Chattanooga-Hamilton County Bicentennial Library
Orchard Knob: The Battles for Chattanooga
On Monday afternoon, November 23, 1863, Union troops under the command of General George H. Thomas formed battle lines in an open valley between the city of Chattanooga and a rocky mound, known as Orchard Knob, to the east. Confederate soldiers positioned on the knob had previously constructed rifle pits along the crest and around the base in order to assist them in besieging the city. Confederate sentries atop Orchard Knob anxiously watched as the Union lines moved into a parade-like formation in front of their positions.
Around 1:30 P.M. Union buglers sounded the command "Forward," and approximately 14,000 troops began marching toward the Confederate positions. Only 634 Confederates held the line around Orchard Knob. The Union soldiers closed in on the knob, exchanging fire with the Confederates and pushing them back to the base of Missionary Ridge. A few minutes before 3:00 P.M., General Thomas J. Wood galloped to the summit and signaled to General Thomas: "I have taken the first line of the enemy's entrenchments." Thomas responded, "Hold on; don't come back; you have got too much; intrench [sic] your position." Although Orchard Knob was a minor engagement, it showed Grant that Bragg's army was still a capable fighting force and aided Bragg in realizing he should be concerned about the possibility of a Union attack upon his lines. On November 25 Orchard Knob became General Grant's forward observation post as he watched the Union assault upon Missionary Ridge.
Did You Know?
Chattanooga, a city with a population today of 171,279 people, had a population of 2,500 at the time of the Civil War.