Page images
PDF
EPUB

CH. III.]

BATTLE OF CHATTANOOGA BEGUN.

359

care to hold Knoxville at all hazards. Blair; and at two o'clock in the morning If besieged there by Longstreet, Grant of the 24th, 8,000 men were conveyed to expected ere long to afford him relief the point selected for the bridge. By by beating and dispersing Bragg's army, noon of that day two bridges had been which would compel Longstreet to re- laid, one, 1,400 feet long, over the Tentreat into Virginia.

nessee, the other, 200 feet long, over the Hooker, holding Lookout Valley, South Chickamauga, to furnish a route faced the enemy on the mountain, and for the cavalry. During the day, the Thomas occupied the central position remainder of his command reached the with his line of works before Chatta- position assigned, and Sherman's men nooga, with Missionary Ridge in front speedily rendered it unassailable by the of him. Sherman was ordered, with enemy. At the same time, a brigade his force, to a point on the right bank of cavalry, under Col. Long, was sent of the river above the town, with the to cut the railroad, which was effectuintention of crossing and seizing the ally accomplished. northern extremity of the ridge, which All his arrangements having been was unfortified. A cavalry force was effected to his satisfaction, and every also directed to proceed to the right preparation made for the important and rear of the rebels, so as to cut the battle now at hand, Grant, on the 23d railroad between Cleveland and Dalton, of November, at half past eleven, orderand thus sever Longstreet's southern ed a demonstration against Missionary communications with Bragg. In this Ridge, to develope the force of the way, Hooker and Sherman would hold enemy holding it. The troops marched each flank of the enemy, while Thomas in fine order, as if on parade, and were would be ready to pierce their centre. watched by the rebel pickets from the The preliminary arrangments were ad- summits of the ridge, 500 feet above mirably made. Sherman's troops march our troops. Their opinion was, that it ed from Bridgeport by way of White was a review and drill, so openly, desides, crossed the river at Brown's Fer-liberately, and with such precision was ry, moved

up the north bank, keeping the movement made. The line advancconcealed from the enemy, and reached ed, preceded by skirmishers, and at two a point not far from the mouth of the o'clock, P.M., having reached our picket North Chickamauga. More than a hun- lines, opened briskly upon the rebel dred pontoon bridges were carried over pickets, who replied, and then ran into land, so as to secure the passage of the their rifle-pits. Our skirmishers followriver. The site selected for the bridge ed them into the pits, along the centre was just below the South Chickamauga, of Thomas's line of 25,000 troops, until which offered advantages for posting we opened fire. It was a complete surthe artillery. Sherman's force arrived prise to the rebels, in open daylight. on the 23d of November, consisting of At three P.M., the important advanced the 15th corps and one division of the position of Orchard Knoll, and the 16th, all under the command of Gen. lines right and left, were secured, and arrangements were made for holding the striking and beautiful scene, until them during the night.

one o'clock in the morning, soon after At daylight, the next morning, No. which a brigade sent from Chattanooga vember 24th, Thomas had 5,000 men crossed the Chattanooga Creek, and across the Tennessee, and established opened communications with Hooker. on its south bank, and commenced the Grant's headquarters during the after building of a pontoon bridge about six noon of the 23d, and during the 24th miles above Chattanooga. The steamer of November, were in Wood's redoubt, Dunbar, formerly owned by the rebels, except when in the course of the day rendered effective aid in this crossing, he rode along the advanced line, and carrying over 6,000 men. By night- visited the headquarters of the several fall, Thomas had seized the extremity commanders in Chattanooga Valley.* of Missionary Ridge nearest the river,! As the day dawned, November 25th, and was busily occupied in entrenching the stars and stripes were waving on himself. Howard, with a brigade, open the peak of Lookout Mountain. The ed communication with him from Chat- rebels had evacuated the mountain. tanooga on the south side on the river. Hooker mored to make a descent, and, Skirmishing and cannonading continu- striking Missionary Ridge at Rossville ed all day, on the left and centre. Gap, to sweep on both sides and on its

In carrying out his part of the work, summit. The rebel troops, as soon as Hooker scaled the slopes of Lookout it was light enough, hurried regiments Mountain, and from the valley of Look. and brigades along the narrow summit out Creek drove the rebels around the of Missionary Ridge, either concentratpoint, captured some 2,000 prisoners, ing on the right to overwhelm Sherman, and established himself high up the or marching for the railroad and raising mountain side, in full view of Chatta- the siege. They had evacuated the nooga. This raised the blockade, and Chattanooga Valley, and it was now a now steamers were ordered from Bridge question whether they would abandon

port to Chattanooga. All night that of the Chickamauga. The can

the point of Missionary Ridge nonading was commenced and on the extreme left, and the side of continued all day, the headLookout Mountain on the extreme right, quarters being constantly under fire. blazed with the camp fires of loyal Howard marched the 11th corps to join troops. The day had been one of dense Sherman, and Thomas chased the enemists and rains, and much of Hooker's my's pickets into their entrenchments battle was fought above the clouds, at the foot of Missionary Ridge. Sherwhich concealed him from view of the man made an assault against Bragg's rest of the army, but from which his right, entrenched on a high knoll nest musketry made itself plainly heard.

* See Gen. Meigs's dispatch to the secretary of war, At nightfall the sky cleared, and the under dato of November 26th, 1863. For a spirited full moon, which has been poetically narrative of this important battle and its results

, in styled “the traitor's doom,” shone upon and his Campaigns,” pp. 224–239.

which his hero looms up grandly, see Coppée's " Grant

1863.

1863.

CA. III.]

VICTORY AT CHATTANOOGA.

361

to that on which Sherman himself lay the ridge was still occupied by the re- . fortified. The assault was gallantly bels. Bragg left the house in which made, and as gallantly and persistently he had had his headquarters, and rode carried forward; no better service was to the rear as our troops crowded the done that day than that by Sherman, hill on either side of him. Grant proceedin stemming the furious attacks of re ed to the summit, and then first learned bel masses which Bragg had sent to its wonderful height. Some of the capcrush him, and in his judicious counter tured artillery was put into position. attacks.

Artillerists were sent for to work the A general advance was ordered at guns. The rebel log breastworks were half past three P.m., and the storming torn to pieces, carried to the other side of the ridge began with a strong line of the ridge, and used in forming barriof skirmishers, followed by a deployed cades across, and a secure lodgment was line of battle, some two miles in length. soon effected. The other assault to the At a given signal the line moved rap- right of our centre gained the summit, idly and orderly forward. Our men and the rebels threw down their arms charged the rifle pits at the foot of the and fled.* Hooker coming in favoraridge. The taking of these was all they ble position swept the right of the ridge had been ordered to do; but when the and captured many prisoners. By sunrebels, in large numbers, swarmed out set the ridge was taken, and the day was of the rifle pits and fled before them, ours. Chickamauga was avenged. our brave soldiers were seized with an Nightfall put an end to the fighting, irresistible impulse to mount the very and prevented a general pursuit of the heights, despite th

despite the storm of shot and flying enemy. Bragg's remaining troops shell which rained down upon them left early in the night, and his forces from above. Onward they dashed, and moved rapidly on the road to Ringgold officers and men, in a perfect furor of and thence to Dalton, firing and de. excitement, forced their way up the steep sides and broken and crumbling Pollard, speaking of this matter, says: “A disgraceface of the ridge. The attempt seemed ful panic ensued. The whole left wing of the Confeder

ates became involved, gave way, and scattered in unmitwonderfully rash and perilous, for there igated rout. The day was lost

, and shamefully lost.” were not less than forty pieces of artil. He also quotes Jeff. Davis's words, thus :-“ After a long

and severe battle, in which great carnage was inflicted lery on the heights, and thousands of on the enemy, some of our troops inexplicably abanmuskets, ready to strike down the bold doned positions of great strength, and, by a disorderly

retreat, compelled the commander to withdraw the assailants. Nevertheless, with cheers forces elsewhere successful, and finally to retire with answering to cheers, our men rushed his whole army to a position some twenty or thirty

It is believed, that if the troops who forward and upward. Color after color yielded to the assault had fought with the valor which was planted on the summit, while mus- they had displayed on previous occasions, and which ket and cannon vomited their thunder line, the enemy would have been repulsed with very

was manifested in this battle on the other parts of the upon them. A fierce musketry fire great slaughter

, and our country would have escaped broke out on the left, where, between the misfortune, and the army the mortification of the

first defeat that has resulted from misconduct by the Thomas and Sherman, a mile or two of troops.”—Third Year of the War,” p. 158.

miles to the rear.

VOL. IV.-46.

stroying the railroad in their flight. Knoxville, from the danger to which Sherman, the next morning, set out in he was exposed.* “The way was now pursuit by way of Chickamauga Station thrown open to Atlanta," as Col. Baon the Dalton Railroad, while Hooker deau remarks, “and all the rich coun. moved toward Ringgold. At this place, try in its rear; the very heart of the the rebels under Cleburne made a fierce rebellion was laid bare; the great bui resistance; but though our men suffer- wark of the would-be Confederacy was ed severely, it was of no advantage to broken down, was become, instead, a the enemy. Had it not been for the sally.port for the national armies; the necessity of caring for Burnside and rebel hosts, that had stood in the way, Knoxville, Grant would have followed were thrust aside, and Chattanooga, Bragg and probably destroyed his army thenceforth, was as terrible a menace entirely.

to rebellion as in times past it had been Our loss in killed, wounded, and defiant to loyalty.” missing was reported to be about 5,600. Burnside (see p. 347) was busily occuSix thousand prisoners were captured, pied, meanwhile, in securing, to the and a large number of the wounded fullest extent in his power, the defence was left in our hands. Forty pieces of of East Tennessee. He held firmly the artillery, about 7,000 small arms, and a railroad and the line through Cumberlarge train, were also taken from the land Gap, and he protected the left rebels. The enemy's loss in killed and flank of Rosecrans and foiled the rebels wounded was over 2,500, beside more in that quarter. Grant having assumthan 6,000 missing

ed charge of the new department, in. Grant's dispatches during the battle cluding Tennessee, Burnside was con. are marked by brevity and point; the tinued in his command, and urged to concluding one, on the evening of No-exert all his ability and energy toward vember 25th, is worth quoting here: securing a decisive victory over the “Although the battle lasted from early enemy. Bragg, as has been noted (p. dawn till dark this evening, I believe | 358), detached Longstreet, at the be I am not premature in announcing a ginning of November, to march against complete victory over Bragg. Lookout Burnside and drive him out of Knox

Mountain-top, all the rifle-pits ville. Some unimportant engagements

in Chattanooga Valley, and occurred, and our forces suffered severe. Missionary Ridge entire, have been ly at Philadelphia and Rogersville; carried, and are now held by us. I but the campaign did not open till have no idea of finding Bragg here to

* “Considering the strength of the rebel position," morrow." It was even so; Bragg de- says Halleck, “and the difficulty of storming his encamped with all speed, and the Chatta- trenchments, the battle of Chattanooga must be con

sidered the most remarkable in history. Not only nooga campaign ended in rescuing did the officers and men exhibit great skill and daring Kentucky and Tennessee from the re- in their operations on the field, but the highest praise bels, and in affording the means of is due to the commanding general for his admirable

disposition for dislodging the enemy from a position immediately relieving Burnside, at apparently impregnable.”

1863.

Cu. III.]

SIEGE AND ASSAULT OF KNOXVILLE.

363

about the middle of November. Long about half the circuit of the town, street, with a force of 20,000 men, ad- upon the northern, western, and southvanced by way of Loudon and Lenoir, ern side. Communication with Cum and crossed the Tennessee, on the 14th berland Gap was cut, on the night of of November, near the former place. the 16th of November, by the enemy's The advance of Longstreet's force was cavalry, and by the night of the 18th, met with great courage and determina- the siege was well established. On tion by our men, and was driven back Burnside's part, every care was taken two miles to the river. Following the to strengthen the fortifications, so as to directions of Grant, Burnside deemed resist any assault which might be made. it best to retire to Lenoir, and thence Grant's dispatches to Burnside urged to Campbell's Station, twelve miles anew the necessity of his maintaining from Knoxville, a point of considerable his position, and promised succor at the importance to make a stand at, in order earliest possible moment. to secure the passage of the trains and Longstreet and his men seemed to be provide for the defence of Knoxville. of opinion that, in a brief space of time, The battle at Campbell's Station illus- they could starve out Burnside and trated the best qualities of our officers compel a surrender; but although his and men, and though they were as- communications had been cut, and supsaulted with great fury by the rebels, plies were growing less and less, still they succeeded in inflicting a damaging the brave commander in Knoxville blow upon Longstreet's force. During held firmly to his post. In consequence the night of the 16th of November, of Grant's brilliant success at ChattaBurnside drew off to Knoxville, and nooga, Longstreet's position became the next day placed his troops in posi- critical, and as he disliked exceedingly tion in front of the city, and prepared to give up and leave Knoxville in our for the siege which was to follow. On hands, he resolved to make a final effort the 18th, the rebels made a fierce at- to carry the works by assault. Early tack, intending to push back our cav. on the morning of the 29th of Novemalry and enter the town as victors; ber, the assaulting column, composed but they were completely repulsed, after of three brigades, made their appear. an obstinate struggle, and fairly forced ance. They approached to within 100 away from our lines. The loss, on our yards of the fort unbarmed. Then compart, was severe, particularly in the menced a series of desperate and dar. death of the gallant Gen. Sanders, ing attacks, stubborn resistance, death, who, as Burnside said, “left, both and carnage. Hour after hour was it as a man and a soldier, an untarnished kept up, this deadly struggle, and the

ditch was piled with the dead and the Knoxville was now closely besieged dying. More than a thousand by Longstreet, and preparations were killed, wounded and prisoners, made to carry the works by regular was the cost of the assault of Fort approaches. The investment extended Sanders. Nobly did it sustain the

name."

1863.

« PreviousContinue »