Battle of Chickamauga
Location: Catoosa & Walker
counties near Fort
Dates: September 18-20, 1863
William S. Rosecrans, Major General
Braxton Bragg, General
William S. Rosecrans was not known for his alacrity. After a
decisive victory, over several days in late 1862 and early 1863, at Stone's
River, Rosecrans went into winter bivouac. Even after the urgings of
President Lincoln, in the spring of 1863, Rosecrans would not move his Army
of the Cumberland.
Finally, in late June, the gargantuan Army of the
Cumberland, started moving slowly to dislodge
Bragg's Army of the Tennessee,
at Tullahoma, TN. This movement was quickly reported to Bragg who
decided to relocate his army to northern Georgia - possibly as far as Dalton
- since this would provide a better field of battle.
Rosecrans now moved more quickly to cut off Bragg's Army. This was
described by soldiers, in the Army of the Cumberland as one of the hardest
marches, over the most difficult terrain encountered thus far.
splitting his Army of the Cumberland into three assaulting forces,
decided to assault from the north (Crittenden), the west (Thomas) and the
southwest (McCook) near a sleepy creek, called Chickamauga (appropriately
meaning in the local Indian dialect: River of Blood).
As the Union forces under
Thomas approached the Chickamauga, on September
Bragg's forces were on the other side, they were caught in a
surprise attack. The Union forces pulled back to the Lafayette Road
and were determined to hold this north/south line.
During battle on the
James Longstreet's Corps arrived in time to join the battle.
This brought the armies close to par and allowed
Bragg a little breathing
room. The battle continued to sway back, and forth, along a 2 1/2 mile
front at the Lafayette Road.
On the third day, through a grievous error on
Longstreet was able to break through a hole near the center
of the Union line. Troops under Longstreet, including
John Bell Hood's
Texans, quickly rolled
McCook's line to the north and into
With Rosecrans leading the way, McCook's and
Crittenden's corps started
a piecemeal retreat towards Chattanooga. Charles Dana, a war
department informer, said he knew there was serious problems when he saw
Rosecrans, a devout Catholic, "cross himself."
Left on the field, near
George Thomas's 14th Corps, was in place, to hold
Longstreets's Corps, while the Army of the Cumberland retreated.
Gordon Granger's Reserve Corps also played a part in holding the Army of
Tennessee in place.
Through his cool actions at Chickamauga,
earned the nickname, "Rock of Chickamauga."
Outcome: Confederate Victory
Union: 16,170 (killed, wounded or missing/captured)
Confederate: 18,454 (killed, wounded or missing/captured)
After their retreat into Chattanooga, the Army of the Cumberland was
boxed in, between the Tennessee River, Missionary Ridge and Lookout
Mountain. The Army of the Tennessee, for all practical purposes, had
Rosecrans' army in a "strangle hold." Food and supplies dropped until
Grant, fresh from victory at Vicksburg, arrived with several corps of
infantry - including
William T. Sherman's corps. Upon arrival in
Chattanooga, Grant relieved Rosecrans and put
Thomas in his place.
Within several days food was once again flowing into Chattanooga and Grant
would go on to push
Bragg's Army into Tennessee. Chickamauga, was a
huge Confederate victory, but it was the "high water" mark for the Army of
Tennessee. Bragg would win no more victories and would be relieved by
Joseph Johnston in the coming months. Close Window