The Army of the Cumberland spent much of the summer of 1863 in the state of Tennessee. Their main opponent in that state was the Confederate Army of Tennessee, led by General Braxton Bragg (1817-1876; see entry). By late September 1863, Army of the Cumberland maneuvers masterminded by Union general William S. Rosecrans (1819-1898) convinced Bragg to abandon the city of Chattanooga and clear out of Tennessee. But when Rosecrans continued his pursuit of Bragg into northern Georgia, the Confederate general counterattacked. This battle—known as the Battle of Chickamauga—ended in disaster for the North, as Union divisions under the command of Sheridan and other Union officers broke into chaotic flight.
Bragg's army chased the retreating Union soldiers all the way back to Chattanooga, then surrounded the city. For a short time it appeared that the Army of the Cumberland was in danger of being destroyed. But Union reinforcements soon arrived, and General George H. Thomas (1816-1870; see entry) organized a successful counterattack in late November. Sheridan's division played an important part in this counterattack. Their capture of the strategically important position known as Missionary Ridge triggered a complete Confederate retreat back into Georgia.
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