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The Campaign for Chattanooga
The Theater of Movements, and the Battfields as seen from the Point of Lookout Mountain
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(Confederate forces designated by italics)

The principal localities connected with the battles around Chattanooga, as seen from the north point of Lookout Mountain, are these:

The distant mountain ranges to the north and west are the Cumberlands. The range north of Chattanooga, skirting the Tennessee Valley on the west, is Waldens Ridge, which is separated from the main range of the Cumberlands by the deep gorge of the Sequatchie Valley. The first range east of Lookout is Missionary Ridge. To the southeast and 3 miles east of Missionary Ridge lies the battlefield of Chickamauga. Halfway from the eastern limits of Chattanooga to Missionary Ridge is Orchard Knob. Moccasin Point is in the great bend of the Tennessee River opposite Lookout. The river flows from Chattanooga toward Lookout. Browns Ferry is about a mile above Williams Island, which is the only island visible west of Moccasin Point. Chattanooga Valley and Creek are immediately east of the mountain, and Lookout Valley and Creek west of it. Wauhatchie Station is at the intersection of the railroads in Lookout Valley, and the battlefield of Wauhatchie is at the first crossroads north of that point. Rossville Gap is in Missionary Ridge to the southeast, and McFarlands Gap 2-1/2 miles south of Rossville.

Chattanooga had long been the objective of the Union Army of the Cumberland. Its final campaign for that city opened August 16, 1863, and ended September 22 with the permanent occupation of the city.

When this latter campaign began, General Bragg, commanding the Confederate Army of Tennessee, held Chattanooga. General Rosecrans, commanding the Union Army of the Cumberland, was established along the western base of the Cumberland Mountains 60 miles from Chattanooga by the mountain trails, his lines extending from Winchester to McMinnville, with both flanks further extended by cavalry. His army was composed of three corps, the left under Crittenden at McMinnville, the center at Decherd under George H. Thomas, and the right under Alex. McCook at Winchester.

The campaign on the part of the Union Army involved cutting loose from its base, carrying twenty-five days' rations and ammunition for two battles, crossing three ranges of mountains and the Tennessee River, all within the enemy's lines, each range of mountains being of the same character as Lookout.

The only possibility of success was through a diversion which should conceal the real movement from General Bragg until it was fully developed.

The left corps (Crittenden's) of the Union Army was therefore thrown over the Cumberlands from McMinnville, and several of its brigades were extended along their eastern escarpment to light fires at night, while other brigades descended into the valley, opened at long range with artillery upon the city, and feinted at building boats for bridges. As General Burnside with a Union army was at Knoxville, farther up the Tennessee Valley, this move of the left of Rosecrans' army naturally appeared to be to form a junction of these two armies above Chattanooga. General Bragg was misled by it, and moved a large force up the river to fortify the fords for a long distance.

Meantime the center and right of Rosecrans' army had crossed the Cumberlands some 30 miles below Chattanooga, bridged the Tennessee River, and crossed the Sand or Raccoon Mountains into the valley west of Lookout. Thomas' corps, moving 26 miles up the valley to the first available trail for wheels, ascended Lookout. McCook's corps, continuing to Valley Head, 42 miles south of Chattanooga, where the next available trail crossed the mountain, pushed over Lookout. When the heads of the Union columns reached the summit of the Lookout Range, General Bragg evacuated Chattanooga and proceeded to Lafayette, 26 miles south and behind the next range east of Lookout, thus saving his communications and enabling him to confront the Union columns as they emerged from the mountain passes. Meantime, Crittenden's corps had been rapidly withdrawn to the river behind the outlying range of Waldens Ridge, and crossing the Raccoon Mountains came down into Lookout Valley, and in a reconnoissance to the northern slope of Lookout discovered that Chattanooga was evacuated. He moved one division into it and with the rest of his corps followed Bragg through Rossville and to the crossing of the Chickamauga River at Lee & Gordon's mill, where he was joined with the force left at Chattanooga the day before, one brigade only being retained in the city.

Rosecrans, acting under information from his right that Bragg was retreating on Rome ordered pursuit, but immediately found Bragg concentrating for battle. The latter, being reenforced by a part of Longstreet's corps from Virginia, moved to interpose between Rosecrans and Chattanooga. Rosecrans by a night march thrust his army between Bragg and that city. The two days' battle of Chickamauga, which was the battle for Chattanooga, followed, each army attempting to secure the roads to the city. At its close the Confederates held these roads. But General Thomas, who remained in command of the Union Army (General Rosecrans having been cut off with a portion of his right wing), withdrew it through McFarlands Gap, and passing behind Missionary Ridge to Rossville Gap, re-formed his lines in that gap along the ridge and across the valley to Lookout Mountain, thus firmly establishing himself between Bragg and Chattanooga. The next night he marched into the city and the objective of the campaign was won.

General Bragg advanced at once, occupied Lookout Mountain and lines reaching from its foot across the valley and along the base of Missionary Ridge to the river above. As supplies could only reach the Union Army by wagon trains over the mountains from Bridgeport, rations grew short. The river line of supplies were therefore reopened by a plan of General Rosecrans. General Hooker, who had been brought to Bridgeport from the Army of the Potomac, in command of the Eleventh and Twelfth corps, came forward with a portion of his force to Wauhatchie, defeated a division of Longstreet's corps October 28 at that point, and with the cooperating forces from Chattanooga under the command of Brig. Gen. W. F. Smith, at Browns Ferry, secured and held Lookout Valley. Full supplies thereafter reached Chattanooga by way of the river and the short haul, from Kelly and Browns ferries. Sherman, with four divisions, was ordered up from Vicksburg, Grant was put in command of the forces about Chattanooga, and Rosecrans was superseded in command of the Army of the Cumberland by General Thomas.

The battle of Chattanooga occupied three days. November 23 General Thomas, with five divisions, advanced upon Orchard Knob from the eastern limits of the city and carried it and Bragg's exterior line through the valley. During the night of the 23d General Sherman crossed his forces over the river and the next day occupied the hills at the north end of Missionary Ridge.

November 24 General Hooker, with three divisions, assaulted Lookout Mountain from the valley west of it, and carried the western and northern slopes below the palisades to the Cravens House. During the night the Confederate force withdrew from the eastern slopes and the top of the mountain and joined the rest of Bragg's forces on Missionary Ridge.

November 25 Sherman unsuccessfully assaulted the enemy's position in his front. At 3.15 p. m. four divisions of the Army of the Cumberland stormed Missionary Ridge in the center, and in an hour carried the works at its foot and 3 miles of its crest, capturing 37 guns and, in connection with Hooker's three divisions at the south end of the ridge, taking nearly 2,000 prisoners. Bragg's army retreated to Dalton, 39 miles south. The Union Army there after held Chattanooga to the close of the war.

The battlefields of Chickamauga and Lookout Mountain and the crest of Missionary Ridge for 8 miles have been acquired by the National Government, and, together with many miles of the roads by which the armies reached or left these fields, have been established as a National Military Park. The central driveway is 30 miles in length. Throughout its extent it either passes through or overlooks fields of notable fighting. The park embraces six battlefields. The Government has, thus far, expended several million dollars upon it. Through the cooperation of 26 State commissions, including all the late Confederate States, with the National Commission having the establishment of the park in charge, all lines of battle have been identified and marked with monuments and historical tablets. Guns of the same pattern as those used in the battle have been mounted upon carriages at each position of artillery fighting. The positions of every regiment and battery engaged have been ascertained and marked. There are separate historical tablets for each army, corps, division, brigade, and battery, giving the organization and commanders of each, while the brigade tablets give the designations and the commanding officers of the individual regiments. This marking includes both Union and Confederate armies, and the treatment of each is in every respect the same. The improved roads of the park are 73 miles in length. The area of the National Military Park is 5,733 acres. The Government purchases the land, builds the roads, erects the batteries and historical tablets and the monuments to the regular troops. It also controls all designs, inscriptions, and troop locations, this supervision being directed to insuring historical accuracy. The respective States erect the monuments and markers to their volunteer troops. This is believed to be the first military park where the veterans of contending armies have met to identify their positions and erect monuments to the valor of those engaged.

There are 607 monuments, 1,027 tablets, 239 guns, and 4 observation towers erected in the park. There were engaged at Chickamauga on the Union side 129 regiments of infantry, 18 regiments of cavalry, 6 regiments of mounted infantry, and 35 batteries of artillery. On the Confederate side there were engaged 138 regiments of infantry, 33 of cavalry, 25 independent battalions of infantry, 8 independent companies of cavalry, and 41 batteries of artillery.

At Chattanooga the Union Army comprised 220 regiments of infantry, 5 of cavalry, 2 regiments of mounted infantry, and 36 batteries of artillery. Bragg appeared before Chattanooga with 163 regiments and 21 independent battalions of infantry, 33 regiments and 6 squadrons of cavalry, and 46 batteries of artillery. Before the battle 44 regiments and 9 battalions of infantry, and 12 batteries, of Longstreet's and Buckner's Corps, were sent to Knoxville, and all of the cavalry was operating either in East Tennessee or on the Union lines of communication.

For the Commission:

H. V. BOYNTON, Chairman.


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Last Modified: Mon, Sep 23 2002 11:00:00 pm PDT

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