Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, Complete
Ulysses S. Grant

Part 7 out of 14




























The reply (to my telegram of October 16, 1863, from Cairo, announcing my
arrival at that point) came on the morning of the 17th, directing me to
proceed immediately to the Galt House, Louisville, where I would meet an
officer of the War Department with my instructions. I left Cairo within
an hour or two after the receipt of this dispatch, going by rail via
Indianapolis. Just as the train I was on was starting out of the depot
at Indianapolis a messenger came running up to stop it, saying the
Secretary of War was coming into the station and wanted to see me.

I had never met Mr. Stanton up to that time, though we had held frequent
conversations over the wires the year before, when I was in Tennessee.
Occasionally at night he would order the wires between the War
Department and my headquarters to be connected, and we would hold a
conversation for an hour or two. On this occasion the Secretary was
accompanied by Governor Brough of Ohio, whom I had never met, though he
and my father had been old acquaintances. Mr. Stanton dismissed the
special train that had brought him to Indianapolis, and accompanied me
to Louisville.

Up to this time no hint had been given me of what was wanted after I
left Vicksburg, except the suggestion in one of Halleck's dispatches
that I had better go to Nashville and superintend the operation of
troops sent to relieve Rosecrans. Soon after we started the Secretary
handed me two orders, saying that I might take my choice of them. The
two were identical in all but one particular. Both created the
"Military Division of Mississippi," (giving me the command) composed of
the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, and the Tennessee, and all
the territory from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi River north of
Banks's command in the south-west. One order left the department
commanders as they were, while the other relieved Rosecrans and assigned
Thomas to his place. I accepted the latter. We reached Louisville
after night and, if I remember rightly, in a cold, drizzling rain. The
Secretary of War told me afterwards that he caught a cold on that
occasion from which he never expected to recover. He never did.

A day was spent in Louisville, the Secretary giving me the military news
at the capital and talking about the disappointment at the results of
some of the campaigns. By the evening of the day after our arrival all
matters of discussion seemed exhausted, and I left the hotel to spend
the evening away, both Mrs. Grant (who was with me) and myself having
relatives living in Louisville. In the course of the evening Mr.
Stanton received a dispatch from Mr. C. A. Dana, then in Chattanooga,
informing him that unless prevented Rosecrans would retreat, and
advising peremptory orders against his doing so.

As stated before, after the fall of Vicksburg I urged strongly upon the
government the propriety of a movement against Mobile. General
Rosecrans had been at Murfreesboro', Tennessee, with a large and
well-equipped army from early in the year 1863, with Bragg confronting
him with a force quite equal to his own at first, considering it was on
the defensive. But after the investment of Vicksburg Bragg's army was
largely depleted to strengthen Johnston, in Mississippi, who was being
reinforced to raise the siege. I frequently wrote General Halleck
suggesting that Rosecrans should move against Bragg. By so doing he
would either detain the latter's troops where they were or lay
Chattanooga open to capture. General Halleck strongly approved the
suggestion, and finally wrote me that he had repeatedly ordered
Rosecrans to advance, but that the latter had constantly failed to
comply with the order, and at last, after having held a council of war,
had replied in effect that it was a military maxim "not to fight two
decisive battles at the same time." If true, the maxim was not
applicable in this case. It would be bad to be defeated in two decisive
battles fought the same day, but it would not be bad to win them. I,
however, was fighting no battle, and the siege of Vicksburg had drawn
from Rosecrans' front so many of the enemy that his chances of victory
were much greater than they would be if he waited until the siege was
over, when these troops could be returned. Rosecrans was ordered to
move against the army that was detaching troops to raise the siege.
Finally he did move, on the 24th of June, but ten days afterwards
Vicksburg surrendered, and the troops sent from Bragg were free to

It was at this time that I recommended to the general-in-chief the
movement against Mobile. I knew the peril the Army of the Cumberland
was in, being depleted continually, not only by ordinary casualties, but
also by having to detach troops to hold its constantly extending line
over which to draw supplies, while the enemy in front was as constantly
being strengthened. Mobile was important to the enemy, and in the
absence of a threatening force was guarded by little else than
artillery. If threatened by land and from the water at the same time
the prize would fall easily, or troops would have to be sent to its
defence. Those troops would necessarily come from Bragg. My judgment
was overruled, and the troops under my command were dissipated over
other parts of the country where it was thought they could render the
most service.

Soon it was discovered in Washington that Rosecrans was in trouble and
required assistance. The emergency was now too immediate to allow us to
give this assistance by making an attack in rear of Bragg upon Mobile.
It was therefore necessary to reinforce directly, and troops were sent
from every available point.

Rosecrans had very skilfully manoeuvred Bragg south of the Tennessee
River, and through and beyond Chattanooga. If he had stopped and
intrenched, and made himself strong there, all would have been right and
the mistake of not moving earlier partially compensated. But he pushed
on, with his forces very much scattered, until Bragg's troops from
Mississippi began to join him. Then Bragg took the initiative.
Rosecrans had to fall back in turn, and was able to get his army
together at Chickamauga, some miles south-east of Chattanooga, before
the main battle was brought on. The battle was fought on the 19th and
20th of September, and Rosecrans was badly defeated, with a heavy loss
in artillery and some sixteen thousand men killed, wounded and captured.
The corps under Major-General George H. Thomas stood its ground, while
Rosecrans, with Crittenden and McCook, returned to Chattanooga. Thomas
returned also, but later, and with his troops in good order. Bragg
followed and took possession of Missionary Ridge, overlooking
Chattanooga. He also occupied Lookout Mountain, west of the town, which
Rosecrans had abandoned, and with it his control of the river and the
river road as far back as Bridgeport. The National troops were now
strongly intrenched in Chattanooga Valley, with the Tennessee River
behind them and the enemy occupying commanding heights to the east and
west, with a strong line across the valley from mountain to mountain,
and with Chattanooga Creek, for a large part of the way, in front of
their line.

On the 29th Halleck telegraphed me the above results, and directed all
the forces that could be spared from my department to be sent to
Rosecrans. Long before this dispatch was received Sherman was on his
way, and McPherson was moving east with most of the garrison of

A retreat at that time would have been a terrible disaster. It would
not only have been the loss of a most important strategic position to
us, but it would have been attended with the loss of all the artillery
still left with the Army of the Cumberland and the annihilation of that
army itself, either by capture or demoralization.

All supplies for Rosecrans had to be brought from Nashville. The
railroad between this base and the army was in possession of the
government up to Bridgeport, the point at which the road crosses to the
south side of the Tennessee River; but Bragg, holding Lookout and
Raccoon mountains west of Chattanooga, commanded the railroad, the river
and the shortest and best wagon-roads, both south and north of the
Tennessee, between Chattanooga and Bridgeport. The distance between
these two places is but twenty-six miles by rail, but owing to the
position of Bragg, all supplies for Rosecrans had to be hauled by a
circuitous route north of the river and over a mountainous country,
increasing the distance to over sixty miles.

This country afforded but little food for his animals, nearly ten
thousand of which had already starved, and not enough were left to draw
a single piece of artillery or even the ambulances to convey the sick.
The men had been on half rations of hard bread for a considerable time,
with but few other supplies except beef driven from Nashville across the
country. The region along the road became so exhausted of food for the
cattle that by the time they reached Chattanooga they were much in the
condition of the few animals left alive there--"on the lift." Indeed,
the beef was so poor that the soldiers were in the habit of saying, with
a faint facetiousness, that they were living on "half rations of hard

Nothing could be transported but food, and the troops were without
sufficient shoes or other clothing suitable for the advancing season.
What they had was well worn. The fuel within the Federal lines was
exhausted, even to the stumps of trees. There were no teams to draw it
from the opposite bank, where it was abundant. The only way of
supplying fuel, for some time before my arrival, had been to cut trees
on the north bank of the river at a considerable distance up the stream,
form rafts of it and float it down with the current, effecting a landing
on the south side within our lines by the use of paddles or poles. It
would then be carried on the shoulders of the men to their camps.

If a retreat had occurred at this time it is not probable that any of
the army would have reached the railroad as an organized body, if
followed by the enemy.

On the receipt of Mr. Dana's dispatch Mr. Stanton sent for me. Finding
that I was out he became nervous and excited, inquiring of every person
he met, including guests of the house, whether they knew where I was,
and bidding them find me and send me to him at once. About eleven
o'clock I returned to the hotel, and on my way, when near the house,
every person met was a messenger from the Secretary, apparently
partaking of his impatience to see me. I hastened to the room of the
Secretary and found him pacing the floor rapidly in his dressing-gown.
Saying that the retreat must be prevented, he showed me the dispatch. I
immediately wrote an order assuming command of the Military Division of
the Mississippi, and telegraphed it to General Rosecrans. I then
telegraphed to him the order from Washington assigning Thomas to the
command of the Army of the Cumberland; and to Thomas that he must hold
Chattanooga at all hazards, informing him at the same time that I would
be at the front as soon as possible. A prompt reply was received from
Thomas, saying, "We will hold the town till we starve." I appreciated
the force of this dispatch later when I witnessed the condition of
affairs which prompted it. It looked, indeed, as if but two courses
were open: one to starve, the other to surrender or be captured.

On the morning of the 20th of October I started, with my staff, and
proceeded as far as Nashville. At that time it was not prudent to
travel beyond that point by night, so I remained in Nashville until the
next morning. Here I met for the first time Andrew Johnson, Military
Governor of Tennessee. He delivered a speech of welcome. His composure
showed that it was by no means his maiden effort. It was long, and I
was in torture while he was delivering it, fearing something would be
expected from me in response. I was relieved, however, the people
assembled having apparently heard enough. At all events they commenced
a general hand-shaking, which, although trying where there is so much of
it, was a great relief to me in this emergency.

From Nashville I telegraphed to Burnside, who was then at Knoxville,
that important points in his department ought to be fortified, so that
they could be held with the least number of men; to Admiral Porter at
Cairo, that Sherman's advance had passed Eastport, Mississippi, that
rations were probably on their way from St. Louis by boat for supplying
his army, and requesting him to send a gunboat to convoy them; and to
Thomas, suggesting that large parties should be put at work on the
wagon-road then in use back to Bridgeport.

On the morning of the 21st we took the train for the front, reaching
Stevenson Alabama, after dark. Rosecrans was there on his way north.
He came into my car and we held a brief interview, in which he described
very clearly the situation at Chattanooga, and made some excellent
suggestions as to what should be done. My only wonder was that he had
not carried them out. We then proceeded to Bridgeport, where we stopped
for the night. From here we took horses and made our way by Jasper and
over Waldron's Ridge to Chattanooga. There had been much rain, and the
roads were almost impassable from mud, knee-deep in places, and from
wash-outs on the mountain sides. I had been on crutches since the time
of my fall in New Orleans, and had to be carried over places where it
was not safe to cross on horseback. The roads were strewn with the
debris of broken wagons and the carcasses of thousands of starved mules
and horses. At Jasper, some ten or twelve miles from Bridgeport, there
was a halt. General O. O. Howard had his headquarters there. From this
point I telegraphed Burnside to make every effort to secure five hundred
rounds of ammunition for his artillery and small-arms. We stopped for
the night at a little hamlet some ten or twelve miles farther on. The
next day we reached Chattanooga a little before dark. I went directly
to General Thomas's headquarters, and remaining there a few days, until
I could establish my own.

During the evening most of the general officers called in to pay their
respects and to talk about the condition of affairs. They pointed out
on the map the line, marked with a red or blue pencil, which Rosecrans
had contemplated falling back upon. If any of them had approved the
move they did not say so to me. I found General W. F. Smith occupying
the position of chief engineer of the Army of the Cumberland. I had
known Smith as a cadet at West Point, but had no recollection of having
met him after my graduation, in 1843, up to this time. He explained the
situation of the two armies and the topography of the country so plainly
that I could see it without an inspection. I found that he had
established a saw-mill on the banks of the river, by utilizing an old
engine found in the neighborhood; and, by rafting logs from the north
side of the river above, had got out the lumber and completed pontoons
and roadway plank for a second bridge, one flying bridge being there
already. He was also rapidly getting out the materials and constructing
the boats for a third bridge. In addition to this he had far under way
a steamer for plying between Chattanooga and Bridgeport whenever we
might get possession of the river. This boat consisted of a scow, made
of the plank sawed out at the mill, housed in, and a stern wheel
attached which was propelled by a second engine taken from some shop or

I telegraphed to Washington this night, notifying General Halleck of my
arrival, and asking to have General Sherman assigned to the command of
the Army of the Tennessee, headquarters in the field. The request was
at once complied with.



The next day, the 24th, I started out to make a personal inspection,
taking Thomas and Smith with me, besides most of the members of my
personal staff. We crossed to the north side of the river, and, moving
to the north of detached spurs of hills, reached the Tennessee at
Brown's Ferry, some three miles below Lookout Mountain, unobserved by
the enemy. Here we left our horses back from the river and approached
the water on foot. There was a picket station of the enemy on the
opposite side, of about twenty men, in full view, and we were within
easy range. They did not fire upon us nor seem to be disturbed by our
presence. They must have seen that we were all commissioned officers.
But, I suppose, they looked upon the garrison of Chattanooga as
prisoners of war, feeding or starving themselves, and thought it would
be inhuman to kill any of them except in self-defence.

That night I issued orders for opening the route to Bridgeport--a
cracker line, as the soldiers appropriately termed it. They had been so
long on short rations that my first thought was the establishment of a
line over which food might reach them.

Chattanooga is on the south bank of the Tennessee, where that river runs
nearly due west. It is at the northern end of a valley five or six
miles in width, through which Chattanooga Creek runs. To the east of
the valley is Missionary Ridge, rising from five to eight hundred feet
above the creek and terminating somewhat abruptly a half mile or more
before reaching the Tennessee. On the west of the valley is Lookout
Mountain, twenty-two hundred feet above-tide water. Just below the town
the Tennessee makes a turn to the south and runs to the base of Lookout
Mountain, leaving no level ground between the mountain and river. The
Memphis and Charleston Railroad passes this point, where the mountain
stands nearly perpendicular. East of Missionary Ridge flows the South
Chickamauga River; west of Lookout Mountain is Lookout Creek; and west
of that, Raccoon Mountains. Lookout Mountain, at its northern end,
rises almost perpendicularly for some distance, then breaks off in a
gentle slope of cultivated fields to near the summit, where it ends in a
palisade thirty or more feet in height. On the gently sloping ground,
between the upper and lower palisades, there is a single farmhouse,
which is reached by a wagon-road from the valley east.

The intrenched line of the enemy commenced on the north end of
Missionary Ridge and extended along the crest for some distance south,
thence across Chattanooga valley to Lookout Mountain. Lookout Mountain
was also fortified and held by the enemy, who also kept troops in
Lookout valley west, and on Raccoon Mountain, with pickets extending
down the river so as to command the road on the north bank and render it
useless to us. In addition to this there was an intrenched line in
Chattanooga valley extending from the river east of the town to Lookout
Mountain, to make the investment complete. Besides the fortifications
on Mission Ridge, there was a line at the base of the hill, with
occasional spurs of rifle-pits half-way up the front. The enemy's
pickets extended out into the valley towards the town, so far that the
pickets of the two armies could converse. At one point they were
separated only by the narrow creek which gives its name to the valley
and town, and from which both sides drew water. The Union lines were
shorter than those of the enemy.

Thus the enemy, with a vastly superior force, was strongly fortified to
the east, south, and west, and commanded the river below. Practically,
the Army of the Cumberland was besieged. The enemy had stopped with his
cavalry north of the river the passing of a train loaded with ammunition
and medical supplies. The Union army was short of both, not having
ammunition enough for a day's fighting.

General Halleck had, long before my coming into this new field, ordered
parts of the 11th and 12th corps, commanded respectively by Generals
Howard and Slocum, Hooker in command of the whole, from the Army of the
Potomac to reinforce Rosecrans. It would have been folly to send them
to Chattanooga to help eat up the few rations left there. They were
consequently left on the railroad, where supplies could be brought to
them. Before my arrival, Thomas ordered their concentration at

General W. F. Smith had been so instrumental in preparing for the move
which I was now about to make, and so clear in his judgment about the
manner of making it, that I deemed it but just to him that he should
have command of the troops detailed to execute the design, although he
was then acting as a staff officer and was not in command of troops.

On the 24th of October, after my return to Chattanooga, the following
details were made: General Hooker, who was now at Bridgeport, was
ordered to cross to the south side of the Tennessee and march up by
Whitesides and Wauhatchie to Brown's Ferry. General Palmer, with a
division of the 14th corps, Army of the Cumberland, was ordered to move
down the river on the north side, by a back road, until opposite
Whitesides, then cross and hold the road in Hooker's rear after he had
passed. Four thousand men were at the same time detailed to act under
General Smith directly from Chattanooga. Eighteen hundred of them, under
General Hazen, were to take sixty pontoon boats, and under cover of
night float by the pickets of the enemy at the north base of Lookout,
down to Brown's Ferry, then land on the south side and capture or drive
away the pickets at that point. Smith was to march with the remainder
of the detail, also under cover of night, by the north bank of the river
to Brown's Ferry, taking with him all the material for laying the bridge
as soon as the crossing was secured.

On the 26th, Hooker crossed the river at Bridgeport and commenced his
eastward march. At three o'clock on the morning of the 27th, Hazen
moved into the stream with his sixty pontoons and eighteen hundred brave
and well-equipped men. Smith started enough in advance to be near the
river when Hazen should arrive. There are a number of detached spurs of
hills north of the river at Chattanooga, back of which is a good road
parallel to the stream, sheltered from the view from the top of Lookout.
It was over this road Smith marched. At five o'clock Hazen landed at
Brown's Ferry, surprised the picket guard, and captured most of it. By
seven o'clock the whole of Smith's force was ferried over and in
possession of a height commanding the ferry. This was speedily
fortified, while a detail was laying the pontoon bridge. By ten o'clock
the bridge was laid, and our extreme right, now in Lookout valley, was
fortified and connected with the rest of the army. The two bridges over
the Tennessee River--a flying one at Chattanooga and the new one at
Brown's Ferry--with the road north of the river, covered from both the
fire and the view of the enemy, made the connection complete. Hooker
found but slight obstacles in his way, and on the afternoon of the 28th
emerged into Lookout valley at Wauhatchie. Howard marched on to Brown's
Ferry, while Geary, who commanded a division in the 12th corps, stopped
three miles south. The pickets of the enemy on the river below were now
cut off, and soon came in and surrendered.

The river was now opened to us from Lookout valley to Bridgeport.
Between Brown's Ferry and Kelly's Ferry the Tennessee runs through a
narrow gorge in the mountains, which contracts the stream so much as to
increase the current beyond the capacity of an ordinary steamer to stem
it. To get up these rapids, steamers must be cordelled; that is, pulled
up by ropes from the shore. But there is no difficulty in navigating
the stream from Bridgeport to Kelly's Ferry. The latter point is only
eight miles from Chattanooga and connected with it by a good wagon-road,
which runs through a low pass in the Raccoon Mountains on the south side
of the river to Brown's Ferry, thence on the north side to the river
opposite Chattanooga. There were several steamers at Bridgeport, and
abundance of forage, clothing and provisions.

On the way to Chattanooga I had telegraphed back to Nashville for a good
supply of vegetables and small rations, which the troops had been so
long deprived of. Hooker had brought with him from the east a full
supply of land transportation. His animals had not been subjected to
hard work on bad roads without forage, but were in good condition. In
five days from my arrival in Chattanooga the way was open to Bridgeport
and, with the aid of steamers and Hooker's teams, in a week the troops
were receiving full rations. It is hard for any one not an eye-witness
to realize the relief this brought. The men were soon reclothed and
also well fed, an abundance of ammunition was brought up, and a
cheerfulness prevailed not before enjoyed in many weeks. Neither
officers nor men looked upon themselves any longer as doomed. The weak
and languid appearance of the troops, so visible before, disappeared at
once. I do not know what the effect was on the other side, but assume
it must have been correspondingly depressing. Mr. Davis had visited
Bragg but a short time before, and must have perceived our condition to
be about as Bragg described it in his subsequent report. "These
dispositions," he said, "faithfully sustained, insured the enemy's
speedy evacuation of Chattanooga for want of food and forage. Possessed
of the shortest route to his depot, and the one by which reinforcements
must reach him, we held him at our mercy, and his destruction was only a
question of time." But the dispositions were not "faithfully
sustained," and I doubt not but thousands of men engaged in trying to
"sustain" them now rejoice that they were not. There was no time during
the rebellion when I did not think, and often say, that the South was
more to be benefited by its defeat than the North. The latter had the
people, the institutions, and the territory to make a great and
prosperous nation. The former was burdened with an institution
abhorrent to all civilized people not brought up under it, and one which
degraded labor, kept it in ignorance, and enervated the governing class.
With the outside world at war with this institution, they could not have
extended their territory. The labor of the country was not skilled, nor
allowed to become so. The whites could not toil without becoming
degraded, and those who did were denominated "poor white trash." The
system of labor would have soon exhausted the soil and left the people
poor. The non-slaveholders would have left the country, and the small
slaveholder must have sold out to his more fortunate neighbor. Soon the
slaves would have outnumbered the masters, and, not being in sympathy
with them, would have risen in their might and exterminated them. The
war was expensive to the South as well as to the North, both in blood
and treasure, but it was worth all it cost.

The enemy was surprised by the movements which secured to us a line of
supplies. He appreciated its importance, and hastened to try to recover
the line from us. His strength on Lookout Mountain was not equal to
Hooker's command in the valley below. From Missionary Ridge he had to
march twice the distance we had from Chattanooga, in order to reach
Lookout Valley; but on the night of the 28th and 29th an attack was made
on Geary at Wauhatchie by Longstreet's corps. When the battle
commenced, Hooker ordered Howard up from Brown's Ferry. He had three
miles to march to reach Geary. On his way he was fired upon by rebel
troops from a foot-hill to the left of the road and from which the road
was commanded. Howard turned to the left, charged up the hill and
captured it before the enemy had time to intrench, taking many
prisoners. Leaving sufficient men to hold this height, he pushed on to
reinforce Geary. Before he got up, Geary had been engaged for about
three hours against a vastly 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

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

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

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



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

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

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

"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

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 Chattanooga.

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

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 gained.

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 him."

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

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 charge.

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 flight.

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

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 yourself!"

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 MILITARY GENIUS.

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 originally.------

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 movements.

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 necessary.

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 field.

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, Tennessee.

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 disagreeable.

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

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

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.


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