Official Reports from the
(with comments by Bob Redman in [brackets])
For the original versions of these reports (occasionally with added highlighting) click here.
1. Ulysses S. Grant
2. George H. Thomas
3. Joseph Hooker (excerpt)
4. Braxton Bragg
5. William T. Sherman (excerpts)
Report of Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, U.S. Army,
Commanding Military Division of the Mississippi,
HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
In Field, Chattanooga, Tenn., December 23, 1863
Col. J. C. KELTON,
COLONEL: In pursuance of General Orders, No. 337, War Department, of date Washington, October 16, 1863, delivered to me by the Secretary of War at Louisville, Ky., on the 18th of the same month, I assumed command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, comprising the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee, and telegraphed the order assuming command, together with the order of the War Department referred to, to Maj. Gen. A. E. Burnside, at Knoxville, and to Maj. Gen. W. S. Rosecrans, at Chattanooga. My action in telegraphing these orders to Chattanooga in advance of my arrival there, was induced by information furnished me by the Secretary of War, of the difficulty with which the Army of the Cumberland had to contend in supplying itself over a long mountainous and almost impassable road from Stevenson, Ala., to Chattanooga, Tenn., and his fears that General Rosecrans would fall back to the north side of the Tennessee River. To guard further against the possibility of the Secretary's fears, I also telegraphed to Major-General Thomas on the 19th of October, from Louisville, to hold Chattanooga, at all hazards; that I would be there as soon as possible. [Thomas’s record to that date showed that he had no need of such an order] To which he replied on same date, "I will hold the town till we starve."
Proceeding directly to Chattanooga, I arrived there on the 23d of October, and found that General Thomas had immediately, on being placed in command of the Department of the Cumberland, ordered the concentration of Major-General Hooker's command at Bridgeport, preparatory to securing the river and main wagon road between that place and Brown's Ferry, immediately below Lookout Mountain [According to Thomas himself, the general plan for taking Brown’s Ferry had been already worked out by Rosecrans before he was replaced by Thomas on the 19th]. The next morning after my arrival at Chattanooga, in company with Thomas and Brig. Gen. W. F. Smith, chief engineer, I made a reconnaissance of Brown's Ferry and the hills on the south side of the river and at the mouth of Lookout Valley. After the reconnaissance, the plan agreed upon was for Hooker to cross at Bridgeport to the south side of the river with all the force that could be spared from the railroad, and move on the main wagon road by way of Whiteside's to Wauhatchie, in Lookout Valley. Maj. Gen. J. M. Palmer was to proceed by the only practicable route north of the river from his position opposite Chattanooga to a point on the north bank of the Tennessee River and opposite Whiteside's, there to cross to the south side to hold the road passed over by Hooker.
In the meantime, and before the enemy could be apprised of our intentions, a force under the direction of Brig. Gen. W. F. Smith, chief engineer, was to be thrown across the river at or near Brown's Ferry to seize the range of hills at the mouth of Lookout Valley, covering the Brown's Ferry road, and orders were given accordingly It was known that the enemy held the north end of Lookout Valley with a brigade of troops, and the road leading around the foot of the mountain from their main camps in Chattanooga Valley to Lookout Valley. Holding these advantages he would have had little difficulty in concentrating a sufficient force to have defeated or driven Hooker back. To remedy this the seizure of the range of hills at the mouth of Lookout Valley and covering the Brown's Ferry road was deemed of the highest importance. This, by the use of pontoon bridges at Chattanooga and Brown's Ferry, would secure to us by the north bank of the river, across Moccasin Point, a shorter line by which to re-enforce our troops in Lookout Valley than the narrow and tortuous road around the foot of Lookout Mountain afforded the enemy for re-enforcing his. The force detailed for this expedition consisted of 4,000 men, under command of General Smith, chief engineer, 1,800 of which, under Brig. Gen. W. B. Hazen, in sixty pontoon-boats, containing 30 armed men each, floated quietly from Chattanooga past the enemy's pickets to the foot of Lookout Mountain on the night of the 27th of October, landed on the south side of the river at Brown's Ferry, surprised the enemy's pickets, stationed there, and seized the hills covering the ferry, without the loss of a man killed and but 4 or 5 wounded. The remainder of the forces, together with the materials for a bridge, was moved by the north bank of the river across Moccasin Point to Brown's Ferry without attracting the attention of the enemy, and before day dawned the whole force was ferried to the south bank of the river, and the almost inaccessible heights rising from Lookout Valley and its outlet to the river and below the mouth of Lookout Creek were secured.
By 10 a.m. an excellent pontoon bridge was laid across the river at Brown's Ferry, thus securing to us the end of the desired road nearest the enemy's forces, and the shorter line over which to pass troops if a battle became inevitable. Positions were taken up by our troops from which they could not have been driven except by vastly superior forces, and then only with great loss to the enemy. Our artillery was placed in such position as to completely command the road leading from the enemy's main camps in Chattanooga Valley to Lookout Valley. On the 28th, Hooker emerged into Lookout Valley at Wauhatchie by the direct road from Bridgeport, by way of Whiteside's, to Chattanooga with the Eleventh Army Corps, under Major-General Howard, and Geary's division of the Twelfth Army Corps, and proceeded to take up positions for the defense of the road from Whiteside's, over which he had marched, and also the road leading from Brown's Ferry to Kelley's Ferry, throwing the left of Howard's corps forward to Brown's Ferry. The division that started under command of Palmer for Whiteside's reached its destination and took up the position intended in the original plan of this movement. These movements, so successfully executed, secured to us two comparatively good lines by which to obtain supplies from the terminus of the railroad at Bridgeport, namely, the main wagon road by way of Whiteside's, Wauhatchie, and Brown's Ferry, distant but 28 miles, and the Kelley's Ferry and Brown's Ferry road, which, by the use of the river from Bridgeport to Kelley's Ferry, reduced the distance for wagoning to but 8 miles.
Up to this period our forces at Chattanooga were practically invested, the enemy's line extending from the Tennessee River above Chattanooga to the river at and below the point of Lookout Mountain below Chattanooga, with the south bank of the river picketed to near Bridgeport, his main force being fortified in Chattanooga Valley, at the foot of and on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, and a brigade in Lookout Valley. True, we held possession of the country north of the river, but it was from 60 to 70 miles over the most impracticable of roads to any supplies. The artillery horses and mules had become so reduced by starvation that they could not have been relied on for moving anything. An attempt at retreat must have been with men alone, and with only such supplies as they could carry. A retreat would have been almost certain annihilation, for the enemy, occupying positions within gunshot of and overlooking our very fortifications, would unquestionably have pursued our retreating forces. Already more than 10,000 animals had perished in supplying half rations to the troops by the long and tedious route from Stevenson and Bridgeport to Chattanooga, over Walden's Ridge. They could not have been supplied another week. The enemy was evidently fully apprised of our condition in Chattanooga, and of the necessity of our establishing a new and shorter line by which to obtain supplies, if we could not maintain our position; and so fully was he impressed of the importance of keeping from us these lines--lost to him by surprise and in a manner he little dreamed of--that in order to regain possession of them a night attack was made by a portion of Longstreet's forces on a portion of Hooker's troops (Geary's division, of the Twelfth Corps) the first night after Hooker's arrival in the valley [Longstreet’s specific orders intended a bit more, namely to drive Hooker from Lookout Valley]. This attack failed [the beginning of the end for Bragg], however, and Howard's corps, which was moving to the assistance of Geary, finding that it was not required by him, carried the remaining heights held by the enemy west of Lookout Creek. This gave us quiet possession of the lines of communication heretofore described south of the Tennessee River. Of these operations I cannot speak more particularly, the sub-reports having been sent to Washington without passing through my hands. By the use of two steam-boats, one of which had been left at Chattanooga by the enemy and fell into our hands, and one that had been built by us at Bridgeport, plying between Bridgeport and Kelley's Ferry, we were enabled to obtain supplies with but 8 miles of wagoning. The capacity of the railroad and steam-boats was not sufficient, however, to supply all the wants of the army, but actual suffering was prevented. Ascertaining from scouts and deserters that Bragg was detaching Longstreet from the front and moving him in the direction of Knoxville, Tenn., evidently to attack Burnside, and feeling strongly the necessity of some move that would compel him to retain all his forces and recall those he had detached, directions were given for a movement against Missionary Ridge, with a view to carrying it, and threatening the enemy's communication with Longstreet, of which I informed Burnside by telegraph on the 7th of November. After a thorough reconnaissance of the ground, however, it was deemed utterly impracticable to make the move until Sherman could get up, because of the inadequacy of our forces 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 [Thomas regarded the proposed operation as disastrous as he would have thus exposed Chattanooga and himself to a counterattack from the ridge, so he used his chief engineer, general Baldy Smith, as an intermediary to dissuade Grant. Grant's proposal wasn't meant to be carried out, of course. It was just a routine maneuvre to provide himself with a scapegoat should the real battle be lost]. In the meantime reconnaissances were made and plans matured for operations.
Dispatches were sent to Sherman informing him of the movement of Longstreet and the necessity of his immediate presence at Chattanooga.
On the 14th of November, I telegraphed to Burnside as follows:
Maj. Gen. AMBROSE E. BURNSIDE:
Your dispatch and Dana's just received. Being there you can tell better how to resist Longstreet's attack than I can direct. With your showing you had better give up Kingston at the last moment and save the most productive part of your possessions. Every arrangement is now made to throw Sherman's force across the river, just at and below the mouth of Chickamauga Creek, as soon as it arrives. Thomas will attack on his left at the same time [This has nothing to do with a charge up the center of Missionary Ridge], and together it is expected to carry Missionary Ridge, and from there push a force on to the railroad between Cleveland and Dalton. Hooker will at the same time attack, and, if he can, carry Lookout Mountain. The enemy now seems to be looking for an attack on his left flank. This favors us. To further confirm this, Sherman's advance division will march direct from Whiteside's to Trenton. The remainder of his force will pass over a new road just made from Whiteside's to Kelley's Ferry, thus being concealed from the enemy, and leave him to suppose the whole force is going up Lookout Valley. Sherman's advance has only just reached Bridgeport. The rear will only reach there on the 16th. This will bring it to the 19th as the earliest day for making the combined movement as desired. Inform me if you think you can sustain yourself until that time. I can hardly conceive of the enemy's breaking through at Kingston and pushing for Kentucky. If they should, however, a new problem would be left for solution. Thomas has ordered a division of cavalry to the vicinity of Sparta. I will ascertain if they have started and inform you. It will be entirely out of the question to send you 10,000 men, not because they cannot be spared, but how could they be fed after they got even one day east of here?
U.S. GRANT, Major-General.
On the 15th, having received from the General-in-Chief a dispatch (of date the 14th) in reference to Burnside's position, the danger of his abandonment of East Tennessee unless immediate relief was afforded, and the terrible misfortune such a result would be to our arms, and also dispatches from Mr. C. A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, and Colonel Wilson, of my staff, sent at the instance of General Burnside, informing me more fully of the condition of affairs as detailed to them by him, I telegraphed him as follows:
CHATTANOOGA, TENN., November 15, 1863.
Maj. Gen. AMBROSE E. BURNSIDE:
I do not know how to impress on you the necessity of holding on to East Tennessee in strong enough terms. According to the dispatches of Mr. Dana and Colonel Wilson, it would seem that you should, if pressed to do it, hold on to Knoxville and that portion of the valley which you will necessarily possess. Holding to that point, should Longstreet move his whole force across the Little Tennessee, an effort should be made to cut his pontoons on that stream, even if it sacrificed half of the cavalry of the Ohio Army. By holding on and placing Longstreet between the Little Tennessee and Knoxville, he should not be allowed to escape with an army capable of doing anything this winter. I can hardly conceive of the necessity of retreating from East Tennessee. If I did so at all it would be after losing most of the army, and then necessity would suggest the route. I will not attempt to lay out a line of retreat. Kingston, looking at the map, I thought of more importance than any one point in East Tennessee. But my attention being called more closely to it, I can see that it might be passed by, and Knoxville and the rich valley about it possessed, ignoring that place entirely. I should not think it advisable to concentrate a force near Little Tennessee to resist the crossing, if it would be in danger of capture, but I would harass and embarrass progress in every way possible, reflecting on the fact that the Army of the Ohio is not the only army to resist the onward progress of the enemy.
U.S. GRANT, Major-General.
Previous reconnaissances, made first by Brig. Gen. W. F. Smith, chief engineer, and afterward by Thomas, Sherman, and myself, in company with him, of the country opposite Chattanooga and north of the Tennessee River, extending as far east as the mouth of the North Chickamauga, and also of the mouth of the South Chickamauga and the north end of Missionary Ridge, so far as the same could be made from the north bank of the river without exciting suspicion on the part of the enemy, showed good roads from Brown's Ferry up the river and back of the first range of hills opposite Chattanooga, and out of view of the enemy s positions. Troops crossing the bridge at Brown's Ferry could be seen and their numbers estimated by the enemy, but not seeing anything further of them as they passed up in rear of these hills, he would necessarily be at a loss to know whether they were moving to Knoxville or held on the north side of the river for future operations at Chattanooga. It also showed that the north end of Missionary Ridge was imperfectly guarded, and that the banks of the river from the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek westward to his main line in front of Chattanooga was watched only by a small cavalry picket. [This excursion took place on the afternoon of 16 Nov. The hills north of the river are about 4 miles from Missionary Ridge and run parallel to it, offering an unobstructed view of the railroad tunnel entrance - the objective stated in Sherman’s subsequent orders] This determined the plan of operations indicated in my dispatch of the 14th to Burnside. Upon further consideration (the great object being to mass all the force possible against one given point [typical West Point military thinking, this was also Bragg’s theory], namely. Missionary Ridge, converging toward the north end of it) it was deemed best to change the original plan, so far as it contemplated Hooker s attack on Lookout Mountain, which would give us Howard's corps of his command to aid in this purpose, and on the 18th the following instructions were given Thomas:
Maj. Gen. GEORGE H. THOMAS:
All preparations should be made for attacking the enemy's position on Missionary Ridge by Saturday at daylight. Not being provided with a map giving names of roads, spurs of the mountains, and other places [but he did have a scientific contour map], such definite instructions cannot be given as might be desirable. However, the general plan, you understand, is for Sherman, with the force brought with him, strengthened by a division from your command, to effect a crossing of the Tennessee River just below the mouth of Chickamauga, his crossing to be protected by artillery from the heights on the north bank of the river (to be located by your chief of artillery); and to secure the heights from the northern extremity to about the railroad tunnel [a little more than 1 mile south of the northernmost point of the ridge] before the enemy can concentrate against him. You will co-operate with Sherman. The troops in Chattanooga Valley should be well concentrated on your left flank, leaving only the necessary force to defend fortifications on the right and center, and a movable column of one division in readiness to move whenever ordered. This division should show itself as threateningly [only a “demonstration”] as possible on the most practicable line for making an attack up the valley. Your effort then will be to form a junction with Sherman, making your advance well toward the northern end of Missionary Ridge [Grant’s grand design revealed!], and moving as near simultaneously with him as possible. The juncture once formed, and the ridge carried, communications will be at once established between the two armies by roads on the south bank of the river. Farther movements will then depend on those of the enemy.
Lookout Valley, I think, will be easily held by Geary's division and what troops you may still have there belonging to the old Army of the Cumberland [What happened to Hooker in this plan?]. Howard's corps can then be held in readiness to act either with you at Chattanooga or with Sherman. It should be marched on Friday night to a position on the north side of the river, not lower down than the first pontoon bridge, and there held in readiness for such orders as may become necessary. All these troops will be provided with two days' cooked rations in haversacks and 100 rounds of ammunition on the person of each infantry soldier. Special care should be taken by all officers to see that ammunition is not wasted or unnecessarily fired away. You will call on the engineer department for such preparations as you may deem necessary for carrying your infantry and artillery over the creek.
U.S. GRANT, Major-General
A copy of these instructions was furnished Sherman, with the following communication:
Maj. Gen. WILLIAM T. SHERMAN:
Inclosed herewith I send you copy of instructions to
Thomas. You having been over the ground in person, and having heard the
whole matter discussed, further instructions will not be necessary
you [italics mine]. It is particularly desirable that a force
be got through to the railroad between Cleveland and Dalton, and
thus cut off from communication with the south; but being confronted by
a large force here, strongly located, it is not easy to tell how this
to be effected until the result of our first effort is known [Sherman
no attempt to do this]. I will add, however, what is not shown in my
to Thomas, that a brigade of cavalry has been ordered here which, if it
arrives in time, will be thrown across the Tennessee above Chickamauga,
and may be able to make the trip to Cleveland or thereabouts.
U.S. GRANT, Major-General.
Sherman's forces were moved from Bridgeport by way of White-side's, one division threatening the enemy's left flank in the direction of Trenton, crossing at Brown's Ferry, up the north bank of the Tennessee to near the mouth of South Chickamauga, where they were kept concealed from the enemy until they were ready to force a crossing. Pontoons for throwing a bridge across the river were built and placed in North Chickamauga, near its mouth, a few miles farther up, without attracting the attention of the enemy. It was expected we would be able to effect the crossing on the 21st of November, but owing to heavy rains [and Sherman’s insistance, against Grant’s wishes, on bringing his wagon train along with his infantry] Sherman was unable to get up until the afternoon of the 23d, and then only with Generals Morgan L. Smith's, John E. Smith's, and Hugh Ewing's divisions, of the Fifteenth Corps, under command of Maj. Gen. Frank P. Blair, of his army. The pontoon bridges at Brown's Ferry having been broken up by the drift consequent upon the rise in the river and rafts sent down by the enemy, the other division (Osterhaus') was detained on the south side, and was on the night of the 23d ordered, unless it could get across by 8 o'clock the next morning, to report to Hooker, who was instructed, in this event, to attack Lookout Mountain, as contemplated in the original plan [Hooker wasn’t even mentioned in Grant’s original plan].
A deserter from the rebel army, who came into our lines on the night of the 22d of November, reported Bragg falling back. The following letter from Bragg, received by flag of truce on the 20th, tended to confirm this report:
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE, In the Field, November 20, 1863.
Maj. Gen. U. S. GRANT, Commanding U.S. Forces.
General: As there may still be some non-combatants in Chattanooga, I deem it proper to notify you that prudence would dictate their early withdrawal. I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BRAXTON BRAGG, General, Commanding.
Not being willing that he should get his army off in good order, Thomas was directed, early on the morning of the 23d, to ascertain the truth or falsity of this report by driving in his pickets and making him develop his lines. This he did with the troops stationed at Chattanooga and Howard's corps (which had been brought into Chattanooga because of the apprehended danger to our pontoon bridges from the rise in the river and the enemy's rafts) in the most gallant style, driving the enemy from his first line and securing to us what is known as Indian Hill or Orchard Knoll, and the low range of hills south of it. These points were fortified during the night and artillery put in position on them. The report of this deserter was evidently not intended to deceive, but he had mistaken Bragg's movements. It was afterward ascertained that one division of Buckner's corps had gone to join Longstreet, and a second division of the same corps [Cleburne’s] had started but was brought back in consequence of our attack. On the night of the 23d of November Sherman, with three divisions of his army, strengthened by Davis' division, of Thomas', which had been stationed along on the north bank of the river, convenient to where the crossing was to be effected, was ready for operations [3+1=4, but Sherman actually had up to 7 divisions at his disposal]. At an hour sufficiently early to secure the south bank of the river, just below the mouth of South Chickamauga, by dawn of day, the pontoons in North Chickamauga were loaded with 30 armed men each, who floated quietly past the enemy's pickets, landed, and captured all but 1 of the guard, 20 in number, before the enemy was aware of the presence of a foe. The steam-boat Dunbar, with a barge in tow, after having finished ferry-ing across the river the horses procured from Sherman with which to move Thomas' artillery, was sent up from Chattanooga to aid in crossing artillery and troops, and by daylight of the morning of the 24th of November 8,000 men were on the south side of the Tennessee and fortified in rifle-trenches. By 12 m. the pontoon bridges across the Tennessee and the Chickamauga were laid, and the remainder of Sherman's force crossed over, and at half past 3 p.m. the whole of the northern extremity of Missionary Ridge, to near the railroad tunnel was in Sherman's possession [This is a falsification. Sherman was still 2 miles away from the tunnel, reported his error on the morning of the 25th, and blamed defective maps which Grant does not cite here]. During the night he fortified the position thus secured, making it equal, if not superior, in strength to that held by the enemy [The estimates of Sherman’s numerical superiority to Cleburne vary from 4:1 to 7:1]. By 3 o'clock of the same day Colonel Long, with his brigade of cavalry, of Thomas' army, crossed to the south side of the Tennessee and to the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek, and made a raid on the enemy's lines of communications. He burned Tyner's Station, with many stores, cut the railroad at Cleveland, captured near a hundred wagons and over 200 prisoners. His own loss was small. Hooker carried out the part assigned him for this day equal to the most sanguine expectations [Grant had intended Hooker to make only a “demonstration”]. With Geary's division (Twelfth Corps) and two brigades of Stanley's division (Fourth Corps), of Thomas' army, and Osterhaus' division (Fifteenth Corps), of Sherman's army, he scaled the western slope of Lookout Mountain, drove the enemy from his rifle-pits on the northern extremity and slope of the mountain, capturing many prisoners, without serious loss. Thomas, having done on the 23d with his troops in Chattanooga what was intended for the 24th [Thomas was to have no active part in the attack on the ridge], 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. When Hooker emerged in sight of the northern extremity of Lookout Mountain, Carlin's brigade, of the Fourteenth Corps, was ordered to cross Chattanooga Creek and form a junction with him. This was effected late in the evening, and after considerable fighting. Thus on the night of the 24th our forces maintained an unbroken line, with open communications, from the north end of Lookout Mountain, through Chattanooga Valley, to the north end of Missionary Ridge. On the morning of the 25th, Hooker took possession of the mountain top with a small force, and with the remainder of his command, in pursuance of orders, swept across Chattanooga Valley, now abandoned by the enemy, to Rossville. In this march he was detained four hours building a bridge across Chattanooga Creek [Hooker had Osterhaus’s division across very quickly on the “first stringers” (Hooker’s report). Osterhaus then secured Rossville Gap while the bridge was being completed]. From Rossville he ascended Missionary Ridge and moved northward toward the center of the now shortened line. Sherman's attack upon the enemy's most northern and most vital point was vigorously kept up all day [Sherman had been repulsed and had given up the battle at 2:30 PM]. The assaulting column advanced to the very rifle-pits of the enemy, and held their position firmly and without wavering. The right of the assaulting column being exposed to the danger of being turned, two brigades were sent to its support. These advanced in the most gallant manner over an open field on the mountain side to near the works of the enemy, and lay there partially covered from fire for some time. The right of these two brigades rested near the head of a ravine or gorge in the mountain side, which the enemy took advantage of, and sent troops, covered from view, below them and to their right rear. Being unexpectedly fired into from this direction, they fell back across the open field below them, and reformed in good order in the edge of the timber. The column which attacked them was speedily driven to its intrenchments by the assaulting column proper. Early on the morning of the 25th the remainder of Howard's corps reported to Sherman, and constituted a part of his forces during that day's battle, the pursuit, and subsequent advance for the relief of Knoxville. Sherman's position not only threatened the right flank of the enemy, but, from his occupying a line across the mountain and to the railroad bridge, across Chickamauga Creek, his rear and stores at Chickamauga Station. This caused the enemy to mass heavily against him. This movement of his being plainly seen from the position I occupied on Orchard Knoll [one reduced division under Stevenson which had marched all night from Lookout Mountain], Baird's division, of the Fourteenth Corps, was ordered to Sherman's support, but receiving a note from Sherman informing me that he had all the force necessary, Baird was put in position on Thomas' left. The appearance of Hooker's column was at this time anxiously looked for and momentarily expected, moving north on the ridge with his left in Chattanooga Valley and his right east of the ridge. His 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. Being satisfied from the latest information from him [Thomas’s signalmen on top of Lookout Mountain?] that he must by this time be on his way from Rossville, though not yet in sight, and discovering that the enemy in his desperation to defeat or resist the progress of Sherman was weakening his center on Missionary Ridge [Not true, Bragg had simply reinforced Cleburne with Stevenson’s troops at the expense of Stewarts’ left flank, the center remained as it was], determined me to order the advance at once. Thomas was accordingly directed to move forward his troops, constituting our center, Baird's division (Fourteenth Corps), Wood's and Sheridan's divisions (Fourth Corps), and Johnson's division (Fourteenth Corps), 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 on the rifle-pits with a view to carrying the top of the ridge [Italics mine. This is an outright lie. Grant’s orders only directed Thomas’s troops to take the pits and stop].These troops moved forward, drove the enemy from the rifle-pits at the base of the ridge like bees-from a hive--stopped but a moment until the whole were in line--and commenced the ascent of the mountain from right to left almost simultaneously, following closely the retreating enemy, without further orders. They encountered a fearful volley of grape and canister from near thirty pieces of artillery and musketry from still well-filled rifle-pits on the summit of the ridge. Not a waver, however, was seen in all that long line of brave men. Their progress was steadily onward until the summit was in their possession. In this charge the casualties were remarkably few for the fire encountered. I can account for this only on the theory that the enemy's surprise at the audacity of such a charge caused confusion and purposeless aiming of their pieces. The nearness of night, and the enemy still resisting the advance of Thomas' left, prevented a general pursuit that night, but Sheridan pushed forward to Mission Mills [and ran into a rear guard trap, ouch!].
The resistance on Thomas' left being overcome [Another lie, the resistance of Cleburne’s troops had not been overcome] the enemy abandoned his position near the railroad tunnel in front of Sherman, and by 12 o'clock at night was in full retreat, and the whole of his strong positions on Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga Valley, and Missionary Ridge were in our possession, together with a large number of prisoners, artillery, and small-arms. Thomas was directed to get Granger, with his corps, and detachments enough from other commands, including the force available at Kingston, to make 20,000 men, in readiness to go to the relief of Knoxville, upon the termination of the battle at Chattanooga, these troops to take with them four days' rations, and a steam-boat loaded with rations to follow up the river. On the evening of the 25th November, orders were given to both Thomas and Sherman to pursue the enemy early the next morning, with all their available force, except that under Granger intended for the relief of Knoxville. On the morning of the 26th, Sherman advanced by way of Chickamauga Station, and Thomas' forces, under Hooker and Palmer, moved on the Rossville road toward Graysville and Ringgold. The advance of Thomas' forces reached Ringgold on the morning of the 27th, where they found the enemy in strong position in the gorge and on the crest of Taylor's Ridge, from which they dislodged him, after a severe fight, in which we lost heavily in valuable officers and men [Here Grant subtly shifts the blame for the heavy loss from Hooker to Thomas], and continued the pursuit that day until near Tunnel Hill, a distance of 20 miles from Chattanooga. Davis' division (Fourteenth Corps), of Sherman's column, reached Ringgold about noon of the same day. Howard's corps was sent by Sherman to Red Clay to destroy the railroad between Dalton and Cleveland, and thus cut off Bragg's communication with Longstreet, which was successfully accomplished. Had it not been for the imperative necessity of relieving Burnside, I would have pursued the broken and demoralized retreating enemy as long as supplies could have been found in the country. But my advices were that Burnside's supplies would only last until about the 3d of December. It was already getting late to afford the necessary relief. I determined, therefore, to pursue no farther. Hooker was directed to hold the position he then occupied until the night of the 30th, but to go no farther south at the expense of a fight. Sherman was directed to march to the railroad crossing of the Hiwassee, to protect Granger's flank until he was across that stream, and to prevent further re-enforcements being sent by that route into East Tennessee. Returning from the front on the 28th, I found that Granger had not yet got off, nor would he have the number of men I had directed [Due to Grant’s own tardy issuance of the order]. Besides, he moved with reluctance and complaints [This is the only overt censure of anyone in Grant’s entire report. Thereafter, Granger’s military career was effectively ended. In my opinion, Grant struck at Thomas’s loyal subordinate because he didn’t dare strike directly at Thomas]. I therefore determined, notwithstanding the fact that two divisions of Sherman's forces had marched from Memphis, and had gone into battle immediately on their arrival at Chattanooga, to send him with his command, and orders in accordance therewith were sent him at Calhoun to assume command of the troops with Granger, in addition to those with him, and proceed, with all possible dispatch, to the relief of Burnside. General Elliott had been ordered by Thomas, on the 26th of November, to proceed from Alexandria, Tenn., to Knoxville, with his cavalry division, to aid in the relief of that place. The approach of Sherman caused Longstreet to raise the siege of Knoxville, and retreat eastward on the night of the 4th of December. Sherman succeeded in throwing his cavalry into Knoxville on the night of the 3d. Sherman arrived in person at Knoxville on the 6th, and, after a conference with Burnside in reference to "organizing a pursuing force large enough to either overtake the enemy and beat him or drive him out of the State," Burnside was of the opinion that the corps of Granger, in conjunction with his own command, was sufficient for that purpose, and on the 7th addressed to Sherman the following communication:
December 7, 1863.
I desire to express to you and to your command my most hearty thanks and gratitude for your promptness in coming to our relief during the siege of Knoxville, and I am satisfied that your approach served to raise the siege. The emergency having passed, I do not deem for the present any other portion of your command but the corps of General Granger necessary for operations in this section, and inasmuch as General Grant has weakened the forces immediately with him in order to relieve us, thereby- rendering the position of General Thomas less secure, I deem it advisable that all the troops now here, save those commanded by General Granger, should return at once to within supporting distance of the forces in front of Bragg's army [Burnside didn’t trust Sherman either?]. In behalf of my command, I again desire to thank you and your command for the kindness you have done us.
A. E. BURNSIDE, Major-General.
Leaving Granger's command at Knoxville, Sherman, with the remainder of his forces, returned by slow marches to Chattanooga. I have not spoken more particularly of the result of the pursuit of the enemy because the more detailed reports accompanying this do the subject justice. For the same reason I have not particularized the part taken by corps and division commanders. To Brig. Gen. W. F. [Baldy] Smith, chief engineer, I feel under more than ordinary obligations for the masterly manner in which he discharged the duties of his position, and desire that his services be fully appreciated by higher authorities.
The members of my staff discharged faithfully their respective duties, for which they have my warmest thanks.
Our losses in these battles were 757 killed, 4,529 wounded, and 330 missing; total, 5,616. The loss of the enemy in killed and wounded was probably less than ours, owing to the fact that he was protected by his intrenchments, while our men were without cover. At Knoxville, however, his loss was many times greater than ours [Longstreet’s losses were more than 10 times those of Burnside’s, Longstreet’s attack at Knoxville was therefore one of the most disastrous of the entire war], making his entire loss at the two places equal to, if not exceeding, ours. We captured 6,142 prisoners, of whom 239 were commissioned officers, 40 pieces of artillery, 69 artillery carriages and caissons, and 7,000 stand of small-arms.
The Armies of the Cumberland and the Tennessee, for their energy and unsurpassed bravery in the three days' battle of Chattanooga and the pursuit of the enemy, their patient endurance in marching to the relief of Knoxville, and the Army of the Ohio for its masterly defense of Knoxville and repeated repulses of Longstreet's assaults upon that place, are deserving of the gratitude of their country.
I have the honor to be, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
U.S. GRANT, Major-General, U.S. Army.
[In contrast with the above report, read Baldy Smith’s assessment from “Battles and Leaders of the Civil War”, vol. 3, page 714-716]
“…there is not the slightest reason for doubting that Thomas would have made the same move with the same men and with the same results, had Grant been in Louisville…”
“General Grant’s narrative [Grant’s published Memoirs] is in text and inference so unjust to the memory of the late Major-General George H. Thomas that it is proper to make a statement of facts taken in the main from official sources.”
“…Sherman with six perfectly appointed divisions failed to carry this same point of Missionary ridge, at a time when Thomas with four divisions stood threatening Bragg’s center, and Hooker with nearly three divisions was driving in Bragg’s left flank…”
Report of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, U. S. Army, Commanding Army of the Cumberland
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Chattanooga, December 1,
Brig. Gen. LORENZO THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army.
GENERAL: The following operations
of the Army of the Cumberland since October 31 are respectfully
to the General-in-Chief:
As soon as communications with Bridgeport had been made secure, and the question of supplying the army at this point rendered certain, preparations were at once commenced for driving the enemy from his position in our immediate front on Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, and, if possible, to send a force to the relief of Knoxville. To enable me to dislodge the enemy from the threatening position he had assumed in our front guns of a heavier caliber than those with the army were needed, also additional means for crossing the Tennessee River. Brigadier-General Brannan, chief of artillery, was directed to send for the necessary number of guns and ammunition, and after consulting with Brig. Gen. W. F. Smith, chief engineer, to prepare the batteries for the guns on their arrival. While awaiting the arrival of the guns and ammunition, work was prosecuted on the fortifications around the town. In addition to his duties of superintending the work on the fortifications, General Smith pushed vigorously the construction of two pontoon bridges, to be used in the execution of the movements which were determined upon as necessary to a successful dislodgment of the enemy.
Guerrillas having become somewhat troublesome to the northeast of McMinnville and east of the Caney Fork of the Cumberland, Brigadier-General Elliott, chief of cavalry, was ordered, November 14, to establish his headquarters with the First Division of Cavalry at or near Alexandria, and employ the division in hunting up and exterminating these marauders. Elliott reached Alexandria on the 18th, and on the 27th reports that his scouts met those of Burnside on Flint Ridge, east of Sparta, and that Lieutenant-Colonel Brownlow, with detachments from the First East Tennessee and Ninth Pennsylvania Cavalry, attacked the rebel Colonel Murray on the 26th at Sparta, killing 1, wounding 2, and capturing 10 of the enemy, including a lieutenant of Champ. Ferguson's; he also captured a few horses and some ammunition, and destroyed extensive salt-works used by the rebels. A company of scouts, under Captain Brixey, also encountered a party of guerrillas near Beersheba Springs, capturing 15 or 20, and dispersing the rest.
Brig. Gen. R. S. Granger reports from Nashville, November 2, that--A mixed command, under Lieutenant-Colonel Scully, First Middle Tennessee Infantry, sent out from Nashville, attacked and defeated Hawkins and other guerrilla chiefs, and pursued them to Centreville, Hickman County, where Hawkins made another stand, attacking our forces while crossing the river. Hawkins was again routed, and pursued until his forces dispersed. Rebel loss from 15 to 20 killed and 6 prisoners; our loss 1 severely and several slightly wounded.
Again, on November 4, that--
Major Fitz Gibbon, Fourteenth Michigan Infantry, came upon the combined forces of Cooper, Kirk, Williams, and Scott (guerrillas), at Lawrenceburg, 85 miles from Columbia, and after a severe hand-to-hand fight defeated them, killing 8, wounding 7, and capturing 24 prisoners: among the latter, 1 captain and 2 lieutenants. Major Fitz Gibbon's loss, 3 men slightly wounded and 8 horses killed. He reports the enemy 400 strong, and his force 120.
Captain Cutler, with one company of mounted infantry and a portion of Whittemore's battery (mounted), belonging to the garrison of Clarksville, had a fight near Palmyra with Captain Grey's company of guerrillas, killing 2, wounding 5, and taking 1 prisoner; Cutler's loss, 1 lieutenant and 1 man wounded.
Scout organized by Brigadier-General Paine, and sent out from Gallatin and La Vergne, returned, and report having killed 5 and captured 26 guerrillas, with horses, sheep, cattle, and hogs in their possession, collected for the use of the rebel army.
Brigadier-General Crook, commanding Second Division of Cavalry, was ordered, November 17, to concentrate his division at or near Huntsville, Ala., and to patrol the north side of the Tennessee from Decatur to Bridgeport, and to hunt up bands of guerrillas reported to be roaming about in that region, arresting and robbing Union citizens. General Crook reports on the 21st that an expedition sent down the Tennessee had destroyed nine boats between Whitesburg and Decatur, some of them 60 feet long. The expedition crossed the river and drove off the rebels, taking their boats. From the best information to be obtained, there were two small regiments of cavalry and one battery on the other side, doing picket duty. Lee and Roddey reported as having gone to Mississippi. Major-General Sherman, commanding Army of the Tennessee, having been ordered with the Fifteenth Corps to this point to participate in the operations against the enemy, reached Bridgeport with two divisions on the 15th. He came to the front himself, and having examined the ground, expressed himself confident of his ability to execute his share of the work. The plan of operations was then written out substantially as follows: Sherman, with the Fifteenth Corps, strengthened with one division from my command, was to effect a crossing of the Tennessee River just below the mouth of the South Chickamauga, on Saturday, November 21, at daylight: his crossing to be protected by artillery planted on the heights on the north bank of the river. After crossing his force, he was to carry the heights of Missionary Ridge from their northern extremity to about the railroad tunnel [the objective in Sherman’s orders] before the enemy could concentrate a force against him. I was to co-operate with Sherman by concentrating my troops in Chattanooga Valley, on my left flank, leaving only the necessary force to defend the fortifications on the right and center, with a movable column of one division in readiness to move wherever ordered. This division was to show itself as threateningly as possible on the most practicable line for making an attack up the valley. I was then to effect a junction with Sherman, making my advance from the left, well toward the north end of Mission Ridge, and moving as near simultaneously with Sherman as possible. The junction once formed and the Ridge carried, communications would be at once established between the two armies by roads running on the south bank of the river. Further movements to depend on those of the enemy. Lookout Valley was to be held by Geary's division of the Twelfth Corps, and the two brigades of the Fourth Corps ordered to co-operate with him; the whole under command of Major-General Hooker. Howard s corps was to be held in readiness to act either with my troops at Chattanooga or with General Sherman's, and was ordered to take up a position on Friday night on the north side of the Tennessee near the first pontoon bridge, and there held in readiness for such orders as might become necessary. General Smith commenced at once to collect his pontoons and materials for bridges in the North Chickamauga Creek, preparatory to the crossing of Sherman's troops, proper precautions being taken that the enemy should not discover the movement. General Sherman then returned to Bridgeport to direct the movements of his troops. Colonel Long (Fourth Ohio Cavalry), commanding Second Brigade, Second Division Cavalry, was ordered on the 16th to report at Chattanooga on Saturday, the 21st, by noon; the intention being for him to follow up the left flank of Sherman's troops, and if not required by General Sherman, he was to cross the Chickamauga, make a raid upon the enemy's communications, and do as much damage as possible. Owing to a heavy rain-storm, commencing on Friday (20th), and lasting all of the 21st, General Sherman was not enabled to get his troops in position in time to commence operations on Saturday morning, as he expected.
Learning that the enemy had discovered Sherman's movements across Lookout Valley, it was thought best that General Howard should cross over into Chattanooga, thus attracting the attention of the enemy, with the intention of leading him to suppose that those troops he had observed moving were re-enforcing Chattanooga, and thereby concealing the real movements of Sherman. Accordingly, Howard's corps was crossed into Chattanooga on Sunday, and took up a position in full view of the enemy. In consequence of the bad condition of the roads General Sherman's troops were occupied all of Sunday in getting into position. In the meantime, the river having risen, both pontoon bridges were broken by rafts sent down the river by the enemy, cutting off Osterhaus' division from the balance of Sherman's troops. It was thought this would delay us another day, but during the night of the 22d, two deserters reported Bragg had fallen back, and that there was only a strong picket line in our front. Early on the morning of the 23d, I received a note from Major-General Grant, directing me to ascertain by a demonstration the truth or falsity of this report.
Orders were accordingly given to General Granger, commanding the Fourth Corps, to form his troops and to advance directly in front of Fort Wood, and thus develop the strength of the enemy. General Palmer, commanding the Fourteenth Corps, was directed to support General Granger's right, with Baird's division refused and en echelon. Johnson's division, Fourteenth Corps, to be held in readiness, under arms, in the intrenchments, to re-enforce at any point. Howard's corps was formed en masse behind the center of Granger's corps. The two divisions of Granger's corps (Sheridan's and Wood's) were formed in front of Fort Wood; Sheridan on the right, Wood on the left, with his left extending nearly to Citico Creek. The formation being completed about 2 p.m. the troops were advanced steadily and with rapidity directly to the front, driving before them first the rebel pickets, then their reserves, and falling upon their grand guards stationed in their first line of rifle-pits, captured something over 200 men, and secured themselves in their new positions before the enemy had sufficiently recovered from his surprise to attempt to send re-enforcements from his main camp. Orders were then given to General Granger to make his position secure by constructing temporary breastworks and throwing out strong pickets to his front. Howard's corps was moved up on the left of Granger, with the same instructions, and Bridges' (Illinois) battery was placed in position on Orchard Knob. The troops remained in that position for the night. The Tennessee River having risen considerably from the effect of the previous heavy rain-storm, it was found difficult to rebuild the pontoon bridge at Brown's Ferry. Therefore it was determined that General Hooker should take Osterhaus' division, which was still in Lookout Valley, and Geary's division, Whitaker's and Grose's brigades, of the First Division, Fourth Corps, under Brigadier-General Cruft, and make a strong demonstration on the western slope of Lookout Mountain, for the purpose of attracting the enemy's attention in that direction and thus withdrawing him from Sherman while crossing the river at the mouth of the South Chickamauga.
General Hooker was instructed that in making this demonstration, if he discovered the position and strength of the enemy would justify him in attempting to carry the point of the mountain, to do so. By 4 a.m. on the morning of the 24th, General Hooker reported his troops in position and ready to advance.
Finding Lookout Creek so much swollen as to be impassable, he sent Geary's division, supported by Cruft's two brigades, to cross the creek at Wauhatchie, and work down on the right bank, while he employed the remainder of his force in constructing temporary bridges across the creek on the main road. The enemy, being attracted by the force on the road, did not observe the movements of Geary until his column was directly on their left and threatened their rear. Hooker's movements were facilitated by the heavy mist which overhung the mountain, enabling Geary to get into position without attracting attention.
Finding himself vigorously pushed by a strong column on his left and rear, the enemy began to fall back with rapidity, but his resistance was obstinate, and the entire point of the mountain was not gained until about 2 p.m., when General Hooker reported by telegraph [telegraph on Lookout Mountain!] that he had carried the mountain as far as the road from Chattanooga Valley to the white house. Soon after his main column, coming up, his line was extended to the foot of the mountain, near the mouth of Chattanooga Creek. His right, being still strongly resisted by the enemy, was re-enforced by Carlin's brigade, First Division, Fourteenth Corps, which arrived at the white house about 5 p.m., in time to take part in the contest still going on at that point. Continuous and heavy skirmishing was kept up in Hooker's front until 10 at night, after which there was an unusual quietness along our whole front.
With the aid of the steamer Dunbar, which had been put in condition and sent up the river at daylight of the 24th, General Sherman by 11 a.m. had crossed three divisions of the Fifteenth Corps, and was ready to advance as soon as Davis' division of the Fourteenth Corps commenced crossing. Colonel Long (Fourth Ohio Cavalry), commanding Second Brigade. Second Division Cavalry, was then ordered to move up at once, follow Sherman's advance closely, and to proceed to carry out his instructions of the day before, if not required by General Sherman to support his left flank.
Howard's corps moved to the left about 9 a.m., and communicated with Sherman about noon. Instructions were sent to General Hooker to be ready to advance on the morning of the 25th from his position on the point of Lookout Mountain to the Summertown road, and endeavor to intercept the enemy's retreat, if he had not already withdrawn, which he was to ascertain by pushing a reconnaissance to the top of Lookout Mountain.
The reconnaissance was made as directed, and having ascertained that the enemy had evacuated during the night, General Hooker was then directed to move on the Rossville road with the troops under his command (except Carlin's brigade, which was to rejoin its division), carry the pass at Rossville, and operate upon the enemy's left and rear. Palmer's and Granger's troops were held in readiness to advance directly on the rifle-pits in their front as soon as Hooker could get into position at Rossville. In retiring on the night of the 24th, the enemy had destroyed the bridges over Chattanooga Creek on the road leading from Lookout Mountain to Rossville, and, in consequence, General Hooker was delayed until after 2 p.m. [Hooker’s timetable!] in effecting the crossing of the creek. About noon, General Sherman becoming heavily engaged by the enemy, they having massed a strong force in his front, orders were given for General Baird to march his division within supporting distance of General Sherman. Moving his command promptly in the direction indicated, he was placed in position to the left of Wood's division of Granger's corps.
Owing to the difficulties of the ground, his troops did not get in line with Granger's until about 2.30 p.m. Orders were then given him, however, to move forward on Granger's left, and within supporting distance, against the enemy's rifle-pits on the slope and at the foot of Missionary Ridge. The whole line then advanced against the breastworks, and soon became warmly engaged with the enemy's skirmishers; these, giving way, retired upon their reserves, posted within their works. Our troops advancing steadily in a continuous line, the enemy, seized with panic, abandoned the works at the foot of the hill and retreated precipitately to the crest, where they were closely followed by our troops, who, apparently inspired by the impulse of victory, carried the hill simultaneously at six different points, and so closely upon the heels of the enemy that many of them were taken prisoners in the trenches. We captured all their cannon and ammunition before they could be removed or destroyed.
After halting for a few moments to reorganize the troops, who had Become somewhat scattered in the assault of the hill, General Sheridan pushed forward in pursuit, and drove those in his front who escaped capture across Chickamauga Creek. Generals Wood and Baird, being obstinately resisted by re-enforcements from the enemy's extreme right, continued fighting until darkness set in, slowly but steadily driving the enemy before them. In moving upon Rossville, General Hooker encountered Stewart's division and other troops. Finding his left flank threatened, Stewart attempted to escape by retreating toward Graysville, but some of his force, finding their retreat threatened from that quarter, retired in disorder toward their right, along the crest of the ridge, when they were met by another portion of General Hooker's command, and were driven by these troops in the face of Johnson's division of Palmer's corps, by whom they were nearly all made prisoners [italics mine].
It will be perceived from the above report that the original plan of operations was somewhat [italics mine] modified to meet and take the best advantage of emergencies, which necessitated material modifications of that plan. It is believed, however, that the original plan, had it been carried out, could not possibly have led to more successful results. The alacrity displayed by officers in executing their orders, the enthusiasm and spirit displayed by the men who did the work, cannot be too highly appreciated by the nation, for the defense of which they have on so many other memorable occasions nobly and patriotically exposed their lives in battle. Howard's corps (Eleventh) having joined Sherman on the 24th, his operations from that date will be included in Sherman's report; also those of Brig. Gen. J. C. Davis division, of the Fourteenth Corps, who reported for duty to General Sherman on the 21st. General Granger's command returned to Chattanooga, with instructions to prepare and hold themselves in readiness for orders to re-enforce General Burnside at Knoxville. On the 26th, the enemy were pursued by Hooker's and Palmer's commands, surprising a portion of their rear guard near Graysville after nightfall, capturing three pieces of artillery and several hundred prisoners. The pursuit was continued on the 27th, capturing an additional piece of artillery at Graysville. Hooker's advance encountered the enemy posted in the pass through Taylor's Ridge, who, after an obstinate resistance of an hour, were driven from the pass with considerable loss in killed, wounded, and prisoners. Our loss was also heavy. A large quantity of forage and some additional caissons and ammunition were captured at Ringgold. On the 28th, Colonel Long (Fourth Ohio Cavalry) returned to Chattanooga from his expedition, and reported verbally that on the 24th he reached Tyner's Station, destroying the enemy's forage and rations at that place, also some cars, and doing considerable injury to the railroad. He then proceeded to Ooltewah, where he captured and destroyed some trains loaded with forage. From thence he proceeded to Cleveland, remaining there one day, destroyed their cop-per-rolling mill and a large depot of commissary and ordnance stores. Being informed that a train of the enemy's wagons was near Charleston, on the Hiwassee, and was probably unable to cross the river on account of the break in their pontoon bridge, after a few hours rest he pushed forward with a hope of being able to destroy them, but found, on reaching Charleston, that the enemy had repaired their bridge and had crossed their trains safely, and were prepared to defend the crossing with one or two pieces of artillery, supported by an infantry force on the north bank. He then returned to Cleveland and damaged the railroad for 5 or 6 miles in the direction of Dalton, and then returned to Chattanooga.
On the 28th, General Hooker was ordered by General Grant to remain at Ringgold until the 30th, and so employ his troops as to cover the movements of General Sherman, who had received orders to march his force to the relief of Burnside by way of Cleveland and Loudon. Palmer's corps was detached from the force under General Hooker and returned to Chattanooga.
I have the honor to annex hereto
consolidated returns of prisoners, captured property, and casualties.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. H. THOMAS, Major-General, U. S. Vols., Commanding.
Report of Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, U. S. Army, Commanding Eleventh and Twelfth Army Corps,
HEADQUARTERS ELEVENTH AND TWELFTH CORPS, Lookout Valley, Tenn.,
Brig. Gen. WILLIAM D. WHIPPLE, Assistant Adjutant-General.
GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by my command in those operations of the army which resulted in driving the rebel forces from their positions in the vicinity of Chattanooga, and of its participation, immediately afterward, in their pursuit.
[I include here only the part dealing with the 25th. For the rest it is sufficient to note that he had done excellent work the day before while taking Lookout Mountain, but had not been particularly effective at Wauhatchie on 29 Oct.]
In conformity with orders, two regiments were dispatched to
the mountain, Carlin's brigade directed to await orders on the
road, and at 10 o'clock my column, Osterhaus (being nearest the road)
marched for Rossville.
On arriving at Chattanooga Creek it was discovered that the enemy had destroyed the bridge, and, in consequence, our pursuit was delayed nearly three hours. As soon as the stringers were laid, Osterhaus managed to throw over the Twenty-seventh Missouri Regiment, and soon after all of his infantry. The former deployed, pushed forward as skirmishers to the gorge in Missionary Ridge, and drew the fire of the artillery and infantry holding it, and also discovered that the enemy was attempting to cover a train of wagons loading with stores at the Rossville house.
As the position was one presenting many advantages for defense, the skirmishers were directed to keep the enemy engaged in front, while Woods' brigade was taking the ridge on the right, and four regiments of Williamson's on the left. Two other regiments of this brigade were posted on the road leading to Chattanooga to prevent surprise. In executing these duties the troops were necessarily exposed to the enemy's artillery, but as soon as it was discovered that his flanks were being turned and his retreat threatened, he hastily evacuated the gap, leaving behind large quantities of artillery and small-arm ammunition, wagons, ambulances, and a house full of commissary stores. Pursuit was made as far as consistent with my instructions to clear Missionary Ridge.
Meanwhile the bridge had been completed and all the troops over or crossing. Osterhaus received instructions to move, with his division, parallel with the ridge on the east, Cruft on the ridge, and Geary in the valley, to the west of it, within easy supporting distance. The batteries accompanied Geary, as it was not known that roads could be found for them with the other divisions without delaying the movements of the column.
General Cruft, with his staff, preceded his column in ascending the ridge to supervise the formation of his lines, and was at once met by a line of the enemy's skirmishers advancing. The Ninth and Thirty-sixth Indiana Regiments sprang forward, ran into line under their fire, and instantly charging, drove back the rebels, while the residue of the column formed their lines, Grose's brigade, with the Fifty-first Ohio and Thirty-fifth Indiana, of Whitaker's, in advance, <ar55_319> the balance of the latter closely supporting the front line. It was, however, soon found that the ridge on top was too narrow to admit of this formation, and the division was thrown into four lines. By this time the divisions of Geary and Osterhaus were abreast of it, and all advanced at a charging pace.
The enemy had selected for his advance line of defense the breastworks thrown up by our army on its return from Chickamauga, but such was the impetuosity of our advance that his front line was routed before an opportunity was afforded him to prepare for a determined resistance. Many of the fugitives, to escape, ran down the east slope to the lines of Osterhaus, a few to the west, and were picked up by Geary. The bulk of them, however, sought refuge behind the second line, and they, in their turn, were soon routed, and the fight became almost a running one. Whenever the accidents of the ground enabled the rebels to make an advantageous stand, Geary and Osterhaus, always in the right place, would pour a withering fire into their flanks, and again the race was renewed. This continued until near sunset, when those of the enemy who had not been killed or captured gave way, and in attempting to escape along the ridge, ran into the arms of Johnson's division, of the Fourteenth Corps, and were captured.
Our enemy, the prisoners stated, was Stewart's division. But few escaped. Osterhaus atone captured 2,000 of them. This officer names the Fourth Iowa, Seventy-sixth Ohio, and Twenty-seventh Missouri Regiments as having been especially distinguished in this engagement. Landgraeber's battery of howitzers also rendered brilliant service on this field.
Here our business for the day ended, and the troops went into bivouac, with cheers and rejoicings, which were caught up by other troops in the vicinity and carried along the ridge until lost in the distance.
Soon after daylight every effort was made, by reconnaissance and inquiry, to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy, but to no purpose. The field was as silent as the grave. Knowing the desperate extremities to which he must be reduced by our success, with his retreat seriously threatened by the only line left him with a hope of success, I felt satisfied the enemy must be in full retreat, and accordingly suggested to the commander of the department that my column march to Graysville, if possible, to intercept him. This was approved of, and, re-enforced by Palmer's corps, all moved immediately in that direction, Palmer's corps in advance.
On arriving at the west Fork of the Chickamauga River, it was found that the enemy had destroyed the bridge. To provide for this contingency, Major-General Butterfield, my chief of staff, had in the morning prudently requested that three pontoons, with their balks and chesses, might be dispatched for my use, but as they had not come up, after a detention of several hours, a bridge was constructed for the infantry, the officers swimming their horses. It was not until after 3 o'clock the regiments were able to commence crossing, leaving the artillery and ambulances to follow as soon as practicable; also a regiment of infantry as a guard, to complete the bridge, if possible, for the artillery, and also to assist in throwing over the pontoon bridge as soon as it arrived. Partly in consequence of this delay, instructions were given for Palmer's command to continue on to Graysville on reaching the La Fayette road, and for the balance of the command to proceed to Ringgold (Cruft now leading), <ar55_320> as this would enable me to strike the railroad 5 or 6 miles to the south of where it was first intended. Palmer was to rejoin me in the morning.
Soon after dark word was received from Palmer, through a member of his staff, that he had come up with the enemy, reported to be a battery and 2,000 or 3,000 infantry. Instructions were sent him to attack them at once, and while forming his lines to the left for that purpose, the remaining part of the column was massed as it came up, to the right of the road, and held awaiting the movements of Palmer. His enemy was discovered to be a battery of three pieces, with a small escort, and was the rear of the rebel army on the road from Graysville to Ringgold. Three pieces of artillery were captured, and subsequently an additional piece, with, I believe, a few prisoners. I have received no report from this officer of his operations while belonging to my command, although mine has been delayed six weeks in waiting.
We were now fairly up with the enemy. This at 10 o'clock at night. Cruft's division advanced and took possession of the crest of Chickamauga hills, the enemy's abandoned camp fires still burning brightly on the side; and we all went into bivouac.
My artillery was not yet up, and in this connection I desire that the especial attention of the commander of the department may be called to that part of the report of General Osterhaus which relates to the conduct of the officers who had the pontoon bridge in charge. I do not know the names of the officers referred to;was not furnished with a copy of their instructions, nor did they report to me. The pontoons were not brought forward to the point of crossing at all, and the balks and chess-planks only reached their destination between 9 and 10 p.m.; distance from Chattanooga 10 miles, and the roads excellent.
Then trestles had to be framed, and the bridge was not finished until 6 o'clock the following morning.
The report of Lieut. H. C. Wharton, of the Engineers, and temporarily attached to my staff, who was left behind to hasten the completion of the bridge, is herewith transmitted. No better commentary on this culpable negligence is needed than is furnished by the record of our operations in the vicinity of Ringgold.
The town was distant 5 miles. At daylight the pursuit was renewed, Osterhaus in advance, Geary following, and Cruft in the rear. Evidences of the precipitate flight of the enemy were everywhere apparent; caissons, wagons, ambulances, arms, and ammunition were abandoned in the hurry and confusion of retreat. After going about 2 miles, we came up with the camp he had occupied during the night, the fires still burning. A large number of prisoners were also taken before reaching the East Fork of the Chickamauga River.
We found the ford, and also the bridge to the south of Ringgold, held by a body of rebel cavalry. These discharged their arms and quickly gave way before a handful of our men, and were closely pursued into the town.
I rode to the front on hearing the firing, where I found Osterhaus out with his skirmishers, intensely alive to all that was passing, and pushing onward briskly. He informed me that four pieces of artillery had just left the rebel camp, weakly escorted, and ran into the gorge, which he could have captured with a small force of cavalry. The gorge is to the east of Ringgold, and we were approaching it from the west. A little firing occurred between our skirmishers, as they entered the town, and small parties of the rebel cavalry and infantry, the latter retiring in the direction of the gap. This is a break in Taylor's Ridge of sufficient width for the river to flow and on its north bank room for an ordinary road and a railroad, when the ridge rises with abruptness on both sides 400 or 500 feet, and from thence, running nearly north and south, continues unbroken for many miles. Covering the entrance to it is a small patch of young trees and undergrowth.
It was represented by citizens friendly to our cause, and confirmed by contrabands, that the enemy had passed through Ringgold, sorely pressed, his animals exhausted, and his army hopelessly demoralized. In a small portion of it only had the officers been able to preserve regimental and company formations, many of the men having thrown away their arms. A still greater number were open and violent in their denunciations of the Confederacy.
In order to gain time, it was the intention of the rear guard to make use of the natural advantages the gorge presented to check the pursuit. The troops relied on for this were posted behind the mountain and the trees, and the latter were also used to mask a couple of pieces of artillery. Only a feeble line of skirmishers appeared in sight.
The only way to ascertain the enemy's strength was to feel of him, and, as our success, if prompt, would be crowned with a rich harvest of matériel, without waiting for my artillery (not yet up, though after 9 o'clock), the skirmishers advanced. Woods deployed his brigade in rear of them under cover of the embankment of the railroad, and a brisk musketry fire commenced between the skirmishers. At the same time the enemy kept his artillery busily at work. Their skirmishers were driven in, and as we had learned the position of the battery, the Thirteenth Illinois Regiment, from the right of Woods' line was thrown forward to seize some houses, from which their gunners could be picked off by our men. These were heroically taken and held by that brave regiment. Apprehensive that he might lose his artillery, the enemy advanced with a superior force on our skirmishers, and they fell back behind Woods' line, when that excellent officer opened on the rebels and drove them into the gorge, they leaving, as they fled, their dead and wounded on the ground. Our skirmishers at once re-occupied their line, the Thirteenth Illinois all the time maintaining its position with resolution and obstinacy. While this was going on in front of the gorge, Osterhaus detached four regiments, under Colonel Williamson, half a mile to the left, to ascend the ridge and turn the enemy's right. Two of these, the Seventy-sixth Ohio, supported by the Fourth Iowa, were thrown forward, and as the enemy appeared in great force, when they had nearly gained the crest, Geary ordered four of his regiments still farther to the left, under Colonel Creighton, for the same object, where they also found an overwhelming force confronting them. Vigorous attacks were made by both of these columns, in which the troops exhibited extraordinary daring and devotion, but were compelled to yield to numerical superiority. The first took shelter in a depression in the side of the ridge about 50 paces in rear of their most advanced position, and there remained. The other column was ordered to resume its position on the railroad.
All the parties sent forward to ascertain the enemy's position and strength were small, but the attacks had been made with so much vigor, and succeeded so well in their object, that I deemed it unwise to call up the commands of Palmer and Cruft, and the remaining brigades of Geary, to deliver a general attack without my artillery. I therefore gave instructions for no advance to be made, and for the firing to be discontinued, except in self-defense. These orders were conveyed and delivered to every officer in command on our advance line.
Word was received from General Woods that appearances in his front were indicative of a forward movement on the part of the enemy, when Ireland's brigade, of Geary's division, was sent to strengthen him. Cobham's brigade, of the same division, took a well-sheltered position behind the knoll, midway between the depot and the opening to the gap. These officers were also ordered not to attack or to fire unless it should become necessary.
I may here state that the greatest difficulty I experienced with my new command, and the one which caused me the most solicitude, was to check and curb their disposition to engage, regardless of circumstances, and, it appears, almost of consequences. This had also been the case on Lookout Mountain and on Missionary Ridge. Despite my emphatic and repeated instructions to the contrary, a desultory fire was kept up on the right of the line until the artillery arrived, and you will see by the reports of commanders that, under cover of elevated ground between my position and our right, several small parties advanced to capture the enemy's battery and harass his flank at the gap. It is with no displeasure I refer to these circumstances in evidence of the animation of the troops, neither is it with a feeling of resentment, for of that I was disarmed by an abiding sense of their glorious achievements. It has never been my fortune to serve with more zealous and devoted troops.
Between 12 and 1 o'clock the artillery came up, not having been able to cross the West Fork of the Chickamauga until 8 o'clock on the morning of the 27th. Under my acting chief of artillery, Major Reynolds, in conjunction with Generals Geary and Osterhaus, one section of 12-pounder howitzers was placed in position to bear on the enemy in front of our right and to enfilade the gap; another section of 10-pounder Parrotts was assigned to silence the enemy's battery, and one section farther to the left, to bear on some troops held in mass in front of Geary's regiments. At the same time a regiment from Cruft's division had been sent around by the bridge to cross the Chickamauga, and, if possible, to gain the heights of the ridge on the south side of the river, the possession of which would give us a plunging fire upon the enemy in the gorge. Two companies had nearly gained the summit when they were recalled. The artillery had opened with marked effect, the enemy's guns were hauled to the rear, his troops seen moving, and before 1 o'clock he was in full retreat. Williamson's brigade followed him over the mountain, while skirmishers from the Sixtieth and One hundred and second New York Regiments pursued him through the gap. Efforts were made to burn the railroad bridges, but the rebels were driven from them and the fires extinguished.
During the artillery firing the major-general commanding the Division of the Mississippi arrived, and gave directions for the pursuit to be discontinued. Later in the day, soon after 3 o'clock, I received instructions from him to have a reconnaissance made in the direction of Tunnel Hill, the enemy's line of retreat, for purposes of observation, and to convey to the enemy the impression that we were still after him. Grose's brigade was dispatched on this service. About 2 miles out he ran upon a small force of rebel cavalry and infantry, and pursued them about a mile and a half, when he fell upon what he supposed to be a division of troops, posted on the hills commanding the road. The brigade returned at 8 o'clock, and went into bivouac. Colonel Grose's report in this connection concludes by saying that "we found broken caissons, wagons, ambulances, dead and dying men of the enemy strewn along the way to a horrible extent."
As some misapprehension appears to exist with regard to our losses in this battle, it is proper to observe that the reports of my division commanders exhibit a loss of 65 killed and 377 wounded, about one-half of the latter so severely that it was necessary to have them conveyed to the hospital for proper treatment.
They also show of the enemy killed and left on the field 130. Of his wounded we had no means of ascertaining, as only those severely hurt remained behind, and they filled every house by the wayside as far as our troops penetrated. A few of our wounded men fell into the enemy's hands, but were soon retaken. We captured 230 prisoners and 2 flags, to make no mention of the vast amount of property and matériel that fell into our hands. Adding to the number of prisoners and killed, as above stated, the lowest estimated proportion of wounded to killed usual in battle would make the losses of the enemy at least three to our one.
From this time the operations of the Right Wing, as it was now called, became subordinate to those of the column marching to the relief of the garrison of Knoxville.
Instructions reached me from the headquarters of the military division to remain at Ringgold during the 29th and 30th, unless it should be found practicable to advance toward Dalton, without fighting a battle, the object of my remaining, as stated, being to protect Sherman's flank, with authority to attack or move on Dalton should the enemy move up the Dalton and Cleveland road.
In retreating, the enemy had halted a portion of his force at Tunnel Hill, midway between Ringgold and Dalton, and as he evinced no disposition to molest Sherman, my command rested at Ringgold. I was kept fully advised of the rebel movements through the activity and daring of the Second Kentucky Cavalry, which had joined me on the 28th.
In obedience to verbal directions given me by the commander of the division, the railroad was thoroughly destroyed for 2 miles, including the bridges on each side of Ringgold, by Palmer's and Cruft's commands; also the depot, tannery, all the mills, and all matériel that could be used in the support of an army. We found on our arrival large quantities of forage and flour. What was not required by the wants of the service was either sent to the rear or burned.
Our wounded were as promptly and as well cared for as circumstances would permit. Surgeon Moore, the medical director of the Army of the Tennessee, voluntarily left his chief to devote himself to their relief, and under his active, skillful, and humane auspices, and those of the medical directors with the divisions, they were comfortably removed to Chattanooga on the 28th. My sincere thanks are tendered to all the officers of the medical staff for their zealous and careful attentions to the wounded, on this as well as our former <ar55_324> fields. Especially are they due to Surgeon Ball, medical director of Geary's division, and to Surgeon Menzies, medical director of Cruft's division.
On the 29th, Major-General Palmer returned to Chattanooga with his command, having in charge such prisoners as remained in Ringgold. On the 30th, the enemy being reassured by the cessation of our pursuit, sent a flag of truce to our advanced lines at Catoosa, by Maj. Calhoun Benham, requesting permission to bury his dead and care for his wounded, abandoned on the field of his last disaster at Ringgold.
Copies of this correspondence have heretofore been forwarded. Also, on the 30th, under instructions from department headquarters, Grose's brigade, Cruft's division, marched for the old battle-field at Chickamauga, to bury our dead; and on the 1st December, the infantry and cavalry remaining left Ringgold, Geary and Cruft to return to their old camps, Osterhaus to encamp in Chattanooga Valley.
The reports of commanders exhibit a loss in the campaign, including all the engagements herein reported, in killed, wounded, and missing, of 960. Inconsiderable, in comparison with my apprehension, or the ends accomplished; nevertheless, there is cause for the deepest regret and sorrow.
Among the fallen are some of the brightest names of the army. Creighton and Crane, of the Seventh Ohio; Acton, of the Fortieth Ohio; Bushnell, of the Thirteenth Illinois; Elliott, of the One hundred and second New York, and others, whose names my limits will not allow me to enumerate, will be remembered and lamented as long as courage and patriotism are esteemed as virtues among men. The reports of commanders also show the capture of 6,547 prisoners (not including those taken by Palmer at Graysville, of which no return has been received), also 7 pieces of artillery, 9 battle-flags, not less than 10,000 stand of small-arms, 1 wagon train, and a large amount of ammunition for artillery and infantry, forage, rations, camp and garrison equipage, caissons and limbers, ambulances, and other impedimenta. The reports relating to the capture of the flags are herewith transmitted.
In the foregoing, it has been impossible to furnish more than a general outline of our operations, relying upon the reports of subordinate commanders to give particular and discriminating information concerning the services of divisions, brigades, regiments, and batteries. These reports are herewith respectfully transmitted.
The attention of the major-general commanding is especially invited to those of the division commanders. As to the distinguished services of those commanders, I cannot speak in terms too high. They served me day and night, present or absent, with all of the well-directed earnestness and devotion they would have served themselves had they been charged with the responsibilities of the commander. The confidence inspired by their active and generous co-operation, early inspired me to feel that complete success was inevitable. My thanks are due to General Carlin and his brigade for their services on Lookout Mountain on the night of the 24th. They were posted in an exposed position, and when attacked repelled it with great spirit and success.
I must also express my acknowledgments to Major-General Palmer and his command for services rendered while belonging to my column. Lieutenant Ayers, of the signal corps, with his assistants, rendered me valuable aid in his branch of the service during our operations.
Major Reynolds, the chief of artillery of Geary's division, proved himself to be a skillful artillerist, and requires especial mention for his services. His batteries were always posted with judgment and served with marked ability. The precision of his fire at Lookout and Ringgold elicited universal admiration.
To my staff more than ever am I indebted for the assistance rendered upon this occasion. Major-General Butterfield, chief of staff, always useful in counsel, was untiring and devoted on the field; Capt. H. W. Perkins, assistant adjutant-general; Col. James D. Fessenden, Maj. William H. Lawrence, Capt. R. H. Hall, Lieuts. P. A. Oliver and Samuel W. Taylor, aides-de-camp, bravely and intelligently performed all their duties.
Lieut. H. C. Wharton, a promising young officer of Engineers, reported to me from the staff of the major-general commanding the department, and was unwearied in his assistance, both as an engineer and as an officer of my personal staff.
Major-General Howard has furnished me, for transmittal, his able report of the operations and services of the Eleventh Corps, from the time it passed from my command, November 22, to that of its return, December 17. As it relates to events of which I had no personal knowledge, it only remains to comply with his wishes, with the request that the major-general commanding the department will give it his especial attention.
I may add, that the zeal and devotedness displayed by this corps and its commander, in performing all the duties assigned them, and in cheerfully encountering its perils and privations, afford me great satisfaction.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOSEPH HOOKER, Major-General, Commanding.
Battle of Chattanooga (Missionary Ridge)
Report of General Braxton Bragg, C. S. Army, Commanding Army of Tennessee
HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE, Dalton, Ga., November 30, 1863.
General S. COOPER, Adjt. and Insp. Gen., C. S. Army, Richmond.
SIR: On Monday, the 23d, the enemy advanced in heavy force and drove in our picket line in front of Missionary Ridge, but made no further effort.
On Tuesday morning early they threw over the river a heavy force opposite the north end of the ridge and just below the mouth of the Chickamauga, at the same time displaying a heavy force in our immediate front. After visiting the right and making dispositions there for the new development in that direction, I returned toward the left to find a heavy cannonading going on from the enemy's batteries on our forces occupying the slope of Lookout Mountain between the crest and the river. A very heavy force soon advanced to the assault, and was met by one brigade only (Walthall's) which made a desperate resistance, but was finally compelled to yield ground. Why this command was not sustained is yet unexplained. The commander on that part of the field (Major-General Stevenson) had six brigades at his disposal [against Hooker’s 2 ½ divisions]. Upon his urgent appeal another brigade was dispatched in the afternoon to his support, though it appeared his own forces had not been brought into action and I proceeded to the scene. Arriving just before sunset, I found we had lost all the advantages of the position. Orders were immediately given for the ground to be disputed until we could withdraw our forces across Chattanooga Creek, and the movement was commenced. This having been successfully accomplished, our whole forces were concentrated on the ridge and extended to the right to meet the movement in that direction.
On Wednesday, the 25th, I again visited the extreme right, now under Lieutenant-General Hardee, and threatened by a heavy force, while strong columns could be seen marching in that direction. A very heavy force in line of battle confronted our left and center.
On my return to this point, about 11 a.m., the enemy's forces were being moved in heavy masses from Lookout and beyond to our front [To his front? And what about his hanging left flank? Wasn’t any staff officer tugging Bragg’s sleeve to try and warn him?] while those in front extended to our right. They formed their lines with great deliberation just beyond the range of our guns and in plain view of our position. Though greatly outnumbered, such was the strength of our position that no doubt was entertained of our ability to hold it, and every disposition was made for that purpose. During this time they had made several attempts on our extreme right, and had been handsomely repulsed with very heavy loss by Major-General Cleburne's command, under the immediate direction of Lieutenant-General Hardee. By the road across the ridge at Rossville, far to our left, a route was open to our rear [not for long]. Major-General Breckinridge, commanding on the left, had occupied this with two regiments [under Clayton] and a battery. It being reported to me that a force [Had the “masses from Lookout” slipped his mind?] of the enemy had moved in that direction, the general was ordered to have it reconnoitered, and to make every disposition necessary to secure his flank, which he proceeded to do [against the masses from Lookout which Bragg had seen earlier?].
About 3.30 p.m. the immense force in the front of our left and center advanced in three lines, preceded by heavy skirmishers. Our batteries opened with fine effect, and much confusion was produced before they reached musket range.
In a short time the roar of musketry became very heavy, and it was soon apparent that the enemy had been repulsed in my immediate front. While riding along the crest congratulating the troops, intelligence reached me that our line was broken on my right and the enemy had crowned the ridge. Assistance was promptly dispatched to that point, under Brigadier-General Bate, who had so successfully maintained the ground in my front, and I proceeded to the rear of the broken line to rally our retiring troops and return them to the crest to drive the enemy back. General Bate found the disaster so great that his small force could not repair it.
About this time I learned that our extreme left had also given way, and that my position was almost surrounded [italics mine]. Bate was immediately directed to form a second line in the rear, where, by the efforts of my staff, a nucleus of stragglers had been formed upon which to rally. Lieutenant-General Hardee, leaving Major-General Cleburne in command on the extreme right, moved toward the left when he heard the heavy firing in that direction. He reached the right of Anderson's division just in time to find it had nearly all fallen back, commencing on its left, where the enemy had first crowned the ridge. By a prompt and judicious movement he threw a portion of Cheatham's division directly across the ridge facing the enemy, who was now moving a strong force immediately on his left flank. By a decided stand here the enemy was entirely checked, and that portion of our force to the right remained intact.
All to the left, however, except a portion of Bate's division, was entirely routed and in rapid flight, nearly all the artillery having been shamefully abandoned by its infantry support. Every effort which could be made by myself and staff and by many other mounted officers availed but little. A panic which I had never before witnessed seemed to have seized upon officers and men, and each seemed to be struggling for his personal safety, regardless of his duty or his character. In this distressing and alarming state of affairs, General Bate was ordered to hold his position, covering the road for the retreat of Breckinridge's command, and orders were immediately sent to Generals Hardee and Breckinridge to retire their forces upon the depot at Chickamauga.
Fortunately, it was now near nightfall, and the country and roads in our rear were fully known to us, but equally unknown to the enemy. The routed left made its way back in great disorder, effectually covered, however, by Bate's small command, which had a sharp conflict with the enemy's advance [Sheridan], driving it back. After night, all being quiet, Bate retired in good order, the enemy attempting no pursuit.
Lieutenant-General Hardee's command, under his judicious management, retired in good order and unmolested.
As soon as all troops had crossed, the bridges over the Chickamauga were destroyed to impede the enemy, though the stream was fordable at several places.
No satisfactory excuse can possibly be given for the shameful conduct of our troops on the left in allowing their line to be penetrated. The position was one which ought to have been held by a line of skirmishers against any assaulting column, and wherever resistance was made the enemy fled in disorder after suffering heavy loss. Those who reached the ridge did so in a condition of exhaustion from the great physical exertion in climbing, which rendered them powerless, and the slightest effort would have destroyed them. Having secured much of our artillery, they soon availed themselves of our panic, and, turning our guns upon us, enfiladed the lines, both right and left, rendering them entirely untenable.
Had all parts of the line been maintained with equal gallantry and persistence no enemy could ever have dislodged us, and but one possible reason presents itself to my mind in explanation of this bad conduct in veteran troops who had never before failed in any duty assigned them, however difficult and hazardous. They had for two days confronted the enemy, marshaling his immense forces in plain view, and exhibiting to their sight such a superiority in numbers as may have intimidated weak-minded and untried soldiers; but our veterans had so often encountered similar hosts when the strength of position was against us, and with perfect success, that not a doubt crossed my mind. As yet I am not fully informed as to the commands which first fled and brought this great disaster and disgrace upon our arms. Investigation will bring out the truth, however, and full justice shall be done to the good and the bad.
After arriving at Chickamauga and informing myself of the full condition of affairs, it was decided to put the army in motion for a point farther removed from a powerful and victorious army, that we might have some little time to replenish and recuperate for another struggle. The enemy made pursuit as far as Ringgold, but was so handsomely checked by Major-General Cleburne and Brigadier-General Gist, in command of their respective divisions, that he gave us but little annoyance.
Lieutenant-General Hardee, as usual, is entitled to my warmest thanks and high commendation for his gallant and judicious conduct during the whole of the trying scenes through which we passed.
Major-General Cleburne, whose command defeated the enemy in every assault on the 25th, and who eventually charged and routed him on that day, capturing several stand of colors and several hundred prisoners, and who afterward brought up our rear with great success, again charging and routing the pursuing column at Ringgold on the 27th, is commended to the special notice of the Government.
Brigadier-Generals Gist and Bate, commanding divisions; Cumming, Walthall, and Polk, commanding brigades, were distinguished for coolness, gallantry, and successful conduct throughout the engagements and in the rear guard on the retreat.
To my staff, personal and general, my thanks are specially due for their gallant and zealous efforts under fire to rally the broken troops and restore order, and for their laborious services in conducting successfully the many and arduous duties of the retreat.
Our losses are not yet ascertained, but in killed and wounded it is known to have been very small. In prisoners and stragglers [italics mine] I fear it is much larger. The chief of artillery reports the loss of forty pieces.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
BRAXTON BRAGG, General, Commanding.
Chattanooga Campaign, Report of Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, U. S. Army, commanding Army of the Tennessee
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE,
Bridgeport, Ala., December 19, 1863.
Brig. Gen. JOHN A. RAWLINS, Chief of Staff to General Grant.
GENERAL: For the first time I am now at leisure to make an official record of events with which the troops under my command have been connected during the eventful campaign which has just closed.
In the meantime, many important changes in commands had occurred, which I must note here to a proper understanding of the case.
General Grant had been called from Vicksburg and sent to Chattanooga to command the three Armies of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee, and the Department of the Tennessee had devolved on me, with instructions, however, to retain command of the army in the field.
I immediately telegraphed to the commanding general my arrival and the position of my several divisions, and was summoned to Chattanooga. I took the first boat during the night of the 14th for Kelley's, and rode into Chattanooga on the 15th. I then learned the part assigned me in the coming drama, was supplied with the necessary maps and information, and rode during the 16th, in company with Generals Grant, Thomas, William F. Smith, Brannan, and others to a position on the west bank of the Tennessee, from which could be seen the camps of the enemy compassing Chattanooga and the line of Missionary Hills, with its terminus on Chickamauga Creek, the point that I was expected to take, hold, and fortify. [Italics mine. There are those pesky maps. His Memoirs mention, in addition, his going to Ft. Wood on the 15th to have a look at the ridge.]
I reached General Hooker's headquarters, 4 miles from Chattanooga, during a rain in the afternoon of the 20th, and met General Grant's orders for the general attack on the next day. It was simply impossible for me to fill my part in time. Only one division, General John E. Smith's, was in position. General Ewing was still at Trenton, and the other two were toiling along the terrible road from Shellmound to Chattanooga. No troops ever were or could be in better condition than mine, or who labored harder to fulfill their part. On a proper representation, General Grant postponed the attack. On the 21st, I got the Second Division over Brown's Ferry bridge, and General Ewing got up, but the bridge broke repeatedly, and delays occurred which no human sagacity could prevent.
All labored night and day, and General Ewing got over on the 23d, but my rear division was cut off by the broken bridge at Brown's Ferry, and could not join me; but I offered to go in action with my three divisions, supported by Brig. Gen. Jef. C. Davis, leaving one of my best divisions to act with General Hooker against Lookout Mountain [Osterhaus, italics mine]. That division has not joined me yet, but I know and feel that it has served the country well, and that it has reflected honor on the Fifteenth Army Corps and the Army of the Tennessee. I leave the record of its history to General Hooker or whomsoever has had its services during the late memorable events, confident that all will do it merited honor.
At last, on the 23d of November, my three divisions lay behind the hills opposite the mouth of Chickamauga. I dispatched the brigade, of Second Division, commanded by General Giles A. Smith up, under cover of the hills, to North Chickamauga, to man the boats designed for the pontoon bridge, with orders at midnight to drop down silently to a point above the mouth of South Chickamauga, then land two regiments, who were to move along the river quietly and capture the enemy's river pickets; General Giles A. Smith then to drop rapidly below the mouth of Chickamauga, disembark the rest of his brigade, and dispatch the boats across for fresh loads. These orders were skillfully executed, and every picket but one captured. The balance of General Morgan L. Smith's division was then rapidly ferried across, that of General John E. Smith followed, and by daylight of November 24 two divisions, of about 8,000 men, were on the east bank of the Tennessee, and had thrown up a very respectable rifle-trench as a tête-de-pont.
As soon as the day dawned some of the boats were taken from the use of ferrying and a pontoon bridge begun, under the immediate direction of Captain Dresser, the whole planned and supervised by General William F. Smith in person. A pontoon bridge was also built at the same time over Chickamauga Creek, near its mouth, giving communication with the two regiments left on the north side, and fulfilling a most important purpose at a later stage of the drama. I will here bear my willing testimony to the completeness of this whole business. All the officers charged with the work were present and manifested a skill which I cannot praise too highly. I have never beheld any work done so quietly, so well, and I doubt if the history of war can show a bridge of that extent (viz, 1,350 feet) laid down so noiselessly and well in so short a time. I attribute it to the genius and intelligence of General William F. Smith.
The steamer Dunbar arrived in the course of the morning, and relieved General Ewing's division of the labor of rowing across, but by noon the pontoon bridge was down and my three divisions were across with men, horses, artillery, and everything. General Jef. C. Davis' division was ready to take the bridge, and I ordered the columns to form in order to take Missionary Hills. The movement had been carefully explained to all division commanders and at 1 p.m. we marched from the river in three columns en échelon, the left, General Morgan L. Smith, the column of direction, following substantially Chickamauga Creek; the center, General John E. Smith, in column, doubled on the center at one-brigade intervals to the right and rear; the right, General Ewing, in column at the same distance to the right rear, prepared to deploy to the right on the supposition that we would meet an enemy in that direction.
Each head of column was covered by a good line of skirmishers with supports. A light, drizzling rain prevailed, and the clouds hung low, cloaking our movements from the enemy's tower of observation on Lookout. We soon gained the foot-hills. Our skirmishers crept up the face of the hill, followed by their supports, and at 3.30 p.m. we gained, with no loss, the desired point [a lie, italics mine].
A brigade of each division was pushed rapidly to the top of the hill, and the enemy for the first time seemed to realize the movement, but too late, for we were in possession. He opened with artillery, but General Ewing soon got some of Captain Richardson's guns up that steep hill, and we gave back artillery, and the enemy's skirmishers made one or two ineffectual dashes at General Light-burn, who had swept around and got a farther hill, which was the real continuation of the ridge. From studying all the maps, I had inferred that Missionary Ridge was a continuous hill [not true, italics mine]., but we found ourselves on two high points, with a deep depression between us and the one immediately over the tunnel, which was my chief objective point [Sherman is wrong again here, because the tunnel is under a second depression, not a high point]. The ground we had gained, however, was so important that I could leave nothing to chance, and ordered it to be fortified during the night [thus giving Cleburne time to do the same on "Tunnel Hill"]. One brigade of each division was left on the hill, one of General Morgan L. Smith's closed the gap to Chickamauga Creek, two of General John E. Smith's were drawn back to the base in reserve, and General Ewing's right was extended down into the plain, thus crossing the ridge in a general line facing southeast.
The enemy felt our left flank about 4 p.m., and a pretty smart engagement with artillery and muskets ensued, when he drew off, but it cost us dear, for General Giles A. Smith was severely wounded and had to go to the river, and the command of the brigade then devolved on Colonel Tupper, One hundred and sixteenth Illinois, who managed it with skill during the rest of the operations.
At the moment of my crossing the bridge, General Howard appeared, having come with three regiments from Chattanooga along the east bank of the Tennessee, connecting my new position with that of the main army in Chattanooga. He left the three regiments (which I attached temporarily to General Ewing's right), and returned to his own corps at Chattanooga. As night closed I ordered General Jef. C. Davis to keep one of his brigades at the bridge, one close up to my position, and one intermediate. Thus we passed the night, heavy details being kept busy at work on the intrenchments on the hill. During the night the sky cleared away bright and a cold frost filled the air, and our camp fires revealed to the enemy and to our friends in Chattanooga our position on Missionary Ridge.
About midnight I received, at the hands of Major Rowley, of General Grant's staff, orders to attack the enemy at "dawn of day," and notice that General Thomas would attack in force early in the day [Sherman’s understanding, not Grant’s nor Thomas’s]. Accordingly, before day, I was in the saddle, attended by all my staff; rode to the extreme left of our position, near Chickamauga; thence up the hill held by General Lightburn, and round to the extreme right of General Ewing, catching as accurate an idea of the ground as possible by the dim light of morning. I saw that our line of attack was in the direction of Missionary Ridge, with wings supporting on either flank.
Quite a valley lay between us and the next hill of the series, and this hill presented steep sides, the one to the west partially cleared, but the other covered with the native forest. The crest of the ridge was narrow and wooded. The farther point of the hill was held by the enemy with a breastwork of logs and fresh earth, filled with men and two guns. The enemy was' also seen in great force on a still higher hill beyond the tunnel, from which he had a fair plunging fire on the hill in dispute. The gorge between [What happened to the “continuous” ridge?], through which several roads [only one road] and the railroad tunnel pass, could not be seen from our position, but formed the natural place d'armes, where the enemy covered his masses to resist our contemplated [only contemplated?] movement of turning his right flank and endangering his communications with his depot at Chickamauga. As soon as possible the following dispositions were made:
The brigades of Colonels Cockerill and Alexander and General Lightburn were to hold our hill as the key point. General Corse, with as much of his brigade as could operate along the narrow ridge, was to attack from our right center. General Lightburn was to dispatch a good regiment from his position to co-operate with General Corse, and General Morgan L. Smith was to move along the east base of Missionary Ridge, connecting with General Corse, and Colonel Loomis in like manner to move along the west base, supported by the two reserve brigades of General John E. Smith.
The sun had hardly risen before General Corse had completed his preparations, and his bugle sounded the "forward."
The Fortieth Illinois, supported by the Forty-sixth Ohio on our right center, with the Thirtieth Ohio, Colonel Jones, moved down the face of our hill and up that held by the enemy.
The line advanced to within about 80 yards of the intrenched position, where General Corse found a secondary crest, which he gained and held.
To this point he called his reserves and asked for re-enforcements, which were sent, but the space was narrow and it was not well to crowd the men, as the enemy's artillery and musketry fire swept the approach to his position, giving him great advantage [nice time to find this out]. As soon as General Corse had made his preparations he assaulted, and a close, severe contest ensued, lasting more than an hour, gaining and losing ground, but never the position first obtained, from which the enemy in vain attempted to drive him [fluff]. General Morgan L. Smith kept gaining ground on the left spur of Missionary Ridge [a lie], and Colonel Loomis got abreast of the tunnel and the railroad embankment on his side, drawing the enemy's fire, and to that extent relieving the assaulting party on the hill crest.
Callender had four of his guns on General Ewing's hill, and Captain Wood his Napoleon battery on General Lightburn's, also two guns of Dillon's battery were with Colonel Alexander's brigade. All directed their fire as carefully as possible to clear the hill to our front without endangering our own men. The fight raged furiously about 10 a.m., when General Corse received a severe wound, and was brought off the field, and the command of the brigade and of the assault at that key point devolved on that fine, young, gallant officer, Colonel Walcutt, of the Forty-sixth Ohio, who filled his part manfully. He continued the contest, pressing forward at all points. Colonel Loomis had made good progress to the right, and about 2. p.m. General John E. Smith, judging the battle to be most severe on the hill and being required to support General Ewing, ordered up Colonel Raum's and General Matthies' brigades across the field to the summit that was being fought for. They moved up under a heavy fire of cannon and musketry and joined to Colonel Walcutt, but the crest was so narrow that they necessarily occupied the west face of the hill. The enemy at the time being massed in great strength in the tunnel gorge, moved a large force [not so large] under cover of the ground and the thick bushes, and suddenly appeared on the right and rear of this command. The suddenness of the attack disconcerted the men, and, exposed as they were in the open field, they fell back in some disorder [actually a lot of disorder] to the lower edge of the field and reformed.
These two brigades were in the nature of supports and did not constitute a part of the real attack. The movement, seen from Chattanooga, 5 miles off, gave rise to the report, which even General Meigs has repeated, that we were repulsed on the left. Not so: the real attacking columns of General Corse, Colonel Loomis, and General Smith were not repulsed [a lie, italics mine].They engaged in a close struggle all day, persistently, stubbornly, and well. When the two reserve brigades of General John E. Smith fell back as described, the enemy made a show of pursuit, but were caught in flank by the well-directed fire of one brigade on the wooded crest, and hastily sought his cover behind the hill [taking more than 200 prisoners along with them]. Thus matters stood about 3 p.m.
The day was bright and clear, and the amphitheater of Chattanooga lay in beauty at our feet. I had watched for the attack of General Thomas "early in the day." Column after column of the enemy was streaming toward me. Gun after gun poured its concentric shot on us from every hill and spur that gave a view of any part of the ground held by us.
An occasional shot from Fort Wood and Orchard Knob, and some musketry fire and artillery over about Lookout, was all that I could detect on our side, but about 3 p.m. I noticed the white line of musketry fire in front of Orchard Knob, extending farther and farther right and left and on. We could only hear a faint echo of sound, but enough was seen to satisfy me that General Thomas was moving on the center. I knew our attack had drawn vast masses [only Stevenson’s remnant of a division] of the enemy to our flank and felt sure of the result. Some guns which had been firing at us all day were silent or were turned in a different direction. The advancing line of musketry fire from Orchard Knob disappeared (to us) behind a spur of the hill and could no longer be seen, and it was not until night closed 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 [another lie]. I ordered General Morgan L. Smith to feel to the tunnel, and it was found vacant, save by the dead and wounded of our own and the enemy commingled. The reserve of General Jef. C. Davis was ordered to march at once by the pontoon bridge across Chickamauga at its mouth, and push forward for the depot.
General Howard had reported to me in the early part of the day with the remainder of his army corps (the Eleventh), and had been posted to connect my left with Chickamauga Creek. He was ordered to repair an old broken bridge about 2 miles up Chickamauga, and to follow General Davis at 4 a.m., and the Fifteenth Army Corps to march at daylight. But General Howard found to repair the badge more of a task than at first supposed, and we were all compelled to cross Chickamauga on the new pontoon bridge at its mouth.
By about 11 a.m. General Jef. C. Davis' division appeared at the depot just in time to see it in flames. He entered with one brigade and found the enemy occupying two hills, partially intrenched, just beyond the depot. These he soon drove away. The depot presented a scene of desolation that war alone exhibits. Corn meal and corn in huge burning piles, broken wagons, abandoned caissons, two 32-pounder rifled guns with carriages, burned pieces of pontoons, balks, chesses, &c.--destined doubtless for the famous invasion of Kentucky--and all manner of things, burning and broken. Still the enemy kindly left us a good supply of forage for our horses; meal, beans, &c., for our men.
Inclosed you will please find a map of that part of the battle-field of Chattanooga fought on by the troops under my command, surveyed and drawn by Captain Jenney, of my staff. [Italics mine. This map is not in the Official Records. And what happened to the "wrongly laid-down map"?]
I have the honor to be, your obedient servant,
W. T. SHERMAN, Major-General, Commanding.