The Battle Of Chickamauga
Chapter XII of The Army Of The Cumberland
Colonel Dan McCook, of Granger's reserve corps, who had been posted on the road leading to Reed's Bridge, on the evening of the 18th, made a reconnoissance to Chickamauga Creek as far as Reed's Bridge, which he burned. On the 19th, meeting Thomas, he reported that an isolated brigade of the enemy was on the west side of the creek, and as the bridge was destroyed a prompt movement in that direction might succeed in capturing the entire force. Thomas ordered Brannan to post a brigade on the road to Alexander's Bridge as support to Baird, and with his other brigades to reconnoitre the road to Reed's Bridge in search of this brigade of the enemy. Brannan moved at nine o'clock A.M., and Baird, under orders from Thomas, threw forward his right wing so as to get into line with Brannan. Baird was also ordered to keep a sharp outlook on his right flank and watch the movements of the enemy in that quarter. Shortly after these movements a part of Palmer's division reported to Thomas and was placed in position on the right of Baird. Rosecrans, when he sent Thomas to the left--the critical point--told him that he was to hold the road to Rossville, and if hard pressed, that he should be reinforced with the entire army.
Under Bragg's orders, Walker's corps on the 18th crossed to the west side of Chickamauga a little below Alexander's Bridge and then moved up the stream opposite this point.
Bushrod Johnson's command the same day crossed at Reed's bridge, and then marched up the stream some three miles and took position on the morning of the 19th. Walker resumed his movement to his left up the stream, under the impression that our centre was still at Lee and Gordon's Mills, Bragg's plan being to mass Walker's and Johnson's commands and attack our left flank. The advance movement of Brannan's division, Croxton's brigade in front, about ten o'clock encountered the enemy, being the cavalry under Forrest with Wilson's and Ector's brigades of infantry, and drove them nearly half a mile, when it tact with obstinate resistance. This reconnoissance of Brannan in pursuit of the brigade reported by Dan. McCook developed the relative position of the opposing contending forces, which up to this time was unknown to the respective commanders of each. It gave to Bragg the knowledge that his right was greatly overlapped by Thomas on our left, and that his flank was in danger of being turned. It compelled him at once to halt Walker's command on its march, and to direct it to retrace its steps and reinforce Forrest, now engaged with Croxton, whose movement brought on the battle of Chickamauga before Bragg had his troops in the position ordered.
Thomas then ordered Baird's division forward to Croxton's support. Sieving at once with two brigades on the front, with Starkweather's in reserve, Baird and Croxton drove the enemy steadily for some distance with great loss, capturing many prisoners. Croxton's brigade having exhausted its ammunition in the severe fighting of over an hour, was then moved to the rear, and Brannan's and Baird's divisions with united forces drove the enemy from their immediate front. Here the line was halted and readjusted. Baird learning from his prisoners that the rebel army was in heavy force on his immediate front, gathering for an attack in mass, drew back his right wing and waited the assault of Bragg's right on his line, which was made in heavy force by Walker, who had reached his new position. Before Baird had completed the reforming of his line, Walker's corps, in overwhelming numbers was upon him, assaulting Scribner's and King's brigades, and driving them back in disorder.
McCook, early on the morning of the 19th, had taken position with his corps at Crawfish Spring, and was now beyond the extreme left of the rebel army, massing his troops at this point and waiting for orders. At a little after ten o'clock in the morning he was directed to take command of the right and the cavalry on that flank. This included Negley's division of the Fourteenth Corps, which was watching the fords of Chickamauga near Crawfish Spring, one brigade of his command being then engaged with the enemy. The same order directed McCook to send Johnson's divisions to the left to report to Thomas, and following this came another one from Rosecrans, directing McCook to send Davis's division also to Thomas. On Baird being driven back, General Thomas ordered Johnson's and Reynolds's division of his own corps--both of whom had opportunely arrived by this time--immediately to advance and drive the enemy back. Johnson arriving first was ordered at once to advance his left, connecting with Baird's right, Palmer was immediately placed on Johnson's right and Reynolds still to the right of Palmer, with one brigade of his division in reserve. As soon as the line was thus formed the troops advanced, attacking Walker's corps on the flank with great vigor, driving it in confusion back to its first position, while Brannan's division, fighting them on the front, drove back the head of the column and retook the artillery which had been captured from Baird when he was driven back. Bragg then ordered up Cheatham's division, which had been in reserve, reinforcing Walker. With these two commands united, the rebels pressed forward with loud yells, determined on the destruction of our left. As these two commands advanced, a gap was made in their lines, into which Bragg threw Stewart's division. As they encountered our line, these troops moved forward. Striking Johnson first, they drove him from his position in disorder, then Palmer was compelled to retire, when Van Cleve coming to his support was also beaten back. Reynolds then in turn was overpowered and the rebels seemed to be sweeping every thing before them as at Stone's River. By this time Davis had reported with his division, and moving at once to the front checked the rebel advance, when Wood coming up to his assistance, our lines were reformed, and Cheatham's, Stewart's, and Walker's troops were driven in rapid retreat back to their original line. Sheridan, under orders, had left Lytle's brigade to hold Lee and Gordon's Mills on our extreme right, and moved to our left in support of the newline near Wood's and Davis's divisions. He reached the position opportunely and aided in driving back the rebels, Bradley's brigade recapturing the Eighth Indiana battery previously taken by the enemy. A large number of prisoners were captured belonging to Longstreet's corps.
Bragg, finding that his plan of battle was discovered by his opponent, and that the latter intended to dispute to the end for the possession of the Rossville and Chattanooga road, ordered Polk to cross the creek with his remaining division at the nearest ford and to assume command in person on their right. Hill with his corps was also ordered to move across the Chickamauga below Lee and Gordon's Mills and to join the line on the right.
The rebels made another desperate assault at about half past two o'clock on our right. Hood's corps, with Bushrod Johnson's division from the enemy's centre, moved forward in heavy masses, assaulting furiously Reynolds's and Van Cleve's divisions. Here they met with fearful loss from the heavy infantry and artillery fire, portions of six batteries opening with canister on their advancing columns, but still on they came. Soon the roar of battle was heard approaching near to the Widow Glenn's house, where Rosecrans's headquarters were. Our right centre now was pierced and the enemy was on the La Fayette road. Negley, from the right under McCook, was immediately ordered up with his division, Brannan from Thomas's left joining him. These two divisions were at once sent in to the fight. Moving rapidly forward to the attack, with cheer on cheer, they hurled back Hood and Johnson, steadily driving them until darkness ended the combat, our troops re-occupying their old positions.
Thomas, wishing to reform his lines--which had become greatly extended in driving the rebels--and concentrate them on more commanding ground in the rear preparatory to the engagement to be renewed on the morrow, selected a new position for Baird's and Johnson's divisions, the former on the extreme left These positions were designated to them and were occupied at once. Palmer and Reynolds were ordered into position in line on the right of Johnson, with Brannan to the rear and right of Reynolds as reserve. While these movements were being made, Cleburne with his fresh division of Hill's corps, who had been ordered to the extreme right by Bragg, under orders to attack immediately, advancing in full force, supported by Cheatham, assaulted Johnson first and then Baird with tremendous force. The onset was so determined that some confusion in the line resulted, but in a few minutes our troops rallied and the enemy was repulsed in fine style. This conflict lasted for some time after' dark with heavy losses on both sides, the heavy firing lighting up the struggle. At this point our artillery was again used with good effect. Wilder's brigade had occupied a position during the day on the La Fayette road about a mile north of Lee and Gordon's Mills, with Minty close by. The latter was now ordered to report to Granger at Rossville, to hold in check the enemy's cavalry operating on their right. Granger, with his reserves, protected the roads to the rear toward Rossville and covered our left flank.
With night the fighting ceased, and the troops, worn out after the marching of the night before--moving from the right to the extreme left--and the heavy fighting of the day, slept on their arms, awaiting the heavier conflict of the morrow. Though weary, the troops were in most excellent spirits, and confident of final victory. It was known throughout the army that we had been fighting during the day largely superior forces. That Bragg had been heavily reinforced from Mississippi and East Tennessee, and by Longstreet's command from Virginia, and that the enemy was fighting most desperately, Bragg's great aim had been to conceal his main attack on our left by the feint on the centre, and supposed that our centre on the morning of the 19th was still at Lee and Gordon's Mills. Presuming this to be the case, Bragg had massed heavily on our left, intending to repeat his movement made on our right at Murfreesboro. His plan contemplated the breaking our left, sweeping it before him in broken masses, crushing our centre, and destroying our right, and then occupying the road to Chattanooga in force he would have the Federal army completely in his power. The movement made by Croxton compelled Bragg to open the battle in heavy force on the left, before his troops had secured the positions assigned them, and then, to his surprise, he found that during the night our left had been greatly prolonged, and that Rosecrans was in force, occupying a position far to the north of what he had been led to expect. During the night Bragg ordered up by forced marches all reinforcements arriving by railroad. Three brigades of fresh troops reached the enemy during the night, and were placed in line early in the morning of the 20th. These, with the troops ordered late the day before from the east bank of the Chickamauga, gave Bragg a large number of fresh troops which he placed in line of battle on the 20th. During the night Bragg summoned his generals to meet him at his camp fire, and there gave them orders for the following day. He divided his entire force into two commands, to which he assigned his senior Lieutenant-Generals Longstreet and Polk. The former--who had reported during the night--to the left, composed of six divisions where his own troops were stationed, and the latter continuing in his command of five divisions on the right. Bragg's plan of battle for the 20th was for Polk to assault in force, with Breckinridge's division on his extreme right at day-dawn, when the attack was to be taken up rapidly in succession by the divisions to his left. The left wing was to await the movement on the right, and when the attack was made there to take it up promptly. When the entire line became engaged it was to move forward vigorously and persistently throughout its entire length, the whole army wheeling on Longstreet's left as a pivot, but constantly pressing our left to get possession of the road to Chattanooga.
The battle of the 19th was a series of brilliant charges and counter-charges, in favor of first one side and then the other. During the day our troops, at times broken and driven by the enemy, always promptly rallied and drove the rebels in disorder to their lines by brilliant and effective dashes, moving to the attack with vigor and determination. In the main the results of the day were in our favor. Bragg had been forced to fight before he was in position, arid had been foiled in his attempt to secure the roads, which on the evening of the 19th remained even more securely in our possession than before, fully protected on both flanks by our cavalry. As this was the object of the severe conflict of the 19th, that day's fighting was a success for our arms, both the Rossville and the Dry Valley roads being firmly held by our troops that night.
But the battle was not yet over. During the night Rosecrans assembled his corps commanders at his headquarters at the Widow Glenn's house, and after a consultation with them on the state and condition of their commands, gave orders for the disposition and movements of the troops for the next day. The divisions of Thomas's corps, with those which had reinforced him, to hold the road to Rossville, in the same position as then occupied by them in line of battle, with Brannan in reserve. McCook, with Sheridan's and Davis's divisions was to maintain his picket line until it was attacked and driven back. His left division--Davis's--was to close on Thomas, and to have his right refused covering the position at Widow Glenn's house. Crittenden was to hold two divisions, Wood's and Van Cleve's, in reserve near where the line of McCook and Thomas joined to reinforce the front line as needed.
During the night Thomas received word from Baird on the extreme left, that the left of his division did not reach the road to Reed's Bridge, as had been anticipated. Thomas immediately requested that Negley's division be ordered to report to him to take position on Baird's left and rear, securing this flank from assault. At daylight Rosecrans, riding the line, ordered Negley to join Thomas at once, and directed McCook to relieve Negley, who was on the front line. He also ordered McCook to adjust his right, as it was too far out on the crest, and to move Davis's division to the left, and close it up compactly. Crittenden was also directed to move his two divisions to the left and Palmer, on Thomas's line, was instructed to close up his front. On reaching the left Rosecrans was convinced that the first attack would be made on that flank, and returned at once to the right to hurry Negley over to Thomas. Arriving there he found that this division had not moved, and that McCook's troops were not ready to relieve him. Negley was then ordered to send his reserve brigade under John Beatty, and to follow with the other two when relieved from the front. Impatient at McCook's delay in relieving Negley, and anticipating momentarily the attack of the enemy on our left, Rosecrans ordered Crittenden to move Wood's division to the front, to fill the position occupied by Negley of which McCook was notified by Rosecrans in person. Rosecrans, when first at McCook's line, was greatly dissatisfied with McCook's position. He now called McCook's attention to the defects in his line, that it was too light, and that it was weakened by being too much strung out, and charged him to keep well closed up on the left at all hazards. Leaving McCook, Rosecrans then returned to Negley, and found to his surprise that the brigades in front had not yet been relieved and started to Thomas after his repeated orders, as Wood's division had only reached the position of Negley's reserve. Greatly irritated at this, Rosecrans gave peremptory orders and Wood's division was at once placed in front, closed up on the right of Brannan.
A heavy fog hung over the battlefield during the early morning. Bragg, before daylight with his staff, took position immediately in the rear of the centre of his line, and waited for Polk to begin the attack, waiting until after sunrise with increasing anxiety and disappointment. Bragg then sent a staff officer to Polk to ascertain and report as to the cause of the delay, with orders urging him to a prompt and speedy attack. Polk was not found with his troops, and the staff officer learning that he had spent the night on the east side of Chickamauga Creek, rode over there and delivered his message. Bragg, impatient at the delay, proceeded in person to his right wing and there found the troops wholly unprepared for the movement. Messengers were sent for Polk in hot haste, and on his reporting he was urged to a prompt execution of his orders and to make a vigorous attack at once.
During the night our troops threw up temporary breastworks of logs and mils. Behind these Thomas's command awaited the attack. After Bragg had sent for Polk, he ordered a reconnoissance in his front on the extreme left of our line, and crossing the main road to Chattanooga developed the fact that this position so greatly desired by him was thus feebly held. At half past eight o'clock the rebel attack opened on our left with skirmish firing. Pushing forward with a heavy line of skirmishers to develop Baird's position, with Breckinridge's division on the right and Cleburne to his left, the rebels made, about an hour later, a tremendous assault. Beatty's brigade of Negley's division being now in line on Baird's left, received the full force of the blow from the brigades of Adams and Stovall on the right of Breckinridge's division, and was driven back in disorder. Helm's brigade and Cleburne's division, advancing on the front of Baird, encountered the troops behind their breastworks but were here met with a terrific fire of canister and musketry, and their advance checked so thoroughly that it was not regarded as safe to send the two brigades now overlapping Baird to attack his rear. These brigades, however, had reached and crossed the La Fayette road. Beatty in falling back was relieved by several regiments of Johnson's division, which were placed in position by Baird. These regiments were joined by Vanderveer's brigade of Brannan's division and a portion of Stanley's brigade of Negley's division, which had been hurried to the left and thrown into action. These forces advancing checked the assault of the enemy and then drove him entirely from Baird's left and rear. Immediately following the attack on Baird, the enemy's assault, being taken up by the divisions on Breckinridge's left, pressed on and struck Johnson, then Palmer and Reynolds successively with equal fierceness, maintaining the attack for two hours, the enemy in repeated assaults bringing fresh troops constantly to the front was each time met and hurled back by the splendid fighting of our troops. Here Bragg exhausted his utmost energies to drive in the centre and to dislodge Thomas's right, and failing in this after repeated attacks fell back and occupied his old position.
McCook, early in the morning, on going to the front found that Wood's division, not having the battle-front of Negley's, did not occupy the entire of the rude barricade thrown up by Negley's troops, and that a portion of it on Wood's right was not occupied by any of our forces. Wood, on meeting McCook, explained to him that his left was well protected, resting on Brannan's right, and that his orders were to keep well closed up on Brannan. On the right of this gap to the light of Wood, McCook had posted Wilder with his brigade, who had been ordered to report to McCook and receive orders from him. McCook then directed Sheridan to bring forward one of his brigades and occupy with it the space between Wood's right and Wilder. As McCook started to leave this portion of the line, he met Davis's division marching toward this vacant space. Davis was directed at once to post one of his brigades in this part of the line, holding the other in reserve. When the brigade Sheridan sent arrived, McCook placed it in column as support to Davis on his right and rear. At this time Thomas again reporting that he needed reinforcements and the right as yet not being actively engaged, Rosecrans concluded that Bragg's efforts were still looking to the possession of the roads on our left, and that he was massing his troops on his right, thus prolonging his line on that flank. He then, at 10.10 A.M., ordered McCook to withdraw as far as possible the force on the right and reinforce Thomas, stating that "the left must be held at all hazards, even if the right is withdrawn wholly back to the present left." Five minutes after the receipt of this order McCook received one dated 10.30 A.M., directing him to send two brigades of Sheridan's division at once with all possible dispatch to support Thomas and to send the third brigade as soon as it could safely be withdrawn. McCook immediately sent Lytle's and Walworth's brigades of Sheridan's division on the double quick to the support of Thomas.
The battle increasing in fury and volume was gradually approaching the centre from the left, but Thomas still sustaining the brunt of the fight was compelled to send again and again for reinforcements. Beatty's and Stanley's brigades of Negley's division had been sent from the right. Vanderveer with his brigade of Brannan's division also reported. Barnes's brigade of Van Cleve's division had also been ordered to Thomas, and now the two of Sheridan's division were under orders to proceed to the left. About this time Lieutenant-Colonel Von Schrader of Thomas's staff, who had been riding the lines, reported to Thomas that there were no troops on Reynolds's right, and a long gap existed between Reynolds and Wood; not aware that Brannan's division although not in front line was still in position, retired in the woods a short distance back, but not out of line. This information was at once sent by Thomas to Rosecrans, who immediately directed Wood to close up the line on Reynolds and support him, and sent word to Thomas that he would be supported if it required all of McCook's and Crittenden's corps to do so.
On receipt of this order--impossible for him to execute literally--Wood undertook to carry it out by withdrawing his entire command from the front, leaving a gap of two brigades in the line of battle, moving to the rear past Brannan's division, to where Reynolds was posted in line. Into the gap thus made by Wood, Davis attempted to throw sufficient force to hold that portion of the line thus vacated, by posting his reserve brigade.
Just at this time the order of battle on the enemy's line had reached Longstreet's command, who, seeing this gap, ordered his troops, formed in heavy columns, to advance. Into this gap there poured Stewart's, Hood's, Kershaw's, Johnson's, and Hindman's divisions, dashing impetuously forward, with Preston's large division as supports. Our right, disabled as it was, was speedily turned, the line of battle on the enemy's front extending nearly from Brannan's centre to a point far to the right of the Widow Glenn's house, and from the front of that portion of the line Sheridan's brigades had just been taken. McCook, to resist this fierce assault, had only Carlin's and Heg's brigades of Davis's division and Laibold's brigade of Sheridan's division. On finding the rebel troops pressing through the space vacated by Wood, McCook ordered Lytle and Walworth to change front and return to assist in repelling the enemy. Wilder and Harrison closed in on Sheridan with their commands as speedily as possible, and aided in resisting the enemy's attack. Davis, being overpowered by the immense numbers of the rebels, was compelled to retire to save his command. Laibold was in turn driven back in confusion, and the tide of battle then struck Lytle and Walworth, who contended nobly against the overpowering columns, and for a time checked the advance of the enemy on their immediate front. The rebel troops swarming in, turned the left of these brigades, and they were compelled to withdraw to escape being surrounded. At this point the gallant Lytle was killed. Here our army lost several thousand prisoners, forty guns, and a large number of wagon-trains.
Once more the right of the army was broken all to pieces, and five brigades of that wing cut off entirely from the rest of the command. In the meantime Bragg, determined to turn Thomas's left, and cut him off from Chattanooga, was making his preparations for a second assault on his right in heavier force. Bragg directed this movement in person. Extending his right by moving Breckinridge's division beyond its former position, he ordered Walker's corps in line on Breckinridge's left, and connected Cleburne's right on the left of Walker. Bragg's plan was for Breckinridge to advance, wheeling to the left, and thus envelop Thomas's exposed left flank, striking it in the rear. Breckinridge, advancing, was soon in position on the Chattanooga road, partly in rear of Thomas. But he was now detached from the main body of the rebel troops engaged in the movement, and, making a bold assault on the rear, he was here met by the three reserve brigades under Vandeveer, Willich, and Grose, and hurled in rout back on his original line. On reaching it he there found the other troops that had taken part in this charge, and that they had been repulsed at every point by Baird's, Johnson's, and Palmer's divisions.
Beatty, just prior to the repulse of the enemy on the left by Thomas, applied in person to the latter for at least a brigade to support him in the attack of the rebels he was then expecting. Thomas sent an aid to hurry Sheridan up. This officer returned soon afterward, and reported that he had encountered a heavy force of the enemy in the rear of Reynolds's position, which was advancing slowly, with a strong line of skirmishers thrown out; that he had met Harker, who, with his brigade posted on a ridge a short distance to Reynolds's rear, was watching this force approaching, and was of the opinion that these troops were Sheridan's coming to Thomas's assistance. Thomas then rode forward to determine the character of the advancing troops, which he soon did, and ordered Harker to open fire upon them, resisting their farther advance. Thomas then selected the crest of a commanding ridge, known as "Horseshoe Ridge," on which to place Brannan's division in line, which--on Longstreet's sweeping McCook's lines from the right--had been struck in the flank on the line of battle. On the spurs to the rear he posted his artillery. On Thomas leaving Harker, the latter opening fire with his skirmishers, then posted his right to connect with Brannan's division and portions of Beatty's and Stanley's brigades of Negley's division, which had been ordered over to this point from the extreme left. Thomas then went to the crest of the hill on the front, where he met Wood with his division, who confirmed him in the opinion that the troops advancing were those of the enemy. Thomas was not aware at that time of the extent of the disaster to the right. He ordered Wood to place his division in line with Brannan's, and to resist as long as possible the advance of the enemy. On receipt of his order Wood immediately threw his troops on the left of Brannan, and had barely time to form his lines when the enemy was upon then in a heavy, fierce assault like those early in the day. This, however, was handsomely repulsed, the enemy charging again and again with fresh troops, but their efforts were successfully resisted. These were Bushrod Johnson's men, with Patton Anderson's brigade on his right, which had been formed on the brow of the secondary spur of the ridge, and at about two o'clock moved forward, making a most determined assault on our forces. Part of his line reached the crest held by Wood, but was hurled back to its original position under as determined a counter-charge.
Away off at Rossville Gordon Granger with three brigades of the reserve corps was stationed. He had heard during the morning heavy firing from the front, in the direction of Thomas, and as the firing increased in volume and intensity on the right, he judged that the enemy were pressing him hard. He then determined, although contrary to his orders, to gather what troops he could and go to Thomas's assistance. Ordering Whittaker's and Mitchell's brigades under the immediate command of Steedman to move to his front, he placed Dan McCook's brigade at the McAfee church, to cover the Ringgold road. Thomas was at this time heavily engaged on "Horseshoe Ridge," between the La Fayette and the Dry Valley roads, about three miles and a half from Granger's headquarters. Pushing forward his troops rapidly, Granger moved past a detachment of the enemy some two miles out, and ordered Dan McCook forward to watch the movements of the rebels, to keep open the La Fayette road, and to cover the open fields on the right of the road intervening between this point and Thomas's position. McCook brought up his brigade as rapidly as possible, took and held his position until late that night. Granger moving to the front arrived with his command about three o'clock, and reported at once to Thomas, who was then with this part of his command on "Horseshoe Ridge," where the enemy was pressing him hard on front and endeavoring to turn both of his flanks. To the right of this position was a ridge running east and west nearly at right angles with it. On this Bushrod Johnson had reformed his command, so severely repulsed by Wood. Longstreet now strengthened it with Hindman's division and that of Kershaw, all under the command of Hindman, who formed it in heavy columns for an attack on the right flank and rear of Thomas's troops. Kershaw's division had possession of a gorge in this ridge through which his division was moving in heavy masses, with the design of making an attack in the rear. This was the most critical hour of this eventful day. Granger promptly ordered Whittaker and Mitchell to hurl themselves against this threatening force. Steedman gallantly seizing the colors of a regiment, led his command to the charge. Rushing upon the enemy with loud cheers, after a terrific conflict, only of some twenty minutes' duration, with a hot infantry and artillery fire, Steedman drove them from their position and occupied both the ridge and gorge. Here the slaughter was frightful. The victory was won at a fearful cost, but the army was saved. After Hindman was driven back, Longstreet about four o'clock, determined to re-take the ridge. Asking Bragg for reinforcements from the right, he was informed by him "that they had been beaten back so badly that they could be of no service to me." Long-street then ordered up his reserve division of fresh troops under Preston, four brigades strong, supported by Stewart's corps, and directed hint to attack the troops on the ridge. Advancing with wild yells, confident of success, Preston dashed boldly up the hill, supported by Kershaw's troops, with Johnson's--part of Hindman's--and later on by those of Stewarts. But once more the enemy was driven back with frightful slaughter, and thus with charge and counter-charge at this part of the field, lasting for nearly two hours. The day wore away until darkness settled down, night finding Thomas's command--the troops under Brannan, Wood, and Granger--still holding the ridge. Some unauthorized person had ordered Thomas's ammunition train back to Chattanooga, and the supply with the troops on the field was running very low. The ammunition that Granger brought up with him was divided with the troops on that part of the field where his command fought--Brannan's and Wood's divisions--but this supply was soon exhausted. The troops then gathered what could be found in the cartridge-boxes of the slain, friend and foe being alike examined. With the fresh charges of the enemy, the troops were ordered to use their bayonets and give the rebels cold steel, and in the final charges the enemy was met and repulsed in this way.
In the breaking up of our right, two brigades of Davis's division, one of Van Clove's, and the entire of Sheridan's division was caught in the whirl and sent adrift from the main command, the enemy in heavy columns completely controlling all access to Thomas and the remaining divisions with him, except by way of the Dry Valley road across the ridge and on to Rossville, thence back on the La Fayette read to Thomas's left. The troops of Sheridan's and Davis's divisions were rallied a short distance in the rear of the line, and taking the Dry Valley road, endeavored to unite with Thomas's command. They were placed in position on the Rossville road leading to the battlefield.
Rosecrans was watching on the rear of Davis's right for McCook to close up his line to the left when Longstreet's men poured through the gap left by Wood's withdrawal. Seeing that some disaster had occurred, Rosecrans hurried in person to the extreme right, to direct Sheridan's movements on the flank of the advancing rebels. But it was simply impossible to stem the tide and our men were driven back as the enemy advanced. Leaving orders for the troops to be rallied behind the ridges west of the Dry Valley road, Rosecrans endeavored with Garfield, his chief of staff, and a few others of his staff, to rejoin Thomas by passing to the rear of the broken portions of the right. Riding down in this direction, some two or three hundred yards under a heavy fire, he found the troops that had been driven from the right far over toward the left, and from all indications it appeared doubtful if the left had been able to maintain its position. He then concluded to go to Rossville and there determine whether to join Thomas on the battlefield or whether his duty called him to Chattanooga, to prepare for his broken army if his worst fears should be realized. On reaching Rossville it was determined that Garfield should go to the front to Thomas and report, and that Rosecrans should go to Chattanooga and make the necessary dispositions for the troops as they came back in rout.
Rosecrans on arriving at Chattanooga at once sent out orders to Thomas to assume command of all the troops at the front, and with Crittenden and McCook to take a strong position and assume a threatening attitude at Rossville, where ammunition and rations would be sent to meet him. Thomas determined to hold his position until nightfall, if possible, before withdrawing. He then distributed ammunition to the commands and ordered the division commanders to hold themselves in readiness to fall back as soon as ordered. Reynolds at half-past five was notified to commence the movement. Leaving the position he had held near Wood, Thomas started to meet Reynolds and show him the position he wanted him to occupy, forming the line covering the retirement of the troops on the La Fayette road on the left. Just before meeting Reynolds, Thomas was informed of a large rebel force in the woods ahead of him, drawn up in line and advancing toward him. This was Liddell's division on the extreme rebel right, under orders from Bragg, moving to a third attack on Thomas's left. Reynolds arriving at this time, Thomas ordered him to at once change the head of the column to the left, form line perpendicular to the road and to charge the enemy then in his immediate front, while the artillery opened a converging fire from the right and left. Turchin charged with his brigade upon the rebel force and drove them in complete rout far beyond Baird's left. Robinson's command--King's brigade--closely supporting Turchin, was posted on the road leading through the ridge to hold the ground, while the troops on our right and left retired.
Shortly after this Willich with his brigade was placed in position on commanding ground to the right of the ridge road, and assisted in covering the withdrawal of our troops. Turchin's brigade, having cleared the front, returned and took position on this road with Robinson and Willich.
Thomas having made this disposition of the troops, ordered Wood, Brannan, and Granger, to fall back from their positions. These troops were not molested, but Baird and Johnson as they were retiring were attacked. By the exercise of care and foresight they retired without confusion and with but slight loss. This attack was led by L. E. Polk's brigade, but the rebel lines had become so changed that they formed an acute angle and their troops were firing into each other in the dark. So quietly was the army withdrawn that it was not until after sunrise on the 21st that Bragg discovered that Thomas had retired. Having effected the withdrawal of his troops, General Thomas, accompanied by Granger and Garfield, proceeded to Rossville and placed the command in position at that place, ordering one brigade of Negley's division to hold the gap on the Ringgold road with the other two brigades posted on the top of the ridge to the right, joining on the brigades in the road, with Dan McCook's brigade in reserve. On the right of Negley Reynolds's division took position, reaching to the Dry Valley road, with Brannan's division as a reserve in rear of Reynolds's right.. On the right of the Dry Valley road, extending to the west, McCook's corps was placed, his right extending to Chattanooga Creek. Upon the high ground to the left of the Ringgold road the entire of Crittenden's corps was placed. As a reserve Steedman's division of Granger's corps was posted on his left, while Baird's division was also in reserve and in support of the brigade of Negley's division holding the gap. Thrown out on the Ringgold road, a mile and a half in advance of the gap, Minty's brigade of cavalry held the road at that point during the night. Here the weary troops rested undisturbed the night after the heavy fighting and nothing was seen of the enemy until about nine o'clock of the 21st, when their advance appeared in heavy force of infantry and cavalry on Minty's front. Thomas, withdrawing Minty through the gap, posted his command on our left flank and directed him to throw out strong reconnoitring parties across the ridge, watching the enemy's movements on our left and front. There was no object in attempting to hold the position at Rossville Gap, beyond the gaining of a day to select the final position for the troops at Chattanooga on their retirement to that place, the location of the lines, and the preparation for throwing up earthworks. This was all accomplished on the 21st and preparations made to fall back. All wagons, ambulances, and surplus artillery-carriages were sent to the rear before night and the troops were held in readiness to move at a moment's notice. The orders to withdraw reached Thomas about six o'clock P.M., and the movement commenced about nine P.M.
Brannan's division was posted at six P.M. on the road about half way from Rossville to Chattanooga, covering the movement. Orders were sent by Thomas for each division commander to throw out a strong skirmish line, to be withdrawn at daylight, concealing the movement to the rear. This line was to be supported by Baird's division and Minty's brigade of cavalry, which was to retire after the skirmishers were withdrawn. During the night the movement was completed without the loss of a single man, and at seven o'clock on the morning of the 22d, the Army of the Cumberland, again united, was in position, holding the coveted prize, still strong enough to prevent the enemy from attempting further to dispute our possession of the town. The temporary works were strengthened from day to day until all apprehension of an attack from the enemy on the front was at an end.
Taking all the surroundings into consideration, the campaign from the western slopes of the Cumberland Mountains, ending in the battle of Chickamauga, was the most brilliant one of the war, made as it was, in the face of the strong column of the enemy, whose business it was to watch every movement, and as far as possible to retard and cripple the advance. Rosecrans, with his masterly manoeuvring, in every instance deceived his opponent down to the withdrawal of Bragg from Chattanooga. While recognizing the genius of the military leader who could plan the campaign that was made from the time of the crossing of the Cumberland Mountains, Bragg regarded the obstacles to be overcome on such a campaign so stupendous that he was incredulous that any movement south of the Tennessee was contemplated by the Federal leader. Every preparation was made by Bragg to meet the crossing of our army over the Tennessee north of Chattanooga, watching all the fords with strong detachments of infantry and artillery, holding the main portion of his command ready to move to the north at any moment, he watched the movement of our troops through the Sequatchie Valley and so on to the Tennessee. Withdrawing his only brigade that was south and west of Chattanooga on the advance of Crittenden, he threw open the gateway for Rosecrans's advance. When the full scope of the movement dawned upon him, Bragg abandoned Chattanooga and gathered his troops wherever he could reach them from all quarters to concentrate for the destruction of our army. Bragg never intended his withdrawal from Chattanooga to be permanent; all the indications he left behind him pointed that way. None of the bridges were destroyed as he retired. All storehouses, hospitals, and other buildings used by his army were left standing, and Rosecrans's mistake was in construing Bragg's withdrawal to be a demoralized retreat and in ordering his army to pursue before this was definitely determined. However, all advices that Rosecrans had were to the effect that the rebels were in hasty flight and would not stop anywhere north of Dalton, and that their probable destination was Rome. This information was sent to him from Washington, and Bragg aided in confirming this belief by sending numbers of his soldiers as "deserters" into the Federal lines with the same report.
As late as the 11th, Halleck telegraphed Rosecrans that after he occupied "the mountain passes to the west of Dalton'' it would be determined what his future movements would be; and on the 13th, Halleck telegraphed Rosecrans that if Bragg should go to Alabama he must not be allowed to re-enter Middle Tennessee. On the 13th, Foster, at Fortress Monroe, telegraphed Halleck that trains of cars had been running day and night southward for the past thirty-six hours. On the following day Foster sent Halleck another despatch, that Longstreet's corps was reported going south, which Meade on the same day confirmed. Then Halleck sent urgent messages to Hurlbut and Burnside to move to Rosecrans's support. But it was too late. These commands were many days' marches away, and at that moment the Army of the Cumberland was engaged in the earlier movements of the life and death struggle it was peremptorily ordered by Halleck to encounter alone with its old enemy, under Bragg, heavily re-enforced, while large numbers of Federal troops which might have been within helping distance, had orders been given in due season, as asked for by Rosecrans, remained inactive.
It was not until McCook had received and partly executed his orders to occupy Alpine that the actual facts as to Bragg's movements were developed, and that he was concentrated at La Fayette, there waiting for reinforcements, but strong enough without them to crush the Army of the Cumberland in detail. Rosecrans, when aware of Bragg's movements, grasped the situation at once. Bending every energy to the concentration of his army before Bragg should strike, on the 12th he issued orders for McCook's immediate return, and despatched the same in all haste by courier. Hearing nothing definite from McCook, on the next day Rosecrans repeated his orders and duplicated them in the afternoon of that day. Still learning nothing positive as to McCook's movements, on the 14th repeated orders were sent to him urging him to consummate his rearward movement with all possible haste. After a sleepless night, Rosecrans on the 15th left Chattanooga for the front, to hasten, if possible, McCook's movements. After another sleepless night, information was had from McCook as to the position of his command, and on the 17th the concentration of the army was effected in McLemore's Cove, five days after McCook's first orders were dated.
The delay attending McCook's movements was almost fatal to the Army of the Cumberland. Had Bragg received his promised reinforcements at the date he expected them, our army would in all probability have been completely annihilated in detail. McCook claims that his delay was only incident to the route he was compelled to take to join Thomas. This took him back over Lookout Mountain, to Valley Head, then down that valley, crossing the mountain again at Cooper's Gap, and then up and down Missionary Ridge into Mc-Lemore's Cove, a long, difficult road, nearly all of it over rough mountains. This route, McCook from the information received, regarded as the better one to take, as between it and the one on which he was ordered to move, which was a road on the mountain into the head of McLemore's Cove, through Dougherty's Gap.
The battle for Chattanooga would never have been fought at Chickamauga had not the safety of McCook's corps demanded it. Could the Army of the Cumberland have been withdrawn in safety to Chattanooga and there concentrated behind earthworks, as it was later, while Bragg doubtless would have made his attack there, yet the surroundings would have been far more favorable for our army, especially as the troops afterward sent might have reached Rosecrans in time to have defeated Bragg, as he was later at the battle of Missionary Ridge. But the reinforcements that were hurried from all points after the disaster, by the officials at Washington were not to benefit Rosecrans.
While the battle of the 19th was severe at times, and some slight advantages were gained by the enemy, still nothing had been accomplished to mark that day's fighting as a great, distinctive battle. The delay on the part of Negley in reporting as ordered, to Thomas on the left, placed that position in extreme peril, had Polk made his attack as ordered at day-dawn on the 20th. Fortunately, Polk slept outside of his lines that night--not as he was accustomed to--and was not awakened as early as he would have been had he remained in camp. For this reason the attack, was not made until after Beatty's brigade had reached Baird's left. While this was too weak to successfully resist the attack, still with this command rallied after it was driven back and aided by the troops sent to its support, Thomas was able to repulse Breckinridge's first charge of the morning. The delay from six o'clock until after nine was of great service to the Army of the Cumberland. Negley's delay in reporting at an early hour with his entire division was owing to Wood's failure to relieve him. Sheridan had at an earlier hour been ordered to Negley's position on his front, but Thomas representing the urgency of the movement, Crittenden was ordered to send Wood, who was only a short distance from Negley. Wood, on receiving his orders to relieve Negley, simply moved forward and occupied the position that had been vacated by Negley's reserve brigade, already started for Thomas's left. On Rosecrans's return from the extreme right, he found that Negley had not yet reported to Thomas, although more than an hour had elapsed since he was so ordered, and then discovered that Wood had failed to relieve him on the front. Repeating his orders in such plain English that there could be no further misapprehension of them, Rosecrans moved Wood's division into position, relieved Negley at once, and started him in all haste to Thomas. Negley did not reach the left until after ten o'clock. Rosecrans, impatient at the delay that occurred in the execution of this order, expressed himself very forcibly to Wood, much to the dissatisfaction of the latter. After seeing Negley at last en route to Thomas, Rosecrans then went to the right and was watching the movements of the troops when the word reached him of the supposed gap to the right of Reynolds, on the left of Wood. Rosecrans's plan of battle being to keep his line well closed up on the left, he directed an aid to send Wood an order to close up on Reynolds, which he did as follows.
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY OF THE CUMBERLAND.
Brigadier-General Wood, Commanding Division:
The General Commanding directs that you close up on Reynolds as fast as possible, and support him,
FRANK S. BOND,
Major and Aid-de-Camp.
This order was written by an officer who had no military experience prior to the war, and, as the order shows on its face, embraced much more than the General Commanding intended it should. The orderly who carried this order to Wood reported on his return that "General Wood on receipt of the order remarked that he was glad the order was in writing, as it was a good thing to have for future reference. That he carefully took out his note-book, safely deposited the order in it, and then proceeded to execute it." Wood's official report contains the order written out in full. He says that it was eleven o'clock when it reached him "General McCook was with me when I received it. I informed him that I would immediately carry it into execution, and suggested to him that he should close up his command rapidly on my right, to prevent the occurrence of a gap in the line. He said he would do so, and immediately rode away."
McCook says, in reference to the movement of Sheridan to the aid of Thomas, which he had just ordered, "Simultaneously with this movement, and much to my surprise, Wood's division left the position it had in line of battle on Davis's left, marching by the left flank, leaving a wide gap in the line." Wood also says in his official report that when he started to execute the order he met Thomas, and told him of his order. He says, "I exhibited my order to him, and asked him whether he would take the responsibility of changing it. He replied he would, and I then informed him that I would move my command to the support of General Baird." The first mention Thomas makes in his official report of seeing Wood is when in riding "toward the crest of the hill," coming from the left, he met Wood on the way, and directed him to take position on Brannan's right. Later, he says, "About the time that Wood took up his position, General Gordon Granger appeared,'' etc. This was over three hours after what General Wood styles "the disastrous event of the right" occurred. It seems strange, if Wood was properly executing an order from the Commanding General, that he should try so hard to shield his action by the authority of these two corps commanders, especially when he was under the direct command of neither of them.
General Wood was a graduate of West Point, had been in the army all his life, and knew the full meaning of all technical terms used to describe military movements. The order bore on its face a direction to him to make a movement with his front in line of battle, and at the same time to occupy a position in the rear of the division, on which he was ordered to join his left in line on the immediate battle-front. He knew he could not execute the order literally as given, and from the wording of it must have known that there was some mistake about it. Instead of sending a short distance to the rear, or going himself to Rosecrans and finding out just what was meant by the order, he chose to give it a meaning that it was never intended to convey, and moved to the rear from the front of battle, when he knew, as he says in his report, "although I had not been seriously engaged at any time during the morning, I was well satisfied the enemy was in considerable force in my immediate front." Wood says in his official report, "Reynolds's division was posted on the left of Brannan's division, which in turn was on the left of the position I was just quitting; I had consequently to pass my command in the rear of Brannan's division to close up on and go into the support of Reynolds." If "Reynolds's, division was posted on the left of Brannan's division," then there was no gap, and no place for Wood to place his division as ordered, and he knew it. He could support Reynolds, but to do this he was compelled to disobey the first part of his order, which in its spirit and intent was to keep him on the line of battle, simply moving his division to the left. This space by his own official report he shows was occupied by Brannan's division, and with this knowledge he undertook to execute an order that directed him to make an impossible movement rather than ask an explanation of it from his commanding officer. No wonder he wanted to keep his order safe where he could produce it if occasion required. Wood, irritated at the reprimand of Rosecrans earlier in the day, intent on maintaining his dignity, chose rather to undertake to carry out an order in the execution of which he felt safe, so long as he had it in writing and where he could produce it if occasion demanded it, than to suspend its execution long enough to ride a short distance to the rear, and find out just what the order meant; and to this extent he is responsible for the great disaster which swept the right wing of the Army of the Cumberland from the field of battle on the 20th. That Wood must have known that there was a mistake in regard to the order is plain, from the fact that he himself says that his troops had not been seriously engaged that morning. It was hardly possible that Reynolds's division, which was only a division front from his, could be so hardly pressed as to need supports, and that his division should "not be seriously engaged." In fact, when Wood undertook to carry out this order, he says he met Thomas and was told by him that Reynolds did not need supports, and that he, Wood, "had better move to the support of General Baird, posted on the extreme left, who needed assistance," showing that the conflict had as yet not reached down the line to Reynolds. The spirit in which General Wood fought the battle of Chickamauga is shown by the following extract from his official report, where, in speaking of Garfield's arrival on the battlefield later in the afternoon of the 20th, he says, "After the disastrous event of the right, General Garfield made his way back to the battlefield, showing thereby that the road was open to all who might choose to follow it where duty called.' After Wood reported to Thomas there was no more splendid fighting done on that field of terrific conflict on the 20th than was done by Thomas J. Wood and his division. To the last he aided Thomas in holding Horseshoe Ridge, and was one of the last divisions to retire.
In the tide that swept down the Dry Valley road, Rosecrans was caught with the members of his staff. He breasted this for a while, and endeavored to join his left and centre under Thomas by a direct route. After riding along a short distance, under the heavy fire of the rebels with both artillery and musketry, he discovered that that road was effectually closed by the enemy in strong force. He then started over the ridge to the Dry Valley road, and made his way as rapidly as possible through the swarming masses of broken troops from the right of the battlefield to Rossville, with the intention of joining Thomas from that place down the La Fayette road if the left and centre were not also in rout, and on the road to Chattanooga. On reaching Rossville, Rosecrans and Garfield halted in the midst of the driving masses of teamsters, stragglers, and fugitives from Thomas's command, all striving in hot haste to be among the first to reach Chattanooga. Making inquiry of these men as to the condition of affairs at the front, they were informed "that the entire army was defeated, and in retreat to Chattanooga." "That Rosecrans and Thomas were both killed, and that McCook and Crittenden were prisoners." Asking a small detachment of troops the command they belonged to, Rosecrans was informed Negley's division. He then asked as to the whereabouts of Negley. He was informed that he was a short distance from Rossville, though some distance from the battlefield, "rallying stragglers," and that the entire division "was knocked all to pieces." Knowing that one of the last orders he had given on the battlefield was for Negley's division to report to Thomas to take position on his extreme left, Rosecrans was satisfied that if these soldiers reported truly the left and centre were routed and that the whole army as a broken mass would be back in Chattanooga very shortly. At this time there was a lull in the firing at the front. Dismounting from their horses, Rosecrans and Garfield placing their ears to the ground, endeavored to determine from the sound as it reached them the truth of the reported rout. Hearing no artillery firing, and detecting only what appeared to be a scattering fire of musketry, the conclusion was forced on Rosecrans that his army was entirely broken. His information prior to the battle led him to believe that the rebels outnumbered him two to one, and if this proved true, the disaster in part could be accounted for. Conferring with Garfield as to what was the best thing to be done under the circumstances, Garfield told him that if these reports were true that then his, Rosecrans's, place was in Chattanooga, where he could receive and reorganize, if possible, his army on its reaching that place. That he, of all persons, had more influence with the army, and if it was broken that his duty was to go to that place and make such disposition of the troops as might possibly save the army from complete destruction. That he, Garfield, would ride to the front, try and find Thomas, if alive, and would report immediately to Rosecrans at Chattanooga as to the condition of affairs at the front. Unfortunately, this plan was carried out. The reverse of this should have been done. Rosecrans should at once have gone to the front, and by his presence there aided, as he did at Stone's River, more than any other thing to retrieve the fortunes of the day, and pluck victory from disaster. Had Rosecrans gone to the front, and discovered from a personal observation the true condition of affairs, and the spirit and morale of the troops there, the chances are that he never would have ordered their retirement to Rossville the night of the 20th. That was the turning-point, and his hour had arrived.
On reaching Chattanooga, General Rosecrans rode up to Department Headquarters there, and was helped from his horse into the house. He had the appearance of one broken in spirit, and as if he were bearing up as best he could under terrible blow, the full force and effect of which he himself did not at that time clearly perceive and only partly felt. This was about four o'clock in the afternoon. He had been in the saddle all day from before daylight, with nothing to eat since then. Rarely has mortal man been called on to undergo the terrible mental strain that had been on him during the week just past, of which for two nights in succession his anxiety for McCook was so great as to prevent his sleeping. During the past week the peril of his army had weighed on him to the extent that his nervous system was stretched to its utmost tension. When he saw the rout of his right, supposing that it extended to his entire army, the blow was so strong that it staggered him. A short time after Rosecrans arrived, McCook and Crittenden, also caught in the drift from the right, reached headquarters. While seated in the adjutant-general's office comparing notes with each other as to the events of the day, Rosecrans received a despatch from Garfield, who had reached the front. Hastily reading it over he exclaimed, "Thank God!" and read the despatch aloud. In it Garfield announced his safe arrival at the front, that he was then with Thomas, who had seven divisions intact with a number of detachments, that Thomas had just repulsed a heavy assault of the rebels, and felt confident that he could successfully resist all attacks against his position. Waving this over his head Rosecrans said, "This is good enough, the day isn't lost yet." Turning to McCook and Crittenden he said, "Gentlemen, this is no place for you. Go at once to your commands at the front." He then directed Wagner, in command of the post, to take his entire brigade, stop the stragglers and all others from the front on the edge of the town, and ordered rations and ammunition for his troops to be at once sent out to meet them at Rossville.
During the heavy fighting of the 20th, Thomas was the only general officer on the field of rank above a division commander. Learning some time later in the day of the disaster on our right, he gathered his troops together from all parts of the field to the position selected by himself after the break on the right. Here in a more marked degree even than at Stone's River, he displayed his great staying qualities. Posting his troops on the lines he designated, he, so to speak, placed himself with his back against a rock and refused to be driven from the field. Here he stayed, despite the fierce and prolonged assaults of the enemy, repulsing every attack. And when the sun went down he was still there. Well was he called the "Rock of Chickamauga," and trebly well for the army of the Cumberland that George H. Thomas was in command of the left at that battle. On the 20th, when the hour of supreme trial came and he was left on the field with less than one half of the strength of the army that the day before had been barely able to hold its own against the rebel assaults, he formed his 25,000 troops on "Horseshoe Ridge," and successfully resisted for nearly six long hours the repeated attacks of that same rebel army, largely reinforced until it numbered twice his command, when it was flushed with victory and determined on his utter destruction. There is nothing finer in history than Thomas at Chickamauga.
All things considered, the battle of Chickamauga for the forces engaged was the hardest fought and the bloodiest battle of the Rebellion. Hindman, who fought our right at Horseshoe Ridge, says in his official report that he had "never known Federal troops to fight so well," and that he "never saw Confederate soldiers fight better." The largest number of troops Rosecrans had of all arms on the field during the two days' fighting was 55,000 effective men. While the return of the Army of the Cumberland for September 20, 1863, shows 67,548 "present for duty equipped," still, taking out the troops guarding important points within the Department, the actual force was reduced to the figures just given. Of Gordon Granger's nine brigades, only two were on the battlefield. Wagner, of Wood's division, was in Chattanooga, and Dan McCook was holding Rossville. Post's brigade was guarding the wagon trains and was not in the action. Rosecrans losses aggregated killed, 1,687; wounded, 9,394; missing, 5,255. Total loss, 16,336. Bragg, during the battle, when his entire five corps were engaged, had about 70,000 effective troops in line. Among Bragg's troops were large numbers of prisoners of war captured at Vicksburg and Port Hudson, who had been falsely declared by the rebel authorities as exchanged and released from their parole, and in violation of the cartel were again placed in battle. His losses, in part estimated, were 2,673 killed, 16,274 wounded, and 2,003 missing, a total of 20,950. A full report of the rebel losses was never made.
To the enemy the results of the engagement proved a victory barren of any lasting benefits, and produced no adequate results to the immense drain on the resources of his army. In a number of places Bragg's official report shows that his army was so crippled that he was not able to strengthen one portion of his line, when needed, with troops from another part of the field, and after the conflict was over his army was so cut up that it was impossible for him to follow up his apparent success and secure possession of the objective point of the campaign-Chattanooga. This great gateway of the mountains remaining in possession of the Army of the Cumberland, after Bragg had paid the heavy price he did at Chickamauga, proves that his battle was a victory only in name, and a careful examination of the results and their cost will show how exceedingly small it was to the enemy.
Source: "The Army Of The Cumberland" By Henry M. Cist, Brevet Brigadier-General U. S. V.; A. A. G. On The Staff Of Major General Rosecrans, And The Staff Of Major-General Thomas.
RETURN TO BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA OFFICIAL RECORDS PAGE