Battle of Chattanooga 3
(also called Lookout Mountain)
Location: Chattanooga, TN
Dates: November 23 - 25, 1863
Ulysses S. Grant, Major General
Braxton Bragg, General
After a stunning victory at Chickamauga, in September 1863,
Bragg's confederate Army of the Tennessee, had
William S. Rosecrans' federal
Army of the Cumberland locked up in Chattanooga. With high mountains
to the west, Confederate troops to the south, and east, and the Tennessee
River to the north,
Rosecrans' army was slowly beginning to starve.
Rosecrans' appeared demoralized. His dispatches
to the war department were frequent and seemed confused, causing Lincoln to
say he was acting "confused and stunned like a duck hit on the head."
With the condition worsening in Chattanooga, Lincoln sent
Sherman's corps and
Joseph Hooker's corps to the relief of Rosecrans.
Additionally, due to Rosecrans erratic behavior, Lincoln determined to send
a stronger leader to Chattanooga -
Ulysses S. Grant.
U.S. Grant was
immediately summoned to Louisville, from Cairo, Illinois, to meet with a war
department representative. On October 17, in route to Louisville, at
Indianapolis, Grant was surprised to find Secretary of War, Stanton,
awaiting him. Grant was handed two, nearly identical orders: the first
order created the Department of the Mississippi, which combined the Armies
of the Cumberland, Ohio and Tennessee and left the existing army commanders
in place. The second order created the Army of the Mississippi but
changed the commander of the Army of the Cumberland from
Rosecrans to Major
George Thomas. Grant was told that he could choose either one.
He chose order # 2.
After arriving in Louisville,
Grant, and Stanton,
received news that the Army of the Cumberland was considering a retreat from
Chattanooga. Grant immediately drafted an order to Rosecrans
announcing that he was now commanding the Army of the Mississippi, followed
immediately by the order, from Washington, relieving
Rosecrans and replacing
George Thomas. Upon receiving Grant's orders, Thomas wired
him stating, "We will hold the town till we starve."
On the morning of
October 20, Grant started his journey south, making it as far as Nashville.
Arriving in the Chattanooga on October 23, Grant was able to meet with his
key lieutenants to be apprised of the situation in Chattanooga. What
he found was disheartening. His army was literally boxed in at
Chattanooga. Troops were demoralized and had not had full rations for
some time. Confederate troops held the high ground to the north, and
east (Missionary Ridge), Lookout Mountain to the southwest and the Tennessee
River had them blocked in to the north, and to the west.
order of business was to open the line to his supply line in northern
Alabama. This line, that crossed Moccasin Bend, and the Tennessee
River in two places was called the "Cracker Line."
While the situation on
the Union side was grave, the situation on the Confederate side was not much
better. Receiving letters from several of
Bragg's commanding officers,
threatening to resign if Bragg were not removed, Jefferson Davis boarded a
train for Chattanooga, in early October. Upon arriving, Davis did
nothing to improve the command structure, keeping
Bragg in overall command,
he removed Lieutenant General
Daniel H. Hill. Additionally, he sent
James Longstreet to battle
Ambrose Burnside in Knoxville
and he sent Lieutenant General
Leonidas Polk to Mississippi. This had
the net effect, of removing 15,000 troops from the Chattanooga area,
weakening an already thinly stretched rebel line.
Grant was quick to act.
On November 23, the center wing of the army, under command of
moved northeast of town and took the hill, "Orchard Knob." This
removed the forward most line of Confederate artillery and infantry.
The next day, Major General
Joseph Hooker's Corps assaulted the heights
of Lookout Mountain. His troops battled a small division commanded by
Carter Stevenson. While most of the hard fighting took
place near the Craven residence, on a terrace part way up Lookout Mountain,
rebel artillery was present on the summit. Unfortunately, they could
not depress their cannon enough to hit the Union troops at the Craven House.
Hooker's troops ended up pushing Stevenson's division off Lookout Mountain
to the Rossville Gap. This portion of the battle became historic as
the "Battle above the clouds," as much of it took place with a heavy fog
concealing the summit. On the morning of November 25, Union troops
cheered when they saw the U.S. flag on the summit.
Also on November 25,
Grant sent his left wing commander,
Sherman to hit
Bragg's right flank, commanded by
William J. Hardee's
division under Major General
Patrick Cleburne. With a poor
understanding of the terrain near Tunnel Hill, Sherman's Corps struggled
against Cleburne's troops. At this point, Grant instructed
send his troops into the first set of pits below the hills of Missionary
Ridge. This would be a diversion that would allow Sherman's left wing
Hooker's right wing, then pushing
Stevenson's division, to crush the two
rebel flanks. Not understanding their orders, Thomas' troops pushed
past the first enemy works and continued right up the heights of Missionary
Ridge. Fortunately for these troops, their assault was successful,
pushing Bragg's Army of the Tennessee, back into northern Georgia, near
Campaign: Chattanooga III
Outcome: U.S. Victory
Union: 5,815 (killed, wounded or missing/captured)
Confederate: 6,667 (killed, wounded or missing/captured)
After the third battle of Chattanooga,
Braxton Bragg wrote Jefferson
Davis stating that the blame for the loss at Chattanooga was his.
Davis, being friends with Bragg, did not allow him to resign. Instead,
he brought him to Richmond as a special advisor to the president. In
his place, he put
Joseph E. Johnston. It would be Johnston's job to
hold back the Union invasion into to northern Georgia, that
Sherman would make the following spring - a task he was also not fit for.
The battle for Chattanooga would lose eastern Tennessee for the Confederacy
for the remainder of the war. This was devastating as it was the rail
gateway to the southern interior.