Chapter 27: Chattanooga and the battle of Missionary Ridge
The movements which resulted in the battle of Wauhatchie
were but the preliminary steps to the execution of Grant
's plan of operations.
This embraced a battle with the Confederate General Bragg
, who continued to sit threateningly before Chattanooga
, and the freeing of East Tennessee
of all the Confederate
To effect his purpose Grant
to come to us from the vicinity of the Mississippi
with as many troops as possible.
Two days before our Lookout Valley
battle, which took place the morning of October 29, 1863, Sherman
's dispatch while on the line of the Memphis & Charleston Railroad, to wit: “Drop everything at Bear Creek
and move toward Stevenson
with your entire force until you receive further orders.”
began his march with four army divisions having infantry and artillery — some 20,000 strong.
We had then, during the first week of November, to operate, or soon should have, the old Army of the Cumberland at Chattanooga
, under General George H. Thomas
's two small army corps in Lookout Valley
with a part back to protect our lines of communication toward Nashville
's approaching column and a few small bodies of cavalry.
With one line of railway, and that often broken; with the animals weakening and dying, and with the men badly supplied with even the necessities of life, everything for a time at Chattanooga
was out of joint.
, in spite of these impediments, pushed on to the front and hurried Sherman
to our neighborhood.
Of course, many croakers found fault with this and prophesied disaster; yet the most of us were inspired by Grant
's quiet confidence and plans.
Little by little great regularity and thorough system covered us all. Supplies came on train after train and boat after boat to Kelly's Ferry; the military railroad men, who should have abundant praise, began to rebuild our railroad from Bridgeport
to the front; new mules were found to haul everything from Kelly's Ferry or Landing to Brown's Ferry and thence across the two pontoon bridges into Chattanooga
; medical stores came up; the mails began to appear with regularity, and even luxuries.
found their way to the camps, brought from loving hands at home by the indefatigable agents of the Christian
and Sanitary Commissions.
While waiting for Sherman
, we had our downs as well as our ups. For example, the Confederates
kept hurling shells into the valley at our trains and camps.
They could see us better in the morning, when the sun was at their backs.
They turned around and shelled Chattanooga
in the afternoon.
One Sunday, the afternoon of November 15, 1863, at 4 P. M., Colonel Balloch
, Captain Pearson
, Captain Stinson
, Surgeon Hubbard
, and Major Howard
accompanied me to our corps hospital in Lookout Valley
The orderly took along a basket of grapes.
The distance was about a mile from my own tent.
the religious service in progress on our arrival.
The poor sick ones who could leave their beds had gathered near the largest hospital and kept their hats off reverently while the chaplain was praying.
The sick inside the different tents could hear everything, as canvas obstructs the sound but slightly.
We sang a hymn and then the chaplain preached a sermon about giving our bodies and spirits a living sacrifice.
He made many earnest appeals, and I think left a good impression on the men and officers who were present.
While he was speaking the Confederates
made themselves heard by an occasional shell from Lookout Mountain
The Thirty-third Massachusetts band came near and, as soon as the service was over, struck up some familiar hymns and airs that were sweet and cheering.
As I went through the hospital afterwards, I asked the men --ill and wounded — if they liked the music.
“Oh, yes; I wish they would play often,” was the burden of the responses.
By November 13th his advance had reached Bridgeport
He had already obtained the further orders to keep in motion until he found himself in the vicinity of Chattanooga
As soon as he reached that point, Grant
requested him to have his troops close up and come on as fast as the bad roads would permit, but hasten in person for an interview and consultation at Chattanooga
was already there.
arrived the evening of the 14th.
Several officers and I among them were present with Grant
came into the room.
's greeting was cordial and characteristic.
Hle rose, stood still, and extended his hand, and, while his face lighted up with its cheeriest smile, paid Sherman
some compliment on his promptitude; then being about to resort to his habitual cigar, offered one to his new guest.
took the cigar, lighted it, and never ceased to talk in that offhand, hearty, manly way which everybody who knew him will remember.
He had not even stopped to take a seat.
pointed to an old high-back rocking-chair
, and said:
“Take the chair of honor, Sherman
“ Oh, no,” the latter rejoined; “that belongs to you, General!”
humorously remarked: “I don't forget, Sherman
, to give proper respect to age.”
instantly took the proffered chair and laughingly said: “Well, then, if you put it on that ground, I must accept.”
There were no formal introductions.
It was assumed that all who were present were acquainted.
quickly took the lead of the whole party and brought on a discussion of the military situation or other topics to which the consultation tended.
My real acquaintance with Sherman
began that evening.
It was a privilege to see these two men, Grant
Their unusual friendship-unusual in men who would naturally be rivalswas like that of David and Jonathan.
It was always evident, and did not grow from likeness, but from unlikeness.
They appeared rather the complements of each other — where the one was especially strong, the other was less so, and vice versa
. It was a marriage of characters, in sympathy, by the adjustment of differences.
in command was, as everybody then said, habitually reticent.
was never so. Grant
meditated on the situation, withholding his opinion
until his plan was well matured.
quickly, brilliantly gave you half a dozen.
, once speaking of Sherman
in cadet phrase, said: “He bones all the time while he is awake; as much on horseback as in camp or at his quarters.”
It was true.
had remarkable topographical ability.
A country that he once saw he could not forget.
The cities, the villages, the streams, the mountains, hills, and dividesthese were as easily seen by him as human faces, and the features were always on hand for use. It made him ever playing at draughts with his adversary.
Let the enemy move and Sherman
's move was instant and well chosen.
appeared more inclined to systematize and simplify; bring up sufficient force to outnumber; do unexpected things; take promptly the offensive; follow up a victory.
It was a simple, straightforward calculus, which avoided too much complication.
It made Grant
the man for campaign and battle.
was always at his best in campaign — in general maneuvers --better than in actual battle.
His great knowledge of history, his topographical scope, his intense suggestive faculties seemed often to be impaired by the actual conflict.
And the reason is plain; such a mind and body as his, full of impulse, full of fire, are more likely to be perturbed by excitement than is the more ironbound constitution of a Grant or a Thomas.
, patriotic all through, was very selfre-liant.
He believed in neglecting fractions and was not afraid of responsibility.
, probably much influenced by his earliest teachings, relied rather on Providence
than simply on himself; he gathered up the fragments for use, and was also strong to dare, because
somehow, without saying so, he struck the blows of a persistent faith.
As I watched the countenances of those two men that evening I gathered hope for our cause.
's faculty of gaining the ascendency over his generals without pretension or assumption then appeared.
He chose, then he trusted his leaders.
They grew great because he did not desert them even in disaster.
After this interview with his commander Sherman
returned to Bridgeport
to bring up his troops by the same route over which my command had marched two weeks before.
On November 23d he finished his march with a part of his army and had three divisions on the north side of the river nearly opposite Missionary Ridge
, not far from the Tennessee
Jeff. C. Davis
's division was sent to him for a reinforcement, while my two were brought over into Chattanooga
and put into camp near Fort Wood
to be ready to cooperate with Sherman
after he should lay a bridge.
There were, owing to rains and floods, constant breakages in our bridges, particularly in the one at Brown's Ferry.
On account of it, Osterhaus
's division of Sherman
's corps was completely cut off. Grant
changed his first plan, then made up a new command for Hooker-probably was compelled to do so — for it did look like wasting strength to put much force against the impregnable Lookout Mountain
This force consisted of Osterhaus
's, and Cruft
's divisions, eight brigades, with the batteries which belonged with them, and a reserve from my corps of two batteries-Wiedrich's New York and Heckman
's Ohio.-This force thus organized was gathered together in Lookout Valley
, and during November 23d Sherman
was getting his bridge boats well out of sight near the
North Chickamauga, opposite Missionary Ridge
was reconnoitering, perhaps for the fifteenth time, the west face of the huge Lookout Mountain
The rest of this battle front was the Army of the Cumberland and its indomitable commander, General George H. Thomas
, on the Chattanooga
This part of Grant
's triple force was destined to commence the battle.
Some days before, several deserters from Bragg
's army had been brought to my headquarters.
They reported that after the battle of Wauhatchie Longstreet
had been sent away from our front with his corps.
This information was afterwards confirmed from other sources.
Our dispatch came from Bragg
directly, brought in by a flag of truce.
It was taken to Grant
It advised the immediate sending away from Chattanooga
of all noncombatants, as he (Bragg
) proposed the next day to commence a regular bombardment of the town.
The officers who had been there for two months under Bragg
's bombardments thought that it was a little late for the Confederate
general to be filled with compassion and give his warning.
smiled as he read the message, and said: “It means that Bragg
is intending to run away.”
's departure to assail, Burnside
's force, then at Knoxville
, and the fear that Bragg
might go, had induced Grant
to order an attack some days before he was ready; but as Thomas
, for want of horses, could not then move his artillery, Grant
delayed his order.
But now (November 23d), as Hooker
on our extreme right and Sherman
on our extreme left were in position, Grant
concluded to occupy the attention of the enemy while he himself was making ready for his main attack, and so ordered Thomas
to make a reconnoissance
The Fourth Corps, then commanded by General Gordon Granger
, was selected for this duty.
It had three divisions under Stanley
, T. J. Wood
, and P. H. Sheridan
The Fourteenth Corps, under Palmer
, was to watch and support the right of the Fourth, while mine (the Eleventh Corps) was kept in reserve near at hand ready to support, should the exigencies of reconnoissance require it, the left, right, or center.
There was a considerable hillock or knoll about halfway from Fort Wood
to the foot of Missionary Ridge
, a third the height of the ridge, called “Orchard Knob
held this eminence as an outpost, and had a line of intrenchments well filled behind it, running along the base of the ridge.
was in his element.
He deployed Wood
's division in plain view, Sheridan
's a little farther to the right; and Baird
's (of the Fourteenth) was in echelon with that.
After the deployment a cloud of skirmishers quickly covered the whole front.
I stood near my corps at Fort Wood
, where were Thomas
We never looked upon a livelier scene — a finer parade.
The enemy were attracted by this bold maneuvering, and stood up in groups on their works to look at the Yankee
Immediately after the rapid formation the forward movement began.
Away the skirmishers went over the rough broken ground, appearing and disappearing among rocks and trees, or emerging from small ravines and hollows; and the main lines followed on at equal pace.
The Confederates this time were really taken by surprise.
They, however, did not run away; they hurried into position, and commenced their fire.
Some of our men fell, but there was no check, no delay; firing, without halting,
was opened by our skirmish line.
came up abreast of Wood
, and all rushed together over the detached rifle pits and over the intrenchments of Orchard Knob
Many of the enemy were killed or wounded or taken prisoners.
The remainder ran precipitately to help their comrades at the foot of Missionary Ridge
The march was stopped at Orchard Knob
It had developed artillery and infantry.
It had put Bragg
on his guard, and secured his fixed attention.
It was but a reconnoissance and the troops were under orders to move back.
, his adjutant general, appeared to us to be pleading earnestly with Grant
He was overheard to say: “It will not do for them to come back.”
The general for a time smoked his cigar peacefully and said nothing.
At last quietly he said: “Intrench them and send up support.”
His orders were promptly obeyed.
came up to secure the right, and I reported to Granger
at the Knob
, while he was expending a little of his extra enthusiasm by showing a battery commander how to point and serve his guns.
Soon all the divisions were in place.
Very quickly I passed into the woods to our left from brigade to brigade of Schurz
, and brought them up through the thickets to the Citico Creek
In truth, we of the Eleventh Corps were soon ahead of our neighbors and proud of it, for by my direction Von Steinwehr
sent out a regimentthe Seventy-third Ohio--which swept the front beyond the creek of all Confederate sharpshooters who were inclined to loiter in that region.
was pleased, and, the hard work of the morning being over, he gathered us around him-Sheridan, Baird
and others — to tell us how the battle had been fought and to show us the way to fight all
It was, indeed, a successful reconnoissance, and, though not much of a contest, served with its small losses and its real gain to inspirit the whole command.
On November 25th Hooker
succeeded in performing his appointed part in his famous battle above the clouds, the thick fog helping his men to climb up narrow passages.
At sunrise, in the clear, crisp autumn air, they unfurled the national banner from “Pulpit Rock
,” on the extreme point of Lookout Mountain overlooking Chattanooga
, with cheers that were reechoed by the troops below.
So much for the first group.
On November 24th, the morning that Hooker
started, before 3 A. M., away off as far as the signal officer
on Pulpit Rock
, had he been there, could have seen without his telescope, far to the northeast, the little steamer Chattanooga
, without noise, was working its way up the big Tennessee River
It soon disappeared from any view, running up some tributary for rest and shelter.
Earlier than this, a little past midnight, some pontoon boats, carrying over 3,000 of General Sherman
's men, had issued from the North Chickamauga
served them as a cover against the enemy's pickets.
Silently they floated, the current carrying them swiftly down to the point which Sherman
had selected for his bridge.
Here the little steamer came in play; by the boats and by the steamer Sherman
caused to be sent over opposite to the end of the famous Missionary Ridge
between eight and nine thousand fighting men. With this force were plenty of spades, picks, and shovels.
The Confederate pickets were surprised; some ran, some were captured.
But the movement
was evidently not prepared for, and, indeed, Bragg
already had enough line to hold with a small army if he came no farther toward Sherman
than the Tunnel Hill
, where the railway crosses the ridge.
General W. F. Smith
superintended the swift bridge building; boats moved out from each shore, were anchored, the slender joists quickly put down and bound with cords, then the men ran with a plank apiece and placed it, and so the roadway grew.
On the enemy's shore, where the ground gradually rises toward the foothills of the mountain ridge, a large curve, whose center was at the river, was marked out on the grass by a few stakes; the earth in a few minutes was broken by hundreds of strong men-hearty, cheerful workers.
In less than one hour the long ditch was dug and there was ample cover for a large brigade.
The bridge was not quite completed, and the last few shovelfuls were not yet thrown when, with Colonel Bushbeck
's small brigade from Chattanooga
way, I came in sight.
Of course, at first, Sherman
's men were a little startled.
They did not expect anything or anybody from that quarter except the enemy.
The picks and shovels were dropped and the rifles were seized; but those were not recruits, so they did not fly nor fire, but simply looked with 16,000 eyes.
We had been sent to form a junction and cooperate with Sherman
We had started early, too; had crept quietly along the bank of the old river, through the thickets, the meadows, and across the small streams, in a circuit of four or five miles, encountering but little opposition till that armed host of workmen loomed up before us. At once I recognized our expected friends, and we were not long in getting together.
Immediately I went to the bridge, dismounted, and ran out upon it just as the last pontoon
was being ferried into its place.
had not been able to wait on the other shore; he was on the opposite stretch and well out toward the growing end. “How are you, General Howard
That's right You must have got up early,” and a host of other short sentences, which one who knew Sherman
can easily supply, greeted my ears.
Before the space was filled with planking he sprang across the open draw and we clasped hands.
We had met before, but this, I think, was our first bona fide
We were to be hereafter in several campaigns and in many hard battles together.
At no time after that meeting did I receive aught from Sherman
but a frank confidence, and I am sure that I ever gave to him a cordial and loyal service.
I think a mutual confidence and sympathy between souls springs up suddenly, often by the simple look into clear, fearless eyes, and these sentiments are sealed by an unreserved grasp of the hands.
, in his usual pointed, offhand style, explained the situation to me as he saw it. At the time he believed himself nearer Bragg
's right than he really was. The Missionary Ridge
, like the Raccoon Range
and the Lookout
, appeared to be continuous, at least along the crest, but it proved to be otherwise.
Not only were there heavy, rocky, wooded spurs jutting out laterally, but there were deep chasms and cross ravines cutting the crest, so that each jagged knoll so separated had to be approached and taken like an isolated bastion.
said: “You must leave me Bushbeck
I shall need it to keep up connection with Thomas
looked a little demure as I turned to him. He wanted to fight with his own corps, but being a true soldier, he said nothing.
I left him there to struggle hard on Sherman
's right flank
and lose some-yes, many — of his best officers and men. I then felt sure that before many hours had passed I should bring the remainder of my corps to the same flank.
I bade Sherman
good morning and turned back to join my headquarters and Thomas
's forces near Orchard Knob
Now consider that Sherman
had four bodies of men abreast, and not connected except by the long line of skirmishers which covered this whole front.
Theyskirmishers and all-prepared to go up the ridge or to skirt along its side slopes.
Thus these resolute men set out to perform the part allotted to them — a part, as it proved, next to the impossible, because nature, aided by the Confederate General
, who guarded Bragg
's right flank, had made some of these crags impregnable.
and his men had already “fought above the clouds” and unfurled the emblem of a free country to the breeze on the most prominent rock of Lookout Mountain
and his divisions had toiled and fought with more vigor the second day than the first, amid unheard — of ruggedness and against odds.
It was reserved by Providence
and his army, already four times depleted, November 25, 1863, to storm heights more difficult than those of Gettysburg
, and to capture batteries and intrenchments harder to reach than those of Vicksburg
, who was at times certainly distinguished for his powers of observation and was as remarkable for self-poise, for keeping at bay every impatient impulse, stood there at Orchard Knob
with the imperturbable Thomas
Neither of them wasted any time in words.
Orders, when given, were brief and pointed.
Officers took posts for observing, and orderlies,ready to mount,held
the reins for the dismounted, and messengers stood or sat near by with bridles firmly grasped.
Aids and dispatch bearers from divisions came to Thomas
or to his chief of staff and to Grant
from the wings.
They came, reported, and went, always moving with a rapid pace.
There was constant motion there and in the army, and yet there was quiet and rest — the quiet, however, of a lake about to burst its barriers, the rest of a geyser soon to hurl its pent waters high in air. About 10 A. M. with my corps I was ordered by General Grant
to go quickly to Sherman
, my adjutant general, went ahead to Sherman
for orders, and returning to me en route
's instructions to put my command (all except Bushbeck
's brigade) on the extreme left flank of his army.
The brigade had already been hotly engaged and suffered severe loss.
then waited until I could get into position.
He afterwards waited a little longer for Hooker
, who was on his other flank.
What could that officer of unfailing energy be doing?
Early in the day his flags were seen descending the Summertown
road of old Lookout.
But his columns had disappeared in the rolling valley, going toward Rossville
Could he have met with disaster?
It was hardly possible.
At last all apprehensions were relieved.
A message arrived.
, having the bridge ahead of him destroyed by the enemy, had been delayed by the impassable Chickamauga Creek
That odd stream had so many branches, and they were so crooked, that an officer could hardly tell on which side of the stream he was. It was deep and sluggish, with muddy banks.
The Confederate General Breckinridge
, who that day commanded Bragg
's left, had greatly bothered Hooker
's men, but the obstacle was finally overcome, a
bridge was built and Hooker
had passed over and was working up the slope of the south end of Missionary Ridge
, and driving Breckinridge
's advance before him. Now was the fullness of battle time.
was up there with a comparatively short line.
He had well-filled intrenchments a little nearer, at the foot of the ridge.
The veteran Hardee
, against Sherman
, commanded his right, and Breckinridge
, as we have said, his left against the lines of Hooker
steadily ascending in that quarter.
The Confederate Chief Bragg
himself, in the center, like an elephant between two persistent tigers, had his mind much distracted; who could wonder or who, except the Confederate
press of that day, could blame him I It was the “supreme moment.”
took the cigar from his mouth, cleared his throat, and told Thomas
to capture the intrenchments at the foot of Missionary Ridge
The patient Thomas
had been ready all day. The six loaded cannon were ready.
In an instant, one after another, in slow succession, so as to be distinctly heard, they boomed forth the inspiring signal.
Every soldier in Thomas
's four divisions understood that call.
But to emphasize it, our various batteries, perched on many hills and convenient knolls, at once fired shot and shells toward the doomed ridge.
I am not sure that this previous artillery practice in battle at long ranges does much good, where there are no walls to break down.
It may occupy the enemy's artillery and keep it from effective work against our advancing men, but it prevents anything like a surprise.
It would seem wiser to give the foe no formal warning, but, like Stonewall Jackson
, burst upon his flank or his intrenchments, without a previous cannon shot.
Conceive of Thomas
's divisions formed in one line, with one or two regiments a little in the rear and in echelon, to reinforce the flanks and cover the whole front by a double skirmish line, and you have an idea of the attacking force.
At the signals, the words of command sounded simultaneously along the whole line, and instantly every man took a quick pace, the skirmishers clearing the front, now at a double-quick, now at a run; when they could they fired upon the enemy's skirmishers, but without slacking their pace.
The country was generally wild, broken, covered here and there with thickets, with plenty of rocks, hillocks, and small ravines.
On, on the Union
soldiers went straight forward.
Of course, the numerous guns from the crest all along Bragg
's formidable front, opened their frightful mouths and belched forth their death-dealing charges.
The sound of cannon and bursting shells seemed to quadruple the effects.
The air was filled with missiles, but fortunately for our men the fire from the lower rifle pits was not very effective; probably it was necessary for each hostile brigade to let their own skirmishers come in before a free range could be had, and when they did get them in and began to fire, there was not time to reload before our determined Westerners, skirmish line and all, were upon them.
At any rate, every Confederate not already disabled seemed to think that the time for a hasty retreat had come.
The top or the crest of the ridge was, like the cemetery crest of Gettysburg
, to be the line of defense.
Our division, brigade, and regimental commanders, I believe many of them on foot and half out of breath from the roughness of the field, were in their places or coming on, and undertook to obey their orders; their voices seemed for once not to be heard,
and their men, many of them, never stopped for any re-formation nor listened to catch the word of command, but immediately followed their retreating foes up the steep.
saw the conflict through their glasses from Orchard Knob
To show the ardor of the troops in this charge without orders I am reminded of the story of my friend, E. P. Smith
, then a member of the Christian Commission, who followed hard after the moving lines to be ready for whatever relief he could bring.
Just after the action had lulled, he met four stout soldiers carrying a sergeant to the rear.
stopped the stretcher bearers for a moment and said gently: “Where are you hurt, sergeant?”
He, as if a little dazed by the question, replied: “Almost up, sir.”
“I mean in what part are you injured”
He looked steadily toward my friend and answered with all the firmness his failing strength could muster: “Almost to the top.”
folded down the sergeant's coat, or blanket, and saw the bleeding, broken shoulder where the shell had struck him. The sergeant also turned his face toward the wound.
“Yes,” he exclaimed, “yes, that's what did it; but for that I should have reached the top.”
The sergeant had held the flag at the time he was struck.
His utterance-continued to grow fainter and fainter, as he repeated his sorrowful thought, “Almost up I almost up!”
till his lifeblood ebbed and his spirit left the shattered Alay
There were many more than these who fell on the hillside; some were cold in death, and others were repressing every sign of sufferings which had stopped
them midway to the goal of their aspiration.
's men gave stout resistance to Sheridan
and to Hooker
, and our sturdy foe, Pat Cleburne
, was unwilling to let go. Surely, these were brave men and commanded brave men. Bragg
had no right to condemn them and has only injured his own fame in so doing.
And Jefferson Davis
wronged his soldiers when he said: “The first defeat that has resulted from misconduct by the troops.”
How hard for Mr. Davis
ever to conceive that he might be wrong; that the days of slavery in America
were numbered, and that, little by little, our men, equally brave with his, were acquiring unity of action, strength of muscle and experience, and that, with a cause so sacred as ours — namely, the preservation and the purification of our Republic-and with numbers superior to his, there would come times like those of Gettysburg
, and Chattanooga
, when the victory would perch on our banners.
The enemy gave way-his lines were broken in six places; and Hooker
, with steadfastness, was on his flank and aiming for his rear, and Sherman
was clinging to his other side.
, much as he hated to do so, was forced to abandon his stronghold and retire with haste.
Our men turned their own guns upon the retreating Confederates and broke their flight in places into a rout.
But though they were followed up for a few miles, yet the roughness of the country, not yet familiar to our officers, and the darkness of the approaching night closed the action soon after the capture of Missionary Ridge
, summing up our losses in the several combats of Hooker
, and Thomas
, gave them as 757 killed, 4,529 wounded, and 330 missing.
's losses, as nearly as I can get the figures, were 3,000 killed and wounded, and about 6,000 prisoners left in our hands.
Forty cannon fell to us, and at least 7,000 small arms.
Many of the prisoners were wounded, and of them an unusually large number of commissioned officers.
The flight of the Confederates
was soon evident along Sherman
's lines, for the lively cannon firing had ceased and the skirmishers received no return fire; they ventured forward at dark and found that the death-dealing rocks and barricades had lost their terror.
As they were reporting this strange story swift horsemen had brought the good news to Sherman
One cannot exaggerate the joy that animated our men at these tidings.
You could soon hear the ringing, manly shouts as they rose from valley and hillside.
So the victory was inspiring; another break had been made in the long line of Confederate armies, and that at the strongest possible natural bastioned fortressthat of Chattanooga
There was no envy nor jealousy that night.
's men had bled on Lookout, Sherman
's near the tunnel, and Thomas
's on the broad, steep side of Missionary Ridge
After the first burst of enthusiasm was over, the men got their suppers over brighter fires, drank their coffee a little better made, and, after talking all together for a while between the puffs of their tobacco pipes, they soon retired to their beds on the ground, and-except the sentinels, the wounded, the doctors, their assistants, and the officers of rank — were soon fast asleep.
Nobody can blot out the record, written in men's hearts, and sent with shoutings into the everlasting spaces, that we were there where brave men fought and were victorious, and that, God helping us, we did
what we could.
If I know myself, I rejoice as much at the good name of the great-hearted Thomas
as I do at my own, but I should distrust any writer who should attempt to pull down other great names even to make a pedestal for Thomas
, for he already has a better one in the confidence, love, and praise of all true men who served under his command.
's judgment at one time (if we may credit the reports early in the war) was a little warped in his estimate of Grant
, so that I think his dispatch from Washington
after our great battle is quite significant and does him honor.
It is: “Considering the strength of the rebel position and the difficulty of storming his intrenchments, the battle of Chattanooga
must be regarded as the most remarkable in history.
Not only did the officers exhibit great skill and daring in their operations in the field, but the highest praise is also due to the commanding general
for his admirable dispositions for dislodging the enemy from a position apparently impregnable.”
For two days Grant
's army pursued the retreating forces of Bragg
We stopped at Greyfield, Ga.
, and turned back.
with the Fifteenth Corps and I with the Eleventh were near Mission Mills
received a brief note from Grant
He said he couldn't get Granger
with the Fourth Corps off soon enough for Knoxville
, and that Sherman
must turn north at once, or Burnside
would be overwhelmed by Longstreet
answered: “Why not send Howard
, on receiving Sherman
's reply, so ordered it. I was as badly off for transportation and supplies as Granger
; but it was another opportunity.
respective corps Sherman
and I marched immediately toward Knoxville
; we were about five miles apart, Sherman
always east of me.
At the Hiwassee River
(my engineer) and I, one day just before sunset, stood by the bank in the village of Athens, Tenn.
The bridge was gone.
“How long, Hoffman
, will it take you to build a bridge here” I asked.
He scratched his head for a moment and then said: “It is over 200 feet; I can have a good bridge practicable for the men and the wagons in ten days.”
“Ten days” I cried.
, we will cross that river at sunrise to-morrow”
“Impossiblel” he exclaimed with impatient emphasis.
Yet, by using the sheds and outhouses of the village and binding the side joists with ropes, we made a fine floating bridge, and by sunrise on the morrow began our usual day's march by crossing our new improvised structure.
I had been born and bred near a floating bridge and so I showed the able Hoffman
how to make one.
, five miles above, felled tall trees for stringers and with his pioneers quickly made a log bridge.
I found a sufficient number of Confederate wagons for a footbridge through the ford, six miles up the Little Tennessee.
Many of the spokes of the wheels were cut or broken.
I had the One Hundred and Forty-third New York Regiment (Colonel Boughton
) nail cleats from felloe to felloe.
They were strong enough for this regiment to drag them the six miles. Boughton
and his men worked all night to plant these wagons in the deep ford, and so plank them from wagon to wagon as to make a fairly good footbridge for the men of the corps.
All except Boughton
and his good regiment
had had a full night's rest.
The colonel, wading most of the night with the water above his waist, took a severe cold and suffered from acute neuralgia for years in consequence of that exposure.
By raising the loads by planks above the wagon bodies and carrying the cannon ammunition upon them in the same way we got across the ford without loss.
and I came together about thirteen miles from Knoxville
A messenger from Burnside
here met us and told the good news that Longstreet
, hearing of our approach, had raised the siege and gone off to join Lee
's army in Virginia
, after the dreadful battle in which Colonel Saunders
and hundreds of men were killed, was expecting every day that Longstreet
would renew his assault and he feared that he would not be able to hold out against him.
and I halted our commands and then, while they were resting in a good camp, rode together the thirteen miles. Burnside
was delighted to see us, and gave us a turkey dinner.
The loyal East Tennessee
people had kept him well supplied during all that long siege.
I then remembered President Lincoln
's words at my last interview with him: “They are loyal there, general!”
During my march of 100 miles I was every day made aware of the truth of Lincoln
and I marched back to Chattanooga
, and with the Eleventh Corps I returned to the old camp in Lookout Valley
By some singular clerical error Sherman
in his memoirs puts Gordon Granger
for me in that Knoxville
after our return did come up to help Burpside, and later, Schofield
, in the holding and picketing
of East Tennessee
for the winter of 1863 and 1864.
During that time Granger
had his headquarters at Loudon
There was quite an interval of time from the close of the Knoxville campaign to the beginning of the spring operations of 1864.
, the Confederate General Bragg
withdrew his army, under the pressure we gave him, to the little town of Dalton, Ga.
, where he himself was soon replaced by General Joseph E. Johnston
, whom we have so often met in the battles of the East
reorganized his army, gave it discipline and drill, and prepared for the spring work which was expected of him. Taking his headquarters at Dalton
, he faced northward and eastward.
The railway line which brought him supplies from Atlanta
, i. e., from the South
, here divided, the eastern branch running to Cleveland
and toward Knoxville
, East Tennessee
, and the other bearing off to Chattanooga
and the north, and passed through Taylor's Ridge
at the famous Buzzard's Roost Gap.
This gap Johnston
held strongly, pushing an outpost as far forward as the Tunnel Hill
Such was the situation of affairs at Dalton
This place, with its difficult approaches, was commonly called in the papers the “doorway” of Georgia
, and certainly there was never a defile more easy to defend or more deadly in its approaches than that outer gate of Dalton
, the Buzzard's Roost Gap
Meanwhile, General Thomas
, who was still commanding the Army of the Cumberland, made his headquarters at Chattanooga
; but his army was scattered --part of his rear back at Nashville
, part for 100 miles to his left front near Knoxville
, and the remainder on the direct line between himself and Johnston
forced to this dispersion by the necessities of the situation as well as by orders from his seniors.
Bridges were to be built, railways repaired, fortifications to be erected, and stores to be accumulated.
At first he (Thomas
) was in hopes that he might drive back his foe, occupy Dalton
, and thus swing wide open the door of Georgia
preparatory to Sherman
's spring proposals.
A bold reconnoissance was made “after ceaseless labor and under the greatest embarrassment.”
Wading through mud and water and frost, the troops came up in front of the Buzzard
The gap was occupied by a force as strong as Thomas
's own; the Confederates
had more artillery and better cavalry; the country was without forage for mules and horses, and it was almost impossible to drag forward the heavy wagons, as one day's rain would render the Chickamauga bottom
impassable for them, so that this vigorous forward movement had but one beneficial effect, which was to keep Johnston
busy where he was — in the vicinity of Dalton
; for on Thomas
's approach he immediately called for reinforcements.
While the other troops were very active between Chattanooga
, and Knoxville
, the wing of Thomas
's army to which I belonged-probably about 20,000 strong, counting up the remaining divisions of the Eleventh Corps under Schurz
and Von Steinwehr
, and those of Geary
belonging to the Twelfth Corps, with corps and artillery transportation reckoned in (for the latter especially afforded many diligent employees)-remained in our first camp.
This temporary city in Lookout Valley
had General Joseph Hooker
for its governor.
Its outside intrenchments, better than the walls of a town, running over
the rolling hills and through the ravines, with Lookout for his advance guard and Raccoon for his reienforcement and the broad, swift Tennessee
for his left flank, gave to the gallant general a cheerful repose.
held daily court at his pleasant headquarters on the hillside, where officers of every rank came to receive cordial welcome; to review past battles and campaigns and to project new ones.
I still have at my house a charming picture, an etching made by a skillful German soldier.
It represents my own headquarters near to Hooker
's in the winter camp.
There is the large tent made more spacious, vertically, at least, by its log walls; more convenient of entrance by its rough door of plank, and more cottagelike by its lofty chimney of rough stone at the farther end. There were other tents in convenient order of grouping, without military precision; the straggling canvas dining saloons adding to the irregularity of form and the outdoor stables suggesting but brief occupation; a log cottage opposite with living figures about it, contrasting the old time with the new.
I record that on March 28, 1864, Sherman
again arrived at Chattanooga
and went on the next day to Knoxville
There was a newspaper rumor that the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps would be sent back east to the Army of the Potomac.
I then wrote: “I do not expect we shall go back, because I do not see how we can be spared from this army.
I am rather anticipating Jolmston's undertaking some game before long.
If he take the initiative he may bother us considerably.”
March 29th I rode over from Lookout Valley
and paid a visit to General Thomas
In the course of conversation I inquired of him why he did not take a brief “leave” before the active
operations should commence and visit his friends in the North
“ Oh,” he said, “I cannot leave; something is sure to get out of order if I go away from my command.
It was always so, even when I commanded a post.
I had to stick by and attend to everything, or else affairs went wrong.”
The escaping slaves made their way to every camp.
A family came to mine, a part of which I sent North to employment.
“Sam” remained with me. In a home letter I said: “ ‘Sam’ continues the best man in the world.
He reads to me every night and morning, and keeps up his interest in the Bible
(his aunt, a mulatto woman) wants him to become a Christian!
He is trying.”
On March 19th I gave an account of a scouting expedition, one among many: On Wednesday, a half hour before sunrise, my staff and myself set out for Trenton, Ga.
We took an escort from General Ward
's command-200 mounted infantry.
The road lies between Lookout and Raccoon all the way. Lookout Creek
, about sixty feet wide, winds its way through the whole distance for twenty miles, the crookedest stream you ever saw. The valley of this creek is nowhere level, but full of ridges and knolls.
We came past many fine farms-one quite large, phenomenal at this time and place — on our return between the creek and Lookout where the depredators have not been.
The owner's name was Brock
He had a two-story brick house almost hidden (it being on that byroad) fences all up, sheep in their pastures and negroes at home.
Two or three ladies appeared as we passed.
(They were not unfriendly in their look or manner to our party.)
is a little village of some half a dozen
houses, a church, and a village inn. We stopped at the latter.
G--, who lives there, had an aged mother in bed and a little son, some ten or twelve years old. We ate our lunch there and were permitted to put it on her table.
All the people of this village were “secesh” and impoverished.
It was a mystery from what source they got enough to eat.
Returning, we crossed the Lookout Creek
, skirted the mountain, passed Mr. Brock
's and other farms hidden away behind the ridges and woods.
Some three or four miles to the east of Trenton
, walking and leading our horses up the Nic-a-jack trace, we ascended Lookout Mountain
This rough, steep mountain path had been obstructed by the Confederates
near the top by fallen trees.
They were partially cut away and the gateway was made through their breastwork wall, which did not completely close the road at the top. We now rode along the crest of the great mountain, so as to take in the whole valley at a glance.
The top of Lookout is rather rough and for the most part covered with forest.
One pretty good road runs lengthwise along its back.
We left Lookout, the north side of Summertown
, and then descended by a new and steep path, very difficult, plucked the Epigea
or Mayflower, already blossoming near that path.
We reached camp a little after dark, having made about forty miles in one day, besides ascending and descending the steep, rugged mountain.
The next day Charles (Lieutenant
Colonel C. H. Howard
) and I rode to Rossville
, and, accompanied by General J. C. Davis
and Captain Daily
, his aid-de-camp, went over the battlefield of Chickamauga
We found on reckoning up that we had ridden that day about twenty-eight miles, and I was weary indeed when I got into a chair in my own
The first day the weather was cold and raw and this took much from our pleasure.
We here in the West
were waiting to see what General Grant
was going to do. We believed he was proposing to try his hand at Richmond
Such glimpses are suggestive of the thoughts, the plans, the operations, and the situation of the Northern
and Southern men, thousands of them then facing each other with arms in their hands and ready for other bloody experiences soon to come.
Not very long after this Sherman
set us in motion against Johnston
, and Grant
in the East
began his more dreadful campaign against the Army of Lee