A Cursory sketch of General Bragg's campaigns.
Paper no. 3.
On the 4th day of January, 1863, the Confederate army fell back and took up winter quarters at Shelbyville
While there General Joe Johnston
was sent out by the Department to investigate and report upon the operations and discipline of the army.
He found both satisfactory, and so reported.
Retreat out of town.
In June following, to counteract a flank movement on the part of Rosecrans
commenced a retreat to and across the Tennessee
The Federal commander, Rosecrans
, and H. W. Halleck
, had been in correspondence for some time prior, the latter urging the former to advance and attack Bragg
, the former holding back and assigning, for reason, the impropriety of risking ‘two great and decisive battles at the same time,’ besides his general officers, including corps and division commanders, discouraged an advance at that juncture.
, rebutting, stated that, as Johnston
were acting on interior lines, between his own and Grant
's armies, and it was for theirs, and not the Federal
commander's interest, to fight at different times, so as to use the same force in turn against Rosecrans
, his cherished military maxim, not to risk ‘two great decisive battles at the same time,’ was not applicable—and at the same time warning him of the other and more truthful military maxim, ‘councils never fight.’
To these persuasive arguments, accompanied with the assurance of the constantly growing complaint and dissatisfaction, not only in Washington
, but throughout the country, Rosecrans
yielded, and on the 24th of June, commenced a series of movements with the view of creating the impression of a main advance on our center and left, in the direction of Shelbyville
, whilst he would strike the decisive blow by a rapid march, in force, upon our right, and after defeating or turning it, to move on Tullahoma
, and thereby seize
upon our base and line of communication from that point.
In furtherance of that design he moved upon and took possession of Liberty and Hoover's Gaps
, which gave to him a commanding position, and he had only to advance, as he soon afterwards did, to Manchester
, to accomplish the flank movement on our right at Tullahoma
, and cause Bragg
to retreat, which was consequently at once begun.
On reaching Chattanooga
fortified his position and threw up defensive works at points along the Tennessee river
as high as Blythe's Ferry
But the enemy, in overwhelming force1
having a passage of the river at various points2
and seizing important gaps, and threatening Chattanooga
by the pass over the point of Lookout Mountain
was again forced to retreat,3
and on the morning of the 9th Crittenden
's corps occupied Chattanooga
, the objective point of the campaign, while Rosecrans
, with the remainder of the army, pressed forward through the passes of the Lookout Mountain
, threatening Lafayette
and Rome, Georgia
realized the explosion of his pet theory of not risking two decisive battles at one time, because he had accomplished his aim, and at the same time Grant
had reduced Vicksburg
The government at Washington
deemed it all important to their arms that the success of Rosecrans
should be utilized and his position, at all hazards, maintained.
To effect this, and to prevent a flank movement on Rosecrans
's right flank, through Alabama
, General Halleck
at once sent telegrams to Generals Burnside
, in East Tennessee
, at Memphis
, or Sherman
; also to General Schofield
, in Missouri
, and Pope
, in command of the Northwestern Department
, to hasten forward to the Tennessee
line every available man in their departments, and the commanding officers
, were ordered to make every possible exertion to secure General Rosecrans
's line of communication.
And learning that Longstreet
had been ordered to Bragg
was ordered to attack General Lee
, at least to threaten him, so as to prevent him from sending off any more troops.
In the meanwhile Thomas
while in the act of passing one of the gaps leading from McLemore's Cove, enclosed between Lookout and Pigeon Mountains
's, in Broomtown valley
, where lay McCook
's corps, he was suddenly confronted by a portion of our forces under General Hindman
which compelled his hasty retreat.
This sudden show of strength excited uneasiness and doubt in the mind of Rosecrans
He could not decide whether it evinced a purpose to give battle, or a movement to secure a safe retreat.7
But he gave the benefit of the doubt to the former contingency, and commenced a backward movement, with orders to close on the center, and Crittenden
, at Gordon's mills, to be put in good defensive position.8
To return for a moment to McLemore's Cove, General Bragg
had sent General Hindman
to attack Thomas
in flank and rear, whilst he would move up the mountain in force from Lafayette
and attack in front; § the attack in front to commence when the guns of Hindman
were heard in the rear.
His guns were not heard by us on the mountain, and consequently the ‘golden opportunity of bagging that portion of the enemy,’ as tritely remarked by ex-Governor Harris
(then volunteer aid on General Bragg
's staff), was lost to us. For this blunder or failure of General Hindman
's he was soon relieved from command.9
Battle of Chickamauga:
On the evening of the 18th September General Pegram
, of cavalry, having reported the enemy in force at the river (Chickamauga
's brigade, which was leading the advance, was formed in line of battle and ordered to advance and take possession of the bridge and ford, which was done; the enemy, after a brisk encounter, retiring without wholly destroying the bridge.
Speedily repairing the bridge, the army crossed over, camped for the night, and next morning moved forward a short distance, formed in line of battle as each successive division came up, and gave battle to the enemy upon the ever-memorable field of Chickamauga
The army was now divided into two corps or wings,10
the right commanded by Lieutenant-General Polk
, the left wing by Lieutenant-General Longstreet
From its inception to its close the battle was furious, but had the orders of General Bragg
to General Polk
, issued on the night of the 19th, to move on the enemy at daylight, the remainder of the army to await his advance and to move forward when he (Polk
) had become engaged, been carried out, it is believed that the results of that battle, glorious and welcome as they were, would have been made more glorious.11
But as it resulted, the anxious anticipations of the morning's first gun had to be indulged until the humored delay reached long past the day's sunrise,12
which falterings General Polk
was a few days thereafter removed from the command of his corps.13
It may be just and proper to state here that some assign as a reason why Polk
did not move and attack as ordered, was that he ascertained that Longstreet
's right lapped his (Polk
's) left front, and to have advanced would have resulted in the slaughter of our own men.14
But to a military mind this cannot operate as a sufficient excuse, because the danger apprehended could have without delay been obviated by proper instructions to his skirmish line and due notification to the troops in his front of his approaching columns.
On the morning of the 21st September, the enemy having the night previous commenced his retreat to Chattanooga
moved rapidly forward, preceded by General Forrest
and his troopers, who were sorely pressing and harrassing the retreating foe, that night reached Missionary Ridge
and commenced fortifying.16
All the passes of Lookout Mountain
, which had been in possession of the enemy since our abandonment of Chattanooga
during the month previous, and which covered his line of supplies from Bridgeport
, were now regained by us.
Wheeler's cavalry sent to enemy's rear.
To cut off their supplies and force them, if possible, to evacuate Chattanooga
with his cavalry was ordered to ford the Tennessee
and destroy a large wagon train known to be in the Sequahatchie Valley
on its way to Rosecrans
, which was done, besides capturing McMinnville
and other points on the railroad, making his retreat out of Tennessee
by fording the river at Decatur, Ala.
thus almost completely cutting off the supplies of Rosecrans
We occupied the entire south side of the river, from Lookout to Bridgeport
; and as the latter place, with Stevenson
, was supplied from depots at Nashville
by a single railroad, and the river road on the north side rendered unsafe by the unerring fire of our sharp-shooters, it necessitated the hauling of supplies by the enemy a distance of sixty miles over mountains, which placed the Federal
army almost in a starving condition.
, with heavy reinforcements, having in the meantime arrived and assumed command, and Longstreet
having been detached to operate against Burnside
in East Tennessee
began to put a new phase on the issue involved.
Battle of Lookout Mountain.
Throwing a heavy column under Hooker
to the south side of the river by means of floating pontoons, and fortifying at the mouth of South Chickamauga, then bridging that and the Tennessee rivers
, and under cover of the darkness cutting off our entire picket line, consisting of the Twenty-seventh Mississippi, under the command of Colonel Campbell
they had reached midway the mountains, when the ever-watchful, gallant, and chivalric Walthall
, who with his brigade was stationed at the point, observed them and commenced to give them battle.
Failing to obtain from General J. K. Jackson
, then in command of Cheatham
's division, the needful reinforcements, although staff officer after staff officer had been sent for that purpose, Walthall
, after a most obstinate and bloody resistance, was forced to yield the Mountain
, falling back to the Ridge
, on the night of the 25th of November, occupied it and placed himself in communication with Thomas
In that engagement the enemy's batteries at Moccasin Bend, just across from the point, not only threw grape and canister midway up the mountain, but easily threw shot and shell over the point, a distance of over 2,000 yards in altitude, whilst our guns at the point of the mountain were rendered useless against the enemy on account of the utter impossibility of giving them the necessary depression.
Battle of Missionary Ridge.
Thus General Bragg
was threatened on both flanks and a heavy line of battle in his front.
To hold his line of railroad was all important.
's force on the mountain could be distinctly seen.
To oppose him and resist the threatenings of the enemy, Bragg
reinforced his right heavily, leaving, as he reasonably supposed from the natural strength of the position, enough to hold his left and centre.
The first attempts of the enemy on the evening of the 25th under Sherman
were unsuccessful for a time, but finally he was enabled to take two hills (the third he several times tried, but was repulsed), and then he moved around as if to gain Bragg
's rear, when the latter began to mass against him. Both sides, appreciating the importance of the deal, played each for a winning hand with eyes fixed steadily on his opponent, until finally Hooker
moved his columns along the Rossville
road towards General Bragg
's left, and thus forced the latter to reinforce his left still more at the hazard of his centre.
It was then that Thomas
advanced the ‘Army of the Cumberland,’ and succeeded in taking the rifle-pits at the base of the ridge, and rushing headlong to the crest of the ridge amid a storm of shot and shell, drove us in confusion from the field.19
The victory was as great to the enemy as the blow was severe to our cause.
But a few days before, and we had the enemy at the point of starvation; either that or its alternative, a surrender.
Now that he had been overwhelmingly reinforced, and by armies flush with recent victories, he had given us battle and won the day. It was a
desperate alternative, and equally desperately accepted.20
He succeeded, and, tested by the measure of military rules, was justly entitled to wear the plume of victory.
Whether or not he won it by superior forces, or by superior military skill, it was none the less a victory—a victory that made for its hero a name in the military annals of this country second only to the immortal Lee
——a victory that secured for him the high and exalted rank of General
of the Army, and finally President
, for two terms at least, of the United States