November 23-25, 1863 …..Battle of Chattanooga
Attack : Often referred to as the Third Battle of Chattanooga after the first two “shellings” . The Union Army has been in Chattanooga since their retreat from The Battle of Chickamauga in September. They have been dug in and on the defense for weeks.
The Confederates have held the high ground around the city. Major General Ulysses S. Grant has command now of the Union Army in the West. The Union is happy to hold this vital rail hub, but a supply line to the Federals must be opened.
Confederate General Braxton Bragg knows Union Commander Grant will have to fight his way out with the reinforcements he must be receiving soon. Orchard Knob, Missionary Ridge to the east, and Lookout Mountain to the south are those high points and approaches that the Confederates have occupied and will now must be pushed off.
Union Major General Ulysses S. Grant had been ordered to Chattanooga.
As commander, he relieves Rosecrans, replacing him with Union General George Thomas the “Rock of Chickamauga”. Over 35,000 Union troops are en route to reinforce and help lift the siege that has choked off the Union Army supply lines.
Now the Union Army holds the city but is choked off by the encircling CSA Army, which on the offensive since September will now be under attack from the Union Army now being reinforced.
Men are on sparse rations and mules and horses are starving. Grant will follow a suggested plan by Brig. Gen. William F. “Baldy” Smith and finally establish a new supply line dubbed “the cracker line”, which resupplies the besieged Union forces just in time. Smith deserves much credit that was often overlooked.
Major General William Tecumseh Sherman is arriving with 4 divisions and soon the Union Army has enough strength to go on the offensive. On November 23rd, the Union attack begins and yields success when the Confederates are pushed from Orchard Knob by Union divisions under Union General George Thomas.
William T. Sherman will take on the Rebel Army at the well defended Missionary Ridge finally yielding a victory for the Federals. Also a Union victory will be the defeat of the CSA Army at the Battle of Lookout Mountain by Union forces under Major General Joseph Hooker.
The Lookout Mountain engagement will be known as the battle above the clouds as both sides hear the battle above the fog but cannot see the battle lines themselves during this confusing but victorious segment of the Battle of Chattanooga.
The Confederate Army in Tennessee is essentially eliminated. Chattanooga will now become the base of operations for the Union Army now planning the push for the “Atlanta Campaign”.
Defense: Confederate General Braxton Bragg has been on the attack since the CSA victory at Battle of Chickamauga, holding the high ground around Chattanooga in hopes of retaking the city if reinforced by some miracle which will not come. He is given credit for his ability and tenacity.
Chattanooga was the “Gateway to the South” with its extensive railroad hubs providing transportation and supplies to the CSA Army until its loss.
The CSA corps commanders are Lt. General James Longstreet, Lt. General William J. Hardee and Major General John C. Breckenridge who later will be accused of drunkenness during the engagement.
Battle outcome: Strategic Union victory.
Soldiers: Union-56,000 / CSA – 44,000
Casualties: Union-5,824(753 killed)/ CSA-6,667(361 killed)
Here are a few of the finest novels written about this strategic battle to gain control of the great railway hub at Chattanooga, Tennessee. How the Union Army under siege at Chattanooga for 6 weeks after the defeat and retreat from Chickamauga is now out of supplies. What choice but to break out … or starve.