Horace Greeley.

The American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 online

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Mass., desperately wounded. Capt.
Geary, son of the General, was
killed.

There can be no severer test of the
quality of soldiers than such a night
attack, in a country whereof they
know nothing and their assailants
know every thing ; and when the pre-
sumption is strong that the latter
must have careftilly measured their
strength, and know what they have
to do. Geary's men were inferior in
number to their foes; but the ordeal
was nobly passed. No r^ment



quailed ; and, though the 73d Ohio
suffered most, losing over 100, the
charge of the 33d Massachusetts and
that of the 136th New York, CoL
James Wood, Jr., were equally in-
trepid and effective. This banning
of its work in the West signally in-
spirited and prepared Hooker's com-
mand for the arduous labors before it

The flight of the Rebels occurred
at 4 A. If., before all Howard's corps
had arrived ; those in the rear were
now halted and impelled in an oppo-
site direction ; soon clearing Raccoon
mountain of the enemy, with all
west of Lookout valley. And Bragg,
who had weakened himself by send-
ing Longstreet against Bumside, did
not feel encouraged to make any
more attacks, but remained quiet
and watchM in his intrenchments
before Chattanooga.

His position was one of remarka-
ble strength, along the western and
northern declivities of the difScnlt
steeps known as Lookout mountain
and Mission ridge, and across the
valley at the mouth of Chattano<^
creek, here very narrow, and so enfi-
laded by heavy batteries along its
mountain sides as to be impregnable
to direct assault. Grant was eager
to attack, so as to be able to send aid
to Bumside, who was urgently call-
ing for it ; but the utterly broken-
down condition of most of his horses,
rendering them unequal to the task
of hauling his cannon, much less
mounting his cavalry, constrained
him to await the arrival of Sherman,
who, with the 16th corps, then on
the Big Black, had been tel^raphed •
by Grant, on his assuming command
of this department, to embark a di-



*^ Since crossing the Tennessee, 437: 76
loUed, 839 wounded, 22 missing. He estimates



the Bebel loss much higher — some 1,600; but
he is dearlj in error. " Sept 21



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SHERMAN EEBNFOBCBS GRANT AT OHATTANOOGA. 437



vision at once for'Memphis, and had
started it, nnder Osterhaus, at 4 p. m.
of that day. Repairing next day by
order to Vicksbnrg, he dispatched
the rest of his corps up the river ; fol-
lowing ** himself to Memphis, whence
he marched eastward, repairing and
using the Charleston railroad for his
trains, to Corinth. His forces having
been sent forward from Memphis in
divisions, he took the cars,** and
reaching, about nodn, Colliersville sta-
tion, found there the 66th Indiana,
CoL p. C. Anthony, just imdergoing
an attack by Chalmers, with 3,000
Rebel cavalry and 8 gims. Having
as escort a battalion of the 18th regu-
lars, he helped beat off the assailants,
and moved on ; reaching Corinth that
night.

But the Rebels did not seem recon-
ciled to his movements, and were con-
stantly infesting Osterhaus's division,
who held the advance, supported by
Morgan L. Smith's, both under the
command of Frank Blair, as well as
John E. Smith's, which covered the
working parties engaged in repairing
the railroad ; so that the movement
had to be made circumspectly and
slowly. Stephen D. Lee, with Rod-
dy's and Ferguson's brigades, made
up a force of about 5,000 irr^ular
cavalry, who were constantly watch-
ing for chances to do mischief; and,
though not strong enough to be per-
ilous, they were so lively as to be
vexatious. At length, they got di-
rectly in the way at Cane creek,**
near Tuscumbia, compelling Blair to
hurt some of them before they would
move. By this time — ^Hooker having
long since arrived on the Tennessee
— Grant had become impatient for
more decisive operations, and a mes-



senger reached Sherman with an
order to drop all work on the rail-
road, and push on rapidly to Bridge-
port. Moving energetically to East-
port, Sherman found there two gun-
boats and a deqked coal-barge, which
Admiral Porter, at his request, had
sent up the Tennessee from Cairo, to
facilitate his crossing; but two trans-
ports and a ferry-boat soon arrived,"
by whose aid Sherman was pushing
on next day, leaving Blair to protect
his rear. Arrived at Rogersville, he
found the Elk unbridged and unford-
able, and was compelled to move up
its right bank to Fayetteville, cross-
ing there on a stone bridge, and
marching by Winchester and Decherd
to Bridgeport; " whence he forthwith
reported in person to Grant at Chat-
tanooga,*^ being at once made ac-
quainted with the plans of the Gen-
eral commanding, and accompanying
him to a survey of the positions of
the enemy; returning forthwith to
Bridgeport to expedite the movement
of his troops.

Grant had resolved to put in Sher-
man's force mainly on his left — or
up tiie Tennessee ; so his first point
was to make Bragg believe that he
should use it on his extreme right.
To this end, his divisions were crossed
as they arrived at Bridgeport; the
foremost (E wing's) moving by Shell *
Mound to Trenton, threatening to as*
sail and turn Bragg's extreme right.
But the residue of this army, as it
came up, moved quietly and screened
from Rebel observation to Kelly's
ford, recrossing on Smith's pontoons,
and marching around Chattanooga
to its assigned position on the left of
Thomas, where materials had already
been noiselessly prepared for throw-



•• Sept 27. ••Oct 11. "Oct 37. " Oct 31. ••Nov. 13. ••Not. IB.



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438



THE AMBRIOAN CONFLICT.



ing a bridge across the river above
the town. At the proper time, Hugh
S. Ewing's division was drawn back
from Trenton and followed the oth-
ers to our extreme left; bnt the
roads were so bad,- and the over-
taxed bridges broke so frequently —
the river being swelled by heavy rains
— ^that imexpected delays occurred ;
and Osterhaus's division was left to
aid Hooker on the right.

Grant, impatient to relieve Bum-
side, had fixed the 21st for the at-
tack ; but it was found impossible for
Sherman to get ready by that time ;
in fact, Ewing was not in position
till the 23d, when the movement was
begun.

Grant's eagerness to attack was
stimulated by the misguiding report
of a deserter that Bragg was falling**
back, when he was only posting his
forces to strengthen himsfelf for the
coming attack. A most impertinent
message •• from the Rebel chief, re-
ceived two days before, had strength-
ened Grant's suspicion that Bragg was
mainly intent 09 getting safely away
from that dangerous neighborhood.
Hence, before Sherman was fairly in
position, Thomas was ordered*^ to
advance our center, and see what was
r behind the Eebel picket-line facing
• Chattanooga. Hooker's purposed at-
tack on Lookout mountain was sus-
pended, and Howard's (11th) corps
pushed over to Chattanooga and tem-
porarily added to Thomas's command.
The movement was initiated by
Granger's (4th) corps ; Sheridan's di-
vision on the right. Wood's on the



left;, reaching nearly to Citico creek;
Palmer, of the 14:th corps, supporting
Granger's right with Baird's division,
refused; Johnson's division under
arms in our intrenchments, ready to
move to any point at a word. How-
ard's corps was likewise held in read-
iness to act whenever required.

It was 2 p. M. when Granger's
men moved out; advancing stead-
ily, squarely, swiftly, upon the Eebel
intrenchments, driving before them
pickets, reserves, and grand guards,
and rushing into the Rebel rifle-pits,
on the low hill known as Orchard
ridge, where they made some 200
prisoners. This was done so quickly
that no force was, and probably none
could have been, sent from Bragg's
main camp, somewhat farther away
from us, to resist it; and Granger,
under orders to secure his new posi-
tion at once by temporary breast-
works, and throw out strong pickets,
while Howard moved up on his left,
Vas soon too well established to be
expelled during the remaining day-
light: so he held on, tmmolested,
through the night.

Hooker was now to take the labor-
ing oar, by an assault on the north
face and west side of Lookout moun-
tain, attracting the enemy's attention
to that quarter while Sherman should
lay his pontoons and cross the Ten-
nessee on our left, near the mouth of
the Chickamauga. Accordingly,
Hooker, at 4 a. m., was under arms
and ready to advance ; but an unexr
pected obstacle confronted him. The
heavy rain of the 21st and 32d had



. ••Nov. 22.

tl *■ ** Headquabteks Abmt or the Tinnesseb,

"In the Field, Nov. 20, 1863.
^Mfj.-Gen. U. 8. Graht, Commanding TJ. &
forces at Chattanooga:
''Gbnbiul : As there majr stOl be Bome non-



\



combatants in Chattanooga, I deem it proper to
notify you that pradence would dictate their
early withdrawal

"I am, Greneral, very reapectAiUy, .vour obe-
dient servant, Beatton Bragg, Gen. Gom'g.

•^ Nov. 23.



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HOOKEB CARRIES LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN.



439



not only deranged our pontoon
bridges ; it had bo swelled Lookout
creek that it was unfordable : so he
dispatched Geary, supported by
Cruft, up the creek to Wauhatchie,
there to cross and hold the right
bank, while the residue of his com-
mand should construct temporary
bridges directly in their front, lower
down.

A heavy mist favored this move-
ment, which would otherwise have
been perilous ; as it was, the enemy
were so intent on watching Hooker's
bridge-builders that they did not ob-
serve Geary, who crossed the creek
at 8 A. M.," capturing a picket of 42
men posted at the bridge, resting
here his left, extending his right to
the foot of the mountain, on the
enemy's side of the valley, facing
northward. Gross's brigade now,
by Hooker's order, advanced and
seized the bridge over the creek just
below the railroad crossing, an^
pushed across there. Now Oster-
haus, who had just come up from
Brown's ferry, pushed forward
Wood's brigade to a point half a mile
above Gross, laid a temporary bridge,
and crossed there. Meanwhile, our
batteries, established on the most
available hills, were so planted as to
enfilade the Eebel infantry, as they
marched down from their camp on
the mountain to man their breast-
works and rifle-pits. Part of them
had taken post behind a railroad
fembankment, and kept up a deadly
fire with little exposure or loss on
their part Still, Hooker's men —
they were 9,681, all told, and no two
divisions of themhadhidierto fought
in the same battle — ^acted from the first
as though they were bound to conquer.



By 11 A. M., Wood had his bridge
finidied; Geary was close at hand,
skirmishing smartly; and now all
our guns opened in concert; while
Wood and Gross, springing across
the creek, joined Geary's left, and
moved down the valley, sweeping aU
before them ; taking many prisoners
in their rifle-pits, and allowing few
to escape up the mountain ; our men
from right to left following at full
speed, right imder the muzzles of the
enemy's guns ; climbing over ledges
and bowlders, crests and chasms, and
driving the Rebels through their
camp without allowing them to halt
there; hurling them back with lit-
tle more than a show of fighting;
Geary's advance rounding the peak
of the mountain about noon, and still
pressing on ; though Hooker, who
knew that Bragg had reenforced this
wing, but not to what extent, had
given orders that they be halted and
reformed on reaching the summit;
but the men would not be halted, but
rushed forward, making hundreds of
prisoners, and hurling the residue
down the precipitous eastern declivity
of the mountain.

Darkness, at 2 p. m., arrested our
victorious arms ; the mountain being
now enveloped in a cloud so thick
and black as to render farther move-
ment perilous, if not impossible;
when Hooker's line was established
along the east brink of the precipice,
its left near the mouth of Chatta-
nooga creek ; where, by 4 p. if,, it
was so fortified, by whatever means
were at hand, that he sent word to
Grant that his position was impreg-
nable.

At 5J,Brig.-Q^n. Oarlin, of the
14:th corps, reported to him, and,



•Nov. 24.



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440



THE AMBRIGAN GOKFLIOT.



with his brigade, was asBigned to
duty on the extreme right, where
Geary's men were nearly exhansted
with hours of climbing and fighting.
This wing was assailed, about dark,
but to no purpose — Carlin easily re-
pelling the enemy; who, Ijefore
morning, abandoned the mountain
altogether, leaving 20,000 rations
and the camp equipage of three hng-
ades, as they silently dropped into the
Chattanooga valley.

Sherman had begun to cross the
Tennessee early this morning.** His
pontoons had been prepared in the
little creek on the north side, called
the North Chickamauga; whence
they, before daylight, were pushed
out into the river, bearing 80 men
each, and floated silently past the
Rebel pickets, along the south bank,
to the destined point just below the
mouth of the South or real Chicka-
mauga, where they struck the hostile
shore, capturing a picket of 20 before
their coming was suspected. The
steamboat Dxmbar, with a tow-barge,
having been employed during the
night in ferrying across horses pro-
cured from Sherman, wherewith to
move Thomas's artillery, was sent up
to hasten the crossing here ; and, by
daylight, 8,000 of Sherman's men
were over the river and so established
in rifle-trenches as to be prepared for
Hn assault by twice their number.
By noon, Sherman had bridges across
both the Tennessee and the South
Chickamauga, and was pushing over
the rest of his command ; and, at 3^
p. M., he had, by sharp fighting, car-
ried the north end of Mission ridge
nearly to the railroad tunnel; and
here he so fortified himself during
the night as to be ready for any



emergency. Meantime, CoL Long,
with his brigade of Thomas's cavalry,
had crossed the Tennessee and the
Chickamauga on our left, and raided
on the enemy's lines of commanica-
tion ; burning Tyner's Station, imd,
pushing out to Cleveland, capturing
200 prisoners, with 100 wagons, and
destroying considerable Kebel stores,
with small loss on our side.

Thomas this day improved and
strengthened his advanced positions;
pushing Howard's corps up the Ten-
nessee till it joined hands with Sher-
man, just as the latter had bron^
his rear division across the river.

Thus, by continuous though mode*
rate advances, our army, at small
cost, had wrested from the enemy
several important advantages of po-
sition, and was now stretched in un-
broken line from the north end of
Lookout mountain to the north end
of Mission ridge, with the enemy
compressed between them.

Next morning,*** Hooker moved
down from Lookout mountain, and
across Chattanooga valley, which his
hold of Lookout mountain had com-
pelled the enemy to abandon, burn-
ing the bridge over the creek ; which
arrested our advance here for three
hours. So soon as our new bridge
could be crossed, Osterhaus pushed
on to Rossville ; driving the enemy
out of the gap in Mission ridge by
fiankiug them, and capturing gnns,
munitions, wagons, &c. By this
time, the bridge was finished, and
Hooker's force all over : so Hooker
undertook, as ordered, to dear Mis-
sion ridge, on liis left, of the enemy:
Osterhaus moving eastward of the
ridge, Geary on the west of it, and
Cruft directly upon it, the batteriefl



••Not. 24.



* Not. 26.



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HOOEBB STILL ADTjLNOIlira— SHEBMAN OHEOKBD. 44I



with Geary, and all moving together
toward Bragg and Chattanooga. In
the progress of the movement, the
narrowness of the crest compelled a
division of Craft's command into
two lines.

The enemy's front was protected
by breastworks, thrown up by om*
men while holding here in front of
Bragg's triumphant army during the
night and day following the fight of
Ohickamauga, and they seemed dis-
posed to hold on ; but tiiat was not to
be. As their skirmishers advanced to
check oar movement, the 9th and the
36th Indiana sprang forward, form-
ing line under their fire, and, in-
stantly charging, drove them back ;
while the residue of our column
formed line : Gross's brigade, with
the Slst Ohio and 35th Indiana, in
advance ; the residue of Whitaker's
brigade, closely -supporting ; Geary
and Osterhaus advancing abreast of
them ; and all, at a charging pace,
swept on, pushing back all opposi-
tion ; every attempt of the enemy to
make a stand being defeated by a
withering flank-fire from Geary and
Osterhaus, who gathered up as pris-
oners all who sought escape by flight
down the ridge. Osterhaus alone
took 2,000 of them. Those who fled
along the ridge were intercepted by
Johnson's division of Thomas's corps,
who were now advancing from the
direction of Chattanooga. At sun-
set, Hooker halted for the night, there
being no more enemies in his front ;
his troops going into bivouac on the
rocky steeps they had so nobly won.

Gen. Sherman, who had been for-
tifying his position daring the night,
received orders to attack at daylight
this morning, and did so; fiinding
the ground ftr more difficult than he



had anticipated. The ridge was not
continuous, but a succession of emi-
nences: that which he had carried
being commanded by that in his
fit)nt, across quite a valley ; its crest
covered with forest, and bristling
with breastworks and abatis. But,
difficult as was the task, these works
must be carried; and by sunrise
Sherman had completed his disposi-
tions and given the order to ad-
vance.

Gen. Corse, with a regiment from
Lightbum's brigade, was directed
to advance along the ridge; Gen.
Morgan L. Smith to move along its
east base, connecting with Corse;
Col. Loonus, in like manner, was to
advance along its west base, support-
ed by two reserve brigades under
Gen. John E. Smith. And thus our
line moved on: the 40th Illinois,
supported by the 20th and 46th Ohio,
pushing directly down the face of the
hill held by Sherman and up that
held by the enemy, to within eighty
yards of the Bebel intrenchments,
where Gen. Corse found a secondary
crest, which he gained and held;
calling up his reserves, and preparing
to assault, when a hand-to-hand con-
test was maintained for an hour with
varying success and heavy loss on
our part ; biit Corse was unable to
carry the enemy's works, as were
they to drive him from his sheltering
hill. But Gen. Morgan L. Smith on
one side, and Col. Loomis on the
other, gained ground on the flanks,
though John E. Smith's supporting
brigades recoiled before a sudden and
heavy artillery fire, giving the im*
pression in Chattanooga that Sher-
man was losing ground. Yet no
ground was really lost by our ad-
vance ; and an attempt to pursue



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442



THB AMBBIOAN CONFLICT.



the recoiling brigades was promptly
checked by a flankdng fire from the
crest ; the enemy taking to the shel-
ter of his crest and his woods. Still,
no decided success had been won by
Sherman's column up to 3 p. m.
Meantime, Gen. Giles A. Smith had
been disabled at 4 p. m. of the day
before ; and Gen. Corse had been se-
verely wounded at 10 a. m. of this day.

Gen. Grant had been awaiting ad-
vices of Hooker's successful advance
on the right, before giving Thomas
the signal to advance. Unaware of
the long detention of Hooker in bridg-
ing Lookout creek, he had expected
such advices before noon; and was
still impatiently awaiting them, when,
seeing that Bragg was weakening his
center to support his right, and judg-
ing that Hooker must by this time
be at or near Rossville, he gave
Thomas, at 2 p. m., the order to ad-
vance and attack.

At once, Baird's, Wood's, Sheri-
dan's, and Johnson's divisions went
forward,with double lines of skirmish-
ers in front, followed, at easy support-
ing distance, by the entire force, right
into the enemy's rifle-pits at the base
of the ridge ; driving out the occu-
pants, and hardly stopping to reform
their lines before they charged right
up the steep and diflScult ascent —
slowly, of course, but steadily and in
order; following so close to the re-
treating foe as to embarrass, doubt-
less, his gunners fiiring from the crest
of the ridge. Says Gen. Grant, in
his official report :

" These troops moved forward, drove the
enemy from the rifle-pits at the base of the
ridge like bees from a hive, stopped bnt a
moment until the whole were in line, and
commenced the ascent of the mountain from
right to left almost simultaneously, follow-
ing closely the retreading enemy without
further orders. They encountered a fearful



volley of grape and canister from near 80
pieces of artillery and musketry from still
well-filled rifle-pits on the summit of the
ridge. Not a waver, however, was seen in
dl that long line of brave men. Their prog-
ress was steadily onward until the summit
was in their possession. In this charge, the
casudties were remarkably few for the fire
encountered. I can account for this only
on the theory that the enemy *s surprise at the
audacity of such a charge caused confusion
and purposeless aiming of their pieces.

" The nearness of night, and the enemy
still resisting the advance of Thomases left^
prevented a general pursuit that night ; but
Sheridan pushed forward to Mission mills.

^^The resistance on Thomases left being
overcome, the enemy abandoned his posi-
tion near the railroad tunnel in front of
Sherman, and by midnight was in full re-
treat ; and the whole of his strong posidon
on Lookout mountain, Chattanooga valley,
and Mission ridge, was in our possession, to-
gether with a large number of prisonerSi
artillery, and small arms."

Says Gen. Thomas, in his report:

" Our troops advancing steadily in a con-
tinuous line, the enemy, seized with panic,
abandoned the works at the foot of the hill
and retreated precipitately to the crest;
whither they were closely followed by our
troops, who, apparently inspired by the im-
pulse of victory, carried the hill simultane-
ously at six different points, and so closely
upon the heels of the enemy, that many of
them were taken prisoners in the trenches.
We captured all their cannon and ammuni-
tion, before they could be removed or de-
stroyed. After halting a few moments to
reorganize the troops, who had become
somewhat scattered in the assault of the hill,
Gen. Sherman pushed forward in pursuit,
and drove those in his front, who escaped
capture, across Ohickamauga creek. Gens.
Wood and Baird, being obstinately resisted
by rCenforcements from the enemy's ex-
treme right, continued fighting until dark-
ness set in ; slowly but steadily driving the
enemy before them. In moving upon Ross-
ville, Gen. Hooker encountered Stewart's
division and other troops ; finding his left
flank threatened, Stewart attempt^ to es-
cape by retreating toward Greysville ; but
some of his force, finding their retreat threat-
ened in that quarter, retired in disorder to-
ward their right along the crest of the ridge;
where they were met by another portion of
Gen. Hooker's command, and were driven
by these troops in the face of Johnson's
division of Palmer's corps, by whom they
were nearly all made prisoners."

As yet, we have looked at this re-



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BEAGG'S OFFICIAL REPORT. ^



443



markable action from our own side
exclusively. Let us now see it as it
appeared to Gten. Bragg, posted on
the crest of Mission ridge (until driv-
en off), and enjoying by far the wider
and clearer view of it His report,
being brief and pungent, is here given
almost entire :

" Ueadquartbbs Abmt op Tennkssee, )
" Dalton, Ga., 80th Nov., 1868. J
** (Jen. S. CooPEB, Adjutant, and In8i)eotor
General, Richmond:

" Sir — On Monday, the 28d, the enemy
advanced in heavy force, and drove in our
picket line in front of Missionary ridge, but
made no further effort.

" On Tuesday morning early, they threw
over the river a heavy force, opposite the
north end of the ridge, and just below the
mouth of the Chickamauga; at the same
time displaying a heavy force in our imme-
diate front. After visiting the right, and
making dispositions there for the new de-
velopment in that . direction, I returned
toward the left, to find a heavy cannonad-
ing going on from the enemy's batteries on
our forces occupying the slope of Lookout
mountain, between the crest and the river.
A very heavy force soon advanced to the
assault, and was met by one brigade only,



Online LibraryHorace GreeleyThe American conflict: a history of the great rebellion in the United States of America, 1860-'64 → online text (page 62 of 113)