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On the way to Chickamauga

This solitary observer, if he was standing here September 20, 1863, shortly before this was photographed, certainly gazed at the base of the hill to the left. For through the pass called Rossville Gap a column in blue was streaming—Steedman's Division of the Reserve Corps, rushing to aid Thomas, so sore pressed at Chickamauga. Those slopes by Chickamauga Creek witnessed the deadliest battle in the West and the highest in percentage of killed and wounded of the entire war. It was fought as a result of Rosecrans' attempt to maneuver Bragg out of Chattanooga. The Federal army crossed the Tennessee River west of the city, passed through the mountain-ranges, and came upon Bragg's line of communications. Finding his position untenable, the Southern leader moved southward and fell upon the united forces of Rosecrans along Chickamauga Creek. The vital point in the Federal line was the left, held by Thomas. Should that give way, the army would be cut off from Chattanooga, with no base to fall back on. The heavy fighting of September 19th showed that Bragg realized the situation. Brigades and regiments were shattered. For a time, the Union army was driven back. But at nightfall Thomas had regained the lost ground. He re-formed during the night in order to protect the road leading into Chattanooga. Since the second day was foggy till the middle of the forenoon, the fighting was not renewed till late. About noon a break was made in the right of the Federal battle-line, into which the eager Longstreet promptly hurled his men. Colonel Dodge writes: ‘Everything seems lost. The entire right of the army, with Rosecrans and his staff, is driven from the field in utter rout. But, unknown even to the commanding general, Thomas, the Rock of Chickamauga, stands there at bay, surrounded, facing two to one. Heedless of the wreck of one-half the army, he knows not how to yield.’

Solitary observer on the way to Chickamauga


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