The Chickamauga Campaign
The Confederate Military History, Volume 6, (Georgia), CHAPTER XIII
THE CHICKAMAUGA CAMPAIGN--ROSECRANS' ADVANCE IN NORTHWEST GEORGIA -- BRAGG EVACUATES CHATTANOOGA--THE MANEUVERS IN THE MOUNTAINS-THE TWO DAYS' BATTLE ON CHICKAMAUGA CREEK--ROSECRANS DEFEATED AND PENNED IN AT CHATTANOOGA.
THE operations in Tennessee in the summer of 1863 resulted in the pushing back of Bragg's army to the line of the Tennessee river, or practically the north line of Georgia. Before this was brought about there was sharp fighting in the hills of Tennessee, notably at Hoover's gap, June 24th, where the Thirty-seventh (then known as the First) Georgia regiment, Col. A. F. Rudler, and Maj. T. D. Caswell's battalion of sharpshooters (Fourth Georgia battalion) participated. The Georgians fought all day, forming with the Twentieth Tennessee that part of General Bate's brigade, less than 700 men, who "successfully fought and held at bay until nightfall the battalions of the advancing foe." Among those severely wounded were Capt. W. M. Carter and Adjt. John R. Yourie of Caswell's battalion, and Capt. W. A. Quinn and Lieuts. William Hutchison and John W. Murphey of the Thirty-seventh. The loss of the Thirty-seventh was 48, and of the sharpshooters 43 killed and wounded.
The battle of Chickamauga, as well as the incidents immediately preceding it, will here be described more fully than other engagements for the reason that it was the greatest conflict of hostile forces on the soil of Georgia, as well as one of the great battles of the war.
On August 20th, Gen. Braxton Bragg, with headquarters at Chattanooga, had to defend the line of the Tennessee river with an effective force of about 35,000 men, infantry and artillery, embraced in the corps commanded by Lieut.-Gen. Leonidas Polk, and the corps lately under Hardee, but to which Lieut.-Gen. D. H. Hill had just been assigned by President Davis. About 10,000 cavalry were under command of Gens. Joseph Wheeler and N. B. Forrest. The divisions of Polk's corps were commanded by Maj.-Gens. Benjamin F.. Cheatham and Thomas C. Hindman; the divisions of Hill's corps by Maj.-Gens. Patrick R. Cleburne and Alexander P. Stewart. Brig.-Gen. John K. Jackson, of Georgia, commanded a brigade of Cheatham's division, including besides two Mississippi regiments the second battalion of the First Confederate, Maj. James Clark Gordon; Fifth regiment, Col. Charles P. Daniel, and the Second battalion sharpshooters, Maj. Richard H. Whitely. Another brigade in which there were Georgia commands at that time was Bate's of Stewart's division, which included the Thirty-seventh regiment and Fourth sharpshooters. The division of Maj.-Gen. John C. Breckinridge soon came up from Mississippi, bringing with it one Georgia regiment, the Forty-seventh, Capt. W. S. Phillips, in the brigade of Gen. Marcellus A. Stovall. Another reinforcement from the same region was the division of Maj.-Gen. William H. T. Walker, in which the brigade of S. R. Gist was half Georgian, and that of Col. C. C. Wilson was almost entirely so. These two divisions added 12,000 men to Bragg's army. The division of Brig.-Gen. William Preston, also being ordered up, brought 4,500 men, including the Sixty-fifth Georgia, Col. R. H. Moore, in the brigade of Col. John H. Kelly.
In Major-General Wheeler's cavalry corps was a brigade commanded by Col. C. C. Crews, Second Georgia, including his regiment under Lieut.-Col. F. M. Ison, the Third under Col. R. Thompson, and the Fourth, Col. I. W. Avery. Brigadier-General Forrest's cavalry corps contained the First Georgia, Col. J. J. Morrison, and Sixth, Col. John R. Hart, in H. B. Davidson's brigade of Pegram's division. Company G, Second cavalry, Capt. Thomas M. Merritt, had the post of escort for General Cheatham.
Scogin's Georgia battery was attached to Melanethon Smith's battalion; Capt. Evan P. Howell's battery to Walker's division; Dawson's battery, Lieut. R. W. Anderson, and Company E, Ninth battalion, Lieut. W. S. Everett, to Stewart's division. The batteries of Capts. Tyler M. Peeples and Andrew M. Wolihin came with Leyden's battalion from east Tennessee, and in the reserve artillery under Maj. F. H. Robertson, were the Georgia batteries of Capts. M. W. Havis and T. L. Massenburg.
The Federal army which appeared before Bragg at Chattanooga was commanded by Maj.-Gen. W. S. Rosecrans, who had gained fame by spirited fighting in West Virginia, by his desperate defense of Corinth against Van Dorn, and the stubbornness with which he had refused to consider himself beaten at Murfreesboro. In his army were the Fourteenth army corps, 20,000 strong, commanded by Maj.-Gen. George H. Thomas; the Twentieth corps, 11,000 strong, under Maj.-Gen. A.D. McCook; the Twenty-first corps, 12,000 strong, Maj.-Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden; the reserve corps, Maj.-Gen. Gordon Granger, with 4,000 men, and the cavalry corps commanded by Brig.-Gen. Robert B. Mitchell, 10,000 strong. In round numbers the force was estimated at 57,000 men, mainly from Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.
The Northern army was encouraged by the progress it had made, had confidence in its general commanding, and was well supplied with provisions, arms, ammunition and clothing. The army of Tennessee, on the contrary, was pervaded by discouragement on account of the retreats it had made, and the bloody battles it had fought without apparent results. Though in its own country, it must depend on the railroad to Atlanta as a base, for northern Georgia was nearly destitute, as has been pointed out in another connection.
On the 16th of August, Rosecrans put his army in motion to pass the Cumberland mountains and marched southward. Having crossed the Tennessee river in the vicinity of Stevenson and Bridgeport, Ala., the Federals found themselves confronted by Sand mountain, the northern extremity of which is known as Raccoon mountain. At the eastern base of this ridge runs Lookout creek, separating from Sand mountain the 'parallel ridge known as Lookout mountain, whose abrupt termination, where Lookout creek empties into the Tennessee, looms up in the sky just southwest of Chattanooga. Beyond Lookout mountain a valley runs in the same general direction, drained by Chattanooga creek, east of which is another parallel ridge, more passable, called Missionary ridge, the northward termination of which is east of Chattanooga and is pierced by the tunnel of the Georgia State railroad. East of Missionary ridge lies the most important of these valleys, McLemore's cove, which is traversed by the west branch of Chickamauga creek, and ends 25 miles below Chattanooga in a junction of the mountain ridges. Pigeon mountain is the next running a parallel course of 40 miles, and still further east are the ranges of Chickamauga hills and Taylor's ridge. These must all be traversed by Rosecrans, six ridges separated by valleys and creeks, before he could reach the railroad communications of Bragg.
On September 8th, Rosecrans, having determined to flank his opponent out of Chattanooga, ordered an advance on the right and center of his 45-mile line, up to this time hid behind the Lookout range. General Bragg perceiving these movements evacuated Chattanooga after he had telegraphed the president, "Rosecrans' main force attained my left and rear. I followed and endeavored to bring him to action and secure my communications. This may compel the loss of Chattanooga, but is unavoidable."
Crittenden marched his advance guard around the northern verge of Lookout mountain, occupied the city of Chattanooga, and on the next day placed his main body at Rossville. Thomas' corps was consuming four days in crossing Lookout mountain at the passes 25 miles southward, while Bragg was transferring his army to a new line, northward and southward along the east side of Pigeon mountain. D.H. Hill's corps reached Lafayette, the left flank of the new Confederate position, and Cleburne's division was posted at the three passes of Pigeon mountain near Lafayette, Catlett's gap, Dug gap, and Blue Bird gap, from which the Confederates could see Thomas' men marching into the valley on the west.
Rosecrans believed at first that Bragg was retreating to Rome, and instructed Crittenden to leave one brigade at Chattanooga and" follow the enemy's retreat vigorously" by way of Ringgold and Dalton. This brought Crittenden's advance to Ringgold on the 10th, on the Confederate right flank. Near there Pegram's cavalry brigade encountered his mounted pickets and captured 59 prisoners On the 11th, Crittenden, having found Bragg, began moving west from Ringgold, and on the 12th he was at Gordon's mill on Chickamauga creek with his corps. Wilder's mounted brigade, covering the movement, had a severe skirmish at Leet's tanyard with the Sixth Georgia cavalry, Col. John R. Hart, and Rucker's legion, in which the Federals lost about 30 and the Confederates 50 men. "It would be impossible," said General Pegram, "to pay too high a tribute to the daring gallantry of my small force in this unequal conflict with the picked brigade of General Crittenden's corps."
The orders of General Bragg indicate that he was planning attacks in detail upon the enemy, scattered along a 40-mile line in the mountains, and the period when this was not done and the enemy escaped destruction might be called the first epoch of the campaign. In pursuance of this plan, General Bragg first sought to strike the portions of Thomas' corps at the gaps of the Lookout range and that movement failing, he directed his attention to Crittenden, who was supposed to have one division at Gordon's mill and one at Ringgold; but this further attempt to destroy the Federal forces in detail also proved impracticable. In both cases the enemy slipped away from attack.
Rosecrans now more clearly saw Bragg's position and McCook was ordered to hurry back from Alpine. Thomas pushed all his corps over the mountain and down into the cove and along Chickamauga creek northward, and Crittenden was ordered to post Wood at Gordon's mill, and with the rest of his corps take position on Missionary ridge so as to command the roads to Chattanooga on either side of the ridge, while Wilder established connection with Thomas. On the 17th, after a forced march of 67 miles by way of Valley Head, Ala., McCook had most of his corps in the cove and connecting with Thomas near Pond spring. Thus on the evening of the 17th the army of Rosecrans was in a degree concentrated in a long line along the Chickamauga from Stevens' gap to Lee & Gordon's mill.
In the meantime Bragg had made no attack, but having failed to cut off detachments of the enemy, he now resolved to isolate the whole Federal army by moving his army by the right flank sheltered by Pigeon mountain so as to intercept Rosecrans' communications with Chattanooga. In this design he was encouraged by the near approach of veteran reinforcements, a portion of Longstreet's corps, army of Northern Virginia, the removal of which by railroad from the Rappahannock to the Tennessee was the most notable feat of military transportation on the Southern side in the war.
On the 17th, when Rosecrans' army stretched along the west side of the Chickamauga, Bragg had so disposed his forces that while Polk confronted Wood's division at Lee & Gordon's mill, the extreme Federal left on Chickamauga creek, his own right extended further northward, threatening the roads to Chattanooga. Buckner was next north of Polk; then Walker's corps; and the extreme north of the Confederate line was Bushrod Johnson's division near Ringgold. Rosecrans was made aware of these dispositions to some extent by cavalry skirmishing near Reed's bridge, and observing that his left was about to be enveloped, he ordered Crittenden to form on the Rossville road to the north of Lee & Gordon's mill. Thomas was ordered from the center to the left, leaving one division at Crawfish spring, and with the others moving past Widow Glenn's to Kelly's, on the Rossville road, at the eastern foot of Snodgrass hill. McCook was to close up on Crawfish spring, forming the Federal right. This concentration toward the left Rosecrans ordered to be made secretly, beginning on the morning of the 18th.
Bragg also had his plans for that morning, and they were all designed to bring on a battle. He had issued orders the previous night for a movement to begin on the right at 6 a.m., at Reed's bridge, where Johnson was to cross and sweep to the south while Walker crossed at Alexander's bridge, and Buckner at Thedford's ford, and all together were to flank, surround and push the enemy up the valley while Polk attacked in front at Lee & Gordon's mill, and Hill covered the left flank. This was all entirely practicable so far as the position of Rosecrans' infantry would affect it. It was not until Thomas had marched all night of the 18th that he was in the position assigned him by Rosecrans.
But again the fatality which had attended the orders of General Bragg intervened, and the defeat of the Federal army was prevented. Bragg said: "The resistance of the enemy's cavalry and the difficulties arising from the bad and narrow country roads caused unexpected delays in the execution of these movements. Though the commander of the right column (Polk) was several times urged to press forward, his crossing was not effected until late in the afternoon." Johnson reported that he left the vicinity of Ringgold at 5 a.m. with the brigades of Johnson, McNair, Gregg and Robertson, leaving Law's and Benning's brigades, which had just arrived, to cook rations before following. After marching three miles he was ordered back to take another road, which brought him to Peeler's mill about 11 a.m. Forrest's cavalry, assisted by infantry, then pushed back the Federal cavalry of Minty across the bridge, but it was not until 3 p. m. that the command began crossing the Chickamauga at Reed's bridge. At this moment Gen. John B. Hood arrived and a little later took command of the column. These four brigades, the only Confederate commands to cross that day, marched down within two miles of Lee & Gordon's mill, confronting the north flank of the Federal army, and slept there that night on their arms, while Thomas was marching past to Kelly's farm. General Walker's passage at Alexander's bridge was contested by Federal cavalry, who destroyed the bridge before they were driven away, compelling Walker to cross that night at Byram's ford. He then reported to General Hood.
On the morning of the 19th, a line of battle was formed with Buckner's left resting on the creek about a mile below Lee & Gordon's mill, next Hood with his own and Johnson's divisions, and Walker on the extreme north. In reserve Cheatham's division of Polk's corps was formed as it crossed.
Soon after getting into position at Kelly's with two divisions, about 9 a.m. of the 19th, Thomas was told that there was but one brigade of Confederates across the river, and he ordered Brannan to seek the lone brigade and capture it. Croxton's brigade Of Brannan's moving toward Reed's bridge, drove back Forrest's cavalry upon Ector's and Wilson's small brigades, and these charged and pushed back Croxton. Brannan reported that Croxton encountered two divisions of the enemy, who made a furious attack. Other brigades of Brannan's advancing toward Daffron's ford, drove back the Confederates in their front: Baird's division came up to the support of Brannan, and Walker was being hard pressed when Liddell's division swooped down on two of Baird's brigades, Scribner's and King's, and sent them flying to the rear, with their batteries left behind them. As Liddell pursued he was met by part of Brannan's division, supported by R. W. Johnson's division of McCook's corps, and was forced back, losing heavily and parting with his freshly captured guns. Then Cheatham came into the fight with his division, and was advancing brilliantly until he was checked by Federal reinforcements, and Wright's brigade lost its battery. A.P. Stewart's division dashed in and rescued the battery and pushed back the enemy. All of Hood's line was engaged, and in the evening Cleburne's division took part in the battle. In a brilliant and successful assault after dusk Brig.-Gen. Preston Smith was killed.
To sustain Thomas' corps in this combat, Palmer's division, then VanCleve's and finally Wood's, were sent up by Crittenden, and the divisions of Davis and Sheridan of McCook's corps were also in the fight, being hurried up from Crawfish spring and beyond.
Rosecrans on that evening learned that Longstreet's corps had made a junction with Bragg, and contemplating the events of the day, it is evident that he began to fear his campaign had failed and it was no longer possible for him to defeat the Confederate army. The arrival of Longstreet had not yet equalized the strength of the two contending armies, but this reinforcement, together with the progress of the battle, encouraged the Confederates to make those aggressive movements of the next day by which they gained the victory. All the Federal commands except two brigades had been engaged in the fight of the 19th, while Bragg yet had Breckinridge, Hindman and Preston to put in, and Kershaw and Humphreys of McLaws' division were expected next day. It is estimated that the Federal strength was 45,855, and Confederate 33,897, actually engaged on the 19th.
That night Longstreet arrived, and he was assigned to command the left wing of the army, consisting of the commands of Buckner, Hood, Bushrod Johnson and Hindman. Polk retained charge of the right wing, including the commands of D. H. Hill, Walker and Cheatham. Hill, who had been but slightly engaged on the 19th, was ordered up to the right. Lee & Gordon's mill, two days before an important point, was now left to the south of the battlefield.
Notwithstanding the changes in position, General Bragg's orders give the impression that he was still determined to drive Rosecrans up the valley. Longstreet relates that he was informed Saturday night that the action would be brought on at daylight Sunday upon the right or north, and be taken up successively to the left, the general movement to be a wheel upon Longstreet's extreme left as a pivot.
Polk did not attack at early dawn as expected. A miscarriage of orders caused a provoking delay. Finally during the early morning Polk sent officers directly to Breckinridge and Cleburne, directing them to attack immediately. Bragg came up at 8 a.m. to D. H. Hill's line, and presently the attack was begun by Breckinridge, soon followed by Cleburne.
The Federal army was well posted during the night of the 19th. Thomas arranged the divisions of Baird, Johnson, Palmer, Reynolds and Brannan on a ridge east of the Rossville road, with his flanks drawn back. From his right, the Federal right wing, the divisions of Negley, Davis and Sheridan, with Wood and VanCleve in reserve, extended southward behind the Rossville road. In general course the line followed the foot of the spur of Missionary ridge. The Snodgrass house, Rosecrans' headquarters, was near the southern end of the line. The northern end should have been, according to Thomas' intention, the cross road to Reed's mill, but Baird could not stretch out that far, and advised Thomas to that effect. This was the weak place in the Federal front. Thomas asked for Negley's division, to be put in at his left, early in the morning, before the Confederate attack. It appears that Negley was ordered up and Wood was to take his place, but neither of these two movements was made promptly or effectively, and before such part of Negley's division as did arrive was at hand, part of Walker's division had swept round the Federal left to Thomas' rear, and part of Breckinridge's division had similar success. But these were forced back by the Federal reinforcements. At the same time, Sunday morning, September 20th, the remainder of Polk's wing attacked Thomas' line for two hours with great gallantry but without success, largely on account of the breastworks of felled trees which had been built during the previous night to protect the Federal line. In this part of the battle the gallant young brigadier, James Deshler was killed while leading his Arkansas brigade.
The fighting of the Confederate left wing is described by its commander, Lieut.-Gen. James Longstreet. He states that as soon as he was ready to attack he notified the general commanding, and asked permission to go in without waiting, as contemplated in the original plan. Before an answer could be received, orders were sent from General Bragg to some of his division commanders to attack. On learning this, Longstreet ordered forward the left wing, holding Preston in reserve, and on account of the practically unchanged position of the right wing, he abandoned Bragg's plan of movement, and arranged that Stewart should halt at the Rossville road, as the pivot of the wing, while it made a right wheel to the northward. A. P. Stewart's division did not, in fact, assume this inactive function until it had at ii o'clock made a most gallant and bloody assault upon the Federal center, which was found in considerable disorder on account of the moving of brigades and divisions to support Thomas. Brown's brigade, supported by Clayton and Bate, pushed to the west of the Rossville road, driving the enemy into their log works, but were compelled to retire from this advanced position. Gen. Bushrod Johnson's line was supported by Gregg's brigade, and by Hood's division under Law, in a third line. The unusual depth of this column of attack and the force and power with which it was thrown upon the enemy's line, completely broke the Federal center, and cast the shattered fragments to the right and left. As Johnson emerged from the woods into the open fields between the two roads to Chattanooga, near the Dyer house, he says "the scene presented was unspeakably grand. The resolute and impetuous charge, the rush of our heavy columns sweeping out from the shadow and gloom of the forest into the open fields flooded with sunlight, the glitter of arms, the onward dash of artillery and mounted men, the retreat of the foe, the shouts of our army, the dust, the smoke, the noise of firearms, of whistling balls and grapeshot and of bursting shell, made up a battle scene of unsurpassed grandeur." Here General Hood gave his last order: "Go ahead, and keep ahead of everything."
Hood's column broke the enemy's line near the Brotherton house and made it wheel to the right [says Longstreet's report]. In making this movement Major-General Hood fell severely, and it was feared mortally, wounded by a minie ball breaking his thigh. He had broken the enemy's line, however, and his own troops and those to his right and left continued to press the enemy with such spirit and force that he could not resist us. Brigadier-General Law succeeded to the command of Hood's division, .and Brigadier-General Kershaw to the command of the two brigades of McLaws' division. General Kershaw, having received no definite orders himself, being under the command of General Hood, was not advised of the wheel to the right, and gained more ground to the front than was intended in the move-merit of his two brigades. Johnson's division followed the movement made by Hood and gained the Crawfish spring road, having a full share in the conflict. Major-General Hindman, in command of my left division, first met the enemy near the Viniard house, and drove him back upon his strong position near the Glenn house. By a well-directed front and flank attack, he gained the position after a severe struggle. The enemy's dead at this point mark well his line of battle. Hindman was then ordered to move by his right flank and reinforce Johnson near the Vidito house, who was pressing forward against great odds .... The heights extending from the Vidito house across to the Snodgrass house gave the enemy strong ground upon which to rally. Here he gathered most of his broken forces [right wing] and reinforced them. After a long and bloody struggle, Johnson and Hindman gained the heights near the Crawfish spring road. Kershaw made a most handsome attack upon the heights at the Snodgrass house simultaneously with Johnson and Hindman, but was not strong enough for the work.
At this point it is of interest to quote General Rosecrans' report:
Thus Davis' two brigades, one of VanCleve's, and Sheridan's entire division were driven from the field, and the remainder, consisting of the divisions of Baird, Johnson, Palmer, Reynolds, Brannan and Wood, two of Negley's brigades, and one of VanCleve's, were left to sustain the conflict against the whole power of the rebel army, which, desisting from pursuit on the right, concentrated their whole efforts to destroy them. At the moment of the repulse of Davis' division I was standing in rear of his right, waiting the completion of the closing of McCook's corps to the left. Seeing confusion among VanCleve's troops and the distance Davis' men were falling back, and the tide of battle surging toward us, the urgency for Sheridan's troops to intervene became imminent, and I hastened in person to the extreme right, to direct Sheridan's movement on the flank of the advancing rebels. It was too late. The crowd of returning troops rolled back and the enemy advanced. Giving the troops directions to rally behind the ridge west of the Dry Valley road, I passed down it, accompanied by General Garfield, Major McMichael, Major Bond and Captain Young of my staff and a few of the escort, under a shower of grape, canister and musketry, for 200 or 300 yards, and attempted to rejoin General Thomas and the troops sent to his support, by passing to the rear of the broken portion of our lines, but found the routed troops far toward the left, and hearing the enemy's advancing musketry and cheers, I became doubtful whether the left had held its ground, and started for Rossville. On consultation and further reflection, however, I determined to send General Garfield there, while I went to Chattanooga to give orders for the security of the pontoon bridges.
By 2 o'clock Longstreet had broken Rosecrans' right wing into fragments, part of which hastened to Chattanooga with their general commanding, over the road which was protected by Thomas' position, and part rallied upon Thomas and were posted as described above. Longstreet continues:
It was evident that with this position gained I should be complete master of the field. I therefore ordered General Buckner to move Preston forward. Before this, however, General Buckner had established a battery of twelve guns, raking down the enemy's line which opposed our right wing, and at the same time having fine play upon any force that might attempt to reinforce the hill that he was about to attack. General Stewart, of his corps, was also ordered to move against any such force in flank. The combination was well-timed and arranged. Preston dashed gallantly at the hill. Stewart flanked a reinforcing column and captured a large portion of it. At the same time the fire of the battery struck such terror into a heavy force close under it, that we took there also a large number of prisoners. Preston's assault, though not a complete success at the time of onset, taken in connection with the other operations, crippled the enemy so badly that his ranks were badly broken, and by a flank movement and another advance the heights were gained. These reinforcements were the enemy's last, or reserve corps, and a part also of the line that had been opposing our right wing during the morning.
As General Rosecrans described it, this was the small reserve corps under Maj.-Gen. Gordon Granger, who without orders had hurried to the gap near Snodgrass hill where Longstreet's men were pouring around Brannan's right, and taking possession of the road in the rear of Thomas. "General Steedman, taking a regimental color, led the column. Swift was the charge and terrible the conflict, but the enemy was broken. A thousand of our brave men, killed and wounded, paid for its possession, but we held the gap." Thomas reported:
This opportune arrival of fresh troops revived the flagging spirits of our men on the right, and inspired them with new ardor for the contest. Every assault of the enemy from that time until nightfall was repulsed in the most gallant style by the whole line. By this time the ammunition in the boxes of the men was reduced on an average to two or three rounds per man, and my ammunition trains having been unfortunately ordered to the rear by some unauthorized person, we should have been entirely without ammunition in a very short time had not a small supply come up with General Steedman's command. This being distributed among the troops gave them about ten rounds per man.
About 4 o'clock the Confederate right wing was ordered forward again, and the part near the center swept victoriously over the Federal works and met Longstreet's wing advancing with equal success. Gen. William Preston's division gained the heights, driving the enemy back to a second ridge, and firing the last shots of the battle by moonlight. In the shade of evening a tremendous shout went up along the Confederate lines telling the story of victory and thrilling the entire Confederate army. No one who heard that inspiring shout that arose as the Confederates swept forward and occupied the whole field has ever doubted the completeness of the victory.
During the night Thomas, who had bravely held his main position, withdrew to Rossville and awaited attack in a strong position on Missionary ridge. Great quantities of arms and ammunition were abandoned on the field. Monday morning was devoted by the Confederate army to burying its dead, caring for its wounded, and gathering up the spoils of victory.
General Bragg has been criticised for not following up his victory instantly and fighting his men on the 21st. Bragg's defenders say that it should be considered whether that were within the limits of human endurance. Part of his soldiers had just been brought from Virginia; the others were wearied by maneuvers in the mountains. They had fought a great battle and had driven back the enemy only by the most desperate exertions and with heavy losses. On the other hand, leading officers of the army of Tennessee urged that nothing was needed but to advance on the 21st and reap the full fruits of victory. General Forrest, who was early in the saddle, reported the rout complete-- disorganized masses of men hurrying to the rear, batteries inextricably mixed with trains of wagons, disorder and confusion everywhere. Observing this condition of the army of Rosecrans, this ready-fighting cavalry general sent word to Bragg that "every hour is worth a thousand men." Yet Bragg did not think it proper to pursue.
Rosecrans spent the day and night of the 21st in hurrying his trains out of Chattanooga. Then, finding that he was not pressed, he remained in and near the city with his army. Chickamauga was more a Confederate victory than Gettysburg was a Federal victory, and the weight of proof bears out the view that the full fruits could have been reaped by immediate pursuit on the 21st.
Both armies had suffered terribly. The Federal report of losses was 1,644 killed, 9,262 wounded, 4,945 missing, which with a cavalry loss of 500 made a grand total of 16,351. The Federal ordnance officer, Capt. Horace Porter, reported a loss of 36 pieces of artillery, 8,000 rifles and over 700 smaller arms, nearly 6,000 sets of infantry accouterments and 150,000 rounds of infantry ammunition. This report was evidently hurried, as the more detailed list prepared by Ordnance Officer O. T. Gibbes shows that 51 pieces of Northern artillery fell into the hands of the Confederate army, and 23,000 small-arms.
The Confederate loss has been stated in detail at 2,389 killed, 13,412 wounded, 2,003 captured or missing, total 17,804. General Bragg's field return a week later showed an effective strength in round numbers of 11,000 in each of Polk's and Hill's corps, and 17,000 in Longstreet's, a total of 38,989 infantry and 2,983 artillery. Brig.-Gens. Preston Smith, B. H. Helm and James Deshler were killed; Major-General Hood and Brigadier-Generals Gregg, McNair and Adams wounded.
The general outlines of the battle having been traced it remains to notice more particularly the part of Georgians in it, leaving to others the proud duty of detailing the heroic deeds of the sons of their respective States.
John K. Jackson's brigade had its first fighting about noon on the 19th, driving back the Federal line which was pursuing Walker and taking three pieces of artillery. Supported by the remainder of Cheatham's division and the artillery, including Scogin's Georgia battery, Jackson held his ground, and at 6 p.m. was one of the two brigades in that attack in which General Smith was killed. On Sunday his was the only brigade of Cheatham's in action before evening, being ordered to a position on Cleburne's right. The brigade made a gallant charge and drove the enemy from his breastworks. The Georgia battalion of sharpshooters lost 30 out of 108 engaged, Scogin's battery 13 out of 89, the First Georgia 83 out of 194, and the Fifth regiment I94 out of 353. The Forty-seventh Georgia, Captain Cone commanding, after W. S. Phillips was wounded, shared the service of Breckinridge's division Saturday morning and evening, and in the final taking of the Federal breastworks. The regiment went into battle 193 strong and lost 75.
But the main strength of Georgia in the right wing was in Gist's and Wilson's brigades of Walker's division. This division, which also included Ector's brigade, was commanded by Gist, and the latter's brigade by Col. Peyton H. Colquitt. Joined to Liddell's division--Govan's Arkansas brigade and Walthall's Mississippians --the "reserve corps" was formed, which was commanded by Maj.-Gen. W. H. T. Walker, one of Georgia's most valorous sons. As before noted, Walker and his corps were on the Federal side of Chickamauga creek Friday night. Early next morning the battle was opened by the attack on Forrest and Wilson's Georgians and Ector's brigade, who were supporting him. Wilson's brigade was immediately under a destructive fire, to which it replied with such vigor as to break the enemy's first line. Pressing forward after a bloody struggle, the second line was forced, and finally the Georgians stood facing the breastworks under a galling fire. Then being flanked by Federal reinforcements, the brigade was forced back, but the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-ninth regiments soon afterward joined in the advance of Ector's brigade. About noon on Sunday the brigade was ordered forward again, but only to suffer heavy loss. On the evening of Sunday it bivouacked on the Federal position. The brigade carried into the fight 1,200 men and lost 99 killed, 426 wounded and 80 missing, or over half its number. Lieut.-Col. A. J. Williams, Twenty-fifth regiment, a brave and gallant officer, received wounds from which he died. Capts. A.W. and A. H. Smith, Twenty-fifth; Captain Spencer, Twenty-ninth, and Lieuts. Alfred Bryan and N. B. Sadler, First battalion sharpshooters; and A.H. Harrell, Twenty-ninth, though wounded, fought the battle to the end. Lieuts. Robert Wayne and R. E. Lester, of Colonel Wilson's staff, were conspicuous in the combat, riding fearlessly wherever called by duty, and both were seriously wounded, Lester also having two horses killed under him. Adjt. G. R. MacRae, Twenty-ninth, gained honorable mention by the brave and energetic way in which he led the remnant of his regiment, when left in command as senior officer.
Gist's brigade was called for by D. H. Hill to support Breckinridge when it came upon the field Sunday morning after an all-night's march from Ringgold. Under command of Col. P. H. Colquitt, Forty-sixth Georgia, it marched forward until confronted by the log breastworks of the enemy, and met with a destructive fire that shattered its ranks. For nearly half an hour the brigade stood its ground, until the lamented Colquitt had fallen mortally wounded, and in quick succession Colonel Stevens and Lieut.-Col. Ellison Capers, of the Twenty-fourth South Carolina, had been seriously wounded. When a third of the command had been killed or wounded, it fell back. At 4 o'clock, reinforced by seven companies of the Forty-sixth Georgia, under Maj. A.M. Speer, the brigade, under Lieut.-Col. Leroy Napier, of the Eighth battalion, supported the advance of General Liddell. "The gallant Forty-sixth Georgia, occupying the right of the brigade, eager to avenge their beloved regiment, with a loud cheer charged through the wood before them, driving the enemy and capturing some forty prisoners."
Nothing is more creditable in the two days' fight at Chickamauga than the fight made by Walker's little corps of about 5,000 men. As General Walker said, the unequal contest they waged against overwhelming odds was "unparalleled in this revolution, and the troops deserve immortal honor for the part borne in the action. Only soldiers fighting for all that is dear to freemen could attack, be driven, rally, and attack again such superior forces."
In Bate's brigade of A. P. Stewart's division, Maj. T. D. Caswell's sharpshooters began the fighting on the 18th at Thedford's ford. The sharpshooters and the Thirty-seventh regiment fought on the right of the brigade on the afternoon of the 19th, and under a heavy artillery fire lost both Major Caswell and Col. A. F. Rudler, and a fourth of their numbers killed and wounded. Capt. Benjamin M. Turner was also dangerously wounded, leaving Lieut. Joel Towers in command of the sharpshooters, while the command of the Thirty-seventh devolved upon Lieut.-Col. Joseph T. Smith. On Sunday morning General Deshler was killed on their right while waiting orders to advance. After lying under fire until about 1 o'clock, the Thirty-seventh Georgia and Twentieth Tennessee charged forward through the dense smoke and attempted to capture the enemy's battery in front, but were not supported and failed, with severe loss. In the evening they went into the Federal works. Maj. M. Kendrick was distinguished in command of the left wing of the Thirty-seventh. This regiment took into battle 425 men and lost 19 killed, 168 wounded and 7 missing. The sharpshooters had 92 engaged and lost 35, mainly wounded. The Sixty-fifth Georgia, Col. R. H. Moore, was mainly engaged as a support to Maj. A. Leyden's artillery battalion, also a Georgia command.
Of Longstreet's corps, Anderson's, Wofford's and Bryan's Georgia brigades did not arrive in time to participate in the battle. The brigade of Gen. Henry L. Benning, however, took a prominent part in the fight of both days. On Saturday, fighting on the Rossville road against Rosecrans' right, they pushed back the enemy and held their ground with dogged resolution, unsupported by artillery, but under fire both of artillery and infantry. On Sunday, in the victorious advance of Longstreet, they were conspicuous for gallantry, capturing and holding eight pieces of artillery. The Second Georgia was commanded by Lieut.-Col. William S. Shepherd, the Fifteenth by Col. Dudley M. DuBose, the Seventeenth by Lieut.-Col. Charles W. Matthews, and the Twentieth by Col. J. D. Waddell. On the first day Lieut.-Col. E. M. Seago of the Twentieth was killed, DuBose and Shepherd were seriously wounded, as also was Capt. A. McC. Lewis, acting major of the Second; and on Sunday, Colonel Matthews was mortally wounded while on heroic duty. Colonel Benning's staff were all wounded or lost their horses, and in fact, hardly a man or officer of the brigade escaped without a touch of his person or clothes, while many were killed or seriously wounded. The only field officers left were Colonel Waddell, Twentieth; Major Shannon, Fifteenth, and Major Chariton, Second.
The Georgia cavalry, with Crews and Davidson, Forrest and Wheeler, shared the important service of their commands. "Among the badly wounded," says Brig.-Gen. John Pegram, "was the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel Fain, of the Sixth Georgia cavalry." Capt. T. M. Merritt and his command, Company G of the Second Georgia cavalry, were Cheatham's escort, and were complimented by that officer for the efficient service rendered. The various Georgia artillery commands were prominent in such operations as this battle in the woods permitted. Capt. John Scogin's battery, Griffin light artillery, did good service. Dawson's battery had 1 man killed and 6 wounded. Capt. W. W. Havis' battery lost 1 killed and 1 wounded. In Capt. Evan P. Howell's battery 3 men were killed and 4 wounded. Capt. T. L. Massenburg lost in his battery 1 officer and 3 men wounded. Capt. T. M. Peeples, of Company D, Leyden's Ninth battalion, was engaged on Saturday, and he reported First Lieut. Thomas H. Lovelace seriously wounded in the thigh by a piece of shell, and Privates John Edmonson and W. H. Suddarth slightly wounded. Company E, of the Ninth artillery (Leyden's) battalion, commanded by Lieut. William L. Everett, was slightly engaged on Saturday the 19th, losing one horse. On the next day it was actively engaged. It fired upon the enemy's train of wagons, checking their movement through the gap, dismounting one cannon, and compelling the Federals to abandon 30 wagons and several pieces of artillery; also repulsing three successive charges. The loss of the battery was 3 men slightly wounded and 5 horses disabled. Forrest led the pursuit on Monday morning, capturing many prisoners and arms; attacked Thomas' line at Rossville gap, and continued the demonstration for several hours, aided by artillery. That night Thomas withdrew to Chattanooga, and on the 23d Forrest gained the point of Lookout mountain.
The operations following the battle are thus described by General Bragg:
The whole cavalry force having been dispatched to press the enemy and cut off detachments, orders were given for the army to move to a point near the railroad and convenient to water, still interposing between the enemy and our large number of wounded, our trophies and our wounded prisoners, whose removal from the field occupied many days. Our supplies of all kinds were greatly reduced, the railroad having been constantly occupied in transporting troops, prisoners and our wounded, and the bridges having been destroyed to a point two miles south of Ringgold. These supplies were replenished, and as soon as it was seen that we could be subsisted, the army was moved forward to seize and hold the only communication the enemy had with his supplies in the rear. His most important road, and the shortest by half to his depot at Bridgeport, lay along the south bank of the Tennessee. The holding of this all-important route was confided to Lieutenant-General Longstreet's command, and its possession forced the enemy to a road double the length, over two ranges of mountains, by wagon transportation. At the same time our cavalry, in large force, was thrown across the river to operate on this long and difficult route. These dispositions faithfully sustained insured the enemy's speedy evacuation of Chattanooga for want of food and forage. Possessed of the shortest road to his depot, and the one by which reinforcements must reach him, we held him at our mercy and his destruction was only a question of time.
This statement by Bragg of the result to be anticipated from the siege of Chattanooga appears reasonable, and it was verified so far as the reduction of the army with Rosecrans to the verge of starvation. But the position assigned to or taken by Longstreet did not keep the Bridgeport route closed. Maj.-Gen. U.S. Grant, who had been given general control of Federal operations in the West, replaced Rosecrans with Thomas, arrived at Chattanooga over the mountains on the 20th of October, and about a week later, two corps from the Federal army in Virginia, Howard's and Slocum's, Under Hooker, took possession of Bridgeport and the river almost up to Lookout mountain. Supplies immediately began pouring into Chattanooga. Generals Bragg and Longstreet examined the Federal operations from the summit of Lookout on the 28th, and Geary's division being seen approaching, the divisions of Jenkins and Law, four brigades, were sent against it to make a night attack. This was a failure, and the Federals remained in control up to within range of the guns on Lookout mountain. About the last of October, Longstreet, Hardee and Breckinridge were ordered to examine the situation on Lookout creek with a view to a general battle, but they decided that the difficulty of crossing the mountain prevented all hope of success. "Our position was so faulty that we could not accomplish that which was hoped for. We were trying to starve the enemy out by investing him on the only side from which he could not have gathered supplies," was Longstreet's expression of the situation after Hooker occupied Lookout valley.
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