The part of it assaulted by my division the afternoon of the twenty-fifth, is about four miles from Chattanooga, and about a mile from Orchard Knob. Between the latter and the base of Mission Ridge there is a broad; wooded valley. Of course, this had to be traversed before the intrenchments at the base of the ridge could be assaulted. As soon as our troops began to move forward the enemy opened a terrific fire from his batteries on the crest of the ridge. The batteries were so posted as to give a direct and cross fire on the assaulting troops. It would not, perhaps, be an exaggeration to say that the enemy had fifty pieces of artillery disposed on the crest of Mission Ridge. But the rapid firing of all this mass of artillery could not stay the onward movement of our troops. They pressed forward with dauntless ardor, and carried the line of intrenchments at the base of the ridge. The enemy in these intrenchments, doubtlessly impressed with the uselessness of resistance, made no serious opposition, but sought safety by flight behind his intrenchments on the crest of the ridge. When the first line of intrenchments was carried, the goal for which we had started was won. Our orders carried us no further. We had been instructed to carry the line of intrenchments at the base of the ridge, and then halt. But the enthusiasm and impetuosity of the troops were such that those who first reached the intrenchments at the base of the ridge bounded over them, and pressed on up the ascent after the flying enemy. Moreover, the intrenchments were no protection against the enemy's artillery on the ridge. To remain would be destruction; to retire would be both expensive in life, and disgraceful. Officers and men all seemed impressed with this truth. In addition, the example of those who commenced to ascend the ridge so soon as the intrenchments were carried, was contagious. Without waiting for an order, the vast mass pressed forward in the race of glory, each man eager to be the first on the summit. The enemy's artillery and musketry could not check the impetuous assault. The troops did not halt to fire; to have done so would have been ruinous. Little was left to the immediate commanders of the troops than to cheer on the foremost, to encourage the weaker of limb, and to sustain the very few who seemed to be faint-hearted. To the eternal honor of the troops, it should be recorded that the laggards were, indeed, few in number. The interval which elapsed between the carrying of the intrenchments at the base of the ridge and the crowning of the summit, must have been one of intense and painful anxiety to all who were not participants in the assault. The ascent of Mission Ridge was, indeed, an effort to try the strongest limbs and the stoutest hearts. But suspense and anxiety were not of long duration. Upward steadily went the standard of the Union (borne onward by strong arms, upheld by brave hearts), and soon it was seen flying on the crest of Mission Ridge I Loud, indeed, were the shouts with which this spectacle was received. Some of the first troops on the crest pressed forward in pursuit of the flying enemy immediately in front of them, while others (with great good sense on the part of their brigade commanders) were deployed to the right and left to clear the ridge, and to relieve the pressure on our troops that had not gained the summit. The good effect of the flank attacks was almost instantaneously apparent, and soon the entire crest was occupied by our troops. Mission Ridge was ours The enemy, whom we had seen during the two lonely months of the investment occupying this dominating position, was in full retreat. As the day was nearly spent, and the troops much worn and somewhat disordered by the ascent, the pursuit could not, of course, be long continued. Darkness was coming on apace, and the brigades were re-formed on the crest of the ridge, where they bivouacked for the night. The assault of Mission Ridge is certainly one of the most remarkable achievements that have ever occurred. Military history would probably be ransacked in vain for a parallel. With so much armed resistance encountered, probably no assault was ever so eminently successful. In fifty minutes from the time the advance commenced, the first flags were seen flying on the crest of the ridge. But the great achievement was not won without serious loss. Many gallant and accomplished officers and brave men were killed and wounded in the assault. To these especially is the lasting homage and gratitude of the country due. As is not at all singular, there is a difference of opinion as to what troops first crowned the summit of Mission Ridge. All the different divisions engaged in the assault set up claims to this honor; the brigades of the same division (I know it is so in my division) have conflicting claims; and in like manner the regiments of the same brigade lay claim to the honor. Each commander, observing his own troops more closely than others, is disposed to think, with all honesty, that his command was first on the crest. While admitting I am liable to be mistaken, I sincerely think a considerable portion of my division were the first troops that reached the summit. But I am not able to discriminate with certainty which one of the three brigades was first up. The truth is, parts of each brigade reached the crest almost simultaneously; and where injustice might be done, I do not think it advisable to make a decision on the conflicting claims. In fact, I do not consider myself competent to do so. I own that I was much more interested in getting to the top of the ridge than in seeing who reached there first. Happily, it is a question which does not require to be definitely settled. The strong position of the enemy was carried, and it matters little what particular
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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