After the fall of Vicksburg
I urged strongly upon the Government
the propriety of a movement against Mobile
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
'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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
took the initiative.
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
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
, returned to Chattanooga
returned also, but later, and with his troops in good order.
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
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