Part 8 out of 16

superior force. The night was so dark that the men could not
distinguish one from another except by the light of the flashes
of their muskets. In the darkness and uproar Hooker's teamsters
became frightened and deserted their teams. The mules also
became frightened, and breaking loose from their fastenings
stampeded directly towards the enemy. The latter, no doubt,
took this for a charge, and stampeded in turn. By four o'clock
in the morning the battle had entirely ceased, and our "cracker
line" was never afterward disturbed.

In securing possession of Lookout Valley, Smith lost one man
killed and four or five wounded. The enemy lost most of his
pickets at the ferry, captured. In the night engagement of the
28th-9th Hooker lost 416 killed and wounded. I never knew the
loss of the enemy, but our troops buried over one hundred and
fifty of his dead and captured more than a hundred.

After we had secured the opening of a line over which to bring
our supplies to the army, I made a personal inspection to see
the situation of the pickets of the two armies. As I have
stated, Chattanooga Creek comes down the centre of the valley to
within a mile or such a matter of the town of Chattanooga, then
bears off westerly, then north-westerly, and enters the
Tennessee River at the foot of Lookout Mountain. This creek,
from its mouth up to where it bears off west, lay between the
two lines of pickets, and the guards of both armies drew their
water from the same stream. As I would be under short-range
fire and in an open country, I took nobody with me, except, I
believe, a bugler, who stayed some distance to the rear. I rode
from our right around to our left. When I came to the camp of
the picket guard of our side, I heard the call, "Turn out the
guard for the commanding general." I replied, "Never mind the
guard," and they were dismissed and went back to their tents.
Just back of these, and about equally distant from the creek,
were the guards of the Confederate pickets. The sentinel on
their post called out in like manner, "Turn out the guard for
the commanding general," and, I believe, added, "General
Grant." Their line in a moment front-faced to the north, facing
me, and gave a salute, which I returned.

The most friendly relations seemed to exist between the pickets
of the two armies. At one place there was a tree which had
fallen across the stream, and which was used by the soldiers of
both armies in drawing water for their camps. General
Longstreet's corps was stationed there at the time, and wore
blue of a little different shade from our uniform. Seeing a
soldier in blue on this log, I rode up to him, commenced
conversing with him, and asked whose corps he belonged to. He
was very polite, and, touching his hat to me, said he belonged
to General Longstreet's corps. I asked him a few questions--but
not with a view of gaining any particular information--all of
which he answered, and I rode off.



Having got the Army of the Cumberland in a comfortable position,
I now began to look after the remainder of my new command.
Burnside was in about as desperate a condition as the Army of
the Cumberland had been, only he was not yet besieged. He was a
hundred miles from the nearest possible base, Big South Fork of
the Cumberland River, and much farther from any railroad we had
possession of. The roads back were over mountains, and all
supplies along the line had long since been exhausted. His
animals, too, had been starved, and their carcasses lined the
road from Cumberland Gap, and far back towards Lexington, Ky.
East Tennessee still furnished supplies of beef, bread and
forage, but it did not supply ammunition, clothing, medical
supplies, or small rations, such as coffee, sugar, salt and rice.

Sherman had started from Memphis for Corinth on the 11th of
October. His instructions required him to repair the road in
his rear in order to bring up supplies. The distance was about
three hundred and thirty miles through a hostile country. His
entire command could not have maintained the road if it had been
completed. The bridges had all been destroyed by the enemy, and
much other damage done. A hostile community lived along the
road; guerilla bands infested the country, and more or less of
the cavalry of the enemy was still in the West. Often Sherman's
work was destroyed as soon as completed, and he only a short
distance away.

The Memphis and Charleston Railroad strikes the Tennessee River
at Eastport, Mississippi. Knowing the difficulty Sherman would
have to supply himself from Memphis, I had previously ordered
supplies sent from St. Louis on small steamers, to be convoyed
by the navy, to meet him at Eastport. These he got. I now
ordered him to discontinue his work of repairing roads and to
move on with his whole force to Stevenson, Alabama, without
delay. This order was borne to Sherman by a messenger, who
paddled down the Tennessee in a canoe and floated over Muscle
Shoals; it was delivered at Iuka on the 27th. In this Sherman
was notified that the rebels were moving a force towards
Cleveland, East Tennessee, and might be going to Nashville, in
which event his troops were in the best position to beat them
there. Sherman, with his characteristic promptness, abandoned
the work he was engaged upon and pushed on at once. On the 1st
of November he crossed the Tennessee at Eastport, and that day
was in Florence, Alabama, with the head of column, while his
troops were still crossing at Eastport, with Blair bringing up
the rear.

Sherman's force made an additional army, with cavalry,
artillery, and trains, all to be supplied by the single track
road from Nashville. All indications pointed also to the
probable necessity of supplying Burnside's command in East
Tennessee, twenty-five thousand more, by the same route. A
single track could not do this. I gave, therefore, an order to
Sherman to halt General G. M. Dodge's command, of about eight
thousand men, at Athens, and subsequently directed the latter to
arrange his troops along the railroad from Decatur north towards
Nashville, and to rebuild that road. The road from Nashville to
Decatur passes over a broken country, cut up with innumerable
streams, many of them of considerable width, and with valleys
far below the road-bed. All the bridges over these had been
destroyed, and the rails taken up and twisted by the enemy. All
the cars and locomotives not carried off had been destroyed as
effectually as they knew how to destroy them. All bridges and
culverts had been destroyed between Nashville and Decatur, and
thence to Stevenson, where the Memphis and Charleston and the
Nashville and Chattanooga roads unite. The rebuilding of this
road would give us two roads as far as Stevenson over which to
supply the army. From Bridgeport, a short distance farther
east, the river supplements the road.

General Dodge, besides being a most capable soldier, was an
experienced railroad builder. He had no tools to work with
except those of the pioneers--axes, picks, and spades. With
these he was able to intrench his men and protect them against
surprises by small parties of the enemy. As he had no base of
supplies until the road could be completed back to Nashville,
the first matter to consider after protecting his men was the
getting in of food and forage from the surrounding country. He
had his men and teams bring in all the grain they could find, or
all they needed, and all the cattle for beef, and such other food
as could be found. Millers were detailed from the ranks to run
the mills along the line of the army. When these were not near
enough to the troops for protection they were taken down and
moved up to the line of the road. Blacksmith shops, with all
the iron and steel found in them, were moved up in like
manner. Blacksmiths were detailed and set to work making the
tools necessary in railroad and bridge building. Axemen were
put to work getting out timber for bridges and cutting fuel for
locomotives when the road should be completed. Car-builders
were set to work repairing the locomotives and cars. Thus every
branch of railroad building, making tools to work with, and
supplying the workmen with food, was all going on at once, and
without the aid of a mechanic or laborer except what the command
itself furnished. But rails and cars the men could not make
without material, and there was not enough rolling stock to keep
the road we already had worked to its full capacity. There were
no rails except those in use. To supply these deficiencies I
ordered eight of the ten engines General McPherson had at
Vicksburg to be sent to Nashville, and all the cars he had
except ten. I also ordered the troops in West Tennessee to
points on the river and on the Memphis and Charleston road, and
ordered the cars, locomotives and rails from all the railroads
except the Memphis and Charleston to Nashville. The military
manager of railroads also was directed to furnish more rolling
stock and, as far as he could, bridge material. General Dodge
had the work assigned him finished within forty days after
receiving his orders. The number of bridges to rebuild was one
hundred and eighty-two, many of them over deep and wide chasms;
the length of road repaired was one hundred and two miles.

The enemy's troops, which it was thought were either moving
against Burnside or were going to Nashville, went no farther
than Cleveland. Their presence there, however, alarmed the
authorities at Washington, and, on account of our helpless
condition at Chattanooga, caused me much uneasiness. Dispatches
were constantly coming, urging me to do something for Burnside's
relief; calling attention to the importance of holding East
Tennessee; saying the President was much concerned for the
protection of the loyal people in that section, etc. We had not
at Chattanooga animals to pull a single piece of artillery, much
less a supply train. Reinforcements could not help Burnside,
because he had neither supplies nor ammunition sufficient for
them; hardly, indeed, bread and meat for the men he had. There
was no relief possible for him except by expelling the enemy
from Missionary Ridge and about Chattanooga.

On the 4th of November Longstreet left our front with about
fifteen thousand troops, besides Wheeler's cavalry, five
thousand more, to go against Burnside. The situation seemed
desperate, and was more aggravating because nothing could be
done until Sherman should get up. The authorities at Washington
were now more than ever anxious for the safety of Burnside's
army, and plied me with dispatches faster than ever, urging that
something should be done for his relief. On the 7th, before
Longstreet could possibly have reached Knoxville, I ordered
Thomas peremptorily to attack the enemy's right, so as to force
the return of the troops that had gone up the valley. I
directed him to take mules, officers' horses, or animals
wherever he could get them to move the necessary artillery. But
he persisted in the declaration that he could not move a single
piece of artillery, and could not see how he could possibly
comply with the order. Nothing was left to be done but to
answer Washington dispatches as best I could; urge Sherman
forward, although he was making every effort to get forward, and
encourage Burnside to hold on, assuring him that in a short time
he should be relieved. All of Burnside's dispatches showed the
greatest confidence in his ability to hold his position as long
as his ammunition held out. He even suggested the propriety of
abandoning the territory he held south and west of Knoxville, so
as to draw the enemy farther from his base and make it more
difficult for him to get back to Chattanooga when the battle
should begin. Longstreet had a railroad as far as Loudon; but
from there to Knoxville he had to rely on wagon trains.
Burnside's suggestion, therefore, was a good one, and it was
adopted. On the 14th I telegraphed him:

"Sherman's advance has reached Bridgeport. His whole force will
be ready to move from there by Tuesday at farthest. If you can
hold Longstreet in check until he gets up, or by skirmishing and
falling back can avoid serious loss to yourself and gain time, I
will be able to force the enemy back from here and place a force
between Longstreet and Bragg that must inevitably make the former
take to the mountain-passes by every available road, to get to
his supplies. Sherman would have been here before this but for
high water in Elk River driving him some thirty miles up that
river to cross."

And again later in the day, indicating my plans for his relief,
as follows:

"Your dispatch and Dana's just received. Being there, you can
tell better how to resist Longstreet's attack than I can
direct. With your showing you had better give up Kingston at
the last moment and save the most productive part of your
possessions. Every arrangement is now made to throw Sherman's
force across the river, just at and below the mouth of
Chickamauga Creek, as soon as it arrives. Thomas will attack on
his left at the same time, and together it is expected to carry
Missionary Ridge, and from there push a force on to the railroad
between Cleveland and Dalton. Hooker will at the same time
attack, and, if he can, carry Lookout Mountain. The enemy now
seems to be looking for an attack on his left flank. This
favors us. To further confirm this, Sherman's advance division
will march direct from Whiteside to Trenton. The remainder of
his force will pass over a new road just made from Whiteside to
Kelly's Ferry, thus being concealed from the enemy, and leave
him to suppose the whole force is going up Lookout Valley.
Sherman's advance has only just reached Bridgeport. The rear
will only reach there on the 16th. This will bring it to the
19th as the earliest day for making the combined movement as
desired. Inform me if you think you can sustain yourself until
this time. I can hardly conceive of the enemy breaking through
at Kingston and pushing for Kentucky. If they should, however,
a new problem would be left for solution. Thomas has ordered a
division of cavalry to the vicinity of Sparta. I will ascertain
if they have started, and inform you. It will be entirely out
of the question to send you ten thousand men, not because they
cannot be spared, but how would they be fed after they got even
one day east from here?"

Longstreet, for some reason or other, stopped at Loudon until
the 13th. That being the terminus of his railroad
communications, it is probable he was directed to remain there
awaiting orders. He was in a position threatening Knoxville,
and at the same time where he could be brought back speedily to
Chattanooga. The day after Longstreet left Loudon, Sherman
reached Bridgeport in person and proceeded on to see me that
evening, the 14th, and reached Chattanooga the next day.

My orders for battle were all prepared in advance of Sherman's
arrival (*15), except the dates, which could not be fixed while
troops to be engaged were so far away. The possession of
Lookout Mountain was of no special advantage to us now. Hooker
was instructed to send Howard's corps to the north side of the
Tennessee, thence up behind the hills on the north side, and to
go into camp opposite Chattanooga; with the remainder of the
command, Hooker was, at a time to be afterwards appointed, to
ascend the western slope between the upper and lower palisades,
and so get into Chattanooga valley.

The plan of battle was for Sherman to attack the enemy's right
flank, form a line across it, extend our left over South
Chickamauga River so as to threaten or hold the railroad in
Bragg's rear, and thus force him either to weaken his lines
elsewhere or lose his connection with his base at Chickamauga
Station. Hooker was to perform like service on our right. His
problem was to get from Lookout Valley to Chattanooga Valley in
the most expeditious way possible; cross the latter valley
rapidly to Rossville, south of Bragg's line on Missionary Ridge,
form line there across the ridge facing north, with his right
flank extended to Chickamauga Valley east of the ridge, thus
threatening the enemy's rear on that flank and compelling him to
reinforce this also. Thomas, with the Army of the Cumberland,
occupied the centre, and was to assault while the enemy was
engaged with most of his forces on his two flanks.

To carry out this plan, Sherman was to cross the Tennessee at
Brown's Ferry and move east of Chattanooga to a point opposite
the north end of Mission Ridge, and to place his command back of
the foot-hills out of sight of the enemy on the ridge. There are
two streams called Chickamauga emptying into the Tennessee River
east of Chattanooga--North Chickamauga, taking its rise in
Tennessee, flowing south, and emptying into the river some seven
or eight miles east; while the South Chickamauga, which takes its
rise in Georgia, flows northward, and empties into the Tennessee
some three or four miles above the town. There were now one
hundred and sixteen pontoons in the North Chickamauga River,
their presence there being unknown to the enemy.

At night a division was to be marched up to that point, and at
two o'clock in the morning moved down with the current, thirty
men in each boat. A few were to land east of the mouth of the
South Chickamauga, capture the pickets there, and then lay a
bridge connecting the two banks of the river. The rest were to
land on the south side of the Tennessee, where Missionary Ridge
would strike it if prolonged, and a sufficient number of men to
man the boats were to push to the north side to ferry over the
main body of Sherman's command while those left on the south
side intrenched themselves. Thomas was to move out from his
lines facing the ridge, leaving enough of Palmer's corps to
guard against an attack down the valley. Lookout Valley being
of no present value to us, and being untenable by the enemy if
we should secure Missionary Ridge, Hooker's orders were
changed. His revised orders brought him to Chattanooga by the
established route north of the Tennessee. He was then to move
out to the right to Rossville.

Hooker's position in Lookout Valley was absolutely essential to
us so long as Chattanooga was besieged. It was the key to our
line for supplying the army. But it was not essential after the
enemy was dispersed from our front, or even after the battle for
this purpose was begun. Hooker's orders, therefore, were
designed to get his force past Lookout Mountain and Chattanooga
Valley, and up to Missionary Ridge. By crossing the north face
of Lookout the troops would come into Chattanooga Valley in rear
of the line held by the enemy across the valley, and would
necessarily force its evacuation. Orders were accordingly given
to march by this route. But days before the battle began the
advantages as well as the disadvantages of this plan of action
were all considered. The passage over the mountain was a
difficult one to make in the face of an enemy. It might consume
so much time as to lose us the use of the troops engaged in it at
other points where they were more wanted. After reaching
Chattanooga Valley, the creek of the same name, quite a
formidable stream to get an army over, had to be crossed. I was
perfectly willing that the enemy should keep Lookout Mountain
until we got through with the troops on Missionary Ridge. By
marching Hooker to the north side of the river, thence up the
stream, and recrossing at the town, he could be got in position
at any named time; when in this new position, he would have
Chattanooga Creek behind him, and the attack on Missionary Ridge
would unquestionably cause the evacuation by the enemy of his
line across the valley and on Lookout Mountain. Hooker's order
was changed accordingly. As explained elsewhere, the original
order had to be reverted to, because of a flood in the river
rendering the bridge at Brown's Ferry unsafe for the passage of
troops at the exact juncture when it was wanted to bring all the
troops together against Missionary Ridge.

The next day after Sherman's arrival I took him, with Generals
Thomas and Smith and other officers, to the north side of the
river, and showed them the ground over which Sherman had to
march, and pointed out generally what he was expected to do. I,
as well as the authorities in Washington, was still in a great
state of anxiety for Burnside's safety. Burnside himself, I
believe, was the only one who did not share in this anxiety.
Nothing could be done for him, however, until Sherman's troops
were up. As soon, therefore, as the inspection was over,
Sherman started for Bridgeport to hasten matters, rowing a boat
himself, I believe, from Kelly's Ferry. Sherman had left
Bridgeport the night of the 14th, reached Chattanooga the
evening of the 15th, made the above-described inspection on the
morning of the 16th, and started back the same evening to hurry
up his command, fully appreciating the importance of time.

His march was conducted with as much expedition as the roads and
season would admit of. By the 20th he was himself at Brown's
Ferry with the head of column, but many of his troops were far
behind, and one division (Ewing's) was at Trenton, sent that way
to create the impression that Lookout was to be taken from the
south. Sherman received his orders at the ferry, and was asked
if he could not be ready for the assault the following
morning. News had been received that the battle had been
commenced at Knoxville. Burnside had been cut off from
telegraphic communications. The President, the Secretary of
War, and General Halleck, were in an agony of suspense. My
suspense was also great, but more endurable, because I was where
I could soon do something to relieve the situation. It was
impossible to get Sherman's troops up for the next day. I then
asked him if they could not be got up to make the assault on the
morning of the 22d, and ordered Thomas to move on that date. But
the elements were against us. It rained all the 20th and 21st.
The river rose so rapidly that it was difficult to keep the
pontoons in place.

General Orlando B. Willcox, a division commander under Burnside,
was at this time occupying a position farther up the valley than
Knoxville--about Maynardville--and was still in telegraphic
communication with the North. A dispatch was received from him
saying that he was threatened from the east. The following was
sent in reply:

"If you can communicate with General Burnside, say to him that
our attack on Bragg will commence in the morning. If
successful, such a move will be made as I think will relieve
East Tennessee, if he can hold out. Longstreet passing through
our lines to Kentucky need not cause alarm. He would find the
country so bare that he would lose his transportation and
artillery before reaching Kentucky, and would meet such a force
before he got through, that he could not return."

Meantime, Sherman continued his crossing without intermission as
fast as his troops could be got up. The crossing had to be
effected in full view of the enemy on the top of Lookout
Mountain. Once over, however, the troops soon disappeared
behind the detached hill on the north side, and would not come
to view again, either to watchmen on Lookout Mountain or
Missionary Ridge, until they emerged between the hills to strike
the bank of the river. But when Sherman's advance reached a
point opposite the town of Chattanooga, Howard, who, it will be
remembered, had been concealed behind the hills on the north
side, took up his line of march to join the troops on the south
side. His crossing was in full view both from Missionary Ridge
and the top of Lookout, and the enemy of course supposed these
troops to be Sherman's. This enabled Sherman to get to his
assigned position without discovery.



On the 20th, when so much was occurring to discourage--rains
falling so heavily as to delay the passage of troops over the
river at Brown's Ferry and threatening the entire breaking of
the bridge; news coming of a battle raging at Knoxville; of
Willcox being threatened by a force from the east--a letter was
received from Bragg which contained these words: "As there may
still be some non-combatants in Chattanooga, I deem it proper to
notify you that prudence would dictate their early withdrawal."
Of course, I understood that this was a device intended to
deceive; but I did not know what the intended deception was. On
the 22d, however, a deserter came in who informed me that Bragg
was leaving our front, and on that day Buckner's division was
sent to reinforce Longstreet at Knoxville, and another division
started to follow but was recalled. The object of Bragg's
letter, no doubt, was in some way to detain me until Knoxville
could be captured, and his troops there be returned to

During the night of the 21st the rest of the pontoon boats,
completed, one hundred and sixteen in all, were carried up to
and placed in North Chickamauga. The material for the roadway
over these was deposited out of view of the enemy within a few
hundred yards of the bank of the Tennessee, where the north end
of the bridge was to rest.

Hearing nothing from Burnside, and hearing much of the distress
in Washington on his account, I could no longer defer operations
for his relief. I determined, therefore, to do on the 23d, with
the Army of the Cumberland, what had been intended to be done on
the 24th.

The position occupied by the Army of the Cumberland had been
made very strong for defence during the months it had been
besieged. The line was about a mile from the town, and extended
from Citico Creek, a small stream running near the base of
Missionary Ridge and emptying into the Tennessee about two miles
below the mouth of the South Chickamauga, on the left, to
Chattanooga Creek on the right. All commanding points on the
line were well fortified and well equipped with artillery. The
important elevations within the line had all been carefully
fortified and supplied with a proper armament. Among the
elevations so fortified was one to the east of the town, named
Fort Wood. It owed its importance chiefly to the fact that it
lay between the town and Missionary Ridge, where most of the
strength of the enemy was. Fort Wood had in it twenty-two
pieces of artillery, most of which would reach the nearer points
of the enemy's line. On the morning of the 23d Thomas, according
to instructions, moved Granger's corps of two divisions, Sheridan
and T. J. Wood commanding, to the foot of Fort Wood, and formed
them into line as if going on parade, Sheridan on the right,
Wood to the left, extending to or near Citico Creek. Palmer,
commanding the 14th corps, held that part of our line facing
south and southwest. He supported Sheridan with one division
(Baird's), while his other division under Johnson remained in
the trenches, under arms, ready to be moved to any point.
Howard's corps was moved in rear of the centre. The picket
lines were within a few hundred yards of each other. At two
o'clock in the afternoon all were ready to advance. By this
time the clouds had lifted so that the enemy could see from his
elevated position all that was going on. The signal for advance
was given by a booming of cannon from Fort Wood and other points
on the line. The rebel pickets were soon driven back upon the
main guards, which occupied minor and detached heights between
the main ridge and our lines. These too were carried before
halting, and before the enemy had time to reinforce their
advance guards. But it was not without loss on both sides. This
movement secured to us a line fully a mile in advance of the one
we occupied in the morning, and the one which the enemy had
occupied up to this time. The fortifications were rapidly
turned to face the other way. During the following night they
were made strong. We lost in this preliminary action about
eleven hundred killed and wounded, while the enemy probably lost
quite as heavily, including the prisoners that were captured.
With the exception of the firing of artillery, kept up from
Missionary Ridge and Fort Wood until night closed in, this ended
the fighting for the first day.

The advantage was greatly on our side now, and if I could only
have been assured that Burnside could hold out ten days longer I
should have rested more easily. But we were doing the best we
could for him and the cause.

By the night of the 23d Sherman's command was in a position to
move, though one division (Osterhaus's) had not yet crossed the
river at Brown's Ferry. The continuous rise in the Tennessee
had rendered it impossible to keep the bridge at that point in
condition for troops to cross; but I was determined to move that
night even without this division. Orders were sent to Osterhaus
accordingly to report to Hooker, if he could not cross by eight
o'clock on the morning of the 24th. Because of the break in the
bridge, Hooker's orders were again changed, but this time only
back to those first given to him.

General W. F. Smith had been assigned to duty as Chief Engineer
of the Military Division. To him were given the general
direction of moving troops by the boats from North Chickamauga,
laying the bridge after they reached their position, and
generally all the duties pertaining to his office of chief
engineer. During the night General Morgan L. Smith's division
was marched to the point where the pontoons were, and the
brigade of Giles A. Smith was selected for the delicate duty of
manning the boats and surprising the enemy's pickets on the
south bank of the river. During this night also General J. M.
Brannan, chief of artillery, moved forty pieces of artillery,
belonging to the Army of the Cumberland, and placed them on the
north side of the river so as to command the ground opposite, to
aid in protecting the approach to the point where the south end
of the bridge was to rest. He had to use Sherman's artillery
horses for this purpose, Thomas having none.

At two o'clock in the morning, November 24th, Giles A. Smith
pushed out from the North Chickamauga with his one hundred and
sixteen boats, each loaded with thirty brave and well-armed
men. The boats with their precious freight dropped down quietly
with the current to avoid attracting the attention of any one who
could convey information to the enemy, until arriving near the
mouth of South Chickamauga. Here a few boats were landed, the
troops debarked, and a rush was made upon the picket guard known
to be at that point. The guard were surprised, and twenty of
their number captured. The remainder of the troops effected a
landing at the point where the bridge was to start, with equally
good results. The work of ferrying over Sherman's command from
the north side of the Tennessee was at once commenced, using the
pontoons for the purpose. A steamer was also brought up from the
town to assist. The rest of M. L. Smith's division came first,
then the division of John E. Smith. The troops as they landed
were put to work intrenching their position. By daylight the
two entire divisions were over, and well covered by the works
they had built.

The work of laying the bridge, on which to cross the artillery
and cavalry, was now begun. The ferrying over the infantry was
continued with the steamer and the pontoons, taking the
pontoons, however, as fast as they were wanted to put in their
place in the bridge. By a little past noon the bridge was
completed, as well as one over the South Chickamauga connecting
the troops left on that side with their comrades below, and all
the infantry and artillery were on the south bank of the

Sherman at once formed his troops for assault on Missionary
Ridge. By one o'clock he started with M. L. Smith on his left,
keeping nearly the course of Chickamauga River; J. E. Smith next
to the right and a little to the rear; and Ewing still farther to
the right and also a little to the rear of J. E. Smith's command,
in column, ready to deploy to the right if an enemy should come
from that direction. A good skirmish line preceded each of
these columns. Soon the foot of the hill was reached; the
skirmishers pushed directly up, followed closely by their
supports. By half-past three Sherman was in possession of the
height without having sustained much loss. A brigade from each
division was now brought up, and artillery was dragged to the
top of the hill by hand. The enemy did not seem to be aware of
this movement until the top of the hill was gained. There had
been a drizzling rain during the day, and the clouds were so low
that Lookout Mountain and the top of Missionary Ridge were
obscured from the view of persons in the valley. But now the
enemy opened fire upon their assailants, and made several
attempts with their skirmishers to drive them away, but without
avail. Later in the day a more determined attack was made, but
this, too, failed, and Sherman was left to fortify what he had

Sherman's cavalry took up its line of march soon after the
bridge was completed, and by half-past three the whole of it was
over both bridges and on its way to strike the enemy's
communications at Chickamauga Station. All of Sherman's command
was now south of the Tennessee. During the afternoon General
Giles A. Smith was severely wounded and carried from the field.

Thomas having done on the 23d what was expected of him on the
24th, there was nothing for him to do this day except to
strengthen his position. Howard, however, effected a crossing
of Citico Creek and a junction with Sherman, and was directed to
report to him. With two or three regiments of his command he
moved in the morning along the banks of the Tennessee, and
reached the point where the bridge was being laid. He went out
on the bridge as far as it was completed from the south end, and
saw Sherman superintending the work from the north side and
moving himself south as fast as an additional boat was put in
and the roadway put upon it. Howard reported to his new chief
across the chasm between them, which was now narrow and in a few
minutes closed.

While these operations were going on to the east of Chattanooga,
Hooker was engaged on the west. He had three divisions:
Osterhaus's, of the 15th corps, Army of the Tennessee; Geary's,
12th corps, Army of the Potomac; and Cruft's, 14th corps, Army
of the Cumberland. Geary was on the right at Wauhatchie, Cruft
at the centre, and Osterhaus near Brown's Ferry. These troops
were all west of Lookout Creek. The enemy had the east bank of
the creek strongly picketed and intrenched, and three brigades
of troops in the rear to reinforce them if attacked. These
brigades occupied the summit of the mountain. General Carter L.
Stevenson was in command of the whole. Why any troops, except
artillery with a small infantry guard, were kept on the
mountain-top, I do not see. A hundred men could have held the
summit--which is a palisade for more than thirty feet
down--against the assault of any number of men from the position
Hooker occupied.

The side of Lookout Mountain confronting Hooker's command was
rugged, heavily timbered, and full of chasms, making it
difficult to advance with troops, even in the absence of an
opposing force. Farther up, the ground becomes more even and
level, and was in cultivation. On the east side the slope is
much more gradual, and a good wagon road, zigzagging up it,
connects the town of Chattanooga with the summit.

Early on the morning of the 24th Hooker moved Geary's division,
supported by a brigade of Cruft's, up Lookout Creek, to effect a
crossing. The remainder of Cruft's division was to seize the
bridge over the creek, near the crossing of the railroad.
Osterhaus was to move up to the bridge and cross it. The bridge
was seized by Gross's brigade after a slight skirmish with the
pickets guarding it. This attracted the enemy so that Geary's
movement farther up was not observed. A heavy mist obscured him
from the view of the troops on the top of the mountain. He
crossed the creek almost unobserved, and captured the picket of
over forty men on guard near by. He then commenced ascending
the mountain directly in his front. By this time the enemy was
seen coming down from their camps on the mountain slope, and
filing into their rifle-pits to contest the crossing of the
bridge. By eleven o'clock the bridge was complete. Osterhaus
was up, and after some sharp skirmishing the enemy was driven
away with considerable loss in killed and captured.

While the operations at the bridge were progressing, Geary was
pushing up the hill over great obstacles, resisted by the enemy
directly in his front, and in face of the guns on top of the
mountain. The enemy, seeing their left flank and rear menaced,
gave way, and were followed by Cruft and Osterhaus. Soon these
were up abreast of Geary, and the whole command pushed up the
hill, driving the enemy in advance. By noon Geary had gained
the open ground on the north slope of the mountain, with his
right close up to the base of the upper palisade, but there were
strong fortifications in his front. The rest of the command
coming up, a line was formed from the base of the upper palisade
to the mouth of Chattanooga Creek.

Thomas and I were on the top of Orchard Knob. Hooker's advance
now made our line a continuous one. It was in full view,
extending from the Tennessee River, where Sherman had crossed,
up Chickamauga River to the base of Mission Ridge, over the top
of the north end of the ridge to Chattanooga Valley, then along
parallel to the ridge a mile or more, across the valley to the
mouth of Chattanooga Creek, thence up the slope of Lookout
Mountain to the foot of the upper palisade. The day was hazy,
so that Hooker's operations were not visible to us except at
moments when the clouds would rise. But the sound of his
artillery and musketry was heard incessantly. The enemy on his
front was partially fortified, but was soon driven out of his
works. During the afternoon the clouds, which had so obscured
the top of Lookout all day as to hide whatever was going on from
the view of those below, settled down and made it so dark where
Hooker was as to stop operations for the time. At four o'clock
Hooker reported his position as impregnable. By a little after
five direct communication was established, and a brigade of
troops was sent from Chattanooga to reinforce him. These troops
had to cross Chattanooga Creek and met with some opposition, but
soon overcame it, and by night the commander, General Carlin,
reported to Hooker and was assigned to his left. I now
telegraphed to Washington: "The fight to-day progressed
favorably. Sherman carried the end of Missionary Ridge, and his
right is now at the tunnel, and his left at Chickamauga Creek.
Troops from Lookout Valley carried the point of the mountain,
and now hold the eastern slope and a point high up. Hooker
reports two thousand prisoners taken, besides which a small
number have fallen into our hands from Missionary Ridge." The
next day the President replied: "Your dispatches as to fighting
on Monday and Tuesday are here. Well done. Many thanks to
all. Remember Burnside." And Halleck also telegraphed: "I
congratulate you on the success thus far of your plans. I fear
that Burnside is hard pushed, and that any further delay may
prove fatal. I know you will do all in your power to relieve

The division of Jefferson C. Davis, Army of the Cumberland, had
been sent to the North Chickamauga to guard the pontoons as they
were deposited in the river, and to prevent all ingress or egress
of citizens. On the night of the 24th his division, having
crossed with Sherman, occupied our extreme left from the upper
bridge over the plain to the north base of Missionary Ridge.
Firing continued to a late hour in the night, but it was not
connected with an assault at any point.



At twelve o'clock at night, when all was quiet, I began to give
orders for the next day, and sent a dispatch to Willcox to
encourage Burnside. Sherman was directed to attack at
daylight. Hooker was ordered to move at the same hour, and
endeavor to intercept the enemy's retreat if he still remained;
if he had gone, then to move directly to Rossville and operate
against the left and rear of the force on Missionary Ridge.
Thomas was not to move until Hooker had reached Missionary
Ridge. As I was with him on Orchard Knob, he would not move
without further orders from me.

The morning of the 25th opened clear and bright, and the whole
field was in full view from the top of Orchard Knob. It
remained so all day. Bragg's headquarters were in full view,
and officers--presumably staff officers--could be seen coming
and going constantly.

The point of ground which Sherman had carried on the 24th was
almost disconnected from the main ridge occupied by the enemy. A
low pass, over which there is a wagon road crossing the hill, and
near which there is a railroad tunnel, intervenes between the two
hills. The problem now was to get to the main ridge. The enemy
was fortified on the point; and back farther, where the ground
was still higher, was a second fortification commanding the
first. Sherman was out as soon as it was light enough to see,
and by sunrise his command was in motion. Three brigades held
the hill already gained. Morgan L. Smith moved along the east
base of Missionary Ridge; Loomis along the west base, supported
by two brigades of John E. Smith's division; and Corse with his
brigade was between the two, moving directly towards the hill to
be captured. The ridge is steep and heavily wooded on the east
side, where M. L. Smith's troops were advancing, but cleared and
with a more gentle slope on the west side. The troops advanced
rapidly and carried the extreme end of the rebel works. Morgan
L. Smith advanced to a point which cut the enemy off from the
railroad bridge and the means of bringing up supplies by rail
from Chickamauga Station, where the main depot was located. The
enemy made brave and strenuous efforts to drive our troops from
the position we had gained, but without success. The contest
lasted for two hours. Corse, a brave and efficient commander,
was badly wounded in this assault. Sherman now threatened both
Bragg's flank and his stores, and made it necessary for him to
weaken other points of his line to strengthen his right. From
the position I occupied I could see column after column of
Bragg's forces moving against Sherman. Every Confederate gun
that could be brought to bear upon the Union forces was
concentrated upon him. J. E. Smith, with two brigades, charged
up the west side of the ridge to the support of Corse's command,
over open ground and in the face of a heavy fire of both
artillery and musketry, and reached the very parapet of the
enemy. He lay here for a time, but the enemy coming with a
heavy force upon his right flank, he was compelled to fall back,
followed by the foe. A few hundred yards brought Smith's troops
into a wood, where they were speedily reformed, when they
charged and drove the attacking party back to his intrenchments.

Seeing the advance, repulse, and second advance of J. E. Smith
from the position I occupied, I directed Thomas to send a
division to reinforce him. Baird's division was accordingly
sent from the right of Orchard Knob. It had to march a
considerable distance directly under the eye of the enemy to
reach its position. Bragg at once commenced massing in the same
direction. This was what I wanted. But it had now got to be
late in the afternoon, and I had expected before this to see
Hooker crossing the ridge in the neighborhood of Rossville and
compelling Bragg to mass in that direction also.

The enemy had evacuated Lookout Mountain during the night, as I
expected he would. In crossing the valley he burned the bridge
over Chattanooga Creek, and did all he could to obstruct the
roads behind him. Hooker was off bright and early, with no
obstructions in his front but distance and the destruction above
named. He was detained four hours crossing Chattanooga Creek,
and thus was lost the immediate advantage I expected from his
forces. His reaching Bragg's flank and extending across it was
to be the signal for Thomas's assault of the ridge. But
Sherman's condition was getting so critical that the assault for
his relief could not be delayed any longer.

Sheridan's and Wood's divisions had been lying under arms from
early morning, ready to move the instant the signal was given. I
now directed Thomas to order the charge at once (*16). I watched
eagerly to see the effect, and became impatient at last that
there was no indication of any charge being made. The centre of
the line which was to make the charge was near where Thomas and I
stood, but concealed from view by an intervening forest. Turning
to Thomas to inquire what caused the delay, I was surprised to
see Thomas J. Wood, one of the division commanders who was to
make the charge, standing talking to him. I spoke to General
Wood, asking him why he did not charge as ordered an hour
before. He replied very promptly that this was the first he had
heard of it, but that he had been ready all day to move at a
moment's notice. I told him to make the charge at once. He was
off in a moment, and in an incredibly short time loud cheering
was heard, and he and Sheridan were driving the enemy's advance
before them towards Missionary Ridge. The Confederates were
strongly intrenched on the crest of the ridge in front of us,
and had a second line half-way down and another at the base.
Our men drove the troops in front of the lower line of
rifle-pits so rapidly, and followed them so closely, that rebel
and Union troops went over the first line of works almost at the
same time. Many rebels were captured and sent to the rear under
the fire of their own friends higher up the hill. Those that
were not captured retreated, and were pursued. The retreating
hordes being between friends and pursuers caused the enemy to
fire high to avoid killing their own men. In fact, on that
occasion the Union soldier nearest the enemy was in the safest
position. Without awaiting further orders or stopping to
reform, on our troops went to the second line of works; over
that and on for the crest--thus effectually carrying out my
orders of the 18th for the battle and of the 24th (*17) for this

I watched their progress with intense interest. The fire along
the rebel line was terrific. Cannon and musket balls filled the
air: but the damage done was in small proportion to the
ammunition expended. The pursuit continued until the crest was
reached, and soon our men were seen climbing over the
Confederate barriers at different points in front of both
Sheridan's and Wood's divisions. The retreat of the enemy along
most of his line was precipitate and the panic so great that
Bragg and his officers lost all control over their men. Many
were captured, and thousands threw away their arms in their

Sheridan pushed forward until he reached the Chickamauga River
at a point above where the enemy crossed. He met some
resistance from troops occupying a second hill in rear of
Missionary Ridge, probably to cover the retreat of the main body
and of the artillery and trains. It was now getting dark, but
Sheridan, without halting on that account pushed his men forward
up this second hill slowly and without attracting the attention
of the men placed to defend it, while he detached to the right
and left to surround the position. The enemy discovered the
movement before these dispositions were complete, and beat a
hasty retreat, leaving artillery, wagon trains, and many
prisoners in our hands. To Sheridan's prompt movement the Army
of the Cumberland, and the nation, are indebted for the bulk of
the capture of prisoners, artillery, and small-arms that day.
Except for his prompt pursuit, so much in this way would not
have been accomplished.

While the advance up Mission Ridge was going forward, General
Thomas with staff, General Gordon Granger, commander of the
corps making the assault, and myself and staff occupied Orchard
Knob, from which the entire field could be observed. The moment
the troops were seen going over the last line of rebel defences,
I ordered Granger to join his command, and mounting my horse I
rode to the front. General Thomas left about the same time.
Sheridan on the extreme right was already in pursuit of the
enemy east of the ridge. Wood, who commanded the division to
the left of Sheridan, accompanied his men on horseback in the
charge, but did not join Sheridan in the pursuit. To the left,
in Baird's front where Bragg's troops had massed against
Sherman, the resistance was more stubborn and the contest lasted
longer. I ordered Granger to follow the enemy with Wood's
division, but he was so much excited, and kept up such a roar of
musketry in the direction the enemy had taken, that by the time I
could stop the firing the enemy had got well out of the way. The
enemy confronting Sherman, now seeing everything to their left
giving way, fled also. Sherman, however, was not aware of the
extent of our success until after nightfall, when he received
orders to pursue at daylight in the morning.

As soon as Sherman discovered that the enemy had left his front
he directed his reserves, Davis's division of the Army of the
Cumberland, to push over the pontoon-bridge at the mouth of the
Chickamauga, and to move forward to Chickamauga Station. He
ordered Howard to move up the stream some two miles to where
there was an old bridge, repair it during the night, and follow
Davis at four o'clock in the morning. Morgan L. Smith was
ordered to reconnoitre the tunnel to see if that was still
held. Nothing was found there but dead bodies of men of both
armies. The rest of Sherman's command was directed to follow
Howard at daylight in the morning to get on to the railroad
towards Graysville.

Hooker, as stated, was detained at Chattanooga Creek by the
destruction of the bridge at that point. He got his troops
over, with the exception of the artillery, by fording the stream
at a little after three o'clock. Leaving his artillery to follow
when the bridge should be reconstructed, he pushed on with the
remainder of his command. At Rossville he came upon the flank
of a division of the enemy, which soon commenced a retreat along
the ridge. This threw them on Palmer. They could make but
little resistance in the position they were caught in, and as
many of them as could do so escaped. Many, however, were
captured. Hooker's position during the night of the 25th was
near Rossville, extending east of the ridge. Palmer was on his
left, on the road to Graysville.

During the night I telegraphed to Willcox that Bragg had been
defeated, and that immediate relief would be sent to Burnside if
he could hold out; to Halleck I sent an announcement of our
victory, and informed him that forces would be sent up the
valley to relieve Burnside.

Before the battle of Chattanooga opened I had taken measures for
the relief of Burnside the moment the way should be clear. Thomas
was directed to have the little steamer that had been built at
Chattanooga loaded to its capacity with rations and
ammunition. Granger's corps was to move by the south bank of
the Tennessee River to the mouth of the Holston, and up that to
Knoxville accompanied by the boat. In addition to the supplies
transported by boat, the men were to carry forty rounds of
ammunition in their cartridge-boxes, and four days' rations in

In the battle of Chattanooga, troops from the Army of the
Potomac, from the Army of the Tennessee, and from the Army of
the Cumberland participated. In fact, the accidents growing out
of the heavy rains and the sudden rise in the Tennessee River so
mingled the troops that the organizations were not kept
together, under their respective commanders, during the
battle. Hooker, on the right, had Geary's division of the 12th
corps, Army of the Potomac; Osterhaus's division of the 15th
corps, Army of the Tennessee; and Cruft's division of the Army
of the Cumberland. Sherman had three divisions of his own army,
Howard's corps from the Army of the Potomac, and Jefferson C.
Davis's division of the Army of the Cumberland. There was no
jealousy--hardly rivalry. Indeed, I doubt whether officers or
men took any note at the time of the fact of this intermingling
of commands. All saw a defiant foe surrounding them, and took
it for granted that every move was intended to dislodge him, and
it made no difference where the troops came from so that the end
was accomplished.

The victory at Chattanooga was won against great odds,
considering the advantage the enemy had of position, and was
accomplished more easily than was expected by reason of Bragg's
making several grave mistakes: first, in sending away his
ablest corps commander with over twenty thousand troops; second,
in sending away a division of troops on the eve of battle; third,
in placing so much of a force on the plain in front of his
impregnable position.

It was known that Mr. Jefferson Davis had visited Bragg on
Missionary Ridge a short time before my reaching Chattanooga. It
was reported and believed that he had come out to reconcile a
serious difference between Bragg and Longstreet, and finding
this difficult to do, planned the campaign against Knoxville, to
be conducted by the latter general. I had known both Bragg and
Longstreet before the war, the latter very well. We had been
three years at West Point together, and, after my graduation,
for a time in the same regiment. Then we served together in the
Mexican War. I had known Bragg in Mexico, and met him
occasionally subsequently. I could well understand how there
might be an irreconcilable difference between them.

Bragg was a remarkably intelligent and well-informed man,
professionally and otherwise. He was also thoroughly upright.
But he was possessed of an irascible temper, and was naturally
disputatious. A man of the highest moral character and the most
correct habits, yet in the old army he was in frequent trouble.
As a subordinate he was always on the lookout to catch his
commanding officer infringing his prerogatives; as a post
commander he was equally vigilant to detect the slightest
neglect, even of the most trivial order.

I have heard in the old army an anecdote very characteristic of
Bragg. On one occasion, when stationed at a post of several
companies commanded by a field officer, he was himself
commanding one of the companies and at the same time acting as
post quartermaster and commissary. He was first lieutenant at
the time, but his captain was detached on other duty. As
commander of the company he made a requisition upon the
quartermaster--himself--for something he wanted. As
quartermaster he declined to fill the requisition, and endorsed
on the back of it his reasons for so doing. As company
commander he responded to this, urging that his requisition
called for nothing but what he was entitled to, and that it was
the duty of the quartermaster to fill it. As quartermaster he
still persisted that he was right. In this condition of affairs
Bragg referred the whole matter to the commanding officer of the
post. The latter, when he saw the nature of the matter
referred, exclaimed: "My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarrelled
with every officer in the army, and now you are quarrelling with

Longstreet was an entirely different man. He was brave, honest,
intelligent, a very capable soldier, subordinate to his
superiors, just and kind to his subordinates, but jealous of his
own rights, which he had the courage to maintain. He was never
on the lookout to detect a slight, but saw one as soon as
anybody when intentionally given.

It may be that Longstreet was not sent to Knoxville for the
reason stated, but because Mr. Davis had an exalted opinion of
his own military genius, and thought he saw a chance of "killing
two birds with one stone." On several occasions during the war
he came to the relief of the Union army by means of his SUPERIOR

I speak advisedly when I saw Mr. Davis prided himself on his
military capacity. He says so himself, virtually, in his answer
to the notice of his nomination to the Confederate presidency.
Some of his generals have said so in their writings since the
downfall of the Confederacy.

My recollection is that my first orders for the battle of
Chattanooga were as fought. Sherman was to get on Missionary
Ridge, as he did; Hooker to cross the north end of Lookout
Mountain, as he did, sweep across Chattanooga Valley and get
across the south end of the ridge near Rossville. When Hooker
had secured that position the Army of the Cumberland was to
assault in the centre. Before Sherman arrived, however, the
order was so changed as that Hooker was directed to come to
Chattanooga by the north bank of the Tennessee River. The
waters in the river, owing to heavy rains, rose so fast that the
bridge at Brown's Ferry could not be maintained in a condition to
be used in crossing troops upon it. For this reason Hooker's
orders were changed by telegraph back to what they were

NOTE.--From this point on this volume was written (with the
exception of the campaign in the Wilderness, which had been
previously written) by General Grant, after his great illness in
April, and the present arrangement of the subject-matter was made
by him between the 10th and 18th of July, 1885.



Chattanooga now being secure to the National troops beyond any
doubt, I immediately turned my attention to relieving Knoxville,
about the situation of which the President, in particular, was
very anxious. Prior to the battles, I had made preparations for
sending troops to the relief of Burnside at the very earliest
moment after securing Chattanooga. We had there two little
steamers which had been built and fitted up from the remains of
old boats and put in condition to run. General Thomas was
directed to have one of these boats loaded with rations and
ammunition and move up the Tennessee River to the mouth of the
Holston, keeping the boat all the time abreast of the troops.
General Granger, with the 4th corps reinforced to make twenty
thousand men, was to start the moment Missionary Ridge was
carried, and under no circumstances were the troops to return to
their old camps. With the provisions carried, and the little
that could be got in the country, it was supposed he could hold
out until Longstreet was driven away, after which event East
Tennessee would furnish abundance of food for Burnside's army
and his own also.

While following the enemy on the 26th, and again on the morning
of the 27th, part of the time by the road to Ringgold, I
directed Thomas, verbally, not to start Granger until he
received further orders from me; advising him that I was going
to the front to more fully see the situation. I was not right
sure but that Bragg's troops might be over their stampede by the
time they reached Dalton. In that case Bragg might think it well
to take the road back to Cleveland, move thence towards
Knoxville, and, uniting with Longstreet, make a sudden dash upon

When I arrived at Ringgold, however, on the 27th, I saw that the
retreat was most earnest. The enemy had been throwing away guns,
caissons and small-arms, abandoning provisions, and, altogether,
seemed to be moving like a disorganized mob, with the exception
of Cleburne's division, which was acting as rear-guard to cover
the retreat.

When Hooker moved from Rossville toward Ringgold Palmer's
division took the road to Graysville, and Sherman moved by the
way of Chickamauga Station toward the same point. As soon as I
saw the situation at Ringgold I sent a staff officer back to
Chattanooga to advise Thomas of the condition of affairs, and
direct him by my orders to start Granger at once. Feeling now
that the troops were already on the march for the relief of
Burnside I was in no hurry to get back, but stayed at Ringgold
through the day to prepare for the return of our troops.

Ringgold is in a valley in the mountains, situated between East
Chickamauga Creek and Taylor's Ridge, and about twenty miles
south-east from Chattanooga. I arrived just as the artillery
that Hooker had left behind at Chattanooga Creek got up. His
men were attacking Cleburne's division, which had taken a strong
position in the adjacent hills so as to cover the retreat of the
Confederate army through a narrow gorge which presents itself at
that point. Just beyond the gorge the valley is narrow, and the
creek so tortuous that it has to be crossed a great many times
in the course of the first mile. This attack was unfortunate,
and cost us some men unnecessarily. Hooker captured, however, 3
pieces of artillery and 230 prisoners, and 130 rebel dead were
left upon the field.

I directed General Hooker to collect the flour and wheat in the
neighboring mills for the use of the troops, and then to destroy
the mills and all other property that could be of use to the
enemy, but not to make any wanton destruction.

At this point Sherman came up, having reached Graysville with
his troops, where he found Palmer had preceded him. Palmer had
picked up many prisoners and much abandoned property on the
route. I went back in the evening to Graysville with Sherman,
remained there over night and did not return to Chattanooga
until the following night, the 29th. I then found that Thomas
had not yet started Granger, thus having lost a full day which I
deemed of so much importance in determining the fate of
Knoxville. Thomas and Granger were aware that on the 23d of the
month Burnside had telegraphed that his supplies would last for
ten or twelve days and during that time he could hold out
against Longstreet, but if not relieved within the time
indicated he would be obliged to surrender or attempt to
retreat. To effect a retreat would have been an
impossibility. He was already very low in ammunition, and with
an army pursuing he would not have been able to gather supplies.

Finding that Granger had not only not started but was very
reluctant to go, he having decided for himself that it was a
very bad move to make, I sent word to General Sherman of the
situation and directed him to march to the relief of
Knoxville. I also gave him the problem that we had to
solve--that Burnside had now but four to six days supplies left,
and that he must be relieved within that time.

Sherman, fortunately, had not started on his return from
Graysville, having sent out detachments on the railroad which
runs from Dalton to Cleveland and Knoxville to thoroughly
destroy that road, and these troops had not yet returned to
camp. I was very loath to send Sherman, because his men needed
rest after their long march from Memphis and hard fighting at
Chattanooga. But I had become satisfied that Burnside would not
be rescued if his relief depended upon General Granger's

Sherman had left his camp on the north side of the Tennessee
River, near Chattanooga, on the night of the 23d, the men having
two days' cooked rations in their haversacks. Expecting to be
back in their tents by that time and to be engaged in battle
while out, they took with them neither overcoats nor blankets.
The weather was already cold, and at night they must have
suffered more or less. The two days' rations had already lasted
them five days; and they were now to go through a country which
had been run over so much by Confederate troops that there was
but little probability of finding much food. They did, however,
succeed in capturing some flour. They also found a good deal of
bran in some of the mills, which the men made up into bread; and
in this and other ways they eked out an existence until they
could reach Knoxville.

I was so very anxious that Burnside should get news of the steps
being taken for his relief, and thus induce him to hold out a
little longer if it became necessary, that I determined to send
a message to him. I therefore sent a member of my staff,
Colonel J. H. Wilson, to get into Knoxville if he could report
to Burnside the situation fully, and give him all the
encouragement possible. Mr. Charles A. Dana was at Chattanooga
during the battle, and had been there even before I assumed
command. Mr. Dana volunteered to accompany Colonel Wilson, and
did accompany him. I put the information of what was being done
for the relief of Knoxville into writing, and directed that in
some way or other it must be secretly managed so as to have a
copy of this fall into the hands of General Longstreet. They
made the trip safely; General Longstreet did learn of Sherman's
coming in advance of his reaching there, and Burnside was
prepared to hold out even for a longer time if it had been

Burnside had stretched a boom across the Holston River to catch
scows and flats as they floated down. On these, by previous
arrangements with the loyal people of East Tennessee, were
placed flour and corn, with forage and provisions generally, and
were thus secured for the use of the Union troops. They also
drove cattle into Knoxville by the east side, which was not
covered by the enemy; so that when relief arrived Burnside had
more provisions on hand than when he had last reported.

Our total loss (not including Burnside's) in all these
engagements amounted to 757 killed, 4,529 wounded and 330
missing. We captured 6,142 prisoners--about 50 per cent. more
than the enemy reported for their total loss--40 pieces of
artillery, 69 artillery carriages and caissons and over 7,000
stands of small-arms. The enemy's loss in arms was probably
much greater than here reported, because we picked up a great
many that were found abandoned.

I had at Chattanooga, in round numbers, about 60,000 men. Bragg
had about half this number, but his position was supposed to be
impregnable. It was his own fault that he did not have more men
present. He had sent Longstreet away with his corps swelled by
reinforcements up to over twenty thousand men, thus reducing his
own force more than one-third and depriving himself of the
presence of the ablest general of his command. He did this,
too, after our troops had opened a line of communication by way
of Brown's and Kelly's ferries with Bridgeport, thus securing
full rations and supplies of every kind; and also when he knew
reinforcements were coming to me. Knoxville was of no earthly
use to him while Chattanooga was in our hands. If he should
capture Chattanooga, Knoxville with its garrison would have
fallen into his hands without a struggle. I have never been
able to see the wisdom of this move.

Then, too, after Sherman had arrived, and when Bragg knew that
he was on the north side of the Tennessee River, he sent
Buckner's division to reinforce Longstreet. He also started
another division a day later, but our attack having commenced
before it reached Knoxville Bragg ordered it back. It had got
so far, however, that it could not return to Chattanooga in time
to be of service there. It is possible this latter blunder may
have been made by Bragg having become confused as to what was
going on on our side. Sherman had, as already stated, crossed
to the north side of the Tennessee River at Brown's Ferry, in
full view of Bragg's troops from Lookout Mountain, a few days
before the attack. They then disappeared behind foot hills, and
did not come to the view of the troops on Missionary Ridge until
they met their assault. Bragg knew it was Sherman's troops that
had crossed, and, they being so long out of view, may have
supposed that they had gone up the north bank of the Tennessee
River to the relief of Knoxville and that Longstreet was
therefore in danger. But the first great blunder, detaching
Longstreet, cannot be accounted for in any way I know of. If he
had captured Chattanooga, East Tennessee would have fallen
without a struggle. It would have been a victory for us to have
got our army away from Chattanooga safely. It was a manifold
greater victory to drive away the besieging army; a still
greater one to defeat that army in his chosen ground and nearly
annihilate it.

The probabilities are that our loss in killed was the heavier,
as we were the attacking party. The enemy reported his loss in
killed at 361: but as he reported his missing at 4,146, while
we held over 6,000 of them as prisoners, and there must have
been hundreds if not thousands who deserted, but little reliance
can be placed on this report. There was certainly great
dissatisfaction with Bragg on the part of the soldiers for his
harsh treatment of them, and a disposition to get away if they
could. Then, too, Chattanooga, following in the same half year
with Gettysburg in the East and Vicksburg in the West, there was
much the same feeling in the South at this time that there had
been in the North the fall and winter before. If the same
license had been allowed the people and press in the South that
was allowed in the North, Chattanooga would probably have been
the last battle fought for the preservation of the Union.

General William F. Smith's services in these battles had been
such that I thought him eminently entitled to promotion. I was
aware that he had previously been named by the President for
promotion to the grade of major-general, but that the Senate had
rejected the nomination. I was not aware of the reasons for this
course, and therefore strongly recommended him for a
major-generalcy. My recommendation was heeded and the
appointment made.

Upon the raising of the siege of Knoxville I, of course,
informed the authorities at Washington--the President and
Secretary of War--of the fact, which caused great rejoicing
there. The President especially was rejoiced that Knoxville had
been relieved (*18) without further bloodshed. The safety of
Burnside's army and the loyal people of East Tennessee had been
the subject of much anxiety to the President for several months,
during which time he was doing all he could to relieve the
situation; sending a new commander (*19) with a few thousand
troops by the way of Cumberland Gap, and telegraphing me daily,
almost hourly, to "remember Burnside," "do something for
Burnside," and other appeals of like tenor. He saw no escape
for East Tennessee until after our victory at Chattanooga. Even
then he was afraid that Burnside might be out of ammunition, in
a starving condition, or overpowered: and his anxiety was still
intense until he heard that Longstreet had been driven from the

Burnside followed Longstreet only to Strawberry Plains, some
twenty miles or more east, and then stopped, believing that
Longstreet would leave the State. The latter did not do so,
however, but stopped only a short distance farther on and
subsisted his army for the entire winter off East Tennessee.
Foster now relieved Burnside. Sherman made disposition of his
troops along the Tennessee River in accordance with
instructions. I left Thomas in command at Chattanooga, and,
about the 20th of December, moved my headquarters to Nashville,

Nashville was the most central point from which to communicate
with my entire military division, and also with the authorities
at Washington. While remaining at Chattanooga I was liable to
have my telegraphic communications cut so as to throw me out of
communication with both my command and Washington.

Nothing occurred at Nashville worthy of mention during the
winter, (*20) so I set myself to the task of having troops in
positions from which they could move to advantage, and in
collecting all necessary supplies so as to be ready to claim a
due share of the enemy's attention upon the appearance of the
first good weather in the spring. I expected to retain the
command I then had, and prepared myself for the campaign against
Atlanta. I also had great hopes of having a campaign made against
Mobile from the Gulf. I expected after Atlanta fell to occupy
that place permanently, and to cut off Lee's army from the West
by way of the road running through Augusta to Atlanta and thence
south-west. I was preparing to hold Atlanta with a small
garrison, and it was my expectation to push through to Mobile if
that city was in our possession: if not, to Savannah; and in
this manner to get possession of the only east and west railroad
that would then be left to the enemy. But the spring campaign
against Mobile was not made.

The Army of the Ohio had been getting supplies over Cumberland
Gap until their animals had nearly all starved. I now
determined to go myself to see if there was any possible chance
of using that route in the spring, and if not to abandon it.
Accordingly I left Nashville in the latter part of December by
rail for Chattanooga. From Chattanooga I took one of the little
steamers previously spoken of as having been built there, and,
putting my horses aboard, went up to the junction of the Clinch
with the Tennessee. From that point the railroad had been
repaired up to Knoxville and out east to Strawberry Plains. I
went by rail therefore to Knoxville, where I remained for
several days. General John G. Foster was then commanding the
Department of the Ohio. It was an intensely cold winter, the
thermometer being down as low as zero every morning for more
than a week while I was at Knoxville and on my way from there on
horseback to Lexington, Kentucky, the first point where I could
reach rail to carry me back to my headquarters at Nashville.

The road over Cumberland Gap, and back of it, was strewn with
debris of broken wagons and dead animals, much as I had found it
on my first trip to Chattanooga over Waldron's Ridge. The road
had been cut up to as great a depth as clay could be by mules
and wagons, and in that condition frozen; so that the ride of
six days from Strawberry Plains to Lexington over these holes
and knobs in the road was a very cheerless one, and very

I found a great many people at home along that route, both in
Tennessee and Kentucky, and, almost universally, intensely
loyal. They would collect in little places where we would stop
of evenings, to see me, generally hearing of my approach before
we arrived. The people naturally expected to see the commanding
general the oldest person in the party. I was then forty-one
years of age, while my medical director was gray-haired and
probably twelve or more years my senior. The crowds would
generally swarm around him, and thus give me an opportunity of
quietly dismounting and getting into the house. It also gave me
an opportunity of hearing passing remarks from one spectator to
another about their general. Those remarks were apt to be more
complimentary to the cause than to the appearance of the
supposed general, owing to his being muffled up, and also owing
to the travel-worn condition we were all in after a hard day's
ride. I was back in Nashville by the 13th of January, 1864.

When I started on this trip it was necessary for me to have some
person along who could turn dispatches into cipher, and who could
also read the cipher dispatches which I was liable to receive
daily and almost hourly. Under the rules of the War Department
at that time, Mr. Stanton had taken entire control of the matter
of regulating the telegraph and determining how it should be
used, and of saying who, and who alone, should have the
ciphers. The operators possessed of the ciphers, as well as the
ciphers used, were practically independent of the commanders whom
they were serving immediately under, and had to report to the War
Department through General Stager all the dispatches which they
received or forwarded.

I was obliged to leave the telegraphic operator back at
Nashville, because that was the point at which all dispatches to
me would come, to be forwarded from there. As I have said, it
was necessary for me also to have an operator during this
inspection who had possession of this cipher to enable me to
telegraph to my division and to the War Department without my
dispatches being read by all the operators along the line of
wires over which they were transmitted. Accordingly I ordered
the cipher operator to turn over the key to Captain Cyrus B.
Comstock, of the Corps of Engineers, whom I had selected as a
wise and discreet man who certainly could be trusted with the
cipher if the operator at my headquarters could.

The operator refused point blank to turn over the key to Captain
Comstock as directed by me, stating that his orders from the War
Department were not to give it to anybody--the commanding
general or any one else. I told him I would see whether he
would or not. He said that if he did he would be punished. I
told him if he did not he most certainly would be punished.
Finally, seeing that punishment was certain if he refused longer
to obey my order, and being somewhat remote (even if he was not
protected altogether from the consequences of his disobedience
to his orders) from the War Department, he yielded. When I
returned from Knoxville I found quite a commotion. The operator
had been reprimanded very severely and ordered to be relieved. I
informed the Secretary of War, or his assistant secretary in
charge of the telegraph, Stager, that the man could not be
relieved, for he had only obeyed my orders. It was absolutely
necessary for me to have the cipher, and the man would most
certainly have been punished if he had not delivered it; that
they would have to punish me if they punished anybody, or words
to that effect.

This was about the only thing approaching a disagreeable
difference between the Secretary of War and myself that occurred
until the war was over, when we had another little spat. Owing
to his natural disposition to assume all power and control in
all matters that he had anything whatever to do with, he boldly
took command of the armies, and, while issuing no orders on the
subject, prohibited any order from me going out of the
adjutant-general's office until he had approved it. This was
done by directing the adjutant-general to hold any orders that
came from me to be issued from the adjutant-general's office
until he had examined them and given his approval. He never
disturbed himself, either, in examining my orders until it was
entirely convenient for him; so that orders which I had prepared
would often lie there three or four days before he would sanction
them. I remonstrated against this in writing, and the Secretary
apologetically restored me to my rightful position of
General-in-Chief of the Army. But he soon lapsed again and took
control much as before.

After the relief of Knoxville Sherman had proposed to Burnside
that he should go with him to drive Longstreet out of Tennessee;
but Burnside assured him that with the troops which had been
brought by Granger, and which were to be left, he would be amply
prepared to dispose of Longstreet without availing himself of
this offer. As before stated Sherman's command had left their
camps north of the Tennessee, near Chattanooga, with two days'
rations in their haversacks, without coats or blankets, and
without many wagons, expecting to return to their camps by the
end of that time. The weather was now cold and they were
suffering, but still they were ready to make the further
sacrifice, had it been required, for the good of the cause which
had brought them into service. Sherman, having accomplished the
object for which he was sent, marched back leisurely to his old
camp on the Tennessee River.



Soon after his return from Knoxville I ordered Sherman to
distribute his forces from Stevenson to Decatur and thence north
to Nashville; Sherman suggested that he be permitted to go back
to Mississippi, to the limits of his own department and where
most of his army still remained, for the purpose of clearing out
what Confederates might still be left on the east bank of the
Mississippi River to impede its navigation by our boats. He
expected also to have the co-operation of Banks to do the same
thing on the west shore. Of course I approved heartily.

About the 10th of January Sherman was back in Memphis, where
Hurlbut commanded, and got together his Memphis men, or ordered
them collected and sent to Vicksburg. He then went to Vicksburg
and out to where McPherson was in command, and had him organize
his surplus troops so as to give him about 20,000 men in all.

Sherman knew that General (Bishop) Polk was occupying Meridian
with his headquarters, and had two divisions of infantry with a
considerable force of cavalry scattered west of him. He
determined, therefore, to move directly upon Meridian.

I had sent some 2,500 cavalry under General Sooy Smith to
Sherman's department, and they had mostly arrived before Sherman
got to Memphis. Hurlbut had 7,000 cavalry, and Sherman ordered
him to reinforce Smith so as to give the latter a force of about
7,000 with which to go against Forrest, who was then known to be
south-east from Memphis. Smith was ordered to move about the
1st of February.

While Sherman was waiting at Vicksburg for the arrival of
Hurlbut with his surplus men, he sent out scouts to ascertain
the position and strength of the enemy and to bring back all the
information they could gather. When these scouts returned it was
through them that he got the information of General Polk's being
at Meridian, and of the strength and disposition of his command.

Forrest had about 4,000 cavalry with him, composed of thoroughly
well-disciplined men, who under so able a leader were very
effective. Smith's command was nearly double that of Forrest,
but not equal, man to man, for the lack of a successful
experience such as Forrest's men had had. The fact is, troops
who have fought a few battles and won, and followed up their
victories, improve upon what they were before to an extent that
can hardly be counted by percentage. The difference in result
is often decisive victory instead of inglorious defeat. This
same difference, too, is often due to the way troops are
officered, and for the particular kind of warfare which Forrest
had carried on neither army could present a more effective
officer than he was.

Sherman got off on the 3d of February and moved out on his
expedition, meeting with no opposition whatever until he crossed
the Big Black, and with no great deal of opposition after that
until he reached Jackson, Mississippi. This latter place he
reached on the 6th or 7th, Brandon on the 8th, and Morton on the
9th. Up to this time he moved in two columns to enable him to
get a good supply of forage, etc., and expedite the march. Here,
however, there were indications of the concentration of
Confederate infantry, and he was obliged to keep his army close
together. He had no serious engagement; but he met some of the
enemy who destroyed a few of his wagons about Decatur,
Mississippi, where, by the way, Sherman himself came near being
picked up.

He entered Meridian on the 14th of the month, the enemy having
retreated toward Demopolis, Alabama. He spent several days in
Meridian in thoroughly destroying the railroad to the north and
south, and also for the purpose of hearing from Sooy Smith, who
he supposed had met Forrest before this time and he hoped had
gained a decisive victory because of a superiority of numbers.
Hearing nothing of him, however, he started on his return trip
to Vicksburg. There he learned that Smith, while waiting for a
few of his men who had been ice-bound in the Ohio River, instead
of getting off on the 1st as expected, had not left until the
11th. Smith did meet Forrest, but the result was decidedly in
Forrest's favor.

Sherman had written a letter to Banks, proposing a co-operative
movement with him against Shreveport, subject to my approval. I
disapproved of Sherman's going himself, because I had other
important work for him to do, but consented that he might send a
few troops to the aid of Banks, though their time to remain
absent must be limited. We must have them for the spring
campaign. The trans-Mississippi movement proved abortive.

My eldest son, who had accompanied me on the Vicksburg campaign
and siege, had while there contracted disease, which grew worse,
until he had grown so dangerously ill that on the 24th of January
I obtained permission to go to St. Louis, where he was staying at
the time, to see him, hardly expecting to find him alive on my
arrival. While I was permitted to go, I was not permitted to
turn over my command to any one else, but was directed to keep
the headquarters with me and to communicate regularly with all
parts of my division and with Washington, just as though I had
remained at Nashville.

When I obtained this leave I was at Chattanooga, having gone
there again to make preparations to have the troops of Thomas in
the southern part of Tennessee co-operate with Sherman's movement
in Mississippi. I directed Thomas, and Logan who was at
Scottsboro, Alabama, to keep up a threatening movement to the
south against J. E. Johnston, who had again relieved Bragg, for
the purpose of making him keep as many troops as possible there.

I learned through Confederate sources that Johnston had already
sent two divisions in the direction of Mobile, presumably to
operate against Sherman, and two more divisions to Longstreet in
East Tennessee. Seeing that Johnston had depleted in this way, I
directed Thomas to send at least ten thousand men, besides
Stanley's division which was already to the east, into East
Tennessee, and notified Schofield, who was now in command in
East Tennessee, of this movement of troops into his department
and also of the reinforcements Longstreet had received. My
object was to drive Longstreet out of East Tennessee as a part
of the preparations for my spring campaign.

About this time General Foster, who had been in command of the
Department of the Ohio after Burnside until Schofield relieved
him (*21), advised me that he thought it would be a good thing
to keep Longstreet just where he was; that he was perfectly
quiet in East Tennessee, and if he was forced to leave there,
his whole well-equipped army would be free to go to any place
where it could effect the most for their cause. I thought the
advice was good, and, adopting that view, countermanded the
orders for pursuit of Longstreet.

On the 12th of February I ordered Thomas to take Dalton and hold
it, if possible; and I directed him to move without delay.
Finding that he had not moved, on the 17th I urged him again to
start, telling him how important it was, that the object of the
movement was to co-operate with Sherman, who was moving eastward
and might be in danger. Then again on the 21st, he not yet
having started, I asked him if he could not start the next
day. He finally got off on the 22d or 23d. The enemy fell back
from his front without a battle, but took a new position quite as
strong and farther to the rear. Thomas reported that he could
not go any farther, because it was impossible with his poor
teams, nearly starved, to keep up supplies until the railroads
were repaired. He soon fell back.

Schofield also had to return for the same reason. He could not
carry supplies with him, and Longstreet was between him and the
supplies still left in the country. Longstreet, in his retreat,
would be moving towards his supplies, while our forces,
following, would be receding from theirs. On the 2d of March,
however, I learned of Sherman's success, which eased my mind
very much. The next day, the 3d, I was ordered to Washington.

The bill restoring the grade of lieutenant-general of the army
had passed through Congress and became a law on the 26th of
February. My nomination had been sent to the Senate on the 1st
of March and confirmed the next day (the 2d). I was ordered to
Washington on the 3d to receive my commission, and started the
day following that. The commission was handed to me on the
9th. It was delivered to me at the Executive Mansion by
President Lincoln in the presence of his Cabinet, my eldest son,
those of my staff who were with me and and a few other visitors.

The President in presenting my commission read from a
paper--stating, however, as a preliminary, and prior to the
delivery of it, that he had drawn that up on paper, knowing my
disinclination to speak in public, and handed me a copy in
advance so that I might prepare a few lines of reply. The
President said:

"General Grant, the nation's appreciation of what you have done,
and its reliance upon you for what remains to be done in the
existing great struggle, are now presented, with this commission
constituting you lieutenant-general in the Army of the United
States. With this high honor, devolves upon you, also, a
corresponding responsibility. As the country herein trusts you,
so, under God, it will sustain you. I scarcely need to add,
that, with what I here speak for the nation, goes my own hearty
personal concurrence."

To this I replied: "Mr. President, I accept the commission,
with gratitude for the high honor conferred. With the aid of
the noble armies that have fought in so many fields for our
common country, it will be my earnest endeavor not to disappoint
your expectations. I feel the full weight of the
responsibilities now devolving on me; and I know that if they
are met, it will be due to those armies, and above all, to the
favor of that Providence which leads both nations and men."

On the 10th I visited the headquarters of the Army of the
Potomac at Brandy Station; then returned to Washington, and
pushed west at once to make my arrangements for turning over the
commands there and giving general directions for the preparations
to be made for the spring campaign.

It had been my intention before this to remain in the West, even
if I was made lieutenant-general; but when I got to Washington
and saw the situation it was plain that here was the point for
the commanding general to be. No one else could, probably,
resist the pressure that would be brought to bear upon him to
desist from his own plans and pursue others. I determined,
therefore, before I started back to have Sherman advanced to my
late position, McPherson to Sherman's in command of the
department, and Logan to the command of McPherson's corps. These
changes were all made on my recommendation and without
hesitation. My commission as lieutenant-general was given to me
on the 9th of March, 1864. On the following day, as already
stated, I visited General Meade, commanding the Army of the
Potomac, at his headquarters at Brandy Station, north of the
Rapidan. I had known General Meade slightly in the Mexican war,
but had not met him since until this visit. I was a stranger to
most of the Army of the Potomac, I might say to all except the
officers of the regular army who had served in the Mexican
war. There had been some changes ordered in the organization of
that army before my promotion. One was the consolidation of five
corps into three, thus throwing some officers of rank out of
important commands. Meade evidently thought that I might want
to make still one more change not yet ordered. He said to me
that I might want an officer who had served with me in the West,
mentioning Sherman specially, to take his place. If so, he
begged me not to hesitate about making the change. He urged
that the work before us was of such vast importance to the whole
nation that the feeling or wishes of no one person should stand
in the way of selecting the right men for all positions. For
himself, he would serve to the best of his ability wherever
placed. I assured him that I had no thought of substituting any
one for him. As to Sherman, he could not be spared from the

This incident gave me even a more favorable opinion of Meade
than did his great victory at Gettysburg the July before. It is
men who wait to be selected, and not those who seek, from whom we
may always expect the most efficient service.

Meade's position afterwards proved embarrassing to me if not to
him. He was commanding an army and, for nearly a year previous
to my taking command of all the armies, was in supreme command
of the Army of the Potomac--except from the authorities at
Washington. All other general officers occupying similar
positions were independent in their commands so far as any one
present with them was concerned. I tried to make General
Meade's position as nearly as possible what it would have been
if I had been in Washington or any other place away from his
command. I therefore gave all orders for the movements of the
Army of the Potomac to Meade to have them executed. To avoid
the necessity of having to give orders direct, I established my
headquarters near his, unless there were reasons for locating
them elsewhere. This sometimes happened, and I had on occasions
to give orders direct to the troops affected. On the 11th I
returned to Washington and, on the day after, orders were
published by the War Department placing me in command of all the
armies. I had left Washington the night before to return to my
old command in the West and to meet Sherman whom I had
telegraphed to join me in Nashville.

Sherman assumed command of the military division of the
Mississippi on the 18th of March, and we left Nashville together
for Cincinnati. I had Sherman accompany me that far on my way
back to Washington so that we could talk over the matters about
which I wanted to see him, without losing any more time from my
new command than was necessary. The first point which I wished
to discuss was particularly about the co-operation of his
command with mine when the spring campaign should commence.
There were also other and minor points, minor as compared with
the great importance of the question to be decided by sanguinary
war--the restoration to duty of officers who had been relieved
from important commands, namely McClellan, Burnside and Fremont
in the East, and Buell, McCook, Negley and Crittenden in the

Some time in the winter of 1863-64 I had been invited by the
general-in-chief to give my views of the campaign I thought
advisable for the command under me--now Sherman's. General J.
E. Johnston was defending Atlanta and the interior of Georgia
with an army, the largest part of which was stationed at Dalton,
about 38 miles south of Chattanooga. Dalton is at the junction of
the railroad from Cleveland with the one from Chattanooga to

There could have been no difference of opinion as to the first
duty of the armies of the military division of the
Mississippi. Johnston's army was the first objective, and that
important railroad centre, Atlanta, the second. At the time I
wrote General Halleck giving my views of the approaching
campaign, and at the time I met General Sherman, it was expected
that General Banks would be through with the campaign which he
had been ordered upon before my appointment to the command of
all the armies, and would be ready to co-operate with the armies
east of the Mississippi, his part in the programme being to move
upon Mobile by land while the navy would close the harbor and
assist to the best of its ability. (*22) The plan therefore was
for Sherman to attack Johnston and destroy his army if possible,
to capture Atlanta and hold it, and with his troops and those of
Banks to hold a line through to Mobile, or at least to hold
Atlanta and command the railroad running east and west, and the
troops from one or other of the armies to hold important points
on the southern road, the only east and west road that would be
left in the possession of the enemy. This would cut the
Confederacy in two again, as our gaining possession of the
Mississippi River had done before. Banks was not ready in time
for the part assigned to him, and circumstances that could not
be foreseen determined the campaign which was afterwards made,
the success and grandeur of which has resounded throughout all

In regard to restoring officers who had been relieved from
important commands to duty again, I left Sherman to look after
those who had been removed in the West while I looked out for
the rest. I directed, however, that he should make no
assignment until I could speak to the Secretary of War about the
matter. I shortly after recommended to the Secretary the
assignment of General Buell to duty. I received the assurance
that duty would be offered to him; and afterwards the Secretary
told me that he had offered Buell an assignment and that the
latter had declined it, saying that it would be degradation to
accept the assignment offered. I understood afterwards that he
refused to serve under either Sherman or Canby because he had
ranked them both. Both graduated before him and ranked him in
the old army. Sherman ranked him as a brigadier-general. All
of them ranked me in the old army, and Sherman and Buell did as
brigadiers. The worst excuse a soldier can make for declining
service is that he once ranked the commander he is ordered to
report to.

On the 23d of March I was back in Washington, and on the 26th
took up my headquarters at Culpeper Court-House, a few miles
south of the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac.

Although hailing from Illinois myself, the State of the
President, I never met Mr. Lincoln until called to the capital
to receive my commission as lieutenant-general. I knew him,
however, very well and favorably from the accounts given by
officers under me at the West who had known him all their
lives. I had also read the remarkable series of debates between
Lincoln and Douglas a few years before, when they were rival
candidates for the United States Senate. I was then a resident
of Missouri, and by no means a "Lincoln man" in that contest;
but I recognized then his great ability.

In my first interview with Mr. Lincoln alone he stated to me
that he had never professed to be a military man or to know how
campaigns should be conducted, and never wanted to interfere in
them: but that procrastination on the part of commanders, and
the pressure from the people at the North and Congress, WHICH
WAS ALWAYS WITH HIM, forced him into issuing his series of
"Military Orders"--one, two, three, etc. He did not know but
they were all wrong, and did know that some of them were. All
he wanted or had ever wanted was some one who would take the
responsibility and act, and call on him for all the assistance
needed, pledging himself to use all the power of the government
in rendering such assistance. Assuring him that I would do the
best I could with the means at hand, and avoid as far as
possible annoying him or the War Department, our first interview

The Secretary of War I had met once before only, but felt that I
knew him better.

While commanding in West Tennessee we had occasionally held
conversations over the wires, at night, when they were not being
otherwise used. He and General Halleck both cautioned me against
giving the President my plans of campaign, saying that he was so
kind-hearted, so averse to refusing anything asked of him, that
some friend would be sure to get from him all he knew. I should
have said that in our interview the President told me he did not
want to know what I proposed to do. But he submitted a plan of
campaign of his own which he wanted me to hear and then do as I
pleased about. He brought out a map of Virginia on which he had
evidently marked every position occupied by the Federal and
Confederate armies up to that time. He pointed out on the map
two streams which empty into the Potomac, and suggested that the
army might be moved on boats and landed between the mouths of
these streams. We would then have the Potomac to bring our
supplies, and the tributaries would protect our flanks while we
moved out. I listened respectfully, but did not suggest that
the same streams would protect Lee's flanks while he was
shutting us up.

I did not communicate my plans to the President, nor did I to
the Secretary of War or to General Halleck.

March the 26th my headquarters were, as stated, at Culpeper, and
the work of preparing for an early campaign commenced.



When I assumed command of all the armies the situation was about
this: the Mississippi River was guarded from St. Louis to its
mouth; the line of the Arkansas was held, thus giving us all the
North-west north of that river. A few points in Louisiana not
remote from the river were held by the Federal troops, as was
also the mouth of the Rio Grande. East of the Mississippi we
held substantially all north of the Memphis and Charleston
Railroad as far east as Chattanooga, thence along the line of
the Tennessee and Holston rivers, taking in nearly all of the
State of Tennessee. West Virginia was in our hands; and that
part of old Virginia north of the Rapidan and east of the Blue
Ridge we also held. On the sea-coast we had Fortress Monroe and
Norfolk in Virginia; Plymouth, Washington and New Berne in North
Carolina; Beaufort, Folly and Morris islands, Hilton Head, Port
Royal and Fort Pulaski in South Carolina and Georgia;
Fernandina, St. Augustine, Key West and Pensacola in Florida.
The balance of the Southern territory, an empire in extent, was
still in the hands of the enemy.

Sherman, who had succeeded me in the command of the military
division of the Mississippi, commanded all the troops in the
territory west of the Alleghanies and north of Natchez, with a
large movable force about Chattanooga. His command was
subdivided into four departments, but the commanders all
reported to Sherman and were subject to his orders. This
arrangement, however, insured the better protection of all lines
of communication through the acquired territory, for the reason
that these different department commanders could act promptly in
case of a sudden or unexpected raid within their respective
jurisdictions without awaiting the orders of the division

In the East the opposing forces stood in substantially the same
relations towards each other as three years before, or when the
war began; they were both between the Federal and Confederate
capitals. It is true, footholds had been secured by us on the
sea-coast, in Virginia and North Carolina, but, beyond that, no
substantial advantage had been gained by either side. Battles
had been fought of as great severity as had ever been known in
war, over ground from the James River and Chickahominy, near
Richmond, to Gettysburg and Chambersburg, in Pennsylvania, with
indecisive results, sometimes favorable to the National army,
sometimes to the Confederate army; but in every instance, I
believe, claimed as victories for the South by the Southern
press if not by the Southern generals. The Northern press, as a
whole, did not discourage these claims; a portion of it always
magnified rebel success and belittled ours, while another
portion, most sincerely earnest in their desire for the
preservation of the Union and the overwhelming success of the
Federal armies, would nevertheless generally express
dissatisfaction with whatever victories were gained because they
were not more complete.

That portion of the Army of the Potomac not engaged in guarding
lines of communication was on the northern bank of the
Rapidan. The Army of Northern Virginia confronting it on the
opposite bank of the same river, was strongly intrenched and
commanded by the acknowledged ablest general in the Confederate
army. The country back to the James River is cut up with many
streams, generally narrow, deep, and difficult to cross except
where bridged. The region is heavily timbered, and the roads
narrow, and very bad after the least rain. Such an enemy was
not, of course, unprepared with adequate fortifications at
convenient intervals all the way back to Richmond, so that when
driven from one fortified position they would always have
another farther to the rear to fall back into.

To provision an army, campaigning against so formidable a foe
through such a country, from wagons alone seemed almost
impossible. System and discipline were both essential to its

The Union armies were now divided into nineteen departments,
though four of them in the West had been concentrated into a
single military division. The Army of the Potomac was a
separate command and had no territorial limits. There were thus
seventeen distinct commanders. Before this time these various
armies had acted separately and independently of each other,
giving the enemy an opportunity often of depleting one command,
not pressed, to reinforce another more actively engaged. I
determined to stop this. To this end I regarded the Army of the
Potomac as the centre, and all west to Memphis along the line
described as our position at the time, and north of it, the
right wing; the Army of the James, under General Butler, as the
left wing, and all the troops south, as a force in rear of the
enemy. Some of these latter were occupying positions from which
they could not render service proportionate to their numerical
strength. All such were depleted to the minimum necessary to
hold their positions as a guard against blockade runners; where
they could not do this their positions were abandoned
altogether. In this way ten thousand men were added to the Army
of the James from South Carolina alone, with General Gillmore in
command. It was not contemplated that General Gillmore should
leave his department; but as most of his troops were taken,
presumably for active service, he asked to accompany them and
was permitted to do so. Officers and soldiers on furlough, of
whom there were many thousands, were ordered to their proper
commands; concentration was the order of the day, and to have it
accomplished in time to advance at the earliest moment the roads
would permit was the problem.

As a reinforcement to the Army of the Potomac, or to act in
support of it, the 9th army corps, over twenty thousand strong,
under General Burnside, had been rendezvoused at Annapolis,
Maryland. This was an admirable position for such a
reinforcement. The corps could be brought at the last moment as
a reinforcement to the Army of the Potomac, or it could be thrown
on the sea-coast, south of Norfolk, in Virginia or North
Carolina, to operate against Richmond from that direction. In
fact Burnside and the War Department both thought the 9th corps
was intended for such an expedition up to the last moment.

My general plan now was to concentrate all the force possible
against the Confederate armies in the field. There were but two
such, as we have seen, east of the Mississippi River and facing
north. The Army of Northern Virginia, General Robert E. Lee
commanding, was on the south bank of the Rapidan, confronting
the Army of the Potomac; the second, under General Joseph E.
Johnston, was at Dalton, Georgia, opposed to Sherman who was
still at Chattanooga. Beside these main armies the Confederates
had to guard the Shenandoah Valley, a great storehouse to feed
their armies from, and their line of communications from
Richmond to Tennessee. Forrest, a brave and intrepid cavalry
general, was in the West with a large force; making a larger
command necessary to hold what we had gained in Middle and West
Tennessee. We could not abandon any territory north of the line
held by the enemy because it would lay the Northern States open
to invasion. But as the Army of the Potomac was the principal
garrison for the protection of Washington even while it was
moving on Lee, so all the forces to the west, and the Army of
the James, guarded their special trusts when advancing from them
as well as when remaining at them. Better indeed, for they
forced the enemy to guard his own lines and resources at a
greater distance from ours, and with a greater force. Little
expeditions could not so well be sent out to destroy a bridge or
tear up a few miles of railroad track, burn a storehouse, or
inflict other little annoyances. Accordingly I arranged for a
simultaneous movement all along the line. Sherman was to move
from Chattanooga, Johnston's army and Atlanta being his
objective points. (*23) Crook, commanding in West Virginia, was
to move from the mouth of the Gauley River with a cavalry force
and some artillery, the Virginia and Tennessee Railroad to be
his objective. Either the enemy would have to keep a large
force to protect their communications, or see them destroyed and
a large amount of forage and provision, which they so much
needed, fall into our hands. Sigel was in command in the Valley
of Virginia. He was to advance up the valley, covering the North
from an invasion through that channel as well while advancing as


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