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Chattanooga and Chickamauga

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  1. Chattanooga and Chickamauga Lsn 21

  2. Strategic Importance of Chattanooga • Key railroad junction • Memphis and Charleston ran west to the Mississippi • Western and Atlantic ran southeast toward Atlanta • Nashville and Chattanooga came from middle Tennessee • East Tennessee ran to Knoxville and on to Virginia

  3. Strategic Importance of Chattanooga • Principal gateway into Unionist Tennessee • Western Tennessee had fallen to the Union in early 1862, but much of middle and eastern Tennessee remained under Confederate control • Union sentiment was especially strong in the east In 1862, Lincoln appointed Andrew Johnson, who would later become Lincoln’s vice-president, as military governor of Tennessee

  4. Strategic Importance of Chattanooga • Northern end of a corridor that led a hundred miles south to Atlanta • Chattanooga was not only a Federal objective in its own right • More importantly its possession would open the way to further attacks into the Southern heartland

  5. Strategic Importance of Chattanooga • Provided pork, corn, copper, and saltpeter to the Confederate armies in the east • Site of key commissary, quartermaster, and ordnance depots as well as several hospitals

  6. Chattanooga: Strategic Situation • After the battle of Murfreesboro ended Jan 1, 1863, both the Federal and Confederate armies separated and went into a long period of recuperation • By the summer of 1863 the Federal drive to secure Tennessee had stalled, in spite of the early successes at Forts Henry and Donelson • Ambiguity and apprehension over on-going Vicksburg and Gettysburg campaigns also contribute to inaction

  7. Chattanooga: The Federals • The commander of the Federal Army of the Cumberland was William Rosecrans • Graduated fifth in the West Point class of 1842 • Wins at Corinth in Oct 1862 but criticized by Grant for not aggressively following up on his victory • A typical complaint against Rosecrans is that he is slow and conservative • Very popular with his men

  8. Chattanooga: The Confederates • Braxton Bragg commands the Army of Tennessee • Graduated fifth in the West Point class of 1837 • One of the heroes of Buena Vista in the Mexican War • Unpopular with both his men and his subordinate commanders, but well-liked by Davis

  9. Chattanooga: The Confederates • Grant like to tell an Old Army story of a time when Bragg served simultaneously as a company commander and company quartermaster • As company commander Bragg made a request upon the company quartermaster (i.e., himself) for something he wanted • As quartermaster he denied the request and gave an official reason for doing so in writing • As company commander he argued back that he was entitled to what he requested • As quartermaster he continued to deny himself what he claimed he needed as commander • Finally Bragg requested the intervention of the post commander who declared, “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarreled with every officer in the army, and now you are quarreling with yourself.”

  10. Chattanooga: Tullahoma Campaign • Lincoln finally prods Rosecrans into moving forward with the Tullahoma Campaign on June 24 • Rosecrans conducts a series of flanking maneuvers to force Bragg to withdraw 80 miles to Chattanooga which he occupied on July 4

  11. Chattanooga: Tullahoma Campaign • Tullahoma was a brilliant and inexpensive campaign (just 560 Federal casualties), but Rosecrans does not get the praise he thinks he deserves • Complains that he hopes “the War Department may not overlook so great an event because it is not written in the letters of blood” • The rough terrain around Chattanooga and the need to bring up supplies cause Rosecrans to pause for several weeks to consolidate his gains

  12. Battle of Chattanooga • When Rosecrans resumes his advance in August he distracts Bragg with a demonstration against Chattanooga and then crosses the Tennessee River below the town with an infantry corps • With his communications in jeopardy, Bragg abandons Chattanooga without a fight on September 9

  13. Battle of Chattanooga • The loss of this important city spurred the Confederate high command into action and Bragg is reinforced by troops from Joe Johnston’s command in Mississippi • James Longstreet also brings two divisions by rail from Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia James Longstreet

  14. Battle of Chickamauga • Bragg’s withdraw leads Rosecrans to believe the Confederates are demoralized and he pursued aggressively • The rough terrain favored the Confederates because it caused Rosecrans to send his columns through widely separated gaps • Furthermore Bragg knew reinforcements were on the way and was willing to fight • Bragg tried to concentrate against Rosecrans vulnerable divisions but could not get his subordinates to carry out his plans

  15. Battle of Chickamauga • Rosecrans eventually realized that his current dispositions put his army in danger and he ordered his scattered units to concentrate near West Chickamauga Creek about 12 miles south of Chatanooga • By this time two-thirds of Longstreet’s reinforcements had arrived • Bragg has 66,000 men vs 56,000 for Rosecrans

  16. Battle of Chickamauga • On September 19, Bragg attacked • Difficult terrain makes the battle more of a series of individual engagements than one concerted effort • On the first day, Bragg has a poor grasp of the Federal positions and fritters away his numerical advantage on piecemeal attacks • Late in the evening he reorganizes his army into two informal wings led by Longstreet and Polk in preparation for the next day’s attack Before the war Leonidas Polk was an Episcopal bishop

  17. Battle of Chickamauga • Bragg’s second day’s operations begin at 9:30 and are designed to be a series of sequential attacks from north to south • None make much headway so at about 11:00 Bragg changes his plan in favor of a straightforward assault by his remaining force

  18. Battle of Chickamauga • Earlier in the day Rosecrans had defending against Bragg’s attacks by shifting forces from one threatened area to another • The result now was that he had a very large hole right where Longstreet attacked with four divisions • Longstreet poured through the gap and routed the Federals • Rosecrans was personally broken and fled the battlefield to Chattanooga with two of his corps commanders

  19. Battle of Chickamauga • George Thomas saved the day for the Federals by making a heroic stand at the center of the battlefield on Snodgrass Hill • Blunts the Confederate attack and allows the rest of the Federal Army to withdraw intact back to Chattanooga • Thomas becomes known as the “Rock of Chickamauga”

  20. Battle of Chickamauga • The Federals suffered 16,170 casualties and the Confederates 18,454 but Chickamauga is still a huge Confederate victory • Nonetheless, Bragg elects not to pursue Rosecrans and instead besieges the Federals from the high ground south and east of Chattanooga • Further alienates Bragg from his subordinate generals • A petition signed by such high-ranking officers as James Longstreet, Simon Buckner, Patrick Cleburne, D. H. Hill, Leonidas Polk, and William Preston requests Davis remove Bragg from command, contending “The Army of Tennessee, stricken with complete paralysis, may deem itself fortunate if it escapes from its present position without disaster”

  21. Battle of Chickamauga • Rosecrans also comes under severe criticism • Lincoln says Rosecrans is acting “confused and stunned, like a duck hit on the head” • Secretary of War Stanoan concludes, “Rosecrans ran away from his fighting men and did not stop for 13 miles.” • Lincoln puts Grant in charge of all the western theater and Grant then replaces Rosecrans with Thomas

  22. Missionary Ridge: Federal Reinforcements • The Federals also send two corps totaling 20,000 men from Meade’s Army of the Potomac by rail to reinforce the troops at Chattanooga • The Federal reinforcements had a longer route to travel then Longstreet’s reinforcements had earlier, but because of the superior Federal railroads, they both arrived in 12 days

  23. Missionary Ridge: The Cracker Line • The Federal troops were suffering from severe supply shortages • The only open route into or out of Chattanooga was a narrow path that wound about 65 miles from Bridgeport to Chattanooga • When Grant personally arrived in Chattanooga in October he quickly realized something needed to be done about the supply situation

  24. Missionary Ridge: The Cracker Line • Grant orders a breakout from the Confederate encirclement in order to establish a solid supply line through the Tennessee River valley • The men call the new route the “Cracker Line” • Soon both supplies and reinforcements were regularly arriving “Opening the Cracker Line” by Don Stivers

  25. Missionary Ridge: Impact of Grant • Grant’s arrival and leadership had a profound affect on the army • One soldier explained, “You have no conception of the change in the army when Grant came. He opened up the cracker line and got a steamer through. We began to see things move. We felt that everything came from a plan. He came into the army quietly, no splendor, no airs, no staff. He used to go about alone. He began the campaign the moment he reached the field.” • By mid-autumn Grant had built up sufficient strength to go on the offensive

  26. Missionary Ridge: Lookout Mountain • On Nov 24, Grant orders Hooker to attack Lookout Mountain on the Confederate left and Sherman to attack the northern tip of Missionary Ridge on the right • In the “Battle above the Clouds,” Hooker gains Lookout Mountain • Grant then orders Thomas to create a diversion in the center to allow Sherman to continue making progress

  27. Missionary Ridge • On Nov 25 Thomas’s attack is supposed to be just a limited one, but individual soldiers seize the initiative and turn the operation into a full-scale attack • Grant angrily asked, “Thomas, who ordered those men up that ridge?” • Thomas replied, “I don’t know; I did not. Did you order them up Granger?” • Granger replied, “No, they started up without orders. When those fellows get started all hell can’t stop them.”

  28. Missionary Ridge • Missionary Ridge was one of the war’s few cases where a frontal attack succeeded against entrenched defenders holding high ground • Most of the Confederate defenders had been placed on the topographical crest rather than the military crest • Confederates at the bottom of the ridge were too few to stop the attack, but when they withdrew they were sufficiently numerous to cause their comrades at the top to hold their fire • The Confederates left numerous ravines uncovered that gave the Federals protected avenues of approach

  29. Campaign Results • A significant defeat for the Confederates • Bragg bungled his opportunity to pursue Rosecrans after Chickamauga and mismanaged his siege of Chattanooga • Confederates retreat some 25 miles back to Dalton, Georgia • Bragg resigns and Davis finally replaces him with Joe Johnston • A significant victory for the Federals • Secures Chattanooga and opens up the road to invading Georgia • Grant’s appointment provides unity of command in the west

  30. Grant’s Continued Rise • In early March Grant goes to Washington where he meets Lincoln for the first time • Lincoln tells Grant he is placing him in command of all the Federal armies • Grant decides to accompany the Army of the Potomac in the east and puts Sherman in command of the west • Immediately the two begin talking of a master strategy for a coordinated offensive in the spring

  31. Next • Federal Home Front and Lincoln