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[143]

Chapter 5: the Chattanooga campaign.--movements of Sherman's and Burnside's forces.


In returning to Chattanooga, Rosecrans commenced the formidable line of fortifications around that town, under the skillful directions of General James St. Clair Morton, of the engineers, which excited the admiration of all; and within twenty-four hours after the army moved from Rossville, it was strongly intrenched — so strongly that Bragg could not, with safety, make a direct attack upon it. He did not attempt it, but took measures for starving it into a surrender, by cutting off its avenues of supplies.

Bragg found himself in a most unpleasant predicament. Regarding the failure of Polk and Hindman to bring on the battle at an earlier hour on the morning of the 20th1 as the chief cause of his inability to secure a substantial victory, he had them placed under arrest, and thereby caused widespread murmuring, and a mutinous spirit in his army. He was severely censured for not securing that victory himself, by pursuing the fugitives when they moved from the Missionaries' Ridge, and striking them in the open, broken plain, in front of Chattanooga. More aggravating still was a requirement by the authorities at Richmond that he should attempt the impossible feat of moving by his left across the Tennessee River, and advancing on Nashville. So preposterous was this requirement, that he could scarcely conceal his contempt when saying to his superiors, “The suggestion requires notice only because it will find a place in the files of the War Department.” He told them that such a movement was utterly impossible, for want of transportation; that half his army consisted of re-enforcements that had joined him just before the recent battle, without transportation or artillery horses; that a third of his own artillery horses were lost; that he had no means of crossing a wide river liable to be flooded any hour by a rain-storm in the mountains; and that by such movement he would have to abandon all the fruits of his victory on the Chickamauga, and leave exposed vast supplies for the use of the Confederate army.

Bragg did not entertain the proposition from the War Department for a moment, but proceeded at once to the more practicable business of starving the Army of the Cumberland. For this purpose he had now great advantages. By his advance to Lookout Mountain, and its vicinity, when Rosecrans retired to Chattanooga, he gained possession of the left bank of the Tennessee to Bridgeport, by which he commanded the navigation of that stream, and the road along its margin opposite, at the foot of the precipitous mountain ranges that skirt it. He thus cut off Rosecrans from direct communication [144] with his bases of supply at Bridgeport and Stevenson, and compelled him to transport these in wagons from the former place, over the rugged mountains by way of the Saquatchie Valley, fifty or sixty miles, and then across the Tennessee, at Chattanooga, on pontoon bridges. This service was most severe, and its operations were perilous and precarious, for the autumn storms were beginning to howl among the mountains, and small streams were often converted into torrents in the space of an hour. The consequence was that for a time the Army of the Cumberland was on short allowance, and thousands of its horses and mules — not less than ten thousand, it is said — were starved or worked to death in the business of transportation.

While the Army of the Cumberland was thus imprisoned at Chattanooga, a salutary change was wrought in its organization. We have observed that when Halleck was satisfied that Longstreet had gone to Tennessee, he telegraphed to Grant and Sherman, and other commanders in the West, to give all possible aid to Rosecrans.2 Grant was then in New Orleans, disabled by a fall from his horse,3 and Sherman, who represented him at Vicksburg, did not receive the dispatch till several days after it was issued. Hearing nothing from either, and startled by the saddening news from the Chickamauga, Halleck at once, as we have observed,4 detached the Eleventh (Howard's) and Twelfth (Slocum's) corps from the Army of the Potomac, and sent them, under the general command of Hooker, to Middle Tennessee, with orders, until further directed, to guard Rosecrans's communications between Nashville and Bridgeport. These troops were moved with marvelous celerity under the wise direction of

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