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Chapter 6:

In a previous chapter it has been seen how coldly, unjustly, and almost contemptuously General Sherman's book treats of Buell and his army at Shiloh—a general and an army that, beyond all room for question, brought salvation to Grant's forces, to which sore disaster had come through a disgraceful surprise, for which Sherman was in person largely responsible.

Following him in his book through his excuses for bloody failure at Chickasaw Bayou, his protest against Grant's plan for capturing Vicksburg from the rear, and his assertion that it might have been taken six months earlier by another route, we find him again misrepresenting and sneering at the Army of the Ohio, under its successive commanders, Rosecrans and Thomas, then operating about Chattanooga under its new title, the Army of the Cumberland.

With the records of the war at his control, and at his very elbow, this is the version of Rosecrans' movement on, and capture of. Chattanooga, which General Sherman puts forth:

While we were thus lying idle in camp on the Big Black, the Army of the Cumberland, under General Rosecrans, was moving against Bragg at Chattanooga; and the Army of the Ohio, General Burnside, was marching toward East Tennessee.

General Rosecrans was so confident of success that he somewhat scattered his command, seemingly to surround and capture Bragg in Chattanooga; but the latter, reenforced from Virginia, drew out of Chattanooga, concentrated his army at Lafayette, and at Chickamauga fell on Rosecrans, defeated him and drove him into Chattanooga. [66]

The whole country seemed paralyzed by this unhappy event; and the authorities in Washington were thoroughly stampeded. From the East the Eleventh Corps (Slocum) and the Twelfth Corps (Howard) were sent by rail to Nashville, and forward under command of General Hooker. Orders were also sent to General Grant by Halleck to send what reenforcements he could spare immediately toward Chattanooga.

Bragg had completely driven Rosecrans' army into Chattanooga. The latter was in actual danger of starvation, and the railroad in his rear seemed inadequate to his supply. The first intimation which I got of this disaster was on the 22d of September, by an order from General Grant to dispatch one of my divisions immediately into Vicksburg to go toward Chattanooga, and I designated the First, General Osterhaus'—Steele, meantime, having been appointed to the command of the Department of Arkansas, and had gone to Little Rock. General Osterhaus marched the same day, and on the 23d I was summoned to Vicksburg in person, where General Grant showed me the alarming dispatches from General Halleck, which had been sent from Memphis by General Hurlbut, and said, on further thought, that he would send me and my whole corps. But, inasmuch as one division of McPherson's corps (John E. Smith's) had already started, he instructed me to leave one of my divisions on the Big Black, and to get the other two ready to follow at once. I designated the Second, then commanded by Brigadier-General Giles A. Smith, and the Fourth, commanded by Brigadier-General Corse.

—Page 346, Vol. I.

Before considering General Sherman's story further, a statement of General Rosecrans' operations, which is sustained by the record, may properly be considered:

General Rosecrans, with his magnificent army, had, by his brilliant strategy, driven Bragg without serious battle out of Murfreesboro, out of Tullahoma, out of Wartrace, and finally across the Tennessee, here a deep and wide river, where he took post in the fortified city of Chattanooga.

The ojective point of Rosecrans' next campaign was the latter city. Two plans were open to him. He could cross the river above, in the face of Bragg's army, and assault the place. Had he done this, and at the cost of never so bloody a battle wrested that stronghold from Bragg, the whole nation would have applauded, and the movement been so plain that even General Sherman might have been compelled to write it correctly, notwithstanding his prejudices against the Army of the Cumberland. [67]

The other course open to Rosecrans was the one lie adopted, namely, to cross the Tennessee far below the city, and the three intervening mountain ranges, come down in the rear of Chattanooga, and force Bragg to evacuate it.

Long before the single line of railroad could bring him the needed supplies for such a campaign, Halleck, who knew nothing of the ground and its great difficulties, was telegraphing from Washington peremptory orders to move. But, waiting till he had twenty-five days scant supplies, Rosecrans cut loose from his base and crossed the Tennessee under great disadvantages, one of his largest divisions actually crossing in canoes and upon rafts constructed by the men, many of the soldiers piling their clothes, guns, and cartridge-boxes on two or three rails, and pushing the whole over before them as they swam the half mile of deep water. The three ranges were all difficult in the extreme; but finally the main part of the army came down from Lookout Mountain into McLemore's Cove, in rear of Chattanooga, and Bragg, giving up the city without a blow, being unable to hold it and at the same time confront Rosecrans with any portion of his force, evacuated it and retreated to Lafayette, behind Pigeon Mountains. Here, he was virtually reenforced by Longstreet from Virginia, although the forces of the latter were still only within supporting distance, and not, as General Sherman writes, before he evacuated Chattanooga. And because he was thus reenforced he set out to re-occupy the city he had abandoned, and which he knew to be Rosecrans' objective point. Then occurred the widely misunderstood and misrepresented battle of Chickamauga.

Bragg, strengthened by Longstreet, started to interpose between Rosecrans and the stronghold he had lately evacuated. Rosecrans was also marching to occupy it as the objective point of his campaign. Thus marching, the heads of the two armies met where their respective roads to Chattanooga intersected, about six miles from the city, and facing toward each other and closing together like the blades of a [68] pair of shears, these armies fought two days for Chattanooga.

The key positions of the whole movement were the passes in Missionary Ridge, which controlled the roads to Chattanooga, and these lay less than two miles from the field, and directly on the roads both armies were pushing over toward the city.

The history of the fighting is well known. The breaking of the right on the second day has been widely treated as if it were the rout of the Union forces. But Thomas, who remained with the largest part of the army intact, fought through to the close of the battle with his lines unbroken. The last divisions of our line to leave the field were in undisturbed possession of their ground, and withdrew quietly and unmolested. Thomas left the field mainly because the passes which controlled Chattanooga—the objective point of the campaign—were in his rear, and if he did not occupy them that night the chances were that the rebels would do so, and thus make successful their plan of battle, which was to turn the Union left and interpose between Rosecrans and Chattanooga.

The rebels did not follow till noon of the next day, and finding our army in the passes did not attack it. The following day Rosecrans' army marched undisturbed into Chattanooga, and Union troops held it till the close of the war.

Chickamauga, then, was the battle for Chattanooga; and at the end of a campaign which, when impartial history is written, will assuredly rank among the most brilliant for its strategy, the prize for which Rosecrans contended was won. The troops which fought longest and suffered most never looked upon the battle as a defeat, and were fully satisfied with the part they had played. To the Army of the Cumberland it was but the battle for, and the winning of Chattanooga, And this, though Sherman's readers would not dream of it, is how it came to pass that ‘Bragg had completely driven Rosecrans' army into Chattanooga.’ [69]

General Rosecrans' movements which secured Chattanooga resembled in many of their main features those by which Sherman captured Atlanta. Rosecrans had successively flanked Bragg out of all positions from Murfreesboro to Chattanooga, and instead of assaulting this he moved to the rear, compelled its evacuation, fought for it in the open field, and occupied it. Sherman, chiefly by flanking Johnston, drove him back upon Atlanta. After many assaults, against the earnest advice of Thomas and others who wished him to go the rear and compel an evacuation, he finally yielded and marched to Lovejoy's and Jonesboro, leaving Slocum to watch for the evacuation of Atlanta, as Crittenden had watched for Rosecrans at Chattanooga.

The movement drew Hood out of Atlanta, and Slocum marched in, as Crittenden had passed into Chattanooga when Rosecrans' army flanked Bragg out of it. Sherman's army, at the moment of occupation, was quite as much scattered below Atlanta, as Rosecrans' had been south of Chattanooga. Suppose some story-teller of the war had then written: ‘Hood had completely driven Sherman's army into Atlanta!’ If it be answered that Sherman marched back to his objective point without a fight, the scales may still settle even, for Sherman did not start to flank till after serious battle, while Rosecrans avoided assaulting a stronghold in the outset.

After these misrepresentations of the movement by which the Army of the Cumberland won this rebel stronghold on the Tennessee, the reader will be better prepared for the misstatements written in regard to the same army when it passed kinder the command of General Thomas, and took part in the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. That army had well nigh started in carrying out its purpose to hold the city it had taken. Thousands of horses and mules had died for want of food. There were brigade headquarters where the officers lived chiefly on parched corn; there were regimental headquarters where the daily food was mush or [70] gruel; there were officers of high rank, who lived for days on sour pork and wormy and moldy bread. But the lofty spirit of these men was unbroken, and no army stood any where during the rebellion whose faith in final victory was stronger than the faith of these soldiers under George H. Thomas; and yet at this late day, and in the light of the immortal charge they, as an army, made up the heights of Missionary Ridge, the General of the armies affirms that General Grant doubted whether they would come out of their trenches for a fight.

But let General Sherman speak for himself as he does on page 361 of his first volume. Before perusing it let the reader bear in mind that the line of supplies of Thomas' army had been fully opened before Sherman arrived, through the cooperation of Generals Howard and Slocum, and without any help from him, and that the suffering for food was entirely at an end and not a present thing, as his words imply; that Chattanooga was no longer besieged, except as a rebel army was in front of it, while the communications to the rear, though not all that could be wished, were still ample to enable General Thomas to hold the place.

Says General Sherman, speaking of his arrival:

Of course I was heartily welcomed by Generals Grant, Thomas, and all, who realized the extraordinary efforts we had made to come to their relief.

The next morning we walked out to Fort Wood, a prominent salient of the defenses of the place, and from its parapet we had a magnificent view of the panorama. Lookout Mountain, with its rebel flags and batteries, stood out boldly, and an occasional shot fired toward Wauhatchee or Moccasin Point gave life to the scene. These shots could barely reach Chattanooga, and I was told that one or more shot had struck a hospital inside the lines. All along Missionary Ridge were the tents of the rebel beleaguering force; the lines of trench from Lookout up toward the Chickamauga were plainly visible, and rebel sentinels in a continuous chain were walking their posts in plain view, not one thousand yards off. “Why,” said I, “General Grant, you are besieged;” and he said, “it is too true.” Up to that moment I had no idea that things were so bad. The rebel lines actually extended from the river below the town to the river above, and the Army of the Cumberland was closely held to the town and its immediate defenses. General Grant pointed out to me a house on Missionary Ridge where General Bragg's headquarters were known to be. He also explained the situation of affairs [71] generally; that the mules and horses of Thomas' army were so starved that they could not haul his guns; that forage, corn, and provisions were so scarce that the men in hunger stole the few grains of corn that were given to favorite horses; that the men of Thomas' army had been so demoralized by the battle of Chickamagua that he feared they could not be got out of their trenches to assume the offensive; that Bragg had detached Longstreet with a considerable force up into East Tennessee to defeat and capture Burnside; that Burnside was in danger, etc.; and that he (Grant) was extremely anxious to attack Bragg in position, to defeat him, or at least to force him to recall Longstreet. The Army of the Cumberland had so long been in the trenches that he wanted my troops to hurry up to take the offensive first; after which, he had no doubt the Cumberland Army would fight well. Meantime the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps, under General Hooker, had been advanced from Bridgeport along the railroad to Wauhatchee, but could not as yet pass Lookout Mountain. A pontoon bridge had been thrown across the Tennessee River at Brown's Ferry, by which supplies were hauled into Chattanooga from Kelly's and Wauhatchee.

And this from a General whose own army alone, of the three engaged, failed in this very battle of Chattanooga to execute what was expected of it, and what it was ordered to do. It fought splendidly and persistently, but failed to gain a foothold on the main ridge upon Bragg's extreme right. Hooker carried Lookout, Thomas advancing and supporting his left as it swept around the mountain and reached downward toward the city. Thomas' men needed no example from Sherman; had not seen his army, saw none of his fighting, and knew very little of his movements, rose early from their bivouacks the day after Lookout, swung round over the plains and woods which the rebels had occupied, to make sure of their retreat to Missionary Ridge, then faced the ridge for two miles, formed that grand storming party, and, in the face of an army with sixty cannon in position; climbed those rugged heights and drove Bragg into sudden, unexpected, and rapid retreat. It was more than two hours after the battle was thus ended, by these men, who, forsooth, it was feared would not come out of their trenches to fight till Sherman had set them an example, before Sherman himself heard that the victory had been gained. And ten years after he assumes [72] to sneer at the men who formed Thomas' storming army at Missionary Ridge. Let the official record answer him! General Grant, without waiting till Thomas' men could see Sherman fight and take courage, ordered an assault on the ridge. And, on this point, the records afford the means of correcting a common error in regard to this movement. The matter will be briefly presented here, although not mentioned in the Memoirs.

It has been frequently said that, after all, the Army of the Cumberland carried the ridge only by chance, and that no orders were given for going beyond the line of rifle pits at its base, but that the forward movement from that point was caused by a portion of the line starting on without orders, and thus leading the whole toward the summit.

General Grant, however, in his report states the character of the orders he gave General Thomas, and shows that the storming of the ridge was intended from the first:

‘His (Hooker's) approach was intended as the signal for storming the ridge in the center with strong columns, but the time necessarily consumed in the construction of the bridge near Chattanooga Creek detained him to a later hour than was expected. * * * * Thomas was accordingly directed to move forward his troops, * * * * with a double line of skirmishers thrown out, followed in easy supporting distance by the whole force, and carry the rifle pits at the foot of Missionary Ridge, and when carried to reform his lines in the rifle pits, with a view of carrying the top of the ridge.’

The form in which General Thomas communicated this order to his own troops, is shown by a paragraph from the report of General Baird who commanded his left division:

‘I had just completed the establishment of my line, and was upon the left of it, when a staff officer from Major-General Thomas brought me verbal orders to move forward to the edge of the open ground which bordered the toot of Mission Ridge, within striking distance of the rebel rifle pits at its base, so as to be ready at a signal, which would be the firing of six guns from Orchard Knob, to dash forward and take those pits. He added this was preparatory to a general assault on the mountain; that it was doubtless designed by the Major-General commanding that I should take part in this movement; so that I would be following his wishes were I to push on to the summit.’


General Rosecrans was so confident of success that he somewhat scattered his command,’ say the Memoirs. There was another thing of which General Rosecrans was confident, and which a just or accurate writer should have mentioned when dealing out severe criticism. He had been notified from Washington, early in August, that Burnside would move through East Tennessee with an effective force of twelve thousand men upon his left, and was informed almost daily, before and after the battle of Chickamauga, that he would be on the ground for cooperative movements. The record history of this failure on the part of Burnside, is necessary to any fair review of Rosecrans' campaign against Chattanooga, and enough to show its real bearing will now be presented.

The dispatches which follow are from General Halleck at Washington, to Burnside on the march and in East Tennessee:

August 5th.—You will immediately move with a column of twelve thousand men by the most practicable route on East Tennessee, making Knoxville or its vicinity your objective point. * * * * You will report by telegraph all the movements of your troops. As soon as you reach East Tennessee you will endeavor to connect with the forces of General Rosecrans, who has peremptory orders to move forward. The Secretary of War repeats his orders, that you move your headquarters from Cincinnati to the field, and take command of the troops in person.

September 5th.—Nothing from you since August 31st. Keep General Rosecrans advised of your movements, and arrange with him for cooperation.

September 11th.—Connect with General Rosecrans at least with your cavalry. * * * * General Rosecrans will occupy Dalton or some point upon the railroad, to close all access from Atlanta, also the mountain passes on the west. This being done it will be determined whether the moveable forces shall move into Georgia and Alabama, or into the Valley of Virginia and North Carolina.

September 13th.—It is important that all the available forces of your command be pushed forward into East Tennessee. All your scattered forces should be centered there. As long as we hold Tennessee, Kentucky is perfectly safe. Move down as rapidly as possible toward Chattanooga to connect with Rosecrans. Bragg may hold the passes in the mountain to cover Atlanta, and move his main army through Northern Alabama to reach the Tennessee River, and turn Rosecrans' right and cut off his supplies. In that case he will turn Chattanooga over to you, and move to intercept Bragg. [74]

September 14th.—There are reasons why you should reenforce General Rosecrans with all possible dispatch. It is believed that the enemy will concentrate to give him battle. You must be there to help him.

Sptember 15th.—From information received here to-day it is very probable that three divisions of Lee's army have been sent to reenforce Bragg. It is important that all the troops in your department be brought to the front with all possible dispatch, so as to help General Rosecrans.

September 18th.—* * * * A part, at least, of Longstreet's corps is going to Atlanta. It is believed that Bragg, Johnston, and Hardee, with the exchanged prisoners from Vicksburg and Port Hudson are concentrating against Rosecrans. You must give him all the aid in your power.

General Rosecrans is on the Chickamauga River, twenty miles south of Chattanooga. He is expecting a battle, and wants you to sustain his left. Every possible effort must be made to assist him.

September 19th.—General Meade is very confident that another part of Ewell's corps has gone to East Tennessee. The forces said to be collecting at Jonesboro are probably those that were at Wytheville, Newbern, etc., under Sam. Jones and Jackson.

September 20th.—General Rosecrans had a severe battle yesterday, and expects another to-day. It is of vital importance that you move to his left flank.

September 21st.—General Rosecrans telegraphed, at 9 o'clock this morning, that, if your troops do not join him immediately, they will be obliged to move down the north side of the Tennesse River. As the enemy has driven General Rosecrans back to near Chattanooga, Bragg may throw a force off into East Tennessee between you and General Rosecrans. The extent of the defeat and loss is not known here.

General Rosecrans will require all the assistance you can give him to hold Chattanooga.

September 22d.—Yours of yesterday is received. I must again urge you to move immediately to Rosecrans' relief. I fear your delay has already prompted Bragg to prevent your communication. Do not allow your troops to be caught by the enemy south of the Tennessee River. To all appearances your only safety is to move down on the north side. Sam. Jones is not likely to move from Danville unless reenforced. If the enemy should cross the Tennessee above Chattanooga you will be separated from Rosecrans, who may not be able to hold out on the south side.

Washington, September 27th, headquarters of the Army.
Your orders before leaving Kentucky, and frequently repeated telegrams after, were to connect your left on General Rosecrans' right, so that, if the [75] enemy concentrated on one, the other would be able to assist. General Rosecrans was attacked on Chickamauga Creek and driven back to Chattanooga, which he holds, waiting for your assistance. Telegram after telegram has been sent to you to go to his assistance with all available force, you being the judge of what troops it was necessary, under the circumstances, to leave in East Tennessee. The route by which you were to reach General Rosecrans was also left to your discretion. When he was forced to fall back on Chattanooga you were advised, not ordered, to move on the north side of the Tennessee River, lest you might be cut up by the enemy on the south side. The danger of the latter movement being pointed out to you, you were left to decide for yourself. The substance of all telegrams from the President and from me was: you must go to General Rosecrans' assistance with all your available forces, by such route as, under the advice given you from us, and such information as you can get, you might deem most practicable. The orders are very plain, and you can not mistake their purport. It only remains for you to execute them. General Rosecrans is holding Chattanooga, and awaiting reinforcements from you. East Tennessee must be held at all hazards, if possible.

‘The President has just signed his telegram, which is added, in which I fully concur.’

October 1st.—Yours of yesterday is received, the purport of all your instructions have been that you should hold some point near the upper end of the valley, and with all the remainder of your available force, march to the assistance of General Rosecrans. The route of march and all details were left to your own judgment. Since the battle of Chickamauga and the retreat of our forces to Chattanooga, you have been repeatedly informed that it would be dangerous to attempt to form a connection on the south side of the Tennessee River, and consequently that you ought to march on the northern side. General Rosecrans has now telegraphed to you that it is not necessary to join him at Chattanooga, but only to move down to such a position that you can come to his assistance if he should require it. You are in direct communication with him, and can learn his condition, and needs, sooner than I can.

‘Distant expeditions into Georgia are not now contemplated. The object is to hold East Tennessee by forcing the enemy south of the mountains and barring the passes against his return.’

October 3d.—General Rosecrans reports that enemy's cavalry have crossed the river below Kingston, for a raid upon his connections. I can only repeat what I have so often urged, the importance of your communicating with General Rosecrans' army on the north side of the river, so far as to command the crossing.’

October 5th.—I can only repeat former instructions, to leave sufficient force in the upper end of the valley to hold Jones in check, and with the remainder to march down on the north side of the Tennessee River, guarding the fords, and connecting with General Rosecrans. I can not make them plainer.’

October 14th.—I have received no dispatch from you since the 7th until this [76] morning, and have no information of the condition of affairs and the position of your troops. When you were urged to move down the river to General Rosecrans' assistance, that operation was deemed safe and of great importance. The condition of affairs may now be different. You certainly should hold Kingston, and as far below as may seem prudent.

Hood will probably send a part of his army to the south-west. Whether to Bragg or by Abingdon is uncertain. I think your available force at Kingston and above should be held in readiness to move up the valley, should the enemy appear in force in south-west Virginia. A copy of this is sent to General Grant.’

October 18th.—General Rosecrans still calls for your cooperation with him at Chattanooga, and again suggests that Kingston should be made your main point of defense. In this I agree with him. If he can not hold Chattanooga, you can not hold East Tennessee, as that place threatens the gateway from Georgia. Why is it that you make no report of your position and movements? We are left entirely in the dark in regard to your army.’

October 24th.—It now appears pretty certain that Ewell's corps has gone to Tennessee, and its probable object is Abingdon. His force is estimated at from twenty to twenty-five thousand. It is reported that he left Lee's army on Monday last, but did not pass through Richmond. It is therefore most probable that he passed through Lynchburg taking the road to Abingdon.’

The following telegrams were sent by Mr. Lincoln to General Burnside:

Washington, D. C., September 21st., 2 A. M.
To General Burnside, Knoxville:
Go to Rosecrans with your full force without a moment's delay.

September 21st.—If you are to do any good to Rosecrans, it will not do to waste time with Jonesboro. It is already too late to do the most good that might have been done, but I hope it will still do some good. Please do not wait a moment.

September 27.
To Burnside, at Knoxville.
Your dispatch just received. My orders to you meant simply that you should save Rosecrans from being crushed out, believing if he lost his position you could not hold East Tennessee in any event, and that if he held his position East Tennessee was substantially safe in any event.

This dispatch is in no sense an order. General Halleck will answer you fully.

September 27.
To General Burnside, Knoxville.
It was suggested to you, not ordered, that you move to Rosecrans on the north side of the river, because it was believed that the enemy would not [77] permit you to join him if you should move on the south side. Hold your present position, send Rosecrans what you can spare in the quickest and safest way; in the meantime hold the remainder as nearly in readiness to go to him as you can consistently with the duty it is to perform while it remains.

East Tennessee can be no more than temporarily lost so long as Chattanooga is firmly held.

It would be unjust to General Burnside to present these dispatches from the record without his excuses for never aiding Rosecrans. September 6th he telegraphed Halleck from Knoxville:

‘We are making some movements to aid Rosecrans. A bearer of dispatches leaves here this evening or to-morrow with papers.’

September 17th he telegraphed concerning a force which he had at Athens communicating with Rosecrans.

On the 19th:

‘Am now sending on men that can be spared to aid Rosecrans. I shall go on to-day to Jonesboro. As soon as I learn the result of our movement to the east will go down by railroad and direct the movement of the reenforcements for Rosecrans. I have directed every available man in Kentucky to be sent down.’

On the 20th, from Knoxville:

‘Dispatch of 18th received. You may be sure that I will do all I can fox Rosecrans. Arrived here last night, and am hurrying troops in his direction. I go up the road to-night for a day.’

September 21st he telegraphed General Halleck from Morristown:

‘Before I knew of the necessity of sending immediate assistance to Rosecrans I had sent a considerable portion of my force to capture or drive out a large force of the enemy under General Sam. Jones, stationed on the road from Bristol to Jonesboro, * * * * when the urgent dispatches from Rosecrans and yourself caused me to send back Brigadier-General Whick's division and Colonel Woolford's brigade of cavalry, with orders to move as rapidly as possible until they joined Rosecran's left flank. * * * When you remember the size of our forces, and amount of work we had to do, and the length of line occupied, you will not be surprised that I have not helped General Rosecrans, more particularly as I was so far impressed with [78] the truth of the statement that Bragg was in full retreat. It has not seemed possible for me to successfully withdraw my forces from the presence of Jones, if he should be beaten back or captured. Yet, upon the receipt of your dispatch, if it were possible to get our force from there down to General Rosecrans within three or four days I should make the attempt, and shall, at the risk of being too late, order every available man in that direction. I am sure that I am disposed to give him every possible assistance. I sincerely hope that he will be able at least to check the enemy for seven or eight days, within which time I shall be able to make considerable diversion in his favor. I hope that my action will meet with the approval of the Department.’

Thus it was that Burnside failed Rosecrans.

These dispatches throw a new light upon the difficulties with which General Rosecrans contended; and as this record was open to General Sherman, it would have been just to make it prominent in connection with his severe strictures. But there is another part of the record, with which even his memory must have been charged, that, had he written with fairness, would have been produced. Though no reader of the Memoirs would suspect it, General Sherman himself, when ordered from Vicksburg to Rosecrans' relief, was more than a month late with his troops. In fact, according to the notification sent Rosecrans by Halleck of the time named at Memphis for Sherman's arrival at Chattanooga, he was seven weeks behind, his command having reached only Memphis from Vicksburg at that date. At this point General Sherman in person was delayed by severe family affliction, but this did not retard the forward movement of his troops. While his book does not indicate that he was behind time, much stress is laid upon the statement that he was ordered to repair the railroad as he advanced, and no prominence is given to the fact that a most rapid advance, as well as a repair of the railroads, was repeatedly insisted upon. But it was not until General Grant himself had reached Chattanooga, and sent back word to Sherman to ‘drop all work on the Memphis and Charleston railroad, cross the Tennessee, and hurry eastward with all possible dispatch till you meet further orders from me,’ that any signs of haste were developed in [79] his movements. General Grant had taken command, and believed Rosecrans, and from that time forward General Sherman used almost superhuman efforts to reach Chattanooga.

The dispatches which set forth this most unfortunate delay are as follows:

headquarters of the Army, Washington, D. C., September 13, 1863.
Major-General Grant or Vicksburg. Major-General Sherman,
It is quite possible that Bragg and Johnston will move through Northern Alabama to the Tennessee River to turn General Rosecrans' right and cut off his communication. All of General Grant's available forces should be sent to Memphis, thence to Corinth and Tuscumbia, to cooperate with Rosecrans, should the rebels attempt that movement.

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

War Department, September 14, 1863.
Major-General Hurlbut, Memphis.
There are good reasons why troops should be sent to assist General Rosecrans' right wing with all possible dispatch. Communicate with Sherman to assist you, and hurry forward reenforcements as previously directed.

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

War Department, September 15, 1863.
Major-General Hurlbut, Memphis.
All troops that can possibly be spared in Western Tennessee and on the Mississippi River should be sent without delay to assist General Rosecrans on the Tennessee River. Urge General Sherman to act with all possible promptness. If you have boats send them down to bring up his troops. Information just received indicates that a part of Lee's army has been sent to reenforce Bragg.

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

War Department, September 19, 1863.
Major-General Rosecrans, Chattanooga.
* * * On the 15th Hurlbut says he is moving forward toward Decatur. I hear nothing of Sherman's troops ordered from Vicksburg. * * * *

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

War Department, September 19, 1863.
Major-General Hurlbut, Memphis.
Give me definite information of the number of troops sent toward Decatur, and where they are. Also what other troops are to follow, and when. Has nothing been heard from the troops ordered from Vicksburg? No effort must be spared to support Rosecrans' right and guard the crossings of the Tennessee River.

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.


Cairo, ill., September 21, 12 M., 1863.
Major-General Halleck.
General-in-chief: I received your telegram of the 16th on the 18th, and forwarded it immediately to Sherman. I have sent twelve boats, and more will be sent to bring up his corps. The water is so low in the Ohio and Tennessee rivers that I think they must march from Corinth. I have ordered one million rations, and plenty of spare wagons to Corinth ready as they come up. * * * * I hold the cavalry of my corps to cover Sherman's movements. * * * * I have an abundance of rolling stock to Corinth, and from thence to Chattanooga should not take more than eight days of hard marching; * * * * with the best possible speed it will not be possible for Sherman to get into communication with General Rosecrans in less than fourteen days from this date at the best, and probably twenty days. * * * *

S. E. Hurlbut, Major-General.

War Department, September 28, 1863.
Major-General Rosecrans, Chattanooga.
Grant's forces were ordered to move by Memphis, Corinth, and Tuscumbia to Decatur, and thence as might be found necessary to cooperate with you. * * * * The order was received on the 18th, and steamers sent to Vicksburg to bring up the troops. They calculated to be able to communicate with you in fourteen days from that time. Since then nothing has been heard of them, there being no telegraph line. The troops from here will probably reach you first.

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

War Department, September 29, 1863.
Major-General Grant, Vicksburg.
The enemy seems to have concentrated upon General Rosecrans all his available forces from every direction. To meet him it is necessary that all the forces that can be spared in your department be sent to General Rosecrans' assistance. He wishes them sent by Tuscumbia, Decatur, and Athens. As this requires the opening and running of the Memphis and Charleston Railroad east of Corinth, an able commander like Sherman or McPherson should be selected.

H. W. Halleck, Major-General.

On the 29th of September Hooker reported the head of his column passing from Cincinnati to Louisville, and on the 2d of October he telegraphed Mr. Stanton from Nashville: ‘The last of the infantry of the Eleventh Corps reached their destination yesterday. The Twelfth are now passing through this city.’

Washington, September 30, 1863.
Major-General Hurlbut, Memphis.
* * * * All available forces must be pushed on toward General [81] Rosecrans as fast as possible. Your attention must be directed particularly to the repairing of the railroad and the transportation of supplies toward Decatur.

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

October 2d, Hurlbut telegraphed Halleck:

‘A supply train of four hundred wagons is ready at Corinth, and thirty days rations for twenty thousand men.’

War Department, October 4, 1863.
Major-General Hurlbut, Memphis.
As fast as troops arrive they should be pushed forward, first to Corinth and then to Tuscumbia, repairing the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. * * * * From there you will move by Florence on Athens or Decatur, on the north side of the river, or directly to Decatur, repairing the railroad according as it may be found most practicable or expeditious. Time is all important. The railroad must be kept up and guarded in order to secure the supplies of your army. * * * * Should General Sherman be assigned by General Grant to the command, you will furnish him with this and all other orders.

H. W. Halleck, Major-General.

On the 10th of October Sherman, then near Corinth, reported the situation to Halleck, and asked: ‘whether I shall give preference to securing this railroad or reaching the neighborhood of Athens with expedition. The latter I can surely accomplish, the former is problematical.’

The troops from the Army of the Potomac having communicated with General Rosecrans by way of Bridgeport, General. Sherman was instructed on the 14th, by Halleck in reply, to take care of his railroad.

General Grant, during all this time, had been absent in New Orleans. He reached Memphis on his return October 5th, proceeded to Cairo, and thence to Louisville to receive orders, where he was directed to take command at Chattanooga, relieving Rosecrans by Thomas. He started at once for the front, and shortly after his arrival, ordered Sherman to drop every thing on the railroad, and come on with dispatch.

He thus reported his action to Halleck:

Chattanooga, October 26, 2 P. M.
Major-General Halleck.
General-in-chief: I have sent orders to General Sherman to move east [82] toward Stevenson, leaving every thing unguarded, except by way of the Army of the Cumberland east of Bear Creek. The possibility of the enemy breaking through our lines east of this, and the present inability to follow him from here if he should, is the cause of this order. Sherman's forces are the only troops I could throw in to head such a move.

U. S. Grant, Major-General.

From these most urgent dispatches it is evident that a prompt movement of Sherman's relieving column, as well as the repair of the railroad, was expected by the authorities at Washington.

The railroad was in fair condition from the start as far as Corinth, as General Sherman says, and one of his divisions had reached that point on the 2d of October, as he also relates. On the 27th of that month he was at Bear Creek, only thirty miles east of Corinth, where he was ‘still busy in pushing forward the repairs to the railroad bridge,’ and ‘patching up the many breaks between it and Tuscumbia,’ when he received the dispatch from General Grant at Chattanooga, by way of Huntsville, to drop railroad work and hurry to Chattanooga with all possible speed.

All this time Rosecrans' army had been suffering for supplies—a suffering which Sherman, by prompt movement, might in great degree have prevented. But instead, before he could move his small command from Corinth, two corps had been sent from the Army of the Potomac, and, as Halleck surmised, had reached and relieved Rosecrans first; in fact had done so before Sherman began to exhibit any special activity in his advance. Thus Sherman failed Rosecrans. How much that was unfortunate in the situation, which he now treats as if it were altogether the fault of Rosecrans, might have been avoided had he then moved with due haste to his assistance!

Returning to Rosecrans' movement, and following him for a time, it will be seen that, with twenty-five days supplies and ammunition for two great battles he had crossed the Tennessee, passed over three difficult mountain ranges, and coming down into the valley south of Chattanooga, compelled Bragg [83] to evacuate the place. Crittenden's corps was left to observe the movements of Bragg, and pass round the point of Lookout into the city in case the enemy left it.

This, however, was in no sense a military occupation of the place, and Crittenden marched through to join Rosecrans below, where he was concentrating his flanking force to interpose it between the enemy and Chattanooga, and so occupy this city, which was the objective point of his campaign. The fact of one corps of his army having passed through Chattanooga, led to the general belief at the time that Rosecrans' army had taken the place, marched out to attack Bragg at Chickamauga, been defeated, and driven back into the city. This view was entertained at the time in Washington, although the Army of the Cumberland, with the exception of Crittenden's forces, never saw Chattanooga till two days after the battle of Chickamauga.

Upon receiving the news that Crittenden's corps had entered Chattanooga, General Halleck telegraphed:

After holding the mountain passes in the west, and Dalton or some other point on the railroad to prevent the return of Bragg's army, it will be decided whether your army shall move further south into Georgia and Alabama. * * * *

H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.

This exploded view of the real situation General Sherman now revives.

In his next statement that Bragg reenforced from Virginia, drew out of Chattanooga, fell on Rosecrans at that place, defeated him and drove him into the city, the records are once more against him.

Bragg evacuated Chattanooga September 7th, and retreated to Lafayette. The reenforcements from Virginia were so near that point on the 15th it was resolved to march back toward Chattanooga and attack Rosecrans wherever found. A part of Longstreet's Virginia troops under Hood arrived at Dalton on the 18th, and participated in the first day's fight at [84] Chickamauga, but Longstreet himself, with the rest of his command, did not arrive till midnight after the first day's battle. A brief extract from his official report is pertinent:

headquarters near Chattanooga, October, 1863.
‘Our train reached Catoosa platform, near Ringgold. about two o'clock in the afternoon of the 19th of September. As soon as our horses came up, about four o'clock, I started with Colonel Sorrel and Colonel Manning of my staff to find the headquarters of the Commanding General. We missed our way and did not report until near eleven o'clock at night. * * * * As soon as the day of the 20th had dawned, I rode to the front to find my troops. The line was arranged from right to left as follows: Stewart's, Johnson's, Hinman's, and Preston's divisions, Hood's division (of which only three brigades were up), was in rear of Jackson, Kenshaw's and Humphries' brigades. McLaws' division was ordered forward from Ringgold the night before, but did not get up. General McLaws had not arrived from Richmond.’

The impression sought to be created that Rosecrans' army was driven off the field is erroneous. Soon after four o'clock of the second day, General Thomas having received notice from General Rosecrans that rations and ammunition would be sent to meet him at Rossville, determined to hold the field until night and then withdraw and take possession of the passes there. At half after five he began the movement, and the divisions which commenced to withdraw at that time were attacked at the moment, but retired without confusion or serious losses. The last of the line maintained its position until after nightfall, and retired after the fighting for the day had ended.

Of the close of the battle and its results General Rosecrans in his official report, says:

‘At nightfall the enemy had been repulsed along the whole line, and sunk into quietude, without attempting to renew the combat. General Thomas considering the excessive labors of the troops, the scarcity of ammunition, food, and water, and having orders from the General commanding to use his discretion, determined to retire on Rossville, where they arrived in good order, took post before morning, receiving supplies from Chattanooga, and offering the enemy battle during all the next day, and repulsing his [85] reconnoissance. On the night of the 21st we withdrew from Rossville, took firm possession of the objective point of our campaign—Chattanooga—and prepared to hold it.’

Coming down to the time when Rosecrans had been relieved, and General Thomas was in command in Chattanooga, General Sherman, in writing of his own arrival there on November 14th, and a conversation with General Grant the next day, represents the latter as informing him that forage and provisions were then extremely scarce, and that he feared Thomas' troops could not be drawn out of the trenches for a fight.

That General Grant could not have made such a statement about supplies is evident from the following dispatches sent more than two weeks before Sherman's arrival:

headquarters Military division of the Mississippi, Chattanooga, October 26, 1863.
Major-General Halleck, Washington.
* * * * General Thomas had also set on foot, before my arrival, a plan for getting possession of the river from a point below Lookout Mountain to Bridgeport. If successful, and I think it will be, the question of supplies will be fully settled. * * * *

U. S. Grant, Major-General.

General Thomas' plan for securing the river and Southside road hence to Bridgeport has proved eminently successful. The question of supplies may now be regarded as settled. If the rebels give us one week more time I think all danger of losing territory now held by us will have passed away, and preparations may commence for offensive operations.

U. S. Grant, Major-General.

That General Grant had no doubt of the capacity of General Thomas' troops to fight, is proved by the following telegram dated a week before Sherman arrived in person, and a fortnight before his troops came up:

Chattanooga, November 7, 1863, 1:30 P. M.
To General Halleck, Washington.
* * * * I have ordered Thomas to attack the enemy at the north end of Missionary Ridge, and when that is carried, to threaten or attack the [86] enemy's line of communication between Cleveland and Dalton. This move will be made on Monday morning. I expect Sherman will reach Huntsville to-day. I have repeated orders to him to hurry forward with the Fifteenth Army Corps.

U. S. Grant, Major-General.

It will be noted that the point of attack thus assigned to General Thomas, before the arrival of Sherman, was that afterward committed to Sherman's troops, and which in spite of splendid fighting they failed to carry. Thus General Grant not only believed Thomas' men fully competent to do what was afterward assigned to Sherman, but felt so certain of their success that he ordered the movement before Sherman was even within supporting distance.

General Grant subsequently explained to Halleck why the attack ordered was not made:

Chattanooga, November 21, 1863.
To General Halleck, Washington.
I ordered an attack here two weeks ago, but it was impossible to move artillery. Now Thomas' chief of artillery says he has to borrow teams from Sherman to move a part of his artillery to where it is to be used. Sherman has used almost superhuman efforts to get up even at this time, and his force is really the only one that I can move. Thomas can take about one gun to each battery, and can go as far with his infantry as his men can carry rations to keep them and bring them back. I have never felt such restlessness before as I have at the fixed and immovable condition of the Army of the Cumberland. The Quartermaster-General states that the loss of animals here will exceed ten thousand. Those left are scarcely able to carry themselves.

U. S. Grant, Major-General.

And in his formal report of these operations he thus refers to the same matter:

‘After a thorough reconnoitering of the ground however, it was deemed utterly impracticable to make the movement until Sherman could get up, because of the inadequacy of our force and the condition of the animals then at Chattanooga; and I was forced to leave Burnside for the present to contend against superior forces of the enemy, until the arrival of Sherman with his men and means of transportation.’

Sherman's troops were delayed by the heavy roads and broken bridges, so that the orders for a general attack, first [87] issued for the 21st, were suspended, also the subsequent orders for an attack on the 23d, as appears from the following letter to General Thomas:

headquarters Military division of the Mississippi, Chattanooga, November 22, 1863.
General: The bridge at Brown's Ferry being down to-day, and the excessively bad roads since the last rain, will render it impossible for Sherman to get up either of his two remaining divisions in time for an attack to-morrow morning. With one of them up, and which would have been there now but for the accident to the bridge, I would still make the attack in the morning, regarding a day gained as of superior advantage to a single division of troops. You can make your arrangements for this delay.

U. S. Grant, Major-General.

Upon receiving this, General Thomas so far from considering the presence of Sherman's troops necessary to opening the battle, went to Grant, and urged that the attack on Lookout Mountain should begin at once. General Thomas gives this account of the matter in his official report:

‘Feeling as I did the necessity of avoiding delay, for fear the enemy should become advised of our plans, immediately upon the receipt of the above letter I went to General Grant, and advised against any further postponement of our movement, and suggested that, if needed, the Eleventh Corps, then between the two bridges, could be sent to General Sherman to take the place of the troops that could not join him, whilst these last, together with the troops already in Lookout Valley, would form a column to attack the enemy on Lookout Mountain, or at least divert his attention from Sherman's crossing above. This met the approbation of the Commanding General, and on it was based my order of the 23d to General Hooker, to demonstrate on Lookout, and if practicable to carry the position.’

General Grant himself not only agreed to this attack on Lookout before Sherman came up, but on the next day, Sherman being still behind, ordered an attack by Thomas on the left in front of Missionary Ridge. This was made the day before Sherman got into position, and General Grant telegraphed the following report of it:

Chattanooga, November 23, 1863.
To General Halleck, Washington.
General Thomas' troops attacked the enemy's left at 2 P. M. to-day, carried [88] the first line of rifle pits running over the knoll twelve hundred yards in front, taking about two hundred prisoners, besides killed and wounded. Our loss small. The troops moved under fire with all the precision of veterans on parade.

Thomas' troops will entrench themselves and hold their position until daylight, when Sherman will join in the attack from the mouth of Chickamauga, and a decisive battle will be fought

U. S. Grant, Major-General.

General Grant in his formal report of the battle of Chattanooga, has this to say upon the point under consideration:

Thomas having done on the 23d, with his troops in Chattanooga, what was intended for the 24th, bettered and strengthened his advanced positions during the day, and pushed the Eleventh Corps forward along the south bank of the Tennessee River, across Citico Creek, one brigade of which, with Howard in person, reached Sherman just as he had completed the crossing of the river.’

General Sherman must have thought all this rather lively work for troops that could not be induced to leave their trenches till they had been persuaded by the inspiring spectacle of his men making a breakfast of the enemy.

The next day (24th) looker, acting under the orders of General Thomas, attacked and carried Lookout; Sherman attacked, but failed to carry the point he was ordered to occupy on the north end of Missionary Ridge. The day following this Sherman still struggled unsuccessfully to carry his objective point. Thomas' army, that up to this time had not even seen Sherman's troops, stormed Missionary Ridge, and ‘it was not till night closed in,’ as Sherman writes in his official report, ‘that I knew that the troops in Chattanooga had swept across Missionary Ridge and broken the enemy's center. Of course the victory was won, and pursuit was the next step.’

The records which this chapter contains were accessible to General Sherman when he penned the statements which they so effectually refute.

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