Chattanooga Campaign (October - November, 1863)

Updated: May 22, 2011

On December 26, 1862, Major General William S. Rosecrans led the Union Army of the Cumberland out of Nashville, Tennessee with orders to capture Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chattanooga was an important railroad junction that connected the upper Confederacy with the Deep South.

On December 26, 1862, Major General William S. Rosecrans led the Union Army of the Cumberland out of Nashville, Tennessee with orders to capture Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chattanooga was an important railroad junction that connected the upper Confederacy with the Deep South. Between Rosecrans and Chattanooga was Lieutenant General Braxton Bragg and the Confederate Army of Tennessee. On December 31, the two armies clashed at the Battle of Stones River (December 31, 1862 to January 2, 1863) near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. The Union army prevailed, and Bragg retreated south towards Tullahoma, Tennessee. In June, the Federals moved on the Rebels at Tullahoma, forcing Bragg to withdraw his army to Chattanooga. In mid-August, Rosecrans prepared to assault Chattanooga, but a series of maneuvers on his part convinced Bragg that the city was indefensible. On September 9, Bragg abandoned Chattanooga and led the Army of Tennessee through the mountains into northern Georgia. Although Rosecrans had achieved his objective of capturing Chattanooga, he decided to pursue Bragg's army into Georgia. Stung by criticism that he received for abandoning Chattanooga, Bragg was determined to win the city back. On September 19, the Army of Tennessee attacked the Union Army of the Cumberland at the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19-20, 1863). Bragg's army drove the Federals back toward Chattanooga, forcing them to occupy the defensive works previously constructed by the Rebels. Bragg seized the high ground overlooking Chattanooga (Lookout Mountain, Seminary Ridge and Raccoon Mountain) and laid siege to the city.

Due to the Army of the Cumberland's dire situation, Northern authorities sent twenty thousand soldiers under the command of General Joseph Hooker, as well as sixteen thousand men that General William T. Sherman led, to assist the Army of the Cumberland. Officials placed General Ulysses S. Grant in command of all Northern soldiers in the vicinity of Chattanooga and also replaced Rosecrans with General George Thomas as the commander of the Army of the Cumberland.

With the arrival of some of the reinforcements in late October 1863, Grant immediately embarked upon a plan to alleviate the supply woes of the Army of the Cumberland. By October 28, Grant's men managed to open a narrow supply line that became known as the "Cracker Line." Northern Brigadier-General William F. Smith had proposed the line, but Rosecrans had failed to act on his subordinate's recommendation. Grant endorsed the plan, and thanks to Confederate General James Longstreet's refusal to attack the Northern forces carrying out the movement, Union soldiers established the supply line. At Commanding General Braxton Bragg's orders, Longstreet did finally launch a night attack on October 28 and the early morning hours of October 29. Longstreet sent in far fewer men against the Union position, which was commanded by General Hooker, than Bragg had ordered. Known as the Battle of Wauhatchie, Hooker's response was confused, but Union forces managed to hold the position. Longstreet's failure prompted Bragg to dispatch Longstreet and his men to eastern Tennessee to deal with a potential Northern threat. This action greatly weakened Bragg's army.

Following the opening of the Cracker Line and the Battle of Wauhatchie, Grant began planning an assault on the Confederate forces. He intended to wait until Sherman's men arrived on the battlefield. Sherman's men began to arrive on November 20, but the vast majority of the force was delayed. On November 23, rumors circulated through Northern lines that the Confederate forces were retreating. Grant ordered General Thomas to reconnoiter the center of the Confederate line at the base of Missionary Ridge. Early in the afternoon, fourteen thousand Northern forces under Brigadier-General Thomas J. Wood easily overpowered the six hundred Confederates at Orchard Knob. Initially, Grant had ordered the men to return to Northern lines, but upon seeing the ease the Union men had in securing the position, he ordered his soldiers to hold the position and to entrench.

Union forces continued their assault on the Confederate position the next day. On November 24, General Hooker's men attacked Confederate forces on Lookout Mountain, which was located on the Southerners' left flank. By mid afternoon the Union assault had stalled, primarily due to a thick fog that enveloped the mountain, causing soldiers to nickname the Battle of Lookout Mountain as the Battle Above the Clouds. Although Hooker's men did not take the mountain, he correctly predicted that Southern forces would withdrawal from the mountain that night.

Bragg concentrated his Confederate soldiers on Missionary Ridge. On November 25, Grant chose to assault this Southern position. Sherman, who still did not have his entire force on the battlefield, was to attack the Confederate right flank, while Hooker was to make some demonstrations against the left flank but was not to launch a determined assault. Hooker did, slowly pushing Confederate forces north along Missionary Ridge. General Thomas, who led the Northern troops across from the center of the Confederate line, was to assist Sherman in his assault. Unfortunately for Grant, Sherman's advance was slowed by stiff Confederate resistance. Late in the afternoon, Grant ordered Thomas to advance against the Confederate center, but he only wanted the Army of the Cumberland to take Southern rifle pits at the bottom of Missionary Ridge. Thomas's men advanced, seized the rifle pits, and then proceeded, against their original orders, to drive the Confederates from Missionary Ridge. Bragg's army retreated from the ridge.

Grant ordered his men to pursue the fleeing Confederates. On November 27, Hooker encountered the Confederate rearguard, which was under the command of Patrick Cleburne, at the Battle of Ringgold Gap. Cleburne's men surprised the Northern soldiers, and although the Union force numbered nearly twelve thousand men, the Southerners, consisting of just 4,100 soldiers, delayed the Northern advance for nearly nine hours, allowing Bragg's army to escape. After the Battle of Ringgold Gap, Grant terminated the pursuit, bringing the Chattanooga Campaign to an end.

Among the Ohio units involved in the Chattanooga Campaign were:

Infantry units:

2nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

3rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

6th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

7th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

11th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

14th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

15th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

19th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

21st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

24th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

30th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

33rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

35th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

36th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

37th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

38th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

41st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

46th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

47th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

49th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

51st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

52nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

54th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

55th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

59th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

61st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

64th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

65th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

69th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

70th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

73rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

74th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

82nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

89th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

92nd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

93rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

97th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

99th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

101st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

105th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

108th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

113th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

121st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

124th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

125th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Infantry

4th Regiment Virginia Volunteer Infantry (primarily recruited in Ohio)

7th Company Ohio Independent Sharpshooters

Cavalry units:

1st Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

3rd Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

5th Regiment Ohio Volunteer Cavalry

Artillery units:

1st Regiment Ohio Light Artillery

4th  Regiment Ohio Light Artillery

6th Regiment Ohio Light Artillery

18th Regiment Ohio Light Artillery

Of the approximately fifty-six thousand Northern soldiers engaged in the Chattanooga Campaign, Confederates killed 753 men and wounded 4,722. The North had another 349 men missing. Southerners had 361 men killed, 2,160 wounded, and 4,146 men missing or captured. Bragg's army numbered nearly forty-four thousand men at the campaign's start. As Northern soldiers were burying the Confederate dead, one chaplain asked General Thomas if the Union troopers should bury the Confederates in groups according to their respective states. Thomas responded, "Mix 'em up. I'm tired of States' rights."


Cite this Entry

MLA Style

"Chattanooga Campaign," Ohio Civil War Central, 2017, Ohio Civil War Central. 23 Jul 2017 <http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=33>

APA Style

"Chattanooga Campaign." (2017) In Ohio Civil War Central, Retrieved July 23, 2017, from Ohio Civil War Central: http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com/entry.php?rec=33

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