his net defensive force by about 4,000 men.

Preparations for battle


Grant had two weeks following Wauhatchie before Sherman would arrive and he charged Thomas and Smith with the responsibility for planning an assault against Bragg, starting with an attack by Sherman on the Confederate right flank, emphasizing that he would not approve the plan until Sherman had an opportunity to review it. After considerable reconnaissance the two generals presented their plan on November 14. Sherman's arriving troops would use newly improved roads to pass through the hills north of Chattanooga, taking a route that was not visible from Lookout Mountain, hoping that Bragg would not know for certain whether Sherman was targeting Chattanooga or Knoxville. Smith would assemble every available boat and pontoon to allow Sherman's corps to cross the Tennessee River near the mouth of the South Chickamauga Creek and attack Bragg's right flank on Missionary Ridge. If the attack were successful, the Union would control the two key railroad lines that supplied Bragg's army, forcing him to withdraw. Thomas's army would simultaneously pin down the Confederate center on Missionary Ridge. The plan also called for Hooker to assault and seize Lookout Mountain, Bragg's left flank, and continue on to Rossville, where he would be positioned to cut off a potential Confederate retreat to the south.

Sherman arrived ahead of his troops on the evening of November 14. He observed the end of Missionary Ridge that he was designated to attack and remarked that he could seize it successfully by 9 a.m. on the assigned day. Grant approved Thomas's and Smith's plan, although he withdrew support for the attack by Hooker on Lookout Mountain, intending the mass of his attack to be by Sherman. Sherman's men were still a considerable distance from Chattanooga because they had been under orders from Halleck to repair the railroad as they marched the 330 miles from Vicksburg (an order countermanded by Grant on October 27) and their commander had ignored advice from Thomas that he march rapidly without the impediment of his trains, as Hooker had done. Although Grant had hoped to begin offensive operations on November 21, by November 20 only one of Sherman's brigades had crossed over Brown's Ferry and the attack had to be postponed. Grant was coming under pressure from Washington to react to Longstreet's advance against Burnside at Knoxville.

Bragg, having dispatched most of his cavalry, had little means of gathering intelligence. He assumed that Sherman's corps would be heading toward his department's extreme right flank at Knoxville, not Chattanooga. Therefore, he believed that the main Union assault would occur on his left flank, Lookout Mountain. On November 12, Bragg placed Carter Stevenson in overall command for the defense of the mountain, with Stevenson's division placed on the summit. The brigades of Brig. Gens. John K. Jackson
John K. Jackson
John King Jackson was an American lawyer and soldier. He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, mainly in Florida and the Western Theater of the conflict...

, Edward C. Walthall
Edward C. Walthall
Edward Cary Walthall was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War and a postbellum United States Senator from Mississippi.-Biography:...

, and John C. Moore were placed on the "bench" of the mountain (a narrow and relatively flat shelf that wrapped around the northern end of the mountain approximately halfway to the summit). Jackson later wrote about the dissatisfaction of the commanders assigned to this area, "Indeed, it was agreed on all hands that the position was one extremely difficult to defense against a strong force of the enemy advancing under cover of a heavy fire." Thomas L. Connelly, historian of the Army of Tennessee, wrote that despite the imposing appearance of Lookout Mountain, "the mountain's strength was a myth. ... It was impossible to hold [the bench, which] was commanded by Federal artillery at Moccasin Bend." Although Stevenson placed an artillery battery on the crest of the mountain, the guns could not be depressed enough to reach the bench, which was accessible from numerous trails on the west side of the mountain.

Dissatisfaction also prevailed in the Chattanooga Valley and on Missionary Ridge, where Breckinridge, commanding Bragg's center and right, had only 16,000 men to defend a line 5 miles long. Brig. Gen. Patton Anderson, whose division was assigned to the Confederate works along the western base of the ridge, wrote "This line of defense, following its sinuosities, was over two miles in length—nearly twice as long as a number of bayonets in the division could adequately defend." Bragg exacerbated the situation on November 22 by ordering Maj. Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne to withdraw his and Simon B. Buckner's
Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr.
Simon Bolivar Buckner fought in the United States Army in the Mexican–American War and in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He later served as the 30th Governor of Kentucky....

 divisions from the line and march to Chickamauga Station, for railroad transport to Knoxville, removing 11,000 more men from the defense of Chattanooga.

Orchard Knob



On November 23, the Union army observed columns of Cleburne's and Buckner's men marching away from Missionary Ridge and also heard claims from Confederate deserters that the entire army was falling back. Grant became concerned that Bragg was massively reinforcing Longstreet and sought to disrupt the movement. Thomas ordered his division under Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood
Thomas J. Wood
Thomas John Wood was a career United States Army officer and a Union general during the American Civil War.-Early life and career:...

 to advance in a reconnaissance in force, instructing him to avoid an engagement with the enemy and return to his fortifications when the strength of the Confederate line was revealed. Wood's men assembled outside of their entrenchments and observed their objective approximately 2,000 yards to the east, a small knoll 100 feet high known as Orchard Knob (also known as Indian Hill). Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan
Philip Sheridan
Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S...

's division lined up similarly to protect Wood's right flank, and Howard's XI Corps extended the line to the left, presenting over 20,000 soldiers arrayed in almost parade-ground alignment.
At 1:30 p.m., 14,000 Union soldiers moved forward at the double quick
Military step
Military step or march is a regular, ordered and synchronized walking of military formations.-History:The steady, regular marching step was a marked feature of Roman legions. Vegetius, the author of the only surviving treatise on the Roman Empire's military, De Re Militari, recognized the...

, sweeping across the plain, stunning the 600 Confederate defenders, who were able to fire only a single volley before they were overrun. Casualties were relatively small on both sides. Grant and Thomas decided to order the men to hold their position and entrench, rather than following the original orders to withdraw. Orchard Knob became Grant's and Thomas's headquarters for the remainder of the battles.


Bragg quickly readjusted his strategy, recalling all units that were within a day's march. Cleburne's division returned after dark from Chickamauga Station, interrupting the process of boarding the trains to Knoxville. Bragg began to reduce the strength on his left by withdrawing Maj. Gen. William H. T. Walker
William H. T. Walker
William Henry Talbot Walker was an American soldier. He was a career United States Army officer who fought with distinction during the Mexican-American War, and also served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War...

's division from the base of Lookout Mountain and placing them on the far right of Missionary Ridge, just south of Tunnel Hill. He assigned Hardee to command his now critical right flank, turning over the left flank to Carter Stevenson. In the center, Breckinridge ordered his men to begin fortifying the crest of Missionary Ridge, a task that Bragg had somehow neglected for weeks. Unable to decide whether to defend the base or the crest of the Ridge, the divisions of Brig. Gens. William B. Bate
William B. Bate
William Brimage Bate was the governor of Tennessee from 1883 to 1887 and subsequently a United States Senator from Tennessee from 1887 until his death...

 and Patton Anderson were ordered to move half of their divisions to the crest, leaving the remainder in the rifle pits along the base. James L. McDonough wrote of the upper entrenchments, "Placed along the physical crest rather than what is termed the military crest
Military crest
Military crest is a term in military science that refers to, "An area on the forward or reverse slope of a hill or ridge just below the topographical crest from which maximum observation and direct fire covering the slope down to the base of the hill or ridge can be obtained."The military crest is...

 ... these works severely handicapped the defenders."

The Union side also changed plans. Sherman had three divisions ready to cross the Tennessee, but the pontoon bridge at Brown's Ferry had torn apart and Brig. Gen. Peter J. Osterhaus
Peter J. Osterhaus
Peter Joseph Osterhaus was Union Army General in the American Civil War and later served as a diplomat.-Early life:Osterhaus was born in Koblenz, Rhenish Prussia. He attended the Berlin Military Academy and after serving for some time as a Prussian Army officer, he emigrated to the United States...

's division was stranded in Lookout Valley. After receiving assurances from Sherman that he could proceed with three divisions, Grant decided to revive the previously rejected plan for an attack on Lookout Mountain and reassigned Osterhaus to Hooker's command.

Lookout Mountain



On November 24, Hooker had about 10,000 men in three divisions to operate against Lookout Mountain: Brig. Gen. John W. Geary
John W. Geary
John White Geary was an American lawyer, politician, Freemason, and a Union general in the American Civil War...

's (XII Corps), Brig. Gen. Charles Cruft
Charles Cruft
Charles Alfred Cruft was a British showman who founded Crufts dog show.He was educated at Ardingly College, and upon leaving became the general manager of James Spratt, dog biscuit manufacturer...

's (XIV Corps), and Brig. Gen. Peter J. Osterhaus
Peter J. Osterhaus
Peter Joseph Osterhaus was Union Army General in the American Civil War and later served as a diplomat.-Early life:Osterhaus was born in Koblenz, Rhenish Prussia. He attended the Berlin Military Academy and after serving for some time as a Prussian Army officer, he emigrated to the United States...

's (XV Corps). Acknowledging that this was too large a force for a simple diversion, Grant authorized a more serious effort against the mountain, but did not agree to a full-scale assault. Hooker was ordered to "take the point only if his demonstration should develop its practicability." Fighting Joe ignored this subtlety and ordered Geary "to cross Lookout Creek and to assault Lookout Mountain, marching down the valley and sweeping every rebel from it."

The advance of Cruft and Osterhaus stalled at Lookout Creek, but Geary crossed the stream unopposed further south and found that the defile
Defile (geography)
Defile is a geographic term for a narrow pass or gorge between mountains or hills. It has its origins as a military description of a pass through which troops can march only in a narrow column or with a narrow front...

 between the mountain and the river had not been secured. The Union troops were opposed by Brig. Gen. Edward C. Walthall
Edward C. Walthall
Edward Cary Walthall was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War and a postbellum United States Senator from Mississippi.-Biography:...

's brigade of Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin F. Cheatham
Benjamin Franklin Cheatham , known also as Frank, was a Tennessee aristocrat, California gold miner, and a General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, serving in many battles of the Western Theater.-Early years:Cheatham was born in Nashville, Tennessee on a plantation...

's division (temporarily under the command of Brig. Gen. John K. Jackson
John K. Jackson
John King Jackson was an American lawyer and soldier. He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, mainly in Florida and the Western Theater of the conflict...

). Geary swept northeast along the base of Lookout Mountain and pushed Walthall's badly outnumbered men back to the Cravens House, just below the northern end of the mountain.


The men of Brig. Gen. John C. Brown
John C. Brown
John Calvin Brown was a Confederate general during the American Civil War and the Governor of Tennessee from 1871 to 1875, the first Democrat to be elected to that position following the war.-Early life:...

's Confederate brigade on the mountain top found themselves powerless to intervene in the battle raging below the cliffs. Geary's success allowed the other two divisions to cross the creek and push aside the Confederate skirmishers in front of them. Brig. Gen. John C. Moore brought his brigade up around 1:00 p.m. to become embroiled in a fight with Geary and Brig. Gen. Walter C. Whitaker
Walter C. Whitaker
Walter Chiles Whitaker was an American farmer, attorney, and soldier. He served as an officer in the United States Army during the Mexican–American War, and also was a Union general during the American Civil War...

's brigade of Cruft's division. Moore was pushed back and soon joined by Brig. Gen. Edmund Pettus
Edmund Pettus
Edmund Winston Pettus , was an American lawyer, soldier, and legislator. He served as a Confederate general during the American Civil War, during which he was captured three times, as well as a U.S...

's brigade.

By about 3:00 p.m., thick fog enveloped the mountain. Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs
Montgomery C. Meigs
Montgomery Cunningham Meigs was a career United States Army officer, civil engineer, construction engineer for a number of facilities in Washington, D.C., and Quartermaster General of the U.S. Army during and after the American Civil War....

, quartermaster general of the Union Army, observing from Orchard Knob, was the first writer to name the action on Lookout Mountain the "Battle Above the Clouds". The two sides blazed away blindly in the fog the rest of the afternoon but few men were hit. During the fight, Hooker sent a stream of "alternate whimpering and blustering" messages to Grant, but got it exactly right when he predicted, "In all probability the enemy will evacuate tonight." Realizing the battle was lost, Bragg ordered the position abandoned. At midnight the fog cleared and, under a lunar eclipse
Lunar eclipse
A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes behind the Earth so that the Earth blocks the Sun's rays from striking the Moon. This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a...

, the divisions of Stevenson and Cheatham retreated behind Chattanooga Creek, burning the bridges behind them.

That night Bragg asked his two corps commanders whether to retreat or to stand and fight. Hardee counseled retreat, but Breckinridge convinced Bragg to fight it out on the strong position of Missionary Ridge. Accordingly, the troops withdrawn from Lookout Mountain were ordered to the right flank.

Missionary Ridge



Sherman's remaining three divisions crossed the Tennessee River successfully on the morning of November 24, then took what the general thought—due to faulty intelligence—was the north end of Missionary Ridge but was actually a completely separate rise known as Billy Goat Hill. Sherman was dismayed to see that, across a deep ravine, the Confederates had fortified Tunnel Hill, the northernmost portion of the ridge. Taking no further offensive action for the day, Sherman ordered his men to dig in on Billy Goat Hill.

On November 25, Grant changed his plan and called for a double envelopment by Sherman and Hooker. Thomas was to advance after Sherman reached Missionary Ridge from the north and Hooker from the south. He gave a supporting role to Thomas:
Grant had no particular expectation for Hooker other than to divert Bragg's attention by continued demonstrations on Lookout Mountain. However, Thomas wanted support on his flank and called Hooker to cross the valley and demonstrate against Bragg's left flank directly at the Rossville Gap. As the morning progressed, Sherman launched multiple direct assaults against Cleburne's line on Tunnel Hill, but despite his significantly larger force, committed only three brigades to the attacks and made no headway. At the southern end of the battlefield, Hooker's advance was slowed for hours by the burned bridges on Chattanooga Creek.

Seeing the lack of progress on the flanks, around 3:30 p.m. Grant ordered Thomas to move forward in the center in accordance with his earlier instructions. The men of the Army of the Cumberland advanced and quickly pushed the Confederates from their rifle pits but were then subjected to a punishing fire from the Confederate positions up the ridge. Most of Thomas's troops had been at the disastrous loss at Chickamauga and had suffered taunts by Sherman's and Hooker's newly arrived forces. Now they were under fire from above with no apparent plan to advance or move back. At this point, the Union soldiers continued the attack against the remaining lines. This second advance was taken up by the commanders on the spot, but also by some of the soldiers who, on their own, sought shelter from the fire further up the slope. Bragg had placed his artillery and trenches of the infantry along the actual crest of the ridge, rather than the military crest
Military crest
Military crest is a term in military science that refers to, "An area on the forward or reverse slope of a hill or ridge just below the topographical crest from which maximum observation and direct fire covering the slope down to the base of the hill or ridge can be obtained."The military crest is...

, and they were unable to provide effective fire. The Union advance was disorganized but effective; finally overwhelming and scattering what ought to have been an impregnable Confederate line. As such, the Army of the Cumberland's ascent of Missionary Ridge was one of the war's most dramatic events. Military historians Herman Hattaway and Archer Jones contend that the Battle of Missionary Ridge was "the war's most notable example of a frontal assault succeeding against intrenched defenders holding high ground." A Union officer remembered that
Grant was initially furious that his orders to advance only as far as the rifle pits had not been followed exactly. Thomas was taken by surprise as well, knowing that he would be blamed if the assault failed. But it succeeded. By 4:30 p.m. the center of Bragg's line had broken completely and fled in panic, requiring the abandonment of Missionary Ridge and a headlong retreat eastward to South Chickamauga Creek. The sole exception to the panicked flight was Cleburne's command, his division augmented by two brigades from another division, which formed the rearguard of Bragg's army as it retreated eastward.

Rossville Gap


After Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E...

's command left Lookout Mountain at about 10 a.m. and moved east, they encountered a significant obstacle. The bridge across Chattanooga Creek, about a mile from Rossville Gap, had been burned by the Confederates as they withdrew the night before and the creek was running high. Brig. Gen. Peter J. Osterhaus
Peter J. Osterhaus
Peter Joseph Osterhaus was Union Army General in the American Civil War and later served as a diplomat.-Early life:Osterhaus was born in Koblenz, Rhenish Prussia. He attended the Berlin Military Academy and after serving for some time as a Prussian Army officer, he emigrated to the United States...

 assigned a 70-man pioneer unit to start rebuilding the bridge while men of the 27th Missouri created a rickety footbridge and began crossing one by one. Hooker decided to leave his guns and wagons behind so that all of his infantry could cross first, but his advance was delayed about three hours and he did not reach Rossville Gap until 3:30 p.m.

Breckinridge was absent while the Union attack wrecked his corps. Worried about his left flank, he rode to the end of his line in the early afternoon. At 3:30 p.m., about the time Thomas launched his four-division attack on Missionary Ridge, Breckinridge visited Stewart's left flank brigade of Col. James T. Holtzclaw
James T. Holtzclaw
James Thadeus Holtzclaw was an Alabama lawyer, railroad commissioner, and general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He played a prominent role of several major engagements of the Army of Tennessee in the Western Theater.-Early life and career:James T...

, whose commander pointed to the southwest where Hooker's men were busily bridging Chattanooga Creek. Concerned about Rossville Gap, which lay undefended beyond his left flank, Breckinridge ordered Holtzclaw to send a couple of regiments to hold the position. It was too late; by the time the Southerners reached the gap, Osterhaus's division had already marched through. Lt. J. Cabell Breckinridge, the general's son and aide-de-camp, rode into a group from the 9th Iowa and was captured.

Hooker quickly faced his troops to the north and organized a three-pronged attack. He sent Osterhaus along a trail east of Missionary Ridge, Cruft onto the ridge itself, and Geary along the western face of the ridge. Holtzclaw faced his men south and put up a fight, but Cruft and Osterhaus soon began herding the outnumbered Confederates north along Missionary Ridge. Hearing a tremendous racket to the north, Breckinridge finally rode off to find out what was wrong. As Holtzclaw retreated before Hooker's command, he eventually bumped into Col. Anson G. McCook
Anson G. McCook
Anson George McCook was a brevet brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, attorney, and three-term postbellum U.S. Congressman from New York...

's 2nd Ohio of Carlin's brigade, now astride the ridge. Surrounded by superior forces on four sides, approximately 700 of Holtzclaw's men surrendered.

Retreat and pursuit


During the night, Bragg ordered his army to withdraw toward Chickamauga Station on the Western and Atlantic Railroad
Western and Atlantic Railroad
The Western and Atlantic Railroad of the State of Georgia' is a historic railroad that operated in the southeastern United States from Atlanta, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee....

 (currently the site of Lovell Air Field) and on November 26 began retreating toward Dalton, Georgia
Dalton, Georgia
Dalton is a city in Whitfield County, Georgia, United States. It is the county seat of Whitfield County and the principal city of the Dalton, Georgia Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of both Murray and Whitfield counties. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 33,128...

, in two columns taking two routes. Only Sheridan tried to pursue beyond Missionary Ridge, but he finally gave up late that night when it was clear that he was not being supported by either Granger or Thomas.

The pursuit ordered by Grant was effectively thwarted at the Battle of Ringgold Gap
Battle of Ringgold Gap
The Battle of Ringgold Gap was fought November 27, 1863, in northwest Georgia during the American Civil War. The Confederate victory by Maj. Gen...

. At 3 a.m. on November 27, Cleburne readied his men and waited until the Union force was almost upon them before opening fire with artillery and rifles. Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's force was taken utterly by surprise, but he tried to use his numbers to regain the initiative. He attempted to outflank the Confederates both on the right and on the left, but the Confederates held their positions. For five hours the slaughter continued, Cleburne's 4,100 soldiers against Hooker's 12,000, with Hooker gaining little ground. Cleburne's men stayed to about noon, then retreated, successfully allowing the wagons and artillery to pass through the gap unharmed.

Grant called off the remaining pursuit because his army was low on rations and he decided he needed to stay close to his supply line. Furthermore, Washington was still clamoring for the rescue of Burnside in Knoxville and Grant was told that the Union troops there had rations that would last only until December 3. President Lincoln's message of congratulations to Grant after Missionary Ridge had said "Well done. Many thanks to all. Remember Burnside."

Aftermath



Casualties for the Union Army amounted to 5,824 (753 killed, 4,722 wounded, and 349 missing) of about 56,000 engaged; Bragg reported Confederate casualties of 6,667 (361 killed, 2,160 wounded, and 4,146 missing, mostly prisoners) of about 44,000. Southern losses may have been higher; Grant claimed 6,142 prisoners. When a chaplain asked General Thomas whether the dead should be sorted and buried by state, Thomas replied "Mix 'em up. I'm tired of States' rights
States' rights
States' rights in U.S. politics refers to political powers reserved for the U.S. state governments rather than the federal government. It is often considered a loaded term because of its use in opposition to federally mandated racial desegregation...

."

One of the Confederacy's two major armies was routed. Bragg relieved Breckinridge from command, accusing him of drunkenness during the period November 23–27. Bragg chose to blame Breckinridge and the cowardice of his army for the defeat. He resigned from command of the Army of Tennessee on December 1 and was replaced temporarily by Hardee. (Gen. Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph E. Johnston
Joseph Eggleston Johnston was a career U.S. Army officer, serving with distinction in the Mexican-American War and Seminole Wars, and was also one of the most senior general officers in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War...

 assumed command of the army on December 27.)

In East Tennessee, Longstreet's offensive against Burnside (the Knoxville Campaign
Knoxville Campaign
The Knoxville Campaign was a series of American Civil War battles and maneuvers in East Tennessee during the fall of 1863. Union forces under Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside occupied Knoxville, Tennessee, and Confederate forces under Lt. Gen. James Longstreet were detached from Gen...

) fell apart at the Battle of Fort Sanders
Battle of Fort Sanders
The Battle of Fort Sanders was the decisive engagement of the Knoxville Campaign of the American Civil War, fought in Knoxville, Tennessee, on November 29, 1863. Assaults by Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet failed to break through the defensive lines of Union Maj. Gen...

 on November 29. Although he was ordered to rejoin Bragg, Longstreet considered the order impracticable and informed Bragg that he would return with his command to Virginia but would maintain the siege on Knoxville as long as possible in the hopes that Burnside and Grant could be prevented from joining forces and annihilating the Army of Tennessee. This plan turned out to be effective because Grant sent Sherman with 25,000 men to relieve the siege at Knoxville. Longstreet abandoned his siege on December 4, went into winter quarters, and returned to Virginia in the spring of 1864.

The Confederate enthusiasm that had risen so high after Chickamauga had been dashed at Chattanooga. The Union now held undisputed control of the state of Tennessee, including Chattanooga, the "Gateway to the Lower South." The city became the supply and logistics base for Sherman's 1864 Atlanta Campaign
Atlanta Campaign
The Atlanta Campaign was a series of battles fought in the Western Theater of the American Civil War throughout northwest Georgia and the area around Atlanta during the summer of 1864. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman invaded Georgia from the vicinity of Chattanooga, Tennessee, beginning in May...

, as well as for the Army of the Cumberland, and Grant had won his final battle in the West
Western Theater of the American Civil War
This article presents an overview of major military and naval operations in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.-Theater of operations:...

 prior to receiving command of all Union armies in March 1864.

Portions of the Chattanooga battlefields, including 3000 acres (1,214.1 ha) at Lookout Mountain, are preserved by the National Park Service
National Park Service
The National Park Service is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations...

 as part of the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, located in northern Georgia and eastern Tennessee, preserves the sites of two major battles of the American Civil War: the Battle of Chickamauga and the Chattanooga Campaign.-History:...

.

Further reading

  • Horn, Stanley F. The Army of Tennessee: A Military History. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1941. .
  • Sword, Wiley. Mountains Touched with Fire: Chattanooga Besieged, 1863. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995. ISBN 0-312-15593-X.
  • Watkins, Sam
    Sam Watkins
    Samuel “Sam” Rush Watkins was a noted Confederate soldier during the American Civil War. He is known today for his memoir Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show, often heralded as one of the best primary sources about the common soldier's Civil War experience.Watkins was born on June 26,...

    . Co. Aytch Maury Grays, First Tennessee Regiment or, A Side Show of the Big Show. Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House, 1882. .
  • Woodworth, Steven E. Jefferson Davis and His Generals: The Failure of Confederate Command in the West. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990. ISBN 0-7006-0461-8.
  • Woodworth, Steven E. This Grand Spectacle: The Battle of Chattanooga. Abilene, TX: McWhiney Foundation, 1999. ISBN 978-0-585-35007-3.

External links