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The battles at Chattanooga: on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridgee

On Lookout Mountain--1864


In the beleaguered city: headquarters of General Thomas at Chattanooga In the parlor of this little dwelling sat Ulysses S. Grant on the evening of October 23, 1863. Muddy and rain-soaked from his long ride, he was gravely consulting with General Thomas and his officers. The Army of the Cumberland was in a serious predicament, summed up by Thomas' reply to Grant's first order from Nashville: “We will hold the town till we starve.” Grant had starved a Confederate army out of Vicksburg; and now Bragg's army, reenforced by troops from Johnston, had settled down before Chattanooga to starve out, in turn, what was then the most important Federal force in the West. Strongly posted on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain and in Chattanooga Valley to the south and southeast of the town, Bragg controlled the railroad, making it impossible for supplies to come over it from Bridgeport, Ala. Everything had to be brought into Chattanooga by wagon-trains over a roundabout route of nearly thirty miles. The passage of wagons over the roads was difficult even in good weather, and they were rapidly becoming impassable from the autumn rains. Bragg's forces had fallen upon and burned some three hundred Federal wagons, and with those that were left it was impossible to bring in more than the scantiest supplies. The men had been for weeks on half-rations; all the artillery horses had starved to death; an occasional herd of beef cattle was driven down from Nashville through the denuded country and upon arrival would be aptly characterized by the soldiers as “beef dried on the hoof.” This and hard bread were their only sustenance. Grant, now in command of all the Federal forces from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi, was first confronted by the necessity of hastening the delivery of supplies. Either the Army of the Cumberland must be fed or Bragg would regain the ground that had been lost in Tennessee.

[291] [292]

The attack that had to wait Near this spot General Sherman crossed his column in boats on the night of November 23d and captured all the Confederate pickets along the river except one. Grant, after seizing Brown's Ferry and thus opening a new route for his supplies, ordered Sherman to join him by forced marches. Immediately upon arrival the wearied soldiers of the Army of the Tennessee were assigned the task of opening the main attack upon Bragg's line to the southeast of Chattanooga on Missionary Ridge. Grant did not consider the Army of the Cumberland strong enough to attack Bragg alone, and consequently had postponed such a movement until Sherman could come up. By the 23d of November Sherman's divisions lay in camp, concealed behind the hills near the river bank, at the right of this structure, all ready to cross on a pontoon-bridge which had already been laid higher up the stream.


The unexpected victory The Northeast Slope of Lookout Mountain. This photograph was taken from the hill to the north, where Hooker directed his troops in their “battle above the clouds” on the morning of November 24, 1863. Up this mountain-side Hooker's men fought their way to Pulpit Rock, a height of 2,400 feet. Grant's plan was for nothing more than a demonstration by Hooker to drive the Confederates back from reinforcing their right, where Sherman was to do the heavy work. Hooker's divisions had never before fought together, but with fine ardor they drove Stevenson's six brigades up this slope, and, fighting in the mist, swept them from their entrenchments on the mountain-top. Thus victory first came at the farther end of the line.


After Chattanooga>

... the Confederate lines . . . could not be rebuilt. The material for reconstructing them was exhausted. The blue-crested flood which had broken these lines was not disappearing. The fountains which supplied it were exhaustless. It was still coming with an ever increasing current, swelling higher and growing more resistless. This triune disaster [Vicksburg, Gettysburg, Missionary Ridge] was especially depressing to the people because it came like a blight upon their hopes which had been awakened by recent Confederate victories.

General John B. Gordon, C. S. A., in Reminiscences of the Civil War.


following the defeat of Rosecrans' Army at Chickamauga, in September, 1863, Bragg at once took strong positions on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain. From these heights he was able to besiege the entire Army of the Cumberland in Chattanooga and obstruct the main arteries of supply to the Federal troops. Rosecrans was forced to abandon the route along the south bank of the Tennessee River, which led from Bridgeport, in Alabama, and to depend exclusively upon a long and mountainous wagon road on the north side of the River for the transportation of supplies. The Confederate cavalry, crossing the Tennessee above Chattanooga, fell upon the trains entangled in the mud of the Sequatchie valley, destroying in one day three hundred wagons, and killing or capturing about eighteen hundred mules. Within a short time the wisdom of Bragg's plan became apparent; famine threatened the Union Army and several thousand horses and mules had already died from starvation. By his relentless vigil, the Confederate leader seemed destined to achieve a greater victory over his opponent than had hitherto attended his efforts in actual conflict. [295]

The besieged at this point, where Citico Creek joins the Tennessee, the left of the Eleventh Corps of the Army of the Cumberland rested on the river bank, the limit of the Federal line of defense, east of Chattanooga. Here, on high ground overlooking the stream, was posted Battery McAloon to keep the Confederates back from the river, so that timber and firewood could be rafted down to the besieged Army. In the chill of autumn, with scanty rations, the soldiers had a hard time keeping warm, as all fuel within the lines had been consumed. The Army of the Cumberland was almost conquered by hardship. Grant feared that the soldiers “could not be got out of their trenches to assume the offensive.” but it was these very men who achieved the most signal victory in the battle of Chattanooga.


meanwhile, a complete reorganization of the Federal forces in the West was effected. Under the title of the military Division of the Mississippi, the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee were united with Grant as General commanding, and Rosecrans was replaced by Thomas at the head of the Army of the Cumberland.

a hurried concentration of the Federal forces was now ordered by General Halleck. Hooker with fifteen thousand men of the Army of the Potomac came rapidly by rail to Bridgeport. Sherman, with a portion of his Army, about twenty thousand strong, was summoned from Vicksburg and at once embarked in steamers for Memphis. General Grant decided to assume personal charge of the Federal forces; but before he reached his new command, Thomas, ably assisted by his chief engineer, General W. F. Smith, had begun to act on a plan which Rosecrans had conceived, and which proved in the end to be a brilliant conception. This was to seize a low range of hills known as Raccoon Mountain on the peninsula made by a bend of the river, on its south side and West of Chattanooga, and establish a wagon road to Kelly's Ferry, a point farther down the river to which supplies could be brought by boat from Bridgeport, and at the same time communication effected with Hooker.

a direct line was not only secured to Bridgeport, but Hooker advanced with a portion of his troops into Lookout Valley and after a short but decisive skirmish drove the Confederates across Lookout Creek, leaving his forces in possession of the hills he had gained. The route was now opened between Bridgeport and Brown's Ferry; abundant supplies were at once available and the Army of the Cumberland relieved of its perilous position.

Unlike the condition which had prevailed at Chickamauga, reenforcements from all sides were hastening to the aid of Thomas' Army; Hooker was already on the ground; Sherman was advancing rapidly from Memphis, and he arrived in [297]

Opening “the cracker line” the U. S. S. Chattanooga was the first steamboat built by the Federals on the upper Tennessee River. Had the gunboats on the Ohio been able to come up the Tennessee River nearly three hundred miles, to the assistance of Rosecrans, Bragg could never have bottled him up in Chattanooga. But between Florence and Decatur, Alabama, Muscle Shoals lay in the stream, making the River impassable. While Bragg's pickets invested the railroad and River, supplies could not be brought up from Bridgeport; and besides, with the exception of one small steamboat (the Dunbar), the Federals had no boats on the River. General W. F. Smith, chief Engineer of the Army of the Cumberland, had established a saw-mill with an old engine at Bridgeport for the purpose of getting out lumber from logs rafted down the River, with which to construct pontoons. Here Captain Arthur Edwards, Assistant Quartermaster, had been endeavoring since the siege began to build a steamboat consisting of a flat-bottom scow, with engine, boiler, and stern-wheel mounted upon it. On October 24th, after many difficulties and discouragements had been overcome, the vessel was launched successfully and christened the Chattanooga. on the 29th she made her trial trip. That very night, Hooker, in the battle of Wauhatchie, definitely established control of the new twelve-mile “cracker line” from Kelley's Ferry, which Grant had ordered for the relief of the starving Army. The next day the little Chattanooga, with steam up, was ready to start from Bridgeport with a heavy load of the much-needed supplies, and her arrival was anxiously awaited at Kelley's Ferry, where the wagon-trains were all ready to rush forward the rations and forage to Chattanooga. The mechanics were still at work upon the little vessel's unfinished pilot-house and boiler-deck while she and the two barges she was to tow were being loaded, and at 4 A. M. On November 30th she set out to make the 45-mile journey against unfavorable head-winds.

[298] person on November 15th, while Burnside's forces at Knoxville offered protection to the left flank of the Federal Army.

the disposition of the Confederate troops at this time was a formidable one; the left flank rested on the northern end of Lookout Mountain and the line extended a distance of twelve miles across Chattanooga Valley to Missionary Ridge. This position was further strengthened by entrenchments throughout the lowlands. Despite the danger which threatened his Army from the converging Union forces, General Bragg determined to attack Burnside and despatched Longstreet with twenty thousand of his best troops to Knox ville. His Army materially weakened, the Confederate General continued to hold the same extended position, although his combined force was smaller than had opposed Rosecrans alone at Chickamauga.

on the 23d of November, after a long and fatiguing march over roads almost impassable by reason of continuous rains, Sherman crossed the Tennessee by the pontoon bridge at Brown's Ferry, recrossed it above Chattanooga, and was assigned a position to the left of the main Army near the mouth of Chickamauga Creek. Grant had now some eighty thousand men, of whom sixty thousand were on the scene of the coming battle, and, though fearful lest Burnside should be dislodged from his position at Knoxville, he would not be diverted from his purpose of sweeping the Confederates from the front of Chattanooga. It had been Grant's plan to attack on the 24th, but information reached him that Bragg was preparing a retreat. He, therefore, on the 23d, ordered Thomas to advance upon Bragg's center.

preparations for the movement were made in full view of the Confederates; from the appearance of the troops, clad in their best uniforms, the advance line of the Southern Army was content to watch this display, in the belief that the maneuvering Army was parading in review. Suddenly, the peaceful pageant turned into a furious charge, before which the [299]

The welcome newcomer the home-made little steamboat Chattanooga was beset with difficulties and dangers on her memorable voyage of November 30th. She made but slow progress against the wind and the rapid current of the tortuous Tennessee. Fearful of breaking a steam pipe or starting a leak, she crawled along all day, and then was enveloped in one of the darkest of nights, out of which a blinding rain stung the faces of her anxious crew. Assistant Quartermaster William G. Le Duc, in command of the expedition, helped the pilot to feel his way through the darkness. At last the camp-fires of the Federals became guiding beacons from the shore and soon the Chattanooga tied up safely at Kelley's Ferry. The “cracker line” was at last opened — in the nick of time, for there were but four boxes of hard bread left in the commissary at Chattanooga, where four cakes of hard bread and one-quarter of a pound of pork were being issued as a three-days' ration.


Confederate pickets, taken by surprise, retreated from the first line of earthworks, and Thomas, with little loss to either side, captured Orchard Knob, between Chattanooga and Missionary Ridge. From this point, which was almost a mile in advance of the position occupied during the morning, Grant directed the movements of his army on the following day.

the Federal position was of less extent than that occupied by the Confederates. Sherman was in command of the left wing, while Thomas held the center, and “fighting Joe” Hooker, with the Union right in Lookout Valley, threatened Lookout Mountain. The plan of battle was for Sherman to engage the Confederate right and sever communications between Bragg and Longstreet; Hooker was to carry out an assault on the Southern left flank, and at the same time maintain connection with Bridgeport. With both wings assailed by a superior force, it was believed that Bragg must reenforce these positions and permit Thomas, with overwhelming numbers, to concentrate upon the center.

on the 24th, two distinct movements were in progress. Sherman met with but little opposition in his initial attack upon the Confederate right and promptly seized and occupied the north end of Missionary Ridge. The Confederates, late in the afternoon, fought desperately to regain the hill but were finally repulsed, and Sherman fortified the position he had gained. In the mean time, Hooker, early in the day, had begun his operations against Lookout Mountain. Standing like a lone sentinel above the surrounding valleys, its steep, rocky, and deeply furrowed slopes, rising into a high, palisaded crest, frowned defiance upon the advancing troops, while a well-constructed line of defenses completed the imposing barrier.

Hooker had in addition to his own troops a division of Sherman's army (Osterhaus') which, owing to damage to the pontoon bridge at Brown's Ferry, had been prevented from joining its own leader. As ordered by Hooker, General Geary took his division up the Valley to Wauhatchie, crossed the creek [301]

Missionary Ridge.

at Missionary Ridge (seen in the distance in the second picture) the Army of the Cumberland removed forever from Grant's mind any doubt of its fighting qualities. Grant, anxious to develop Bragg's strength, ordered Thomas, on November 23d, to demonstrate against the forces on his front. Moving out as if on parade, the troops under Gordon Granger drove back the Confederates and captured Orchard Knob (or Indian Hill) a day before it had been planned to do so. Still another surprise awaited Grant on the 25th, when from this eminence he watched the magnificent spectacle of the battle of Chattanooga. Thomas' men again pressed forward in what was ordered as a demonstration against Missionary Ridge. Up and over it they drove the Confederates from one entrenchment after another, capturing the guns parked in the lower picture. “by whose orders are those troops going up the Hill?” “old Pap” Thomas, who knew his men better than did Grant, replied that it was probably by their own orders. It was the most signal victory of the day.

Where an Army gave its own orders

The captured Confederate guns

[302] and marched down the east bank, sweeping the Confederate outposts before him. The remainder of the command got across by bridges lower down. Gaining the slopes of the Mountain the Federal troops rushed on in their advance. From the high palisaded summit, invisible in the low-hanging clouds, the guns of General Stevenson's brigades poured an iron deluge upon them. But on they went, climbing over ledges and boulders, up hill and down, while the soldiers of the South with musket and cannon tried in vain to check them. Position after position was abandoned to the onrushing Federals, and by noon Geary's advanced troops had rounded the north slope of the Mountain and passed from the sight of General Hooker, who was watching the contest from a vantage point to the west. Grant and Thomas from the headquarters on Orchard Knob were likewise eager witnesses of the struggle, although the haze was so dense that they caught a glimpse only now and then as the clouds would rise.

reenforcements came to the Confederates and they availed nothing. Geary's troops had been ordered to halt when they reached the foot of the palisades, but fired by success they pressed impetuously forward. From its higher position at the base of the cliff Cobham's brigade showered volley after volley upon the Confederate main line of defense, while that of Ireland gradually rolled up the flank. The Federal batteries on Moccasin point across the river were doing what they could to clear the Mountain. The Southerners made a last stand in their walls and pits around the Craven house, but were finally driven in force over rocks and precipices into Chattanooga Valley.

such was the “battle in the clouds,” a wonderful spectacle denied the remainder of Hooker's troops holding Lookout Valley. That General says, “from the moment we had rounded the peak of the Mountain it was only from the roar of battle and the occasional glimpses our comrades in the Valley could catch of our lines and standards that they knew of the [303]

Lookout Mountain.

General Hooker and Staff at Lookout Mountain. Hooker's forces of about 9,700 men had been sent from the East to reenforce Rosecrans, but until the arrival of Grant they were simply so many more mouths to feed in the besieged city. In the battle of Wauhatchie, on the night of October 20th, they drove back the Confederates and established the new line of communication. On November 24th they, too, had a surprise in store for Grant. Their part in the triple conflict was also ordered merely as a “demonstration,” but they astounded the eyes and ears of their comrades with the spectacular fight by which they made their way up Lookout Mountain. The next day, pushing on to Rossville, the daring Hooker attacked one of Bragg's divisions and forced it into precipitate retreat.

The men who completed the victory: General Hooker and Staff at Lookout Mountain.

Hooker's Camp at the base of Lookout Mountain

[304] strife or its progress, and when from these evidences our true condition was revealed to them their painful anxiety yielded to transports of joy which only soldiers can feel in the earliest moments of dawning victory.”

by two in the afternoon the clouds had settled completely into the Valley and the ensuing darkness put an end to further operations. Hooker established and strengthened a new position and waited for reenforcements, which General Carlin brought from Chattanooga at five o'clock. Until after midnight an irregular fire was kept up, but the Confederates could not break the new line. Before dawn General Stevenson abandoned the summit, leaving behind twenty thousand rations and the Camp equipage of his three brigades. Hooker, anticipating this move, sent several detachments to scale the palisades. A party of six men from the Eighth Kentucky regiment, by means of ladders, was the first to reach the summit, and the waving Stars and Stripes greeted the rising sun of November 25th on Lookout Mountain, amid the wild and prolonged cheers of “fighting Joe's” valiant troops.

the fighting of Sherman and Hooker on the 24th secured to Grant's army a distinct advantage in position. From the north end of Lookout Mountain across Chattanooga Valley to the north end of Missionary Ridge the Union forces maintained an unbroken front.

the morning of the 25th dawned cold, and an impenetrable mist which lay deep in the valleys was soon driven away. From Orchard Knob, a point almost in the center of the united Federal host, General Grant watched the preparations for the battle. At sunrise, Sherman's command was in motion. In his front, an open space intervened between his position and a Ridge held by the Confederates, while just beyond rose a much higher hill. Toward the first Ridge the attacking column, under General Corse, advanced rapidly and in full view of the foe. For a time it seemed as if the Confederates must recede before the terrific onslaught, but the advance was abruptly [305]

The battle-field above the clouds entrenchments on Lookout Mountain. Up such rugged heights as these, heavily timbered and full of chasms, Hooker's men fought their way on the afternoon of November 24th. Bridging Lookout Creek, the troops crossed, hidden by the friendly mist, and began ascending the Mountain-sides, driving the Confederates from one line of rifle-pits and then from another. The heavy musketry fire and the boom of the Confederate battery on the top of the Mountain apprised the waiting Federals before Chattanooga that the battle had begun. Now and again the fitful lifting of the mist disclosed to Grant and Thomas, watching from Orchard Knob, the men of Hooker fighting upon the heights. Then all would be curtained once more. At two o'clock in the afternoon the mist became so heavy that Hooker and his men could not see what they were doing, and paused to entrench. By four o'clock, however, he had pushed on to the summit and reported to Grant that his position was impregnable. Direct communication was then established and reenforcements sent.

[306] checked after a very close and stubborn struggle, when within a short distance of the entrenchment.

Unmindful of the numbers which opposed him, General Hardee not only succeeded in repulsing the attack, but, assuming the offensive, drove back the forces under General John E. Smith, who had sought to turn his left, and captured several hundred prisoners. The Federals, quickly re-forming their lines, renewed the assault and for several hours the fighting was desperate on both sides. A General advance of the Northern forces had been withheld, awaiting the arrival of Hooker who, under orders from Grant, was sweeping down Chickamauga Valley, and was to operate against the Confederate left and rear, in the expectation that Bragg would further weaken his line by massing at those points. But Hooker's Army had been delayed several hours by repairs to the bridge crossing Chattanooga Creek. Although Sherman had failed in his attempt to turn the Confederate right he had forced Bragg to draw heavily upon his center for reenforcements. Grant, satisfied that Hooker was not far off, ordered the signal-six guns fired in rapid succession from the battery on Orchard Knob — for a General advance of Thomas' Army upon the Confederate center.

it was now three o'clock in the afternoon. The four division commanders of the Army of the Cumberland, Sheridan, Wood, Baird, and Johnson, gave the word to advance. Between Orchard Knob and the base of Missionary Ridge, a mile away, is a broad Valley covered for the most part with heavy timber. This had to be crossed before the entrenchments at the foot of the hill could be assaulted. Scarcely were the Cumberland troops in motion when fifty pieces of artillery on the crest of Missionary Ridge opened a terrific fire upon them. But the onward rush of the Federals was not checked in the slightest degree. The line of entrenchments at the base was carried with little opposition. Most of Breckinridge's men abandoned the ditches as the Federal skirmishers approached [307]

The peak of victory — the morning after the battle Pulpit Rock, the summit of Lookout Mountain. Before dawn of November 25th, Hooker, anticipating the withdrawal of the Confederates, sent detachments to seize the very summit of the Mountain, here 2,400 feet high. Six volunteers from the Eighth Kentucky regiment scaled the palisades by means of the ladders seen in this picture, and made their way to the top. The rest of the regiment quickly followed; then came the Ninety-sixth Illinois. The rays of the rising sun disclosed the Stars and Stripes floating in triumph from the lofty peak “amid the wild and prolonged cheers of the men whose dauntless valor had borne them to that point.”

[308] and sought refuge up the hill, breaking and throwing into confusion other troops as they passed through.

at the foot of Missionary Ridge Thomas' army had reached its goal. Its orders carried it no further. But, as General Wood has related, “the enthusiasm and impetuosity of the troops were such that those who first reached the entrenchments at the base of the Ridge bounded over them and pressed on up the ascent. . . . moreover the entrenchments were no protection against the artillery on the Ridge. To remain would be destruction — to return would be both expensive in life, and disgraceful. Officers and men, all seemed impressed with this truth. . . . without waiting for an order the vast mass pressed forward in the race for glory, each man anxious to be the first on the summit. . . . artillery and musketry could not check the impetuous assault. The troops did not halt to fire. To have done so would have been ruinous. Little was left to the commanders of the troops than to cheer on the foremost — to encourage the weaker of limb and to sustain the very few who seemed to be faint-hearted.”

midway up the slope was a small line of rifle-pits, but these proved of no use in stemming the Federal tide. In the immediate front, however, Major Weaver of the Sixtieth North Carolina rallied a sufficient number of the demoralized Confederates to send a well-directed and effective fire upon the advancing troops. At this point the first line of oncoming Federals was vigorously repulsed, and thrown back to the vacated Confederate trenches. General Bragg, noticing this, ode along the Ridge to spread his good news among the troops, but he had not gone far when word was brought that the right flank was broken and that the Federal standard had been seen on the summit. A second and a third flag appeared in quick succession. Bragg sent General Bate to drive the foe back, but the disaster was so great that the latter was unable to repair it. Even the artillery had abandoned the infantry. The Confederate flank had gone, and within an hour of the start from [309]

The flanking pass the Gap in Missionary Ridge at Rossville. Through this Georgia Mountain-pass runs the road to Ringgold. Rosecrans took advantage of it when he turned Bragg's flank before the battle of Chickamauga; and on November 25, 1863, Thomas ordered Hooker to advance from Lookout Mountain to this point and strike the Confederates on their left flank, while in their front he (Thomas) stood ready to attack. The movement was entirely successful, and in a brilliant battle, begun by Hooker, Bragg's army was swept from Missionary Ridge and pursued in retreat to Georgia.

The skirmish line Multiply the number of these men by ten, strike out the tents, and we see vividly how the advancing line of Thomas' Army of the Cumberland appeared to the Confederates as they swept up the slope at Missionary Ridge to win the brilliant victory of November 25th. This view of drilling Federal troops in Chattanooga preserves the exact appearance of the line of battle only a couple of months before the picture was taken. The skirmishers, thrown out in advance of the line, are “firing” from such positions as the character of the ground makes most effective. The main line is waiting for the order to charge.


Conquering the current the “Suck” in the Tennessee River below Chattanooga. Through this narrow gorge in Raccoon Mountain the water rushes with such force that vessels cannot stem the current under their own steam. The little Chattanooga could not be rendered the customary assistance of windlass and shore-lines while Bragg's forces invested the River, consequently she could ascend it only so far as Kelly's Ferry. In the picture one of the River steamers acquired after the occupation is being warped through this difficult part of the stream.


The River opened the success of the little Chattanooga spurred the Federal saw-mill at Bridgeport to renewed activity. Captain Edwards' shipyard was greatly enlarged after the defeat of Bragg, and in a remarkably short time thirteen staunch transports and four light-draft gunboats were built. Their trial trips during the spring and summer of 1864 were watched with interest because of the difficulties of navigation at “the Suck,” where the current of the Tennessee River prevented the small craft from ascending under their own steam.


The ready River route: Federal transports in the Tennessee, winter of 1863-4 here, waiting to get through the “Suck,” below Chattanooga, are some of the light-draft River steamers which enabled Grant to establish communications almost immediately after his successful encounter with Bragg. The smoke of the Chattanooga battles had scarely cleared away when the two little steamboats then at the disposal of the Federals were loaded with supplies for Burnside, besieged in Knoxville. They were to steam up the Tennessee, abreast of the troops, as far as the mouth of the Holston River, so that their freight might reach Burnside's famished troops as soon as the reenforcements drove off Longstreet. When this was done the River steamers plying between Knoxville and Chattanooga were kept busy and the former became a secondary base. Preparations for the Spring campaign were now set afoot. There were two objectives in Grant's mind. General Joseph E. Johnston had succeeded Bragg in command of the Confederate forces, and to vanquish his army and obtain possession of Atlanta were the important things. But Grant looked further into the future. An expedition against Mobile was seriously considered, and from Nashville, to which place Grant had returned, the telegraph wires were kept busy. Every effort was made to strengthen the Federal positions and prepare for the important movements that were to follow. Early in January, 1864, the Commander-in-chief, with his staff, returned to Chattanooga, and, boarding one the little River steamers, proceeded up the Tennessee as far as its junction with the Clinch River, up to which point the tedious repairs of the railroad from Knoxville to Chattanooga had progressed. From Knoxville Grant and his staff rode out over the frozen and difficult road to inspect the line of communication from Cumberland Gap that it was necessary to abandon or improve.

[313] [314]

Preparing for permanent occupation: military railroad bridge over Chattanooga creek, December, 1863 Bragg was now definitely driven from Tennessee, and his beaten Army lay in winter quarters at Dalton, Georgia, holding the railroad to Atlanta. Longstreet had failed at Knoxville, and after a winter of hardship in the unfriendly mountain regions was to make his way back to Lee for the final struggle. This bridge was the last link in the connection by rail between Nashville and Chattanooga, and the Federal engineers at once set about rebuilding it so that trains might be run into the latter city, which was now made a military post. The original structure was destroyed by Bragg September 7, 1863, when he withdrew from Chattanooga, outflanked by Rosecrans. Grant had saved the Army of the Cumberland and Chattanooga, and Sherman had pressed forward to the relief of Burnside at Knoxville, driving off Longstreet. Chattanooga and Knoxville, now occupied by the Federals, were to become new bases for still greater and more aggressive operations by Sherman against the Confederate Army in Georgia the following year.

[315] [316]

Country hard to hold Whiteside Valley, Tennessee. Over such difficult ground as this the Army of the Cumberland had to make its way in the Chattanooga campaign. Therein lay one valid reason why the Confederates were not sooner swept from eastern Tennessee, as President Lincoln and the War Department at Washington impatiently expected. Only the men who marched over the mountain roads knew to the full the hardships that the task involved. Railroad communications were constantly threatened and interrupted and, when this happened, the daily bread of the soldiers must be hauled in groaning wagon-trains by long, roundabout routes over the almost impassable mountain roads. On these roads points open to attack had to be properly guarded. Even the crude bridges shown in the picture must be commanded by protecting blockhouses or the Army might be without food for days.


communication completed Railroad Bridge Across the Ravine of Running Water at Whiteside, Tennessee. In this picture stands one of the most notable of the almost incredible achievements of army engineers in the Civil War. Between Whiteside and Wauhatchie the railroad on its way in Chattanooga curves southward almost along the boundary of Alabama, and the destroyed bridge at Whiteside had to be replaced before trains could be run into Chattanooga, which was to be held as a Federal military post and base for future operations in Georgia. Here, fourteen miles from Chattanooga, the engineers built this four-tier trestle-bridge, 780 feet long and 116 feet high in the center, completing the work in a remarkably short time toward the close of 1863. Plans for Sherman's Atlanta campaign were already formulating and it was necessary that this bridge in its isolated position should be strongly held. The Camp of the Federal detachment constantly on guard here is seen in the picture, and two of the four double-cased blockhouses, which served as refuges from any attack.


Orchard Knob the crest of Missionary Ridge was occupied by Federal troops. Sheridan did not stop here. He went down the eastern slope, driving all in front of him toward Chickamauga Creek. On a more easterly ridge he rested until midnight, when he advanced to the creek and took many prisoners and stores.

While the Army of the Cumberland accomplished these things, Hooker was advancing his divisions at charging pace from the south. Cruft was on the crest, Osterhaus in the eastern valley, and Geary in the western-all within easy supporting distance. Before Cruft's onrush the left wing of Bragg's army was scattered in all directions from the ridge. Many ran down the eastern slope into Osterhaus' column and the very few who chose a way of flight to the west, were captured by Geary. The bulk of them, however, fell back from trench to trench upon the crest until finally, as the sun was sinking, they found themselves surrounded by Johnson's division of the Army of the Cumberland. Such was the fate of Stewart's division; only a small portion of it got away.

On the Confederate right Hardee held his own against Sherman, but with the left and center routed and in rapid flight Bragg realized the day was lost. He could do nothing but cover Breckinridge's retreat as best he might and order Hardee to retire across Chickamauga Creek.

Thus ended the battle of Chattanooga. Bragg's army had been wholly defeated, and, after being pursued for some days, it found a resting place at Dalton among the mountains of Georgia. The Federal victory was the result of a campaign carefully planned by Generals Halleck and Grant and ably carried out by the efforts of the subordinate generals.

The losses in killed and wounded sustained by Grant were over fifty-eight hundred and those of Bragg about sixty-six hundred, four thousand being prisoners. But the advantage of the great position had been forever wrested from the Southern army.

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Knoxville (Tennessee, United States) (8)
Orchard Knob (Tennessee, United States) (6)
Tennessee (Tennessee, United States) (5)
Tennessee River (United States) (4)
Georgia (Georgia, United States) (4)
Edgefield (Tennessee, United States) (4)
Chattanooga Valley (United States) (4)
Lookout Valley (Wisconsin, United States) (3)
East Chickamauga Creek (Georgia, United States) (3)
Whiteside, Tenn. (Tennessee, United States) (2)
Vicksburg (Mississippi, United States) (2)
Rossville (Georgia, United States) (2)
Raccoon Mountains (Tennessee, United States) (2)
Dalton, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (2)
Chattanooga Creek (United States) (2)
Bridgeport, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (2)
Atlanta (Georgia, United States) (2)
Washington (United States) (1)
Stevenson (Alabama, United States) (1)
Ringgold, Ga. (Georgia, United States) (1)
Muscle Shoals (Alabama, United States) (1)
Moccasin Point (Mississippi, United States) (1)
Mobile, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (1)
Hornady (Alabama, United States) (1)
Holston (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Gettysburg (Pennsylvania, United States) (1)
Florence, Ala. (Alabama, United States) (1)
Cumberland Gap (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Clinch River (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Citico Creek (Tennessee, United States) (1)
Alleghany Mountains (United States) (1)
Alabama (Alabama, United States) (1)

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