Battles around Chattanooga

Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton caught a speedy train westward to rendezvous with Grant in Louisville. Instead, he caught up to him at Indianapolis, and the two rode together that last leg. The administration had decided to create the Military Division of the Mississippi from the Appalachians to the river, and it assigned Grant as the commander. Stanton then gave Grant a choice: he could keep Rosecrans as commander of the Army of the Cumberland, or replace him with Thomas. Grant chose Thomas.

Before Grant arrived at Chattanooga, the administration had already taken steps to impro%'e the situation there. It had transferred the XI and XII Corps under Major-General Joseph Hooker from the idle Army of the Potomac by rail, and Sherman, with another 17,000, had been on the march from Mississippi. Rosecrans and his staff had prepared plans for opening supply lines. Grant's presence instilled confidence, and he soon had the 'cracker line' open.

With reinforcements under Sherman and Hooker there. Grant implemented his plan. Additional manpower had doubled Union

The best cavalry commander in the Western Theater and probably on either side in the war Nathan Bedford Forrest was a scourge to Union soldiers Forrest's disgust for Bragg was so great after Chickamauga that he threatened to kill him. Forrest also gained notoriety when his cavalrymen slaughtered black soldiers at Fort Pillow. (Library of Congress)

he won, but after the Chickamauga débâcle they lost all faith in him. Lincoln thought Rosecrans acted 'confused and stunned like a duck hit on the head.' The Assistant Secretary of War, Charles A. Dana, visited Chattanooga and reported that the army lacked confidence in him. What the

This is the crest of Missionary Ridge, where Thomas's men charged without orders. The steepness of the hill, and the Confederates in flight, provided protection for the attackers, who dislodged and routed Bragg's army. (Library of Congress)

strength, while Bragg depleted the size of his command by detaching Longstreet and 15,000 men. Grant could use this considerable numerical superiority to his advantage. He ordered Hooker to attack up Lookout Mountain on the Rebel left, while Sherman's forces would roll up the right. Thomas's army, which, Grant assumed, suffered from a lack of confidence after Chickamauga, would play a less active role. It would threaten the enemy center, a long, steep hill called Missionary Ridge.

The battle opened up well for the Federals. On 23 November 1863, Thomas's people attacked and secured Orchard Knob, from which they threatened an assault on Missionary Ridge. The next day, Hooker assailed a lightly defended portion of

LEFTThe Union plan did not call for Federal forces to break through the Confederate line in the center but men from the Army of the Cumberland did just that In the excitement of battle and their desire to restore their reputation after the disaster at Chickamauga these Federals exploited the seep incline along Missionary Ridge, pursuing the defenders so closely that Rebels near the top could not fire for fear of hitting their own men. In a massive rush, depicted here in the sketch. Yankees earned the heights in one of the greatest assaults of the entire war ( Library of Congress)

This is the crest of Missionary Ridge, where Thomas's men charged without orders. The steepness of the hill, and the Confederates in flight, provided protection for the attackers, who dislodged and routed Bragg's army. (Library of Congress)

Lookout Mountain with almost three divisions. The successful operation amid pockets of fog created quite a spectacle and gained the nickname 'The Battle Above the Clouds.' Sherman, meanwhile, had crossed the Tennessee River and planned to roll up the Rebel right at Missionary Ridge, while Hooker rushed down on the left.

Yet two factors operated against Sherman. The narrow ground and rough terrain limited his options and restricted the amount of troops he could deploy for battle. The second factor was a superb Confederate division commander named Patrick Cleburne. An Irishman by birth, Cleburne had run afoul of officials in Richmond by proposing the use of blacks as soldiers. Although he was the best division commander in the army, authorities somehow managed to overlook him for advancement, no doubt as a result of his controversial suggestion. As usual, Cleburne's

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