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168

THE MISSIONARIES' RIDGE CARRIED.

double line of skirmishers in front, followed at a short distance by the whole body. Pressing in a continuous line, they created such a panic among the occupants of the rifle-pits at the base of the Ridge, that they fled precipitately toward the crest, swarming up the hill-side, Grant said, “ like bees from a. hive.” The Nationals stopped but for a moment to re-form, when, inspired by an irresistible impulse, they pushed vigorously forward up the steep and

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rugged declivities in pursuit, in the face of a terrible storm of grape and canister-shot from about thirty guns on the summit, and from murderous volleys of musketry in the well-filled rifle-pits at the crest.' But the

1 In a letter to his father, written by a friend of the author (Isaac N. Merritt, of the Eighty-ninth Illinois, known as “the Railroad Regiment"), a few weeks after the battle on the Missionaries' Ridge, he said: “The storming of the ridge by our troops was one of the greatest marvels in military history. No one who climbs the ascent by any of the roads that wind along its front can believe that eighteen thousand men were moved simultaneously upon its broken and uneven surface, unless it was his fortune to witness that daring deed. It seemed as awful as the visible interposition of God. Neither Generals Grant nor Thomas intended it. Their orders were to carry the rifle-pits along the base of the Ridge and cut off their occupants; but when this was accomplished, the unaccountable spirit of the troops bore them bodily up the impassable steeps over the bristling rifle-pits on the hill's crest, and cannon enfilading every gully. The orders to storm appear to have been quite simultaneous by Generals Sheridan and Wood, because the men could not be held back, hopeless as the attempt appeared to military prudence, with any prospect of success. The generals caught the inspiration of the men, and were ready themselves to undertake impossibilities and run fearful risks for the chances of glorious and undying gains."

General Hazen, in a letter to the author, says: “ The men of Willich's and my brigades commenced running forward for security under the Ridge, but as they reached it they commenced its ascent. I then gave the order, * Forward !' and sent my staff officers to carry everybody forward up the Ridge. The fire we passed through was

BRAGG RETREATS TO RINGGOLD.

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Nationals did not waver for a moment. They pressed on, and LieutenantColonel Langdon, of the First Ohio, with a group of men of his own regiment and several others, who were foremost in the chase, sprang forward and made the first lodgment on the hill-top, within five hundred yards of Bragg's head-quarters, with shouts that were repeated by thousands of voices.' This gap in the Confederate line speedily widened as the assailants: pressed up, and it was not long before the entire battle-line of the Missionaries Ridge was in possession of the Union troops, with all the Confederate cannon and ammunition, and many of the soldiers in the trenches; and the captured artillery was soon playing fearfully upon the defeated columns with an enfilading fire. Sherman soon drove the Confederates from his front, when the battle ceased at that end of the line; but the divisions of Wood and Baird, on the right, were obstinately resisted until dark, for the Confederates in their front were re-enforced from Bragg's right. Yet these were steadily pressed back; and at the edge of the evening they fled in haste, Breckinridge barely escaping capture. Thus ended The BATTLE OF CHATTANOOGA, in complete victory for the National arms. Grant modestly summed up the result, in a dispatch to Halleck, saying, “ Although the battle lasted from early dawn till dark this evening, I believe I am not premature in announcing a complete victory over Bragg. Lookout Mountain top, all the rifle-pits in Chattanooga Valley, and Missionary Ridge entire, have been carried, and are now held by us.

During the night succeeding the battle, the Missionaries' Ridge blazed with the Union camp-fires, while the discomfited Confederates were retreating in haste toward Ringgold, by way of Chickamauga Station. Early the next morning, Sherman, Palmer, and Hooker were sent in pursuit, the first directly in the track of the fugitives, the other two by the Rossville road, toward Ringgold. Bragg destroyed the bridges behind him, and Hooker was very much delayed at Chickamauga River by a failure to supply him promptly with bridge materials. Sherman found every thing in flames at Chickamauga Station, which he passed and pushed on toward Greysville, encountering on the way, just at night, a rear-guard of the fugitives, with which he had a sharp skirmish. There General Grant overtook him. On the following morning he marched on to Greysville, on the East Chickamauga, where he found Palmer and his command, who, on the previous evening, had struck a rear-guard under General Gist, and captured three of his. guns and some prisoners. There Sherman halted, and sent Howard to destroy a large section of the railway which connected Dalton with Cleveland, and thus severed the communication between Bragg and Burnside.

Hooker, meanwhile, had pushed on to Ringgold, Osterhaus in advance, Geary following, and Cruft in the rear, and finding at every step evidences of Bragg's precipitate flight. Stragglers were'numerous, and were made prisoners. When the head of the pursuers

• Nov. 27,

1663.

dreadful, but the men, without preserving lines, formed into groups where accidents of the ground gave cover, and each group, led by a color, steadily made its way up. These colors were often shot down-those of the First Ohio six times but they were at once seized and borne along."

· Lieutenant-Colonel Langdon received a shot through his face and neck at the mornent when he reached the hill-top, which felled him to the ground. He at once rose, the blood streaming from his wounds, and shouting " Forward !" again fell. His hurt, though severe, was not mortal.

Grant reported the Union loss, in the series of struggles which ended in victory at Missionaries Ridge, at 757 killed, 4,529 wounded, and 330 missing, making a total of 5.616. Bragy's loss was about 3,100 in killed and wounded, and a little over 6,000 prisoners. Of the latter, 239 were commissioned officers. Grant also captured 40 pieces of artillery, with caissons and carriages, and 7,000 small-arms.

170

BATTLE OF RINGGOLD.

reached Ringgold, the rear of the pursued had just left it. A little beyond is a narrow gap in Taylor's Ridge, sufficiently wide for the passage of the East Chickamauga River and the railway, with margins rising several hundred feet. There General Cleburne (called, as we have observed, the “Stonewall Jackson of the West "), covering Bragg's retreat, had made a stand, with guns well posted, determined to impede the pursuers as long as possible. Hooker's guns, detained at the crossing of the Chickamauga, were not yet up. His troops, flushed with success, could not be easily restrained, and they were allowed to attack with small-arms only. The Thirteenth Illinois made a desperate attempt to dislodge the foe, but failed, with heavy loss. Yet the struggle went on, and finally, in the afternoon, when some of Hooker's guns were brought into position and the post was flanked by his infantry, Cleburne retreated, having inflicted a loss on the Nationals of four

hundred and thirty-two men, of whom sixty-five were killed. Cleburne left one hundred and thirty killed and wounded on

the field. So ended THE BATTLE OF RinggoLD." General J. C. Davis's division, which had been attached to Sherman's command, reached Ringgold just after Cleburne fled, ready to press on in pursuit; but there it ended. Grant would gladly have continued it, and would doubtless have captured or destroyed Bragg's army; but he was compelled to refrain, because Burnside needed immediate relief, so as to save East Tennessee from the grasp of Longstreet. He had informed Grant that his supplies would not last longer than the 3d of December, a week later. *This statement was a powerful appeal. Grant was in a condition to respond with vigor, for his foe was utterly demoralized by defeat and almost mutinous discontent among his troops,' and Sherman's forces were interposed between him and Longstreet, so as to prevent any possibility of their forming a junction. The victorious troops fell back toward Chattanooga,' and the ·campaign against Bragg ended. The Confederate retreat was continued to Dalton, where the army established a fortified camp.

• Nov. 27,

1863.

i Bragg, at this time, as at the battle of Chickamauga, tried to cover up his own incompetence under censures of others. He attributed his failure to gain a victory in the former case to the tardiness of Polk and Hindman; now he attributed his defeat to what he was pleased to call “ the shameful conduct of the troops on the left," commanded by Breckinridge. And Jefferson Davis, in order to shield froin censure this, his creature and favorite, disparaged his troops, who fought as gallantly and successfully as the bad management of their commander would allow. “ It is believed," Davis said, “ that if the troops who yielded to the assault [Hooker's] had fought with the valor which they had displayed on previous occasions, and which was manifested in this battle in the other parts of the line, the enemy would have been repulsed with very great slaughter, and our country would have escaped the misfortune, and the army the mortification, of the first defeat that has resulted from misconduct by the troops."-

"--Pollard's Third Year of the War, 159. ? Gross's brigade visited the battle-field of Chickamanga for the purpose of burying the Union dead, whom Bragg had inhumanly left to decay on the surface. The name of each soldier thus buried, whenever it could be ascertained, was placed upon a board at the head of his grave, with the number of his regiment.

3 - Considering the strength of the rebel position and the difficulty of storming his intrenchments," said Halleck, “the Battle of Chattanooga must be regarded as the most remarkable in history. Not only did the officers and men exhibit great skill and daring in their operations in the field, but the highest praise is also due to the commanding general for his admirable dispositions for dislodging the enemy from a position apparently impregnable,"

BURNSIDE IN KNOXVILLE.

171

CHAPTER VI.

SIEGE OF KNOXVILLE.-OPERATIONS ON THE COASTS OF THE CAROLINAS AND

GEORGIA.

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E left Burnside in Knoxville, closely besieged by Long

street. His head-quarters were at the pleasant brick mansion of Mr. Crozier, on Gay Street, in the central part of the town. During the dark days of the siege his bearing toward the citizens and his soldiers-kind, generous, and humane—won for him the profound respect of all, even the most rebellious. He visited the families of Dr. Brownlow, Mr. Maynard, Colonel Bax

ter, Colonel Temple, and other prominent citizens who were then exiles from their homes, and gave them every comfort and encouragement in his power; and at the office of the Knoxville Whig, Brownlow's newspaper, through which that stanch Unionist had so long and effectively fulminated his scathing thunderbolts of wrath against secessionists and rebels, Burnside's orders, and other printing, was done by willing Union hands. In the lurid light of the Civil War, that long, low building, in an obscure alley, looms up into historical importance. Who shall estimate the value of the influence of that sheet, which went out daily from its walls, to the cause of the Union in East Tennessee?

Burnside's forces, as we have observed, were well intrenched, and he had little to fear, excepting a failure of his supplies. He was cheered with hope,

because of his confidence in Grant, that aid would come before they were exhausted. Longstreet, doubting Bragg's ability to cope with his new adversary, anxiously pressed forward the siege, with the mistaken idea that starvation

would compel a surrender in a few days. He was diligent in closing every avenue of supply, and in

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BURNSIDE'S HEAD-QUARTERS.

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KNOXVILLE WHIG OFFICE,

i See page

138.

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these efforts skirmishes frequently occurred, for sorties were made from the trenches.' Finally, on the 25th, the day when the Nationals were carrying the Missionaries' Ridge, he threw a considerable force across the Holston, near Armstrong's (his head-quarters),' to seize the heights, south of the river, that commanded Knoxville. Quite a severe struggle ensued, in which the Confederates were worsted. They succeeded, however, in seizing another

knob, lower down, which rises about one hundred and fifty feet above the river, and so planted a battery on it that it commanded Fort Sanders, five hundred yards north of it. This advantage had just been gained, and the besiegers were huzzaing with delight, when information

reached Longstreet of Bragg's defeat at Chattanooga. He well knew that columns from Grant's victorious

army
would soon be upon

his rear, so he determined to take Knoxville by storm before aid could reach Burnside. He was now strengthened by the arrival of troops under Generals Sam. Jones, Carter, “Mudwall” Jackson, and “Cerro Gordo” Williams, and he could expect no more. For thirteen days he had been wasting strength in pressing an unsuccessful siege, and from that moment he must grow weaker. Burnside was cheered by the same news that made Longstreet desponding, and he resolved to resist the besiegers to the last extremity. Such was the situation of affairs, when, at eleven o'clock on Saturday

night,“ the air cold and raw, the sky black with clouds, and the darkness thick, Longstreet proceeded to attack Fort Sanders,

then occupied by the Twenty-ninth Massachusetts, Seventy-ninth New York, two companies of the Second and one of the Twentieth Michigan. The fort was bastioned, and the northwest was the salient of the angle, the point seen in the engraving on the next page. In front of it the woods had been cleared over several acres, sloping gently to a ravine. From

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THE HOLSTON, NEAR ARMSTRONG's. 3

. Nov. 28.

1863.

1 When the siege commenced there was in the commissary department little more than one day's rations, and supplies could then be received only from the south side of the Holston, across a pontoon bridge, the foo holding the avenues of approach to Knoxville on the north side of the river. Burnside's efforts were directed to keeping open the country between the Holston and the French Broad, and every attempt of Longstreet to seize it was promptly met. A considerable quantity of corn and wheat, and some pork, was soon collected in Knoxville, but almost from the beginning of the siege the soldiers were compelled to subsist on half and quarter rations, without coffee or sugar. Indeed, during the last few days of the siege, the bread of their half rations was made of clear bran.

Longstreet tried to break the pontoon bridge, by sending down the swift current from Boyd's Ferry, a heavy raft. Captain Poe, Burnside's able engineer, advised of this work, stretched an iron cable across the Holston above the bridge, a thousand feet in length, and farther up the river he constructed a boom of logs These foiled the attempts of the Confederates to destroy the pontoon bridge.

? See page 157.

3 This is from a sketch by the author, taken from the piazza of Mr. Armstrong's house. The knob seen over the low point of land around which the Holston sweeps, the one on whic the Confederates planted the battery that commanded Fort Sanders.

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