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river at Bridgeport, threatening the enemy's left, but all save Osterhaus's division, which ultimately reinforced Hooker, soon re-crossed at Kelly's Ford, and, screened from hostile observation, marched around Chattanooga, taking position beyond the left of Thomas, with the river between them. On the 23d, Thomas advanced at 2 o'clock to gain possession of Orchard Ridge, which was captured at little cost by the divisions of Sheridan, Baird, and Wood. This important elevation, well on towards Mission Ridge, confronted the enemy's center, and was in full view of Bragg's headquarters. Hooker was to attack the extreme left of the Confederates next morning, with the expectation of clearing Lookout Mountain. This was effectually done — Geary's division taking the lead in climbing the steep and rugged slope, the eager soldiers surrounded for a time by thick clouds as they approached the stronghold from which the enemy was driven.
But the main work was not in “ the battle above the clouds," or in this quarter. Away on Grant's left, east of Chattanooga, Sherman on the same morning laid his pontoon bridges, and crossed his whole force to the south of the river before noon. At half-past 3 he had gained a foothold on the northern extremity of Mission Ridge, near the Tunnel. Bragg reinforced his right, and made repeated attempts to dislodge Sherman, but without success. Next morning Sherman's advance was so stubbornly resisted that he had made no decided progress before 3 o'clock. Hooker was to have advanced the same morning against Bragg's left flank in the direction of Rossville, but the destruction
of a bridge across Chattanooga Creek delayed him for hours.
At 3 o'clock an assault on the enemy's center was ordered. The divisions of Sheridan and Wood rushed forward from Orchard Ridge, driving before them the hostile forces in the valley; charging the rifle-pits at the base of the mountain; promptly clearing them; and from thence, without stopping to re-form or awaiting further orders, impetuously mounting up the rocky and precipitous heights; pushing on over the works half way up the mountain side, scattering all before them; and never pausing until quite at the summit. There, too, the enemy turned, and was driven pell mell — running in confusion and panic. The masses pressing Sherman held out a little longer, but they, too, caught the contagion, and the whole army of Bragg was soon in rapid retreat. Orders were at once issued for the dispatch of troops to assist Burnside. Sherman rapidly moved his severely taxed forces by Athens and Loudon to Knoxville, where he arrived on the 6th of December. Longstreet promptly retired from before that place, going through the valley to rejoin Lee at Mine Run.
In these operations Grant had less than sixty thousand men. Bragg's inferiority in numbers would seem to have been fully compensated by his superiority in position. The Union losses were about 750 killed and 4,850 wounded or missing. More than 6,000 of Bragg's army were captured, 361 killed, and 2,180 wounded. On the 8th of December the President telegraphed to, Grant:
Understanding that your lodgment at Chattanooga and Knoxville is now secure, I wish to tender you and all your
command my more than thanks — my profound gratitude for the skill, courage, and perseverance with which you and they, over so great difficulties, have effected that important object. God bless you all.
To Grant's generalship the people now credited, as one season's work, the freeing of the Mississippi and the securing of Chattanooga and Knoxville, achievements which effectually severed one-half of the Confederacy from the other. Meade was justly applauded for his not less auspicious victory at Gettysburg. Of all the battles of the war, this was in a sense the most critical, if not the most decisive. Its immediate results, nevertheless, fell short of what the President and the people hoped. Lee had little difficulty in re-crossing the Potomac with an army sadly reduced, but not broken, a few days after its vanguard left the battle-ground. There were heavy rains and a swollen river, but Meade, after overtaking him, hesitated to strike, and finally, against the judgment of some of his bolder corps commanders, decided not to take the hazard. Lee moved up the Shenandoah Valley and out by Front Royal to Gordonsville. Learning that he was weakened by sending reinforcements to Bragg, Meade crossed the Rappahannock on the 16th of September, and was, in fact, about to cross the Rapidan for offensive operations, when the corps of Howard and Slocum were ordered to Tennessee. This loss was partially made up, soon after, by the arrival of new troops. On the roth of October, Buford's cavalry was sent beyond the Rapidan, to clear the way for the First and Sixth Corps to cross by the upper fords. The situation and the movements of Lee at this stage suggested a repetition of the last year's campaign against Pope. Meade's right flank being menaced, he hastily retreated, re-crossing the Rappahannock on the 11th, and making no pause until he reached Centreville. Altogether it was an inglorious retreat. Meade next planned a dash upon the heights of Fredericksburg, to which Halleck refused his consent. Lee was driven from his position beyond the Rappahannock, with considerable loss, on the 7th of November; fell back that night to Culpeper Courthouse; retreated next day beyond the Rapidan, and remained undisturbed at Mine Run through the winter.
Operations against Charleston proceeded this year with more determined energy than before. What had been so easily done at New Orleans was not to be despaired of at the cradle of the rebellion. During the summer there was wistful hope of the fall of Charleston. General O. M. Mitchel, in command of the department at the time of his death (October 30th, 1862), had planned to break the railway line between Charleston and Savannah. The navy had retaken Fort Pulaski, off Savannah; sunk the Nashville and smaller Confederate craft; captured blockade runners, and co-operated in various movements of the army. But Commodore Dupont, like General Hunter (who was restored to the military command after Mitchel's death), had not here satisfied public expectation. Major-General Quincy A. Gillmore replaced Hunter on the 12th of June (1863), and Commodore Dahlgren succeeded Dupont on the 6th of July. Gillmore made an unsuccessful assault on Fort Wagner, one of the Morris Island defenses of Charleston, on the roth of July, and again a more memorable one eight days after, resulting in heavy losses and another defeat. Then, in the marshes on the western side of the island he built an earthwork manned by a single eight-inch Parrott gun, the “ Swamp Angel,” and on the 21st of August summoned Beauregard (now again in command at Charleston) to surrender Morris Island and Fort Sumter, on penalty of a bombardment of the city. Beauregard not complying, some shots were fired into Charleston, serving little other purpose than to prove that it could be done. Fort Wagner was finally reduced by siege, and occupied on the 7th of September. After refitting the captured works and erecting others on Morris Island, armed with the most powerful mortars and rifled cannon then in use
a mile or more nearer to Charleston than the Swamp Angel Gillmore had a large part of the city within range. The inhabitants of Charleston mostly removed; there was an effective bombardment; and blockade-running from that port was decisively closed. The battering of Fort Sumter was renewed, and continued until the already broken walls seemed from without to be little more than a vast heap of brick dust. Still there was no surrender. Once, had the Government as persistently held its own, we know not what might have been.