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138

BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA.

GEORGE H, THOMAS.

it was doubtful with whom the palm of victory would be left. Thomas had given an order for the massing of cannon on the Missionaries' Ridge, just west of the State Road, as strongly supported by infantry as possible, to command Breckinridge's artillery, and sweep the ground to the left and rear of Baird, but it seems to have been misunderstood, and the work was not done. Yet the attempt to turn the National flank was not accomplished,

for Thomas and his veterans stood like a wall in the way, and the assailants had much to do to maintain the battle nearer the center, where the conflict was, for awhile, equally desperate, bloody, and decisive.

While the struggle was going on at the left and the left center, the right became involved in disaster. The divisions of Negley and Van Cleve moved successively, after the battle had commenced, to the support of Thomas, and Wood was directed to close up to Reynolds on the right center, and Davis to close on Wood. McCook, commanding

on that wing, was ordered to close down on the left with all possible speed. These dangerous movements were now made disastrous by the blunder of an incompetent staff officer, who was sent with orders to Wood. The latter understanding that he was directed to support Reynolds, then hard pressed, pulled out of the line and passed to the rear of Brannan, who was, en echelon, slightly in the rear of Reynolds's right. This left a gap, which Longstreet quickly saw, and before Davis, by McCook's order, could fill it with three light brigades, he thrust Hood into it. The latter, with Stewart, charged furiously, with Buckner supporting him by a simultaneous advance on the National right. IIood's column struck Davis on the right and Brannan on the left, and Sheridan in the rear, severing the army by isolating five brigades which lost full forty per cent. of their numbers. The whole right wing of the Nationals was so shattered by this charge, that it began crumbling, and was soon seen flying in disorder toward Rossville and Chattanooga, leaving thousands behind, killed, wounded, or prisoners. This turbulent and resistless tide carried along with it Rosecrans, Crittenden, McCook, and other commanders, while Sheridan and Davis, who were driven over to the Dry Valley road, rallying their shattered divisions, re-formed them by the way, and, with McCook, halted and changed front at Rossville, with a determination to defend the pass at all hazards against the pursuers. Rosecrans, unable to join Thomas, and believing the whole army would be speedily hurrying pell-mell toward Chattanooga, with exultant victors in their rear, pushed into that place, to make provision for holding it, if possible.

Thomas, meanwhile, ignorant of the disaster that had befallen the right, was maintaining his position most gallantly, little suspecting, however, that he must soon confront a greater portion of Bragg's army. He had sent

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BATTLE OF CHICKAMALGA.

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Captain Kellogg, at a little past noon, to hasten the march of Sheridan, whose support had been promised, and he had returned with tidings that a large Confederate force was approaching cautiously, with skirmishers thrown out to the rear of Reynolds's position. Thomas sent General Harker, whose brigade was on a ridge in the direction of this reported advance, to resist them, which he did. In the mean time General Wood came up, and was directed to post his troops on the left of Brannan, then in the rear of Thomas's line of battle on a slope of the Missionaries' Ridge, a little west of the Rossville road, where Captain Gaw, by Thomas's order, had massed all the artillery he could find in reserve, and brought as many infantry to its support as possible. To that position Thomas now withdrew from his breastworks and concentrated his command.

Wood had barely time to dispose his troops on the left of Brannan, before they were furiously attacked, the Confederates keeping up the assault by throwing in fresh troops as fast as those in their front were repulsed. Meanwhile General Gordon Granger, who, at Rossville, had heard the roar of guns where Thomas was posted, had moved to his support, without orders, and appeared on his left flank at the head of Steedman's division of his corps. He was directed to push on and take position on Brannan's right, when Steedman gallantly fought his way to the crest of the hill at the appointed place, and then turning his artillery upon the assailants, drove them down the southern slope of the ridge with great slaughter. They soon returned to the attack, with a determination to drive the Nationals from the ridge. They were in overwhelming force, and pressed Thomas in front and on both flanks. Finally, when they were moving along a ridge and in a gorge, to assail his right in flank and rear, Granger formed the brigades of Whittaker and Mitchell into a charging party, and hurled them against the Confederates, of whom General Hindman was the commander, in the gorge. They were led by Steedman, who, seizing a regimental flag, headed the charge. Victory followed. In the space of twenty minutes Hindman and his Confederates disappeared, and the Nationals held both ridge and gorge. The latter had lost heavily. Steedman's horse was killed, and he was badly bruised by a fall, and Whittaker was stunned by a bullet and fell from his horse.

There was now a lull of half an hour. It was the deep calm before the bursting of the tempest. A greater portion of the Confederate army was swarming around the foot of the ridge, on which stood Thomas with the remnant of seven divisions of the Army of the Cumberland. Longstreet was then in immediate command of his own veterans, for Hood had lost a leg during the morning; and to human vision there seemed no ray of hope for the Nationals. But Thomas stood like a rock, and assault after assault was repulsed, until the sun went down, when, by order of General Rosecrans, sent by General Garfield, his chief of staff (who reached the ridge at four o'clock), he commenced the withdrawal of his troops to Rossville. His ammunition was nearly exhausted. His men had not more than three rounds

1 Granger, as we have observed, was posted with his troops at Rossville, as a reserve. From that point General Steedman, with six regiments, inade a reconnoissance to within two miles of Ringgold on the 17th, and on the 18th he burned Reid's bridge over the Chickamauga. Granger also sent the brigades of General Whittaker and Colonel D. McCook to the Chickamauga, and held the roads in that direction on the extreme loft, until the roar of Thomas's guns satisfied him that he conld do better service by helping him.

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BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA.

apiece when Steedman arrived, and furnished them with a small supply, and this was consumed in the succeeding struggle. Garfield and a company officer gave Thomas the first reliable information concerning the disaster to the center and right of the army. They bore an order from Rosecrans for

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Thomas to take command of all the forces, and with McCook and Crittenden to secure a strong position at Rossville, and assume a threatening attitude. This was done by divisions in succession, Reynolds?s leading, and the whole covered by Wood's division. On the way Turchin's brigade charged upon a heavy body of Confederates, who were seeking to obstruct the movement.

THE NATIONALS RETREAT TO CHATTANOOGA.

141

They were driven, with a loss of two hundred men, made prisoners. So ended the BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA. There was no pursuit.' The Nationals quietly took position in the Rossville and Dry Valley gaps of the Missionaries' Ridge. On the following morning a reconnoitering force of Confederates on the Ringgold road, drove in Minty's Sept, 21, cavalry, but did little harm. That evening the whole army withdrew in perfect order to a position assigned it by Rosecrans, in front of Chattanooga, and, on the following day, Bragg advanced and took possession of Lookout Mountain and the whole of the Missionaries' Ridge.

The Confederates won a victory on the field in the Battle of Chickamauga, at a fearful cost to both armies, and without any other decisive result. Rosecrans might have held Chattanooga, Lookout Mountain, and the Missionaries' Ridge, with his communications secure, without that fearful cost; while Bragg, although he had reaped “glory,” as the phrase is, on the battle-field, secured none of the harvest of solid victory, such as the capture or dispersion of the army of his adversary. “Rosecrans,” said a Confederate historian,“ still held the prize of Chattanooga, and with it the possession of

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1 "The troops were halted by their respective commanders," said Bragg, in his report on the 23d of December, 1963, "when the darkness of the night and the density of the forest rendered further movements uncertain and dangerous, and the army bivouacked on the ground it had so gallantly won."

? Crittenden's corps held the left of the Ringgold road; McCook's was on the right of the Dry Valley road, with his right thrown forward nearly to the Chickamauga, and Negley's, Reynolds's, and Brannan's divisions were posted in the Rossville Gap and along the ridge on its right, back of Ross's house. See page 126. Minty's brigade of cavalry was over a mile in advance of Crittenden, on the Ringgold road.

Probably the youngest person who ever bore arms in battle was engaged in the strife near the Chickamauga River. His name was John CLEM, and his home was at Newark, Ohio. He was a volunteer in the Twenty-second Michigan Infantry, and was only twelve years of age. He was serving as marker of a regiment in a review at Nashville, when he was brought to the notice of General Rosecrans, who made him welcome at head-quarters. He performed faithfully whatever duty was imposed upon him while the Army of the Cumberland was making its way to and across the Tennessee River; and in the Battle of Chickamauga he won for himself the rank of a sergeant by a deed of great valor. He had been in the thickest of the fight, and three bullets had passed through his hat, when, separated from his companions, he was seen running, with a musket in his hand, by a mounted Confederate colonel, who called out, “Stop! you little Yankee devil!" The hoy halted, and brought his musket to an order, when the colonel rode up to make him a prisoner. With swift motion young Clem brought his gun up and fired, killing the colonel instantly. He escaped; and for this achievement on the battle-field he was made a sergeant, put on duty at the head-quarters of the Army of the Cumberland, and placed on the Roll of Honor by General Rosecrans. The engraving is from a photograph from life, taken in Cincinnati.

3 The National loss was reported at 16,326, of whom 1,687 were killed, 9,354 were wounded, and 5,255 were missing. The total loss of officers was 974. It is probable the entire Union loss was full 19,000. Among the killed were General W. H. Lytle, of Ohio, Colonels Baldwin and Heg, commanding brigades, and Colonels E. A. King, Alexander, and Gilmer. The Confederate loss, according to a compilation made from the reports of Bragg's commanders, was 20,950, of whom 2,673 were killed, 16,274 were wounded, and 2,003 were missing. Rosecrans reported that be brought off the field 2,003 prisoners, 36 guns, 20 caissons, and 8,450 small-arms, and that he lost in prisoners, including 2,500 of his wounded left on the field, 7,500. Bragg claimed to have captured over 8,000 prisoners, inclu the wounded ; 51 guns, and 15,000 small-arms. he Confederates left a large number of the Union dead unburied.

JOHN OLEM,

142

JEFFERSON DAVIS A DICTATOR.

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East Tennessee Two-thirds of our niter-beds were in that region, and a large proportion of the coal which supplied our founderies. It abounded in the necessaries of life. It was one of the strongest countries in the world, so full of lofty mountains, that it had been called not unaptly, the Switzerland of America. As the possession of Switzerland opened the door to the invasion of Italy, Germany, and France, so the possession of East Tennessee gave easy access to Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama." I

The incompetency of Bragg, who was the pliant servant of the will of Jefferson Davis, was universally felt, and when his operations in the vicinity of Chattanooga became known, there was wide-spread discontent. Yet few men were bold enough to oppose the will of the Arch-conspirator, and murmuring was scarcely audible. Pollard quotes a private letter from a “distinguished general officer in the West,” who most severely and ably criticised the operations of the army under the leadership of Bragg during the year preceding the battle of Chickamauga, and evidently pointed directly to Jefferson Davis as the chief obstacle to the success of the Confederate arms. But the more Davis's chosen instruments were found fault with, the more determined was the Conspirator to keep them in places of the highest trust. When Bragg, a few weeks after the Battle of Chickamauga, was thoroughly beaten before Chattanooga, as we shall observe presently, and tried to hide his own incompetence under fault-finding with his officers—“a resource to which he showed, on all occasions, a characteristic and injurious tendency"? —and there was a general feeling that he ought to be relieved from all command, Davis showed his contempt for the opinion of others, by making

himo General-in-Chief of the armies of the Confederacy. “No • February 24, doubt,” said an officer in the “War Department” at Richmond,

at the time, “ Bragg can give the President valuable counselnor can there be any doubt that he [the President] enjoys a secret satisfaction in triumphing thus over popular sentiment, which just at this time is much averse to General Bragg. The President is naturally a little oppugnant.” When the appointment was made, the boldest opposers of Bragg dared not utter their disapprobation openly and manfully.

1864.

1 Pollard's Third Year of the War, page 128.

· Pollard's Third Year of the War, page 130. 3 The following is a copy of the order creating Bragg General-in-Chief, which was dated, “War Department, Adjutant and Inspector-General's Office, Richmond, February 24, 1864," and designated as “ General Order No. 23:"

"General Braxton Bragg is assigned to duty at the seat of government, and, under the direction of the President, is charged with the conduct of military operations in the arinies of the Confederacy. By order of the Secretary of War. S. COOPER, Adjutant and Inspector-General."

4 A Rebel War Clerk's Diary, ii. 157.

6 On the day before Bragg's appointment, the Richmond Enquirer had a long editorial, denouncing in advance his assignment to any prominent position, and severely criticising his conduct in the West; but, on the day after his appointment, the same journal, inspired by a proper reverence for the power of TM the President," said: “The judicious and opportune appointment of General Bragg to the post of Commander-in-Chief of the armies will be appreciated as an illustration of that strong common-sense which forms the basis of the President's character, that regard for the opinions and feelings of the country, that respect for the Senate, which are the keys to all that is mysterious in the conduct of our public affairs. The Confederate armies cannot fail to be well pleased. Every soldier's heart feels that merit is the true title to promotion, and that glorious service should insure a splendid reward. From Lookout Mountain, a step to the highest military honor and power is natural and inevitable. Johnston, Lee, and Beauregard learn with grateful emotions that the conqueror of Kentucky and Tennessee has been elevated to a position which his superiority deserves. Finally, this happy announcement should enliven the fires of confidence and enthusiasm reviving among the people, like a bucket of water on a newly-kindled grate." This was keen irony, but it was not denunciation, and the writer avoided Castle Thunder.

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