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128

BURNSIDE MOVES INTO EAST TENNESSEE.

1863.

nessee,

portion of the way to Knoxville, passed round that city, and struck it again at Strawberry Plain, and burned a bridge over the Holston there, sixteen hundred feet in length, and another at Mossy Creek, above. With trifling loss, Sanders made his way back to Kentucky, after capturing three guns, ten thousand small-arms, and five hundred prisoners, and destroying a large quantity of Confederate munitions of war.

The Ninth Army Corps being detached from Burnside's command, to assist Grant before Vicksburg, the former was compelled to be comparatively idle, his chief business being to keep disloyal citizens in Kentucky and elsewhere in check, and to protect the Unionists of that State, for which purpose

he found it necessary, in August,“ to declare that commonwealth * August 3, to be under martial law. Soon afterward he was called into East

Tennessee, to co-operate with Rosecrans, in his struggle with Bragg for the possession of the Chattanooga region, by cutting off communication between the army of the latter, and Lee's, in Virginia, and preventing, as far as possible, re-enforcements being sent from the Rapid Anna to the Ten

When this call was made, the Ninth Corps had not yet returned. The exigency would not allow Burnside to wait for it. Fortunately, he had thoroughly organized and equipped his command, which was then about twenty thousand in number, at Camp Nelson, near Richmond, in Kentucky. He concentrated his forces at Crab Orchard, near the southern line of Lincoln County, and then prepared for a rapid movement to the new field of active operations, by a way to avoid the principal mountain gaps, where the Confederates might seriously oppose him. His infantry were mostly mounted. All of his cavalry and artillery were furnished with excel

lent horses, and his supplies were placed on pack-mules, that more facile movements might be made than a wagon-train would allow. Thus prepared, they began the march on the day when Wilder opened his

guns on Chattanooga, Aug. 21.

with the cavalry brigade of General S. P. Carter, an East Tennessean, in advance. Just after crossing the boundary-line into Scott

County, Tennessee, they · Aug. 28.

were joined by General Hartsuff and his

corps;

and the com

bined forces pressed forward at the rate of twenty miles a day over the great and rugged plateau of the Cumberland Mountains to Montgomery, in Morgan County, where they were joined by a column of infantry, under Colonel Julius White. After brief rest, Carter's force pushed rapidly onward in three columns, one under Colonel Bird (accompanied by Burnside), for Kingston, at the mouth of the Clinch River, where communication was had with Colonel Minty's cavalry, of Rosecrans's

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PACK-MULES. 1

i This shows the manner of carrying commissary stores on mules, in the mountain regions. A long string of mules were tethered together by rope or chain, in tandem, the leader guided by a soldier or servant.

CUMBERLAND GAP RECAPTURED.

129

extreme left; another, under General Shackelford, for Loudon Bridge, farther up the Tennessee; and a third, under Colonel Foster, for Knoxville, on the liolston River. Bird and Foster reached their respective destinations on the first of September, without opposition, but when Shackelford approached Loudon, he found the Confederates there in considerable force, and strongly posted. After a brisk skirmish, they were driven across the bridge—a magnificent structure, over two thousand feet in length-which they fired behind them, and so laid it in ruins. The main army moved steadily forward, and was soon posted on the line of the railway from Loudon, southwesterly, so as to connect with Rosecrans, then in possession of Chattanooga.

General Simon B. Buckner was in command of about twenty thousand troops, in East Tennessee, with his head-quarters at Knoxville, when Rosecrans moved upon Bragg, and Burnside began his march. To hold Chatta nooga, as we have observed, was of vital importance to the Confederacy, and, as its fall would involve the abandonment of East Tennessee, Bragg ordered Buckner to evacuate the valley, and hasten to his assistance at Chattanooga. Buckner accordingly fled from Knoxville on the approach of Burnside, and it was his rear-guard which Shackelford encountered at Loudon Bridge. At that time, the stronghold of Cumberland Gap, captured by General Morgan eighteen months before, was in possession of the Confederates, and held by one of Buckner's brigades, under General Frazer. That officer was ordered to join Buckner in his flight, but, on the recommendation of the latter, he was allowed to remain, with orders to hold the pass at all hazards. There he was hemmed in, by troops under Shackelford on one side, and on the other by a force under Colonel De Courcey, who came up from Kentucky. He held out for three or four days, when Burnside joined Shackelford, with cavalry and artillery, from Knoxville, and Frazer surrendered. In the mean time a cavalry force had gone up the “Septe, valley to Bristol, destroyed the bridges over the Watauga and Holston rivers, and driven the armed Confederates over the line into Virginia. Thus, again, the important pass of Cumberland Gap' was put into the possession of the National troops, and the great valley between the Alleghany and Cumberland Mountains, from Cleveland to Bristol, of which Knoxville may be considered the metropolis, seemed to be permanently rid of armed Confederates. The loyal inhabitants of that region received the National troops with open arms as their deliverers; and Union refugees, who had been hiding in the mountains, and Union prisoners from that region, who had escaped from the clutches of their captors, and had been sheltered in caves and rocks, all ragged and starved, now flocked to their homes, and joined in ovations offered to Burnside and his followers at Knoxville and elsewhere."

i See page 304, volume II.

2 It is ditficult to conceive the intensity of the feelings of the Union people along the line of Burnside's march. · Everywhere," wrote an eye-witness," the people flocked to the roadsides, and, with cheers and wildest demonstrations of welcome, saluted the flag of the Republic and the men who had borne it in triumph to the very heart of the 'Confederacy.' Old men wept at the sight, which they had waited for through months of suffering; children, even, hailed with joy the sign of deliverance. Nobly have these persecuted people sto01) by their faith, and all loyal inen will rejoice with them in their rescue at last from the clutch of the destroyer." " They were so glad to see Union soldiers," wrote another, " that they conked every thing they had and gave it frer not asking pay,

apparently not thinking of it. Women stood by the roadside with pails of water, and displayed Union flags. The wonder was, where all the Stars and Stripes' came from."

VOL. III.-87

130

GENERAL HALLECK PUZZLED.

The authorities at Washington, at this time, were greatly perplexed by the military situation. No logic seemed sufficiently subtle to penetrate the real designs of the Confederates in the field. Spies and deserters from Lee's army, reported at the capital that he was receiving re-enforcements from Bragg, and from the Atlantic coast, to enable him to make another and more

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1863.

successful invasion of Maryland and Pennsylvania. The slight resistance offered to Burnside, and the abandonment of Chattanooga without a struggle, made the rumor appear plausible. Halleck questioned the propriety of

allowing Rosecrans to pursue Bragg, and telegraphed" to him to Sept. 11, hold firmly the mountain-passes in the direction of Atlanta, to

prevent the return of the Confederates until Burnside could connect with him, when it would be determined whether the Army of the Cumberland should penetrate farther into Georgia. He also mentioned the reports that Bragg was sending troops to Lee. On the same day, he ordered Burnside to hold the mountain-passes in East Tennessee, to prevent access to: or from Virginia, and to connect, with his cavalry at least, with Rosecrans.

In reply to Halleck, Rosecrans said he did not believe any troops had been sent to Lee by Bragg. On the contrary, there were indications that Bragg himself was being re-enforced from Mississippi, and was preparing to turn the flanks of the Army of the Cumberland and cut its communications ; and he suggested the propriety of ordering some of Grant's troops to cover the line of the Tennessee River, westward, to prevent a raid on Nashville. This was followed by an electrograph from General Foster, at Fortress

This is a careful copy of a photograph presented to the author, at Knoxville, in which is delineated a group of the returned refugees, at the time we are considering. They consisted, in a large degree, of young men belonging to the best families in East Tennessee. Their sufferings had been dreadful. Their clothing, as the picture shows, was in tatters, and at times they had been nearly starved. Yet they held fast to hope, and resolved to save their country if possible.

IMPENDING STRUGGLE NEAR CHATTANOOGA.

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1863.

Monroe, saying trains of cars had been heard running night and day for thirty-six hours on the Petersburg and Richmond railway, indicating the movement of troops; and the General-in-Chief was inclined to believe that a movement against Norfolk, similar to that in the spring,' was about to be made in favor of Lee, the Confederates hoping thereby to draw off some of the troops from Meade. But this suspicion was dispelled by another dispatch from General Foster the next day," bearing a report

Sept. 14, that Longstreet's corps was passing southward into North Carolina. Then Halleck directed Meade to ascertain the truth or falsity of the latter report, when it was found to be true, as we have observed. Meanwhile Halleck had ordered Burnside to move down and connect with Rosecrans, and directed General Hurlbut, at Memphis, to send all of his available force to Corinth and Tuscumbia, to operate against Bragg, should he attempt the anticipated flank moverent, and, if necessary, to ask Grant or Sherman, at Vicksburg, for re-enforcements. He also telegraphed to the commander at Vicksburg to send all available forces to the line of the Tennessee River.3 Similar orders were sent to Schofield, in Missouri, and Pope, in the Northwestern Department; and the commanders in Ohio and Kentucky were ordered to make every exertion to secure Rosecrans's communications. It was determined that Bragg should not recross the Tennessee River, and that the redeemed commonwealths of Kentucky and Tennessee should not be again subjected to Confederate rule.

The Army of the Cumberland was now the center of absorbing interest to the Government and to the loyal people. Bragg's was of like interest to the Conspirators and their friends, and they spared no effort, fair or foul, to give him strength sufficient to drive Rosecrans back toward the Cumberland or capture his army. Buckner, as we have seen, was ordered to join him. Johnston sent him a strong brigade from Mississippi, under General Walker, and the thousands of prisoners paroled by Grant and Banks at Vicksburg * and Port Hudson, who were falsely declared by the Confederate authorities to be exchanged, and were released from parole, were, in shameful violation of the terms of the surrender, and the usages of civilized nations, sent to Bragg to swell his ranks, while every man that it was possible to draw from Georgia and Alabama by a merciless conscription, was mustered into the service to guard bridges, depots, &c., so that every veteran might engage in battle. In this way Bragg was rapidly gathering a large force in front of Pigeon Mountain, near Lafayette, while Longstreet was making his way up from Atlanta, to swell the volume of the Confederate army to full eighty thousand men.

Deceived by Bragg's movements—uninformed of the fact that Lee had sent troops from Virginia to re-enforce him, impressed with the belief that he was retreating toward Rome, and ambitious of winning renown by capturing his foe, or driving him in confusion to the Gulf-Rosecrans, instead of concentrating his forces at Chattanooga, and achieving a great as well as

1 See page 41.

? See page 101. 3 At that time Grant was in New Orleans, and Sherman was in command in the vicinity of Vicksburg. * See note 2, page 630, voluine II. * See page 637, volume II.

* Finding Burnside in his way in East Tennessee, Longstreet had passed down through the Carolinas with bis corps, to Augusta, in Georgia; thence to Atlanta, and then up the State Road (railway) toward Chattanooga

132

PERILOUS POSITION OF THE UNION ARMY.

an almost bloodless victory, scattered them over an immense space of rough country, to operate on the rear and flank of what he supposed to be a flying adversary. He ordered. Crittenden to call his brigades from across the river, near Chattanooga, and leaving one of them there to garrison the town, push on to the East Chickamauga Valley and the railway to Ringgold or Dalton to intercept the march of Buckner from East Tennessee, or strike the Confederate rear, as circumstances might determine. Thomas, who had just passed through Stevens's and Cooper's gaps of Lookout Mountain, into McLemore's Cove, was directed to push through Dug Gap of Pigeon Mountain, and fall upon the supposed flank of the Confederates at Lafayette. At the same time McCook was to press on farther south, to Broomtown Valley, to turn Bragg's left. These movements were promptly made, and revealed the alarming truth to Rosecrans. His cavalry on the right, supported by McCook's corps, descended Lookout Mountain, reconnoite Broomtown Valley as far as Alpine, and discovered that Bragg had not retreated on Rome. Crittenden moved rapidly to Ringgold, where, on pushing Wilder forward to Tunnel Hill, near Buzzard's Roost (where he skirmished heavily), it was discovered that the Confederates, in strong force, were on his front, and menacing his communications; and when Negley, with his division of Thomas's corps, approached Dug Gap, he found it securely guarded by a force so overwhelming, that when, on the following morning, Baird came to his aid, both together could make no impression, and they fell back to the main body.

Rosecrans was at last satisfied that Bragg, instead of fleeing before him, was gathering force at Lafayette, opposite his center, to strike a heavy blow at the scattered Army of the Cumberland. He saw, too, that its position was a perilous one. Its wings, one at Lee and Gordon's Mill, on the Chickamauga, and the other at Alpine, were full forty miles apart, and offered Bragg a rare opportunity to terribly cripple, if not destroy or capture his foe. But the golden opportunity too soon passed. Rosecrans, on perceiving the danger, issued orders for the concentration of his forces in the Chickamauga Valley, in the vicinity of Crawfish Spring, about half-way between Chattanooga and Lafayette. Crittenden, alarmed by threatened danger to his communica

tions, had already made a rapid flank movement in that direc• Sept. 12, tion, from Ringgold, covered by Wilder's brigade, which was

compelled to skirmish heavily at Lett's tan-yard, with Confederate cavalry, under Pegram and Armstrong. Thomas crossed the upper end of the Missionaries' Ridge, and moved toward the Spring; and McCook, after much difficulty in moving up and down Lookout Mountain, joined Thomas on the 17th. Granger's reserves were called up from Bridgeport, and encamped at Rossville; a division under General Steedman was ordered up from the Nashville and Chattanooga railway, and a brigade, led by

Colonel D. McCook, came from Columbia. On the night of

Friday, the 18th, when it was positively known to Rosecrans that troops from Virginia were joining Bragg, the concentration of his army was completed, excepting the reserves at Rossville and cavalry at Blue Bird's Gap of Pigeon Mountain, and at Dougherty's Gap that separates the latter from Lookout Mountain. The divisions of Wood, Van Cleve, Palmer, Reynolds, Johnson, Baird, and Brannan, about thirty thousand in number,

1863.

Sept.

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