Chronology AotC
Battles & Reports
Reports of the battle for Chattanooga 23-25 Nov. 63

1. George H. Thomas
2. Ulysses S. Grant
3. Joseph Hooker
4. William T. Sherman
5. Peter J. Osterhaus
6. August Willich
7. Henry W. Halleck
8. Braxton Bragg
9. Patrick R. Cleburne
10. Alexander P. Stewart  ?

6. Peter J. Osterhaus
O.R.-- SERIES I--VOLUME XXXI/2 [S# 55] NOVEMBER 23-27, 1863.--The Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign.
No. 191.--Report of Brig. Gen. Peter J. Osterhaus, U.S. Army, commanding First Division, Fifteenth Army Corps.

[ar55_598 con't]
Wear Bridgeport, Ala., December--, 1863.
GENERAL: The First Division, Fifteenth Army Corps, having been assigned to the command of Major-General Hooker on the evening of the 23d ultimo, I have the honor to report on the part taken by the division in the operations in the vicinity of Chattanooga from November 24 to November 27, inclusive.
The actual strength of the division on the morning of November 24, was:
First Brigade, Brig. Gen. C. R. Woods commanding: Seventy-sixth Ohio Infantry, 327 men; Thirteenth Illinois Infantry, 278 men; Third Missouri Infantry, 217 men; Twelfth Missouri Infantry, 241 men; Seventeenth Missouri Infantry, 143 men; Twenty-ninth Missouri Infantry, <ar55_599> 129 men; Thirty-first Missouri Infantry, 123 men; Twenty-seventh Missouri Infantry, 256 men; Thirty-second Missouri Infantry, 149 men. Total First Brigade, 1,863 men.
Second Brigade, Col. J. A. Williamson commanding: Fourth Iowa Infantry, 293 men; Ninth Iowa Infantry, 285 men; Twenty-fifth Iowa Infantry, 307 men; Twenty-sixth Iowa Infantry, 213 men; Thirtieth Iowa Infantry, 199 men; Thirty-first Iowa Infantry, 215 men. Total Second Brigade, 1,512 men.
Total infantry (aggregate), 3,375 men.
Artillery: First Iowa Battery, 4 pieces, 42 men; Fourth Ohio Battery, 6 pieces, 105 men; Landgraeber's horse artillery, 4 pieces, 86 men; total, 14 pieces and 933 men.
Pioneer detachment, Captain Klostermann, 70 men.
With this command I reported to you at 7.30 a.m. on November 24, 1863, in compliance with orders received during the night, and was assigned the position on the left of the lines then forming opposite the western slope of Lookout Mountain, on and behind the hills and ridges which are separated from the mountain by Lookout Creek. On my arrival on the ground I found one Napoleon battery (of the Twelfth Corps) on the hill on the extreme left, in full view and easy range of the enemy's pickets, which were strung along and behind the railroad embankment on the eastern side of said creek. Another battery of 3-inch Rodman was in position on the crest of a ridge immediately in rear of the above hill. I detailed the Fourth Iowa and Thirteenth Illinois Infantry to support the Napoleon battery, and the Twenty-fifth Iowa to support the Rodman battery.
On the southern slope of the ridge, crowned by the latter battery, I found earth-works thrown up, and mounted them with two 20-pounder Parrott guns, of Captain Froehlich's (Fourth Ohio) battery, with the Thirtieth Iowa to support them. The Parrott enfiladed a long series of rebel rifle-pits leading from the foot of the mountain to their main camp, which also came under the fire of the guns.
All the bridges across Lookout Creek having been destroyed by the enemy, the pioneers, under Captain Klostermann, were ordered forward to construct a bridge across, and the First Brigade of infantry, commanded by Brigadier-General Woods, protected their work, while one section of Captain Griffiths' (First Iowa) battery was brought to an eminence commanding the point selected for the bridge, and also exposing a considerable portion of the railroad, which was occupied by the enemy's sharpshooters and pickets, to its fire.
The remainder of the Second Brigade, Colonel Williamson commanding, as well as all the pieces of artillery not mentioned, were kept in reserve, near the earth-works occupied by the Parrott guns, ready to support and strengthen the attack about to be made on the enemy's position, and to push on the pursuit whenever the enemy was once started.
Soon after 10 a.m. all preparations for the contemplated attack were finished, bridges built, &c., and we only awaited the appearance of General Geary's division, which was to come from the right, attacking the enemy's left flank.
At 11 a.m. we heard General Geary's fire, and our guns opened immediately with great effect. Their practice was so perfect that, with the assistance of my line of skirmishers, which I ordered to advance to the bank of the creek, the rebels were soon compelled to yield their line behind the railroad and their intrenchments on the <ar55_600> opposite bank of the creek. They made for a less exposed position higher up the mountain, but the infantry column of General Woods (First Brigade of my division), which had crossed the creek under cover of the artillery, pressed the enemy vigorously, while, with the remaining portion of the Second Brigade, I ascended the mountain in as direct a line as possible, in order to reach the right of General Woods' brigade and press the retreating enemy toward him.
In executing this maneuver I captured so large a number of prisoners that I found it prudent to detail the Ninth Iowa Infantry to bring them to the rear, across Lookout Creek. Another regiment of the Second Brigade was detailed by you to follow up the railroad, leaving only one regiment, the Thirty-first Iowa, with me.
I pushed forward, however, and reached the so-called white house (about two-thirds up the mountain) at a critical moment.
The position near the white house is very important; it is, in fact, the key to the whole Lookout, commanding alike its eastern and western declivities. On my arrival there, the commanding officer of a brigade of General Geary's division informed me that he was out of ammunition, and that he anticipated an attack from the enemy. I at once ordered the Thirty-first Iowa and the Third and Twenty-seventh Missouri Infantry (the two latter of the First Brigade), who had just come up, to relieve General Geary's men. This had hardly been done when the rebels charged with great vehemence, and attempted to regain the numerous intrenchments they had thrown up all around the white house. They were, however, signally repulsed, and my regiments held this very important position during the following night. I re-enforced them, however, during the evening by the Fourth Iowa and Thirteenth Illinois Infantry, who had in the meantime been relieved from supporting the battery.
During the occurrences on the right of my line, General Woods deployed his regiments, under the immediate direction of Major-General Hooker, on the slope, covering en échelon all the ground between the white house and the Chattanooga road at a point where it runs round a promontory about 250 feet above the level of the Tennessee River.
The enemy, fully aware of the importance of the position gained by us, made several attempts to dislodge us in the fore part of the night--attempts which were completely frustrated by the vigilance and valor of my men.
After midnight he abstained from further attacks, and commenced his retreat toward Missionary Ridge, under cover of a very dense fog. Toward morning I replenished the empty cartridge boxes of the infantry, and regulated my lines, returning all regiments which had been on special service the day previous to their proper commands.
At 10 a.m. on November 25, 1863, I received your order to march immediately in pursuit of the enemy toward Rossville, my division leading. Half an hour afterward we left, descending by the Chattanooga road, on which my left had rested, into the valley. The few mounted infantry attached to headquarters as staff guard, and commanded by Capt. W. T. House, scoured the country in all directions, and soon ascertained that the bulk of the enemy had crossed Chattanooga Creek, the bridges across which stream had been very recently burned.
Captain Klostermann's pioneers were immediately put to work repairing one of the bridges, while the leading regiment (Twenty-seventh Missouri) <ar55_601> crossed on a hastily constructed foot-bridge within easy range of the foot of Missionary Ridge, where, posted in the gap in rear of Rossville, we found the rebels in position with infantry and artillery, under cover of a narrow belt of timber. Colonel Curly, commanding Twenty-seventh Missouri Infantry, pushed his skirmishers forward, and the men advanced briskly in the face of the enemy's musketry, shell, and shrapnel.
With a view of flanking the enemy's position in the gap, all the infantry of my division was pushed across the creek, and Brigadier-General Woods, with the First Brigade, was ordered to take the ridge on the right, while four regiments of the Second Brigade (Colonel Williamson commanding) ascended the steep (Missionary) ridge on the left of the gap.
The troops of First Brigade had to pass through a very severe artillery fire, but executed their orders without causing any delay. So, also, did those of the Second Brigade. They met but little resistance, which proved that the rebels did not at that time anticipate an attack from us in force; at least they were not prepared to defend this very important position.
Seeing both their flanks and their line of retreat threatened, they hastily evacuated the gap, falling back toward the center of their line. In executing this movement, however, they had to leave their artillery, ammunition, several wagons, ambulances, and large amounts of subsistence stores in our hands. The Twenty-seventh Missouri was immediately ordered to occupy the gap, while I followed up the enemy as closely as possible to a fork in the road where it divides, one road leading to Ringgold and the other running north and parallel with the Missionary Ridge.
I sent orders to General Woods and to Colonel Williamson to bring their respective commands to the road, and, forming in the gap, to await further orders.
Having reported to you the success of the above movements, I received your instructions to advance along the northern road (toward Chattanooga) after having passed the gap, and to act as circumstances might demand.
The corps of Generals Sherman and Thomas seemed to have engaged the enemy in full force, as the firing in that direction was at that time most terrific. I pressed forward as fast as the column of infantry could move, and had hardly advanced 1,000 yards in a northerly direction when I observed a strong column of the enemy, preceded by some mounted men, hurrying toward the gap we had just taken, evidently with the intention of re-enforcing that very important point. I immediately sent the information to you and to General Cruft, who followed my division with a division of the Fourteenth Corps, cautioning my command to prepare for making or repelling an attack as might become necessary.
In order to reconnoiter the ground more thoroughly, which is here very broken, I started ahead with Captain House's men to an opening where I could make a proper survey.
Having accomplished this, I returned with as little delay as possible, and formed my command in an oblique line of two échelons, pushing the left (four regiments of Second Brigade) well forward toward the crest of Missionary Ridge and extending with the right echelon (First Brigade) well down the slope of the hill. Two battalions of First Brigade followed in reserve behind the right wing. While making these preparations I could observe the movements of <ar55_602> General Cruft, who had ascended the southern slope of Missionary Ridge from the gap, and had by this time engaged the rebels. The attack of this general was most opportune, as it concentrated the whole attention of the enemy in that direction and gave me a chance to prepare a decisive blow in his flank and rear.
The men of my division advanced splendidly, overcoming all the obstacles which nature and the enemy had prepared to dispute our ascent. They went up in double-quick time, and the skirmishers in front of my extreme left, Fourth Iowa Infantry, pushed up to within 50 yards of the enemy before opening on him. The forward Echelon (Second Brigade) fired a salvo into the terrified rebels, who at once fell back, hoping to make good their escape. They would have succeeded in this, but for the funnel which my oblique line formed. The left of the second échelon (First Brigade) had at this moment just reached the crest of the hill, but, of course, far in advance of the Second Brigade.
Major Warner, the very able commander of the Seventy-sixth Ohio Infantry, understood the maneuver completely. He wheeled his regiment to the right, while the two regiments in reserve did the same, and advancing in one line with the Seventy-sixth Ohio Infantry across the whole slope of the hill, captured a very large number of the enemy.
Finding their escape impossible, they obeyed my order to lay down their arms almost instantly, and my division took over 2,000 prisoners, a large number of small-arms, one piece of artillery (brass 6-pounder).
Maj. James F. How, of the Twenty-seventh Missouri Infantry, who advanced with the skirmishers in the valley on the right of our line of attack, intercepted and burned a rebel wagon train.
While we advanced in the manner described, my front line of three battalions was supported by the remaining battalions of my division, formed in column of divisions. General Cruft, who had meanwhile come up, formed behind this column.
I cannot close the account of this very successful day without giving proper credit to Captain Landgraeber's battery of howitzers. The artillery, delayed at Chattanooga bridge, came up in time to assist in the assault, and Captain Landgraeber threw shell and shrapnel most accurately among the enemy's column from his position at the foot of the ridge (western slope), considerably accelerating the surrender of the rebels. The division encamped for the night around the late headquarters of Generals Bragg and Breckin-ridge, who barely escaped the fate of so many of their officers and men by hasty flight.
A division of the Fourth Army Corps occupied a camp in our immediate front. This division formed part of the army of General Thomas, who had come from Chattanooga.
The order of march for the 26th assigned my division to bring up the rear of your column. We soon left camp, with the exception of the Thirty-second Missouri Infantry, which had been detailed, in pursuance of orders received, to collect all arms and prisoners, and to remain in their present camp until further orders. The marching on this day was exceedingly slow, so much so, indeed, that it was almost night when my division reached Chickamauga Creek (not over 6 miles distant from our last camp). Here I made a short halt, until I could ascertain your wishes in regard to the artillery which was with me, and which could not cross the creek on the <ar55_603> temporary foot-bridge we found there. Immediately on receipt of your orders to that effect, I moved across the creek, leaving the Twenty-seventh Missouri with the artillery at the foot of the bridge. Before I left, 2 colonels made their appearance, with orders to construct a bridge across Chickamauga Creek. Neither of these gentlemen appeared to be impressed with the necessity of pushing this work forward with all vigor, notwithstanding that in the completion of this bridge lay all our chances of bringing over our artillery. I mention this because the events of the following day proved that the delay of our artillery at the bridge was considerably felt. An earlier appearance of artillery in the next day's fight would have certainly saved many valuable lives.
I reached your headquarters after a march of a few miles, and received your instructions for next morning, i.e., to leave my bivouac at early daybreak and take the lead of the column again. The commanding general expressed his opinion that the enemy would probably make a stand at Ringgold, which town was not over 6 miles from our camp.
November 27, I left my bivouac at half past 5 o'clock. The mounted infantry, under Captain House, supported by a line of éclaireurs and flankers, of the Seventeenth Missouri Infantry, Colonel Cramer commanding, advanced rapidly over the very bad roads, exploring well the adjacent hills and fields. They found all the marks of a retreating enemy, and secured a good number of prisoners before reaching Chickamauga Creek. The creek runs in a wide semicircle round the town of Ringgold, emerging in the rear of the place from a gap in the so-called Taylor's Ridge, a high and very steep ridge, similar in appearance to Missionary Ridge.
The road we marched over led to a pretty good ford, but there was also a covered trestle bridge to right of town, which had not yet been burned by the enemy. Rebel cavalry, amounting to not less than 200, were posted at the ford and the bridge. Captain House's mounted men, being in advance of the infantry, at once engaged the rebels at the ford, who, after discharging their guns, ran for the town House's men, following them closely, forded the creek and advanced in the direction of the bridge on the right. The rebels stationed there followed the example of their friends at the ford and ran for town, both parties vigorously pushed by Captain House's command of 12 men. When these brave soldiers came to the first houses of the town and the rebels fairly satisfied themselves of their small numbers, they made a dash out of town and drove my men back to an eminence near the creek.
During these movements Col. J. F. Cramer urged his regiment (Seventeenth Missouri) and the Twenty-ninth Missouri (who together form a tactical battalion)forward, and secured the covered bridge before the rebels could set fire to it.
A considerable delay was occasioned by the circuitous road leading to the bridge before the infantry could be brought within supporting distance. This delay enabled the enemy to deploy their rear guard (consisting, in addition to the cavalry mentioned, of a large force of infantry and a few pieces of artillery) in the gap in rear of Ringgold and on both sides of it on Taylor's Ridge. The position was very strong and well secured on the right against a flank movement by the creek, which runs in a very deep bed through the gap. We had, for reasons already mentioned, no artillery. As soon as Colonel Cramer, of the Seventeenth Missouri Infantry, <ar55_604> had crossed the covered bridge he deployed the right wing of his battalion, and, supported by the left wing, drove the rebel skirmishers, both horse and foot, through the town into the gap, advancing under cover of the railroad embankment. The road coming from Chattanooga runs between the foot of Taylor's Ridge and town, and enters the gap at a rather short curve.
While Colonel Cramer's line of skirmishers drove the rebels back on their main line, and advanced beyond the railroad, General Woods received orders to deploy the Thirteenth Illinois and the Third, Twelfth, and Thirty-first Missouri Regiments on the line just vacated by Colonel Cramer's advancing battalion.
The Seventy-sixth Ohio, also of General Woods' brigade, was detailed to ascend Taylor's Ridge on the left, with a view of getting on the enemy's flank. This movement was, however, soon observed by the rebel commander, who appears to have been stationed on the ridge, and I saw a strong column moving in a direction to check the progress of the Seventy-sixth Ohio Infantry. Three regiments, the Fourth, Ninth, and Twenty-fifth Iowa Infantry, of Second Brigade, were accordingly dispatched to support the Seventy-sixth Ohio Infantry. Colonel Williamson personally took command of this party, and they climbed steadily up the steep slope in two lines.
I retained the Thirty-first Iowa in reserve, detailing, however, two companies from it to deploy as sharpshooters on the slope at the left of Colonel Cramer's skirmishers, and covering the ascending battalions.
During all these movements the enemy kept up a most galling fire of artillery and musketry along the whole line, to which our infantry replied most vigorously and without yielding any of the ground they gained inch by inch. The enemy's artillery was placed at very short range in the gap, and partly masked by undergrowth and young pine trees. He fired mostly shell and canister.
Strengthening Colonel Cramer by skirmishers from the Twelfth Missouri Infantry, I sent orders to that officer to push the left of his line well forward, and at the same time ordered the Thirteenth Illinois Infantry (which held the extreme right) to advance rapidly over an open field to a few houses in front. By these movements I concentrated a converging fire on the enemy's artillery, which I hoped to secure, by driving off the cannoneers and supports.
The Thirteenth Illinois Infantry executed the order in magnificent style; they charged through a hail-storm of balls, and gained the position assigned to them and held it, although the rebels poured a most murderous fire into these brave men from the gorge in front and the hill on the right.
Seeing their artillery, and with it the key of their position, threatened, the enemy rallied a strong force and dashed from the gorge and down the hill with great energy. He succeeded in driving in my skirmishers, who fell back on my second line (deployed behind the railroad embankment). This assault of the enemy was promptly checked by the Third, Twelfth, and Thirty-first Missouri Infantry regiments, whose well-directed volleys drove the enemy immediately back again, leaving their dead and wounded on the ground, which was at once re-occupied by a line of skirmishers. The Thirteenth Illinois remained undaunted, keeping up a vehement fire.
While the rebels were making this charge in the center, Colonel Williamson, who had meanwhile almost reached the crest of the ridge, sustained a similar assault by superior forces. I refer to his account of the occurrences connected therewith. <ar55_605>
After yielding to the enemy a short time, the regiments under command of Colonel Williamson rallied promptly and soon possessed themselves of a position on the ridge in advance of the one they had occupied before.
These struggles, in the course of which so many deeds of bravery and patriotism were exhibited, had lasted from 9 a.m. to about 1 p.m., our infantry fighting single handed against the combined arms of the enemy.
At last, about 1 p.m., Captain Landgraeber reported with his battery of 12-pounder howitzers. Thanks to the bridge builders, he could not cross Chickamauga Creek until about 9 a.m. I ordered his right section into action on an open piece of ground in rear of General Woods' (right) brigade, whence the gorge and the enemy's artillery could be played upon. A section of 2.90 Parrott, belonging to another corps, co-operated with Landgraeber. The firing from these pieces was excellent; they enfiladed the whole gorge and the line of retreat of the rebels.
The enemy's guns were soon silenced, and an advance along our whole line found the enemy retreating at all points. Colonel Williamson discovered them in an attempt to burn two bridges across Chickamauga Creek, and drove them away in time to save the bridges. Your orders were not to pursue any farther.
We captured during these engagements: First Brigade, as per memorandum, 1,999 officers and men; Second Brigade (estimated), at least 800 officers and men.
The losses of my division were previously reported in a nominal list. They amount in all these days to:
Commissioned officers: Killed, 7; wounded, 39; missing, 4. Enlisted men: Killed, 50; wounded, 296; missing, 40. Total casualties, 50 commissioned officers and 386 enlisted men.
I beg leave to call your attention to the very heavy percentage of losses among the officers, and I cannot pass over this fact without expressing the highest praise for their energy, valor, and, in fact, every virtue which honors a good soldier. To name those who behaved most gallantly is the next thing to an impossibility, as I feel under so many obligations to every one, officers and men. They all were ready to do their duty, and they did it nobly and well under most trying circumstances. I did not find any stragglers belonging to my command on any of the four days of glory and victory. I take great pleasure, however, in recapitulating from the reports of my brigade commanders the names which they mention. The heroic Colonel Wangelin, of the Twelfth Missouri, who lost his right arm; Lieutenant-Colonel Partridge, of the Thirteenth Illinois, who lost his left hand; the lamented Major Bushnell, of the Thirteenth Illinois, who sacrificed his life; Colonel Cramer, of the Seventeenth Missouri; Colonel Meumann, of the Third Missouri; also that most excellent officer and chivalrous gentleman, Major Warner, of the Seventy-sixth Ohio Infantry, and Major Nichols, of the Fourth Iowa Infantry. Also the several gentlemen composing the brigade staffs are highly commended.
I have some names to add from my personal observation. First and above all, Brig. Gen. C. R. Woods, commanding First Brigade, who, from his skill and soldierly appearance, was highly instrumental in achieving my success; Col. J. A. Williamson, commanding Second Brigade; Capt. W. T. House, of the staff guard, whose zeal and courage was of the greatest assistance to me; Capt. W. A. Gordon, <ar55_606> my assistant adjutant-general; Lieut. A. Ellsworth, aide-de-camp, who was wounded while bearing dispatches; Lieut. Casimir Andel, acting aide-de-camp. They all did their whole duty.
For the poor sufferers and the dead we have a deep feeling of sympathy and gratitude, which the nation doubtless shares.
I inclose the reports of my brigade commanders, General C. R. Woods and Col. J. A. Williamson.
And have the honor to be, general,your obedient servant,
Brig. Gen. of Vols., Comdg. First Div., 15th Army Corps.
Bridgeport, December 19, 1863.
The within report is addressed to General Hooker, under whose command the First Division of the Fifteenth Army Corps fell in consequence of breaking a bridge across the Tennessee, which prevented the division from joining its own corps in time. The report is submitted as part of the operations of the Army of the Tennessee.
Major-General, Commanding.
Near Bridgeport, Ala., December 14, 1863.
GENERAL: I omitted to state in my report that Lieut. S. T. Josselyn and a party of skirmishers of the gallant Thirteenth Illinois Infantry captured the battle-flag of the Eighteenth Alabama on Missionary Ridge, November 25. I forward the flag to you with this supplementary report.
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brig. Gen. of Vols., Comdg. First Div., 15th Army Corps.
Chief of Staff, Major-General Hooker's Army.

Chronology AotC
Battles & Reports