“Without awaiting further orders or stopping to reform, on our troops went to the second line of works”

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.  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 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.

 

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt. XLIV

“But Sherman’s condition was getting so critical that the assault for his relief could not be delayed any longer”

From the position I occupied I could see column after column of Bragg’s forces moving against Sherman. Every Confederate gun that could be brought to bear upon the Union forces was concentrated upon him. J. E. Smith, with two brigades, charged up the west side of the ridge to the support of Corse’s command, over open ground and in the face of a heavy fire of both artillery and musketry, and reached the very parapet of the enemy. He lay here for a time, but the enemy coming with a heavy force upon his right flank, he was compelled to fall back, followed by the foe. A few hundred yards brought Smith’s troops into a wood, where they were speedily reformed, when they charged and drove the attacking party back to his intrenchments.
Seeing the advance, repulse, and second advance of J. E. Smith from the position I occupied, I directed Thomas to send a division to reinforce him. Baird’s division was accordingly sent from the right of Orchard Knob. It had to march a considerable distance directly under the eye of the enemy to reach its position. Bragg at once commenced massing in the same direction. This was what I wanted. But it had now got to be late in the afternoon, and I had expected before this to see Hooker crossing the ridge in the neighborhood of Rossville and compelling Bragg to mass in that direction also.
The enemy had evacuated Lookout Mountain during the night, as I expected he would. In crossing the valley he burned the bridge over Chattanooga Creek, and did all he could to obstruct the roads behind him. Hooker was off bright and early, with no obstructions in his front but distance and the destruction above named. He was detained four hours crossing Chattanooga Creek, and thus was lost the immediate advantage I expected from his forces. His reaching Bragg’s flank and extending across it was to be the signal for Thomas’s assault of the ridge. But Sherman’s condition was getting so critical that the assault for his relief could not be delayed any longer.

 

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt. XLIV

“The troops advanced rapidly and carried the extreme end of the rebel works”

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.

The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt XLIV

“The morning of the 25th opened clear and bright, and the whole field was in full view”

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 Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S Grant, Chpt XLIV

Chattanooga campaign (map courtesy of Hal Jespersen at cwmaps.com)

Chattanooga campaign (map courtesy of Hal Jespersen at cwmaps.com)

“The fight to-day progressed favorably”

Our attack today was a great success.  Gen. Sherman reports that he has taken Tunnel Hill on our left and Gen. Hooker has taken Lookout Mountain on our right.  I wrote Gen. Thomas informing him of the plan for the final push tomorrow.

HDQRS. MILITARY DIVISION OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Chattanooga, Tennessee, November 24, 1863.

Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,

Commanding Army of the Cumberland:

GENERAL: General Sherman carried Missionary Ridge as far as the tunnel, with only slight skirmishing. His right now rests at the tunnel and on top of the hill; his left at Chickamauga Creek.

I have instructed General Sherman to advance as soon as it is light in the morning, and your attack, which will be simultaneous, will be in co-operation.

Your command will either carry the rifle-pits and ridge directly in front of them or move to the left, as the presence of the enemy may require. If Hooker’s present position on the mountain can be maintained with a small force, and it is found impracticable to carry the top from where he is, it would be advisable for him to move up the valley with all the force he can spare and ascend by the first practicable road.

Very respectfully,

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General, Commanding.

I then informed Gen. Halleck,

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief.

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee, November 24, 1863-6 p.m.

The fight to-day progressed favorably. Sherman carried the end of Missionary Ridge, and his right is now at the tunnel, and left at Chickamauga Creek. Troops from Lookout Valley carried the point of the mountain, and now hold the eastern slope and point high up. I cannot yet tell the amount of casualties, but our loss is not heavy. Hooker reports 2,000 prisoners taken, besides which a small number have fallen into our hands from Missionary Ridge.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 439-40, 443

O.R., I, xxxi, part 2, p 24, 44

“Sherman’s bridge was completed at 12 m., at which time all his force was over, except one division”

I sent word to Gen. Thomas to be ready to support Sherman as he attacks on our left.

CHATTANOOGA, November 24, 1863-1 p.m

Major General GEORGE H. THOMAS,

Chattanooga:

Sherman’s bridge was completed at 12 m., at which time all his force was over, except one division. That division was to cross immediately when his attack would commence. Your forces should attack at the same time, and either detain a force equal to their own or move to the left to the support of Sherman, if he should require it.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 442

O.R., I, xxxi, part 2, p 43

“Hooker seems to have been engaged for some time, but how I have not heard.”

The plan of battle for today is for Gen. Hooker to make a demonstration against the enemy’s left while Gen. Sherman’s troops advance on the enemy’s right in an attempt to flank Missionary Ridge. A thick fog has settled over Lookout Mountain that prevents me from observing the progress of Gen. Hooker.  I wrote Sherman,

NOVEMBER 24, 1863-11.20 a.m.

General SHERMAN:

Thomas’ forces are confronting enemy’s line of rifle-pits, which seem to be but weakly lined with troops. Considerable movement has taken place on top of the ridge toward you. Howard has sent a force to try and flank the enemy on our left, and to send through to communicate with you. Until I do hear from you I am loath to give any orders for a general engagement. Hooker seems to have been engaged for some time, but how I have not heard. Does there seem to be a force prepared to receive you east of the ridge? Send me word what can be done to aid you.

Yours,

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 441

O.R., I, xxxi, part 2, p 42

The Shipwreck of Their Hopes, Cozzens

Chattanooga campaign (map courtesy of Hal Jespersen at cwmaps.com)

Chattanooga campaign (map courtesy of Hal Jespersen at cwmaps.com)

“General Thomas’ troops attacked the enemy’s left at 2 p.m. to-day, carried the first line of rifle-pits”

I had ordered some of Gen. Thomas’ troops on a reconnaissance towards a hill named Orchard Knob, on the plain in front of Missionary Ridge.  The reconnaissance succeeded in driving away all rebel forces, so I ordered the men to intrench to protect the ground they had gained.

I wrote Gen. Halleck,

Major General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief.

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee, November 23, 1863-3 p.m.

General Thomas’ troops attacked the enemy’s left at 2 p.m. to-day, carried the first line of rifle-pits running over the knoll, 1,200 yards in front of Fort Wood, and low ridge to the right of it, taking about 200 prisoners, besides killed and wounded. Our loss small. The troops moved under fire with all the precision of veterans on parade. Thomas’ troops will intrench themselves, and hold their position until daylight, when Sherman will join the attack from the mouth of the Chickamauga, and a decisive battle will be fought.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 434

O.R., I, xxxi, part 2, p 24

The Shipwreck of Their Hopes, Cozzens, p 126-42

“You must get up with your force to-morrow without fail. Pass the wagon train and leave it to follow with rear guard.”

Gen. Sherman’s troops have become entangled with their baggage train and have been delayed yet again.  I wrote him,

CHATTANOOGA, November 22, 1863.

Major General WILLIAM T. SHERMAN,

Near Chattanooga:

Owing to the late hour when Ewing will get up, if he gets up at all to-night, and the entire impossibility of Woods reaching in time to participate to-morrow, I have directed Thomas that we will delay yet another day. Let me know to-morrow, at as early an hour as you can, if you will be entirely ready for Tuesday morning. I would prefer Woods should be up to cross with the balance of your command, but if he can [not] be up in time to cross as soon as your pontoons are laid, I would prefer you should commence without him, to delaying another day.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

I also sent an order directly to Gen. Woods,

CHATTANOOGA, November 22, 1863.

Brigadier General CHARLES R. WOODS,

Comdg. First Div., Army of the Tennessee, near Chattanooga:

You must get up with your force to-morrow without fail. Pass the wagon train and leave it to follow with rear guard. If you cannot get up with your artillery, come without it, leaving it to follow. I will expect the head of your column at Brown’s Ferry by 10 a.m. to-morrow (23d) without fail.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 430, 433

O.R., I, xxxi, part 2, p 39

“I have never felt such restlessness before as I have at the fixed and immovable condition of the Army of the Cumberland”

I am growing impatient with the immobility of Gen. Thomas’ command.  I wrote Gen. Halleck,

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee, November 21, 1863-8 p.m.

Maj. General H. W. HALLECK,

General-in-Chief:

I ordered an attack here two weeks ago, but it was impossible to move artillery. Now Thomas’ chief of artillery says he has to borrow teams from Sherman to move a portion of his artillery to where it is to be used. Sherman has used almost superhuman effort to get up even at this time, and his force is really the only one that I can move. Thomas can take about one gun to each battery, and can go as far with his infantry as his men can carry rations to keep them and bring them back. I have never felt such restlessness before as I have at the fixed and immovable condition of the Army of the Cumberland. General Meigs states that the loss of animals here will exceed 10,000. Those left are scarcely able to carry themselves.

U. S. GRANT,

Major-General, Commanding.

 

The Papers of Ulysses S Grant, Vol 9, p 428

O.R., I, xxxi, part 3, p 216