coming drama, was supplied with the necessary maps and information, and rode, during the sixteenth, in company with Generals Grant, Thomas, W. F. Smith, Brannan, and others, to the position on the west bank of the Tennessee, from which could be seen the camps of the enemy, compassing Chattanooga and the line of Missionary Hills with its terminus on Chickamauga Creek, the point that I was expected to take, hold, and fortify. Pontoons with a full supply of balks and chesses had been prepared for the bridge over the Tennessee, and all things prearranged with a foresight that elicited my admiration. From the hills we looked down upon the amphitheatre of Chattanooga as on a map, and nothing remained but for me to put my troops in the desired position. The plan contemplated that in addition to crossing the Tennessee and making a lodgment on the terminus of Missionary Ridge, I should demonstrate against Lookout Mountain near Trenton with a part of my command. All on the Chattanooga were impatient for action, rendered almost acute by the natural apprehension felt for the safety of General Burnside in East-Tennessee. My command had marched from Memphis, and I had pushed them as fast as the roads and distance would permit; but I saw enough of the condition of men and animals in Chattanooga to inspire me with renewed energy. I immediately ordered my leading division (Ewing's) to march via Shell Mound to Trenton, demonstrate against Lookout Ridge, but to be prepared to turn quickly and follow me to Chattanooga, and in person I returned to Bridgeport, rowing a boat down the Tennessee from Kelly's, and immediately on arrival put in motion my division in the order they had arrived. The bridge of boats at Bridgeport was frail, and, though used day and night, our passage was slow, and the roads thence to Chattanooga were dreadfully cut up and encumbered with the wagons of other troops stationed along the road. I reached General Hooker's headquarters during a rain in the afternoon of the twentieth, and met General Grant's orders for the general attack for the next day. It was simply impossible for me to fill my post in time. Only one division, General John E. Smith's, was in position. General Ewing was still in Trenton, and the other two were toiling along the terrible road from Shell Mound to Chattanooga. No troops ever were or could be in better condition than mine, or who labored harder to fulfil their part. On a proper representation, General Grant postponed the attack. On the twenty-first, I got the Second division over Brown's Ferry Bridge, and General Ewing got up, but the bridge broke repeatedly, and delays occurred which no human sagacity could prevent. All labored night and day, and General Ewing got over on the twenty-third, but my rear division was cut off by the broken bridge at Brown's Ferry, and could not join me, but I offered to go in action with my three divisions, supported by Brigadier-General Jeff. C. Davis, leaving one of my best divisions to act with General Hooker against Lookout Mountain. That division has not joined me yet, but I know and feel that it has served the country well, and that it has reflected honor on the Fifteenth army corps, and the army of the Tennessee. I leave the record of its history to General Hooker, or whoever has had its services during the late memorable events, confident that all will do it merited honor. At last, on the twenty-third of November, my Third division behind the hills opposite the mouths of Chickamauga, I despatched the brigade of the Second division, commanded by General Giles A. Smith, up under cover of the hills to North-Chickamauga, to man the boats designed for the pontoon-bridge, with orders at midnight to drop down silently to a point above the mouth of South-Chickamauga, then land the regiments, who were to move along the river quietly, and capture the enemy's river pickets. General Giles A. Smith then to drop rapidly below the mouth of Chickamauga, disembark the rest of his brigade, and despatch the boats across for fresh loads. These orders were skilfully executed, and every picket but one captured. The balance of General Morgan L. Smith's division was then rapidly ferried across; that of General John E. Smith followed, and by daylight of November twenty-fourth, two divisions of about eight thousand men were on the east bank of the Tennessee, and had thrown up a very respectable rifle-trench as a tete-du-pont. As soon as the day dawned, some of the boats were taken from the use of ferrying, and a pontoon-bridge begun under the immediate direction of Captain Dresser, the whole planned and supervised by General W. F. Smith in person. A pontoon-bridge was also built at the same time over Chickamauga Creek, near its mouth, giving communication with the two regiments left on the north bank, and fulfilling a most important purpose at a later stage of the drama. I will here bear my willing testimony to the completeness of this whole business. All the officers charged with the work were present, and manifested a skill which I cannot praise too highly. I have never beheld any work done so quietly, so well; and I doubt if the history of the war can show a bridge of that extent, (namely, one thousand three hundred and fifty feet,) laid down so noiselessly and well in so short a time, I attribute it to the genius and intelligence of General W. F. Smith. The steamer Dunbar arrived up in the course of the morning, and relieved General Ewing's division of the labor of rowing across, but by noon the pontoon-bridge was down, and my
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Doc . 3 .-attack on the defences of Mobile .
Surrender of Fort Powell .
Battle of Olustee .
Battle of Pleasant Hill .
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.