previous next

[202] found a secondary crest, which he gained and held.

To this point he called his reserves, and asked for reenforcements, which were sent, but the space was narrow, and it was not well to crowd the men, as the enemy's artillery and musketry fire swept the approach to his position, giving him great advantage.

As soon as General Corse had made his preparations he assaulted, and a close, severe contest ensued, lasting more than an hour, giving and losing ground, but never the position first obtained, from which the enemy in vain attempted to drive him.

General Morgan L. Smith kept gaining ground on the left spur of Missionary Ridge, and Colonel Loomis got abreast of the tunnel and the railroad embankment on his side, drawing the enemy's fire, and to that extent relieving the assaulting party on the hill-crest.

Calander had four of his guns on General Ewing's hill, and Captain Wood his Napoleon battery on General Lightburn's; also, two guns of Dillon's battery were with Colonel Alexander's brigade.

The suddenness of the attack disconcerted the men, and, exposed as they were in the open field, they fell back in some disorder to the lower end of the field, and re-formed. These two brigades were in the nature of supports, and did not constitute a part of the real attack.

The movement, seen from Chattanooga, five miles off; gave rise to the report, which even General Meigs had repeated, that we were repulsed on the left. Not so. The real attacking columns of General Corse, Colonel Loomis, and General Smith were not repulsed. They engaged in a close struggle all day persistently, stubbornly, and well. When the two reserve brigades of General John E. Smith fell back as described, the enemy made a show of pursuit, but were caught in flank by the well-directed fire of our brigade on the wooded crest, and hastily sought his cover behind the hill.

Thus matters stood about three P. M.

The day was bright and clear, and the amphitheatre of Chattanooga lay in beauty at our fect. I had watched for the attack of General Thomas “early in the day.” Column after column of the enemy were streaming toward me, gun after gun poured its concentric shot on us from every hill and spur that gave a view of any part of the ground held by us.

All directed their fire as carefully as possible to clear the hill to our front without endangering our own men. The fight raged furiously about ten A. M., when General Corse received a severe wound and was carried off the field, and the command of the brigade, and of the assault at that key point, devolved on that tine young officer, Colonel Wolcott, of the Forty-sixth Ohio, who filled his post manfully. He continued the contest, pressing forward at all points. Colonel Loomis had made good progress to the right; and at about two P. M. General John E. Smith, judging the battle to be most severe on the hill, and being required to support General Ewing, ordered up Colonel Runion's and General Matthias's brigades across the fields to the summit that was being fought for. They moved up under a heavy fire of cannon and musketry, and joined to Colonel Wolcott, but the crest was so narrow that they necessarily occupied the west face of the hill. The enemy at the time being massed in great strength in the tunnel gorge, moved a large force, under cover of the ground and the thick bushes, and suddenly appeared on the right and rear of this command.

An occasional shot from Fort Wood and Orchard Knoll, and some musketry fire and artillery over about Lookout, was all that I could detect on our side; but about three P. M. I noticed the white line of musketry fire, in front of Orchard Knoll, extending further right and left, and on. We could only hear a faint echo of sound, but enough was seen to satisfy me that General Thomas was moving on the centre. I knew our attack had drawn vast masses of the enemy to our flank, and felt sure of the result. Some guns which had been firing at us all day were silent, or were turned in a different direction.

The advancing line of musketry fire from Orchard Knoll disappeared to us behind a spur of the hill, and could no longer be seen, and it was not until night closed that I knew that the troops in Chattanooga had swept across Missionary Ridge, and broken the enemy's centre.

Of course, the victory was won, and pursuit was the next step. I ordered General Morgan L. Smith to feel the tunnel, and it was found vacant, save by the dead and wounded of our own and enemy's, commingled.

The reserve of General Jeff. C. Davis was ordered to march at once, by the pontoon-bridge across the Chickamauga at its mouth, and push forward for the depot.

General Howard had reported to me, in the early part of the day, with the remainder of his army corps, (the Eleventh,) and had been posted to connect my left with Chickamauga Creek.

He was ordered to repair an old broken bridge about two miles up Chicklamauga, and to follow General D)avis at four A. M., and the Fifteenth army corps to march at daylight. But General Howard found to repair the bridge more of a task than at first supposed, and we were compelled all to cross Clickamauga on the new pontoon-bridge at its mouth.

By about eleven A. M., General Jeff. C. Davis's division appeared at the depot, just in time to see it in flames. He entered with one brigade, and found the enemy occupying two hills partially intrenched just beyond the dopot. These He soon drove away.

The depot presented a scene of desolation that war alone exhibits. Corn-meal and corn, in huge burning piles, broken wagons, abandoned caissons, two thirty-two pounder rifled guns, with carriages burned, pieces of pontoons, balks, chesses, etc., (destined, doubtless, for the famous invasion of Kentucky,) and all manner of things

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: