Civil War – Battle of Missionary Ridge and locals in the fight

Submitted by C.J. Johnson

 

In the continuation of the Chattanooga Campaign, Historyofwar.org brings us up to date. “…a large Federal force of three divisions in Lookout Valley, under the command of General Hooker…was essential as long as Grant needed the cracker line, but by mid-November he was ready to launch his attack on Bragg’s main position on Missionary Ridge.

Sufficient supplies had been taken to Chattanooga to allow him to risk the temporary loss of the cracker line while he launched his attack, and so he planned to move Hooker into Chattanooga Valley, on the other side of Lookout Mountain. If Grant’s attack on Missionary Ridge succeeded, then the Confederate forces on Lookout Mountain would be forced to withdraw or surrender, while if it failed the line could always be re-established. Grant’s initial plan was for Hooker to fight his way across the mountain.

He then changed his mind, and ordered Hooker to use the bridges across the Tennessee River to bypass Lookout Mountain. Finally, rising waters in the river made the pontoon bridge at Brown’s Ferry unsafe for large numbers of troops, and Grant reverted to his original plan.” The Battle Above the Clouds – the Battle of Lookout Mountain, was discussed in last week’s article. The end result was basically a draw – the Rebels slipped out during the night to regroup at Missionary Ridge, while the Yanks woke up and “took” Lookout Mountain. On November 25, Union troops attacked the seemingly unconquerable Missionary Ridge. The result was a Union victory, beating the Confederates commanded by General Braxton Bragg. History.com gives the following description of the battle. “The attack took place in three parts. On the Union left, General William T. Sherman attacked troops under Patrick Cleburne at Tunnel Hill, an extension of Missionary Ridge. In difficult fighting, Cleburne managed to hold the hill.

On the other end of the Union lines, General Joseph Hooker was advancing slowly from Lookout Mountain, and his force had little impact on the battle. It was at the center that the Union achieved its greatest success. The soldiers on both sides received confusing orders.

Some Union troops thought they were only supposed to take the rifle pits at the base of the ridge, while others understood that they were to advance to the top. Some of the Confederates heard that they were to hold the pits, while others thought they were to retreat to the top of Missionary Ridge.

Furthermore, poor placement of Confederate trenches on the top of the ridge made it difficult to fire at the advancing Union troops without hitting their own men, who were retreating from the rifle pits. The result was that the attack on the Confederate center turned into a major Union victory.

After the center collapsed, the Confederate troops retreated on November 26, and Bragg pulled his troops away from Chattanooga. He resigned shortly thereafter, having lost the confidence of his army.

The Confederates suffered some 6,600 men killed, wounded, and missing, and the Union lost around 5,800. Grant missed an opportunity to destroy the Confederate army when he chose not to pursue the retreating Rebels, but Chattanooga was secured.”