Part XXIII

Chickamauga And Missionary Ridge, September To November, 1863.

       Bragg, commanding in Tennessee, had fallen back in June, during Lee's operations in Pennsylvania, from Tullahoma to Chattanooga, with his army of 44,000 men, and placed it in intrenchments there in the period of Gettysburg and the surrender of Vicksburg. Rosecrans, with an army of about 65,000, followed him across the Tennessee river, and Burnside with 15,000 took possession of Cumberland Gap. Bragg, perceiving the design of Rosecrans to turn his left flank, evacuated Chattanooga and chose a line of battle on the Chickamauga river. These movements occupied the time from July 1st to September 18th, and brought the two armies together at the battle of Chickamauga. The first day's fight on the 19th was a drawn battle, but General Longstreet's divisions arrived on the field, and with this accession of strength Bragg won on the 20th the great battle that utterly defeated the whole of the army of Rosecrans except the wing which Thomas held with a steadiness that gained him the well-won title of "the Rock of Chickamauga."
       The routed forces of Rosecrans, that fled into Chattanooga from this battlefield, were joined by Thomas, who had made good his retreat after his heroic fighting. The Confederate army closed in about the place of refuge which Rosecrans had sought, and made critical the situation of his army. The Confederate forces had now acquired an advantage which it appears was lost by the detaching of Longstreet on an expedition to drive Burnside from Knoxville; and perhaps also by the neglect of an opportunity for making a united bold advance into Tennessee. At the time that Bragg's forces were thus weakened by the absence of Longstreet and were held as' besiegers of Chattanooga in the lines along Missionary ridge and Lookout mountain, Federal reinforcements drawn from Virginia and Tennessee in large numbers were hurried to the relief of Rosecrans. General Grant was also ordered to take command and Rosecrans was relieved.
       About the middle of November the Federal army had been increased to 80,000 men, nearly doubling the force of Bragg, and inspired with confidence by the arrival of a new commander. Confiding in this force and appreciating the value of a quick blow while Longstreet was away, General Grant moved against Bragg, and on November 25th drove him from Lookout mountain and Missionary ridge to a new position near Dalton, in Georgia. This much accomplished, a large reinforcement was sent rapidly to Burnside, at Knoxville, causing Longstreet to withdraw toward Virginia.

This Page last updated 02/10/02

RETURN TO CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY

GO TO PART XXIV, FEDERAL PREPARATIONS TO INVADE GEORGIA, 1864