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by Ulysses S. Grant, General, U. S. A.
After the fall of Vicksburg I urged strongly upon the Government the propriety of a movement against Mobile. General Rosecrans had been at Murfreesboro‘, Tennessee, with a large and well-equipped army from early in the year 1863, with Bragg confronting him with a force quite equal to his own at first, considering that it was on the defensive. But after the investment of Vicksburg, Bragg's army was largely depleted to strengthen Johnston, in Mississippi, who was being reenforced to raise the siege. I frequently wrote to General Halleck suggesting that Rosecrans should move against Bragg. By so doing he would either detain the latter's troops where they were, or lay Chattanooga open to capture. General Halleck strongly approved the suggestion, and finally wrote me that he had repeatedly ordered Rosecrans to advance, but that the latter had constantly failed to comply with the order,2 and at last, after having held a council of war, replied, in effect, that it was a military maxim “not to fight two decisive battles at the same time.” If true, the maxim was not applicable in this case. It would be bad to be defeated in two decisive battles fought the same day, but it would not be bad to win them. I, however, was fighting no battle, and the siege of Vicksburg had drawn from Rosecrans's front so many of the enemy that his chances of victory were much greater than they would be if he waited until the siege was over, when these troops could be returned. Rosecrans was ordered to move against the army that was detaching troops to raise the siege. Finally, on the 24th of June, he did move, but ten days afterward Vicksburg surrendered, and the troops sent from Bragg were free to return.3 It was at this time that I recommended to the general-in-chief the movement against Mobile. I knew the peril the Army of the Cumberland was in, being depleted continually not only by ordinary casualties, but also by having to detach troops to hold its constantly extending line over which to draw supplies, while the enemy in front was as constantly being strengthened. Mobile was important to the enemy, and, in the absence of a threatening force, was guarded by little else than artillery. If threatened by land and from the [680] water at the same time, the prize would fall easily, or troops would have to be sent to its defense. Those troops would necessarily come from Bragg.

My judgment was overruled, however, and the troops under my command were dissipated over other parts of the country where it was thought they could render the most service. Four thousand were sent to Banks, at New Orleans; five thousand to Schofield, to use against Price, in Arkansas; the Ninth Corps back to Kentucky; and finally, in August, the whole of the Thirteenth Corps to Banks. I also sent Ransom's brigade to Natchez, to occupy that point, and to relieve Banks from guarding any part of the river above what he had guarded before the fall of Port Hudson. Ransom captured a large amount of ammunition and about five thousand beef cattle that were crossing the river going east for the rebel armies. At this time the country was full of deserters from Pemberton's army, and it was reported that many had also left Johnston. These avowed they would never go back to fight against us again. Many whose homes were west of the river went there, and others went North to remain until they could return with security.

Soon it was discovered in Washington that Rosecrans was in trouble and required assistance. The emergency was now too immediate to allow us to give this assistance by making an attack in the rear of Bragg upon Mobile. It was, therefore, necessary to reenforee directly, and troops were sent from every available point. On the 13th of September Halleck telegraphed me to send all available forces to Memphis, and thence east along the Memphis and Charleston railroad to cooperate with Rosecrans. This instruction was repeated two days later, but I did not get even the first until the 23d of the month. As fast as transports could be provided all the troops except a portion of the Seventeenth Corps were forwarded under Sherman, whose services up to this time demonstrated his superior fitness for a separate command.4 I also moved McPherson, with most of the troops still about Vicksburg, eastward, to compel the enemy to keep back a force to meet him. Meanwhile Rosecrans had very skillfully manoeuvred Bragg south of the Tennessee River, and through and beyond Chattanooga. If he had stopped and intrenched, and made himself strong there, all would have been right, and the mistake of not moving earlier partially compensated. But he pushed on, with his forces very much scattered, until Bragg's troops from Mississippi began to join him.5 Then Bragg took the initiative. Rosecrans had to fall back in turn, and was able to get his army together at Chickamauga, some miles south-east of Chattanooga, be fore the main battle was brought on. The [681] battle was fought on the 19th and 20th of September, and Rosecrans was badly defeated, with a heavy loss in artillery, and some sixteen thousand men killed, wounded, and captured. The corps under Major-General George H. Thomas stood its ground, while Rosecrans, with Crittenden and McCook, returned to Chattanooga. Thomas returned also, but later, and with his troops in good order. Bragg followed and took possession of Missionary Ridge, overlooking Chattanooga. He also occupied Lookout Mountain, west of the town, which Rosecrans had abandoned, and with it his control of the river and river road as far back as Bridgeport. The National troops were now strongly intrenched in Chattanooga Valley, with the Tennessee River behind them, the enemy occupying commanding heights to the east and west, with a strong line across the valley, from mountain to mountain, and Chattanooga Creek for a large part of the way in front of their line.

On the 29th of September Halleck telegraphed me the above results, and directed all the forces that could be spared from my department to be sent to Rosecrans, suggesting that a good commander like Sherman or McPherson should go with the troops; also that I should go in person to Nashville to superintend the movement. Long before this dispatch was received Sherman was already on his way, and McPherson also was moving east with most of the garrison of Vicksburg. I at once sent a staff-officer to

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Chattanooga (Tennessee, United States) (68)
Missionary Ridge, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (38)
Lookout Mountain, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (26)
Bridgeport, Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (20)
Knoxville (Tennessee, United States) (18)
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Chattanooga Valley (United States) (9)
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Washington (United States) (5)
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Mobile, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (4)
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William T. Sherman (61)
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George H. Thomas (29)
Ambrose E. Burnside (27)
William S. Rosecrans (22)
James Longstreet (20)
John W. Geary (16)
Philip H. Sheridan (14)
Oliver O. Howard (13)
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Ulysses S. Grant (10)
W. F. Smith (9)
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Thomas J. Wood (6)
Joseph E. Johnston (6)
Jefferson C. Davis (6)
Charles Cruft (6)
Absalom Baird (6)
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