« PreviousContinue »
CONFEDERATE CAVALRY RAIDS.
• October 19,
> Oct, 2.
where a decisive conflict was impending. Let us return to a consideration of events there.
It was evident that the Army of the Cumberland could not long exist a prisoner in Chattanooga, its supplies depending on such precarious avenues of reception as the mountain roads, and the transportation animals so rapidly diminishing. General Thomas had nobly responded to Grant's electrograph
from Louisville,“ “ Hold Chattanooga at all hazards,” saying, “I will hold the town until we starve;" yet it was not prudlent to
risk such disaster by inaction, for already Bragg's cavalry had been raiding over the region north of the Tennessee River, destroying supplies, and threatening a total obstruction of all communications between Chattanooga and Middle Tennessee. On the 30th of September, a greater portion of Brago's horsemen (the brigades of Wharton, Martin, Davidson, and Anderson), about four thousand strong, under Wheeler, his chief of cavalry, crossed the Tennessee, between Chattanooga and Bridgeport, pushed up the
Sequatchie Valley, fell upon a National supply-train of nearly
one thousand wagons on its way to Chattanooga, near Anderson's cross-roads, and burned it before two regiments of cavalry, under Colonel Edward M. McCook, which had been sent from Bridgeport in pursuit, could overtake them. Wheeler's destructive work was just finished when McCook came up and attacked him. The struggle lasted until night, when Wheeler, who had been worsted in the fight, moved off in the darkness over the mountains, and fell upon another supply-train of wagons and railway cars at McMinnville. These were captured, together with six hundred men; and then a large quantity of supplies were destroyed. There, after the
mischief was done, he was overtaken by General George Crook,
with two thousand cavalry, and his rear-guard, as he fled toward Murfreesboro', was charged with great spirit by the Second Kentucky Regiment of Crook's cavalry, under Colonel Long. Wheeler's force greatly outnumbered Long. They dismounted, and fought till dark, when they sprang upon their horses and pushed for Murfreesboro', hoping to seize and hold that important point in Rosecrans's communications. It was too strongly guarded to be quickly taken, and as Wheeler had a relentless pursuer, he pushed on southward to Warren and Shelbyville, burning bridges behind him, damaging the railway, capturing trains and destroying stores, and crossing Duck River pressed on to Farmington. There Crook struck him again, cut his force in two, captured four of his guns and a thousand smallarms, took two hundred of his men, beside his wounded, prisoners, and drove him in confusion in the direction of Pulaski, on the railway running north from Decatur. Wheeler's shattered columns reached Pulaski that night, and made their way as speedily as possible into Northern Alabama. He crossed the Tennessee near the mouth of Elk River, losing two guns and seventy men in the passage, and made his way back to Bragy's lines, after a loss of about two thousand men. He had captured nearly as many as that, and destroyed National property to the amount of, probably, three million dollars in value. When Rodily, who had crossed the Tennessee at the mouth of Gunter's Creek, and moved menacingly toward Decherd, heard of Wheeler's troubles, and his flight back to the army, he retreated, also, with. out doing much mischief.
e Oct. 4.
HOOKER'S CORPS AT BRIDGEPORT.
When Grant arrived at Chattanooga," he found General Thomas alive to the importance of immediately securing a safe and speedy way
• October 23, to that post for supplies for the Army of the Cumberland. It could not exist there ten days longer, unless food and forage could be more speedily and bountifully furnished. In concert with General W. F. Smith, who had been appointed Chief Engineer of the army, he had been making preparations for the immediate concentration
Hooker's corps at Bridgeport, with the view of opening the river and main wagon
GRANT'S HEAD-QUARTERS AT CHATTANOOGA. road from that point to Brown's Ferry on the Tennessee, by which supplies might be taken to Chattanooga across the peninsula known as Moccasin Point, and thus avoid the Confederate batteries and sharp-shooters at Lookout Mountain altogether. Grant approved Thomas's plan, and ordered its execution. It was that Hooker should cross the river at Bridgeport with all the force at his command, and, pushing on to Wauhatchie, in Lookout Valley, threaten Bragg with a flank attack. General Palmer was to march his division down the north side of the Tennessee to a point opposite Whitesides, where he was to cross the river and hold the road passed over by Hooker. General Smith was to go down the river from Chattanooga, under cover of darkness, with about four thousand troops, some in batteaux, and some on foot along the north side, and make a lodgment on the south bank of the stream, at Brown's Ferry, and seize the range of hills at the mouth of Lookout Valley, which commanded the Kelly's Ferry road.
The movements of Hooker and Palmer might be made openly, but Smith's could only be performed in secret. Hooker crossed at Bridgeport on pontoon bridges on the morning of the 26th without opposition, and pushed on to Wauhatchie, which he reached on the 28th; and on the nights of the 26th and 27th, Smith successfully performed his part of the plan. Eighteen hundred of his troops, under General Hazen, were embarked at Chattanooga on batteaux, intended to be used in the construction of a pontoon bridge, and at two o'clock in the morning they floated noiselessly, without oars, close under the banks past the point of Lookout Mountain, along a line of Confederate pickets seven miles in length, without being discovered, and arrived at Brown's Ferry just at
1 This was the appearance of Grant's head-quarters on the high bank of the Tennessee, as it appeared when the writer sketched it in the spring of 1866. It was near the bridge which the Nationals constructed across the Tennessee, at the upper part of Chattanooga. The eminence in the distance is Cameron's Hill, between the town and the river, which was strongly fortified.
9 This is so called because of its shape, which resembles an Indian moccasin, as Italy does that of a boot.
3 His troops consisted of a greater portion of the Eleventh Corps, under General Howard; a part of the Second Division of the Twelfth Corps, under General Geary; one company of the Fifth Tennessee Cavalry, and a part of a company of the First Alabama Cavalry.
HOOKER MARCIIES TOWARD LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.
dawn. They landed quickly on the south side, captured the pickets there, and seized a low range of hills, about half a mile in length, which commanded Lookout Valley. The remainder of Smith's force, twelve hundred strong, under General Turchin, had, meanwhile, moved down the north bank of the stream, across Moccasin Point, and reached the ferry before daylight. They were ferried across, and by ten o'clock in the morning a pontoon bridge was laid there. Before the bewildered Confederates could fairly comprehend what had happened, a hundred axes had laid an abatis in front of Hazen's troops; and the foe, after an ineffectual attempt to dislodge the intruders, withdrew up the valley toward Chattanooga. Before night the left of Hooker's line rested on Smith's at the pontoon bridge, and Palmer had crossed to Whitesides, in his rear. By these operations the railway from Bridgeport, well up toward Chattanooga, was put in possession of the Nationals, and the route for supplies for the troops at Chattanooga was reduced by land from sixty to twenty-eight miles, along a safe road, or by using the river to Kelly's Ferry, to eight miles. “This daring surprise in the Lookont Valley on the nights of the 26th and 27th,” said a Confederate newspaper in Richmond, “has deprived us of the fruits of Chickamauga.”
We have observed that Hooker reached Wauhatchie on the 28th. He left a regiment at the bridge-head where he crossed, and to hold the passes leading to it through Raccoon Mountain, along the base of which his route lay to Running Waters. He met no opposition the first day, excepting from retiring pickets. Leaving guards for the protection of the road over which he was passing, he followed the course of Running Waters, and on the morning of the 27th his main army descended through a gorge into Lookout Valley, between the Raccoon and Lookout mountains, which has an average width of about two miles, and is divided in its center by a series of five or six steep, wooded hills, from two hundred to three hundred feet in height. Between these and Lookout Mountain flows Lookout Creek. The Confederates had possession of these hills, and also of the lofty crest of Lookout Mountain, on which they had planted batteries. From these and the heights of Raccoon Mountain, Bragg could look down upon his foes and almost accurately number them. In that valley, and occupying three ridges near its mouth, toward Brown's Ferry, was a part of Longstreet's troops, and these were the ones we have just mentioned as having been encountered by Hazen.
As Hooker pushed on toward Brown's Ferry, Howard in advance, the latter was sharply assailed by musketeers on the wooded hills where the railway passes through them, near Wauhatchie. These were quickly dislodged. They fled across Lookout Creek, burning the railway bridge behind them. In this encounter Howard lost a few men, and others were killed by shells hurled upon Hooker's column from the batteries on Lookout Mountain. At six o'clock the advance halted for the night within a mile or so of Brown's Ferry, and, as we have observed, touched Smith's troops. Being BATTLE AT WAUHATCHIE.
1 In a letter to the author, August 23, 1866, General Hazen, speaking of his movement down the river, said: " Fifty-two batteaux had been constructed, that would carry twenty-five men each. At twelve o'clock that night I marched fifty-two squads, each under the command of a tried and trusty officer, to the river landing, an! quietly embarked them. These boats were organized into three battalions, under officers who had been tried on many fields. They had been taken in the afternoon nine miles below, to Brown's Ferry, and shown where land and what to do. Not until the boats were loaded did the leaders of squads know what was espected of them.'
JOHN W. GEARY.
anxious to hold the road leading from the Lookout Valley to Kelly's Ferry,
From the hour when he entered
« Oct. 28, 29, rough, wooded country, from which escape would be difficult. With wild screams his troops swept down from the hills, drove in Geary's pickets, and charged furiously upon his camp on three sides, while the batteries upon Lookout Mountain sent down their shells in fearful lines upon the aroused camp. But McLaws had not surprised Geary. That vigilant officer, like all the others of Hooker's little army, knew that a strong and wary foe was hovering over their heads and lurking among the hills on every side, with a determination to prevent, at all hazards, the establishment
a by the Nationals of a short and safe route for supplies between Bridgeport and Chattanooga, for that result once accomplished, that post and its advantages would be lost to the Confederates. Geary's vigilance was therefore sleepless, and he was prepared for the assault, which came at about one o'clock in the morning. He met the assailants with a steady,
October 29. deadly fire, and made them recoil. The rattle of musketry and the booming of cannon, borne on the midnight air, aroused Hooker, who sent General Schurz's division of Howard's corps to Geary's aid. General Tyndale's brigade first reached the battle-field, where Geary was fighting gallantly and keeping his assailants at bay. He drove the Confederates from a hill to the left of Geary's camp, while a thin brigade of General Steinwehr's division, led by Colonel Orlan Smith, of the Seventy-third Ohio, charged up a steep and rugged acclivity behind Schurz's division, drove a force three times the number of the Nationals from its crest, took some of them prisoners, and scattered the remainder in every direction. “No
1 In his report of the battle on the 6th of November, General Hooker said: “At one time they had enveloped him [Geary) on three sides, under circumstances that would have dismayed any officer except one endowed with an iron will and the most exalted conrage. Snch is the character of General Geary."
? The troops engaged in this charge were the Seventy-third Ohio, Colonel Smith, and Thirty-third Massachusetts, Colonel Underwood, supported by the One Hundred and Thirty-sixth New York, Colonel Greenwood
THE SOLDIERS' STEAMER.
troops," said Hooker, in his report of the battle, “ever rendered more brilliant service.” For three hours the struggle continued, when the assailants fled, leaving one hundred and fifty of their number dead on Geary's front, also over one hundred prisoners and several hundred small-arms. Thus, at a little past four o'clock in the morning, ended THE BATTLE OF WauHATCHIE.” Its most practical result was the security of a safe communication for the Nationals between Bridgeport and Chattanooga, already obtained by Smith forty-eight hours before, and the defeat of Bragg's plans for starying the Army of the Cumberland into surrender. A little steamboat, named
the Chattanooga, which had been built at Bridgeport by the soldiers, was immediately loaded with two hundred thousand rations, and started up the river. It ran the blockade of Lookout Mountain, to Brown's Ferry, and thus the army at Chattanooga was saved from actual famine. Bragg was then in no condition for aggressive movements against the Nationals, for he had weakened his army by sending Longstreet, with a greater portion of his command, against Burnside, in East Tennessee, and was
compelled to content himself with simply holding his very strong position on the northern acclivities of Lookout Mountain and across the narrow Chattanooga Valley, near the mouth of Chattanooga Creek, and so along the crests of the Missionaries'
Colonel Smith's regiment was commanded on the occasion by Captain Thomas Higgins, acting Major. These were very thin regiments. Those of Ohio and Massachusetts numbered only about two hundred effective men each.
1 Among the gallant officers wounded in this engagement was Colonel Underwood, of the Thirty-third Massachusetts, who, on the recommendation of General Hooker, was promoted to Brigadier-General.
2 The National loss in this engagement was 416. The entire loss since crossing the Tennessee, 437; of whom 76 were killed, 339 wounded, and 22 were missing. Among the killed was Captain Geary, son of the General. General Green und Colonel Underwood were severely wounded.
An amusing incident of this night's battle is related. When it began, about two hundred mules, frightened by the noise, dashed into the ranks of Wade Hampton's Legion, and produced a great panic. The Confederates supposed it to be a charge of Hooker's cavalry, and fell back at first in some confusion. The incident inspired a mock-heroic poem, of six stanzas, in imitation of Tennyson's “ Charge of the Six Hundred" at Balaklava (see note on page 633, volume II.), two verses of which were as follows:"Forward, the mule brigade!
“Mules to the right of them-
Mules to the left of them-
Mules all behind them-
Pawed, neighed, and thundered;
Breaking their own confines-
Breaking through Longstreet's lines
Testing chivalric spines,
Into the Georgia troops
Stormed the two hundred." 3 When Rosecrans's troops reached Bridgeport, and it was known that there was no steamboat to be found on the river, mechanics of the army set about building one for the public service. In a very short time the Chattanooga was made ready; and when the operations of the National troops in the Lookout Valley secured the safe navigation of the river from Bridgeport to Brown's Ferry, she commenced regular trips between the two places, under the command of Captain Arthur Edwards. She was called the “Cracker line" by the Confederates, the word “ Cracker" being a name applied to the “ mean whites” of Georgia." The Chattanooga was the Orst vessel of the kind built by the soldiers for their use. Others were begun soon afterward. She was constructed chiefly by the Michigan engineer regiment already mentioned.