A Blue and Gray Trail Site
East of Chattanooga to northwest Georgia a ripple of land known as Missionary Ridge presented challenges to many people during the mid-1800's. First, railroaders building track had to go around it or through its' gaps to build the Western and Atlantic and other lines. Then Ulysses S. Grant had to penetrate it to break the siege of Chattanooga.
Braxton Bragg had arranged
his men in standard formation. A forward picket line protected a main line
of infantry and artillery. His headquarters behind the line was visible from Orchard
Both Bragg and Grant felt the position was strong. In fact, convinced that
he was unassailable, Bragg had detached 15,000 men to attack Knoxville. On
November 25, 1863, Grant ordered dual flanking maneuvers on the ridge. To
Bragg's left came "Fighting Joe" Hooker, who had taken Lookout Mountain the
day before. On his right, William Tecumseh
Sherman ran up against Pat Cleburne.
Gen. Carter Stevenson, retreating from his loss at Lookout Mountain, destroyed the bridges over Chickamauga Creek and other waterways to slow Hooker's advance. Sherman, in spite of a tremendous tactical advantage, could not turn the right flank. The Army of the Cumberland under command of Gen. George Thomas had been demonstrating in front of Missionary Ridge to prevent Bragg from reinforcing his flanks. With no visible signs of success for the day's fighting Grant ordered Thomas to take the line of pickets in front of Bragg's main formation. At 3:30 pm the Federals began their advance. They quickly overran the position and tried to use the entrenchments to protect themselves from the intense gunfire from the ridge. Officers ordered the men to build the back walls higher, but the blues were under too much pressure.
Watching from Orchard Knob, Grant and Thomas turned away from the battle when they realized the dilemma. The men had two choices:Advance on the rebel line at the top of Missionary Ridge or retreat in disgrace to Orchard Knob. On their own men began to charge the ridge, only a few at first. Informed of the advance past the picket line Grant and Thomas turned back and watched as the men moved on the fortified rebel position. Fearful that if the charge failed the grays could advance and rout his army, Grant inquired of the men around him who ordered the charge. "I don't know,.." Thomas responded, "I did not."
As more Federals began to follow the men who started up the hill, a rhythmic chant started. "Chickamauga, Chickamauga" the enlisted men repeated over and over. Line officers, caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment rushed to the front and began to lead the men with cries of "Follow me!" As the men approached the line the artillery became less effective because it had been misplaced at the crest of the ridge. Yankees poured through the lines. Bragg ordered a retreat then barely escaped himself. Many of his staff were not as lucky. Over 3,000 Confederate prisoners were taken during the battle. Hooker was ordered to pursue the losers and Grant had succeeded in breaking the siege of Chattanooga.
Open:Daily, 8:00am-dusk.Directions: I-24 to Exit 181, Hwy 27 South Rossville Blvd. Continue to South Crest Rd. Turn left on South Crest Road.
|Return to Index
[American Indians] [Biography] [Parks ] [Attractions ] [Naturally] [Weather] [Railroads] [Rivers]
[Mountains] [Roads] [Feature Articles] [Previous Issues] [Facts] [Food]
[Giving Back] [Voices from the Past] [Poetry Corner] [Photography]
[Lodging] [About Us] [Bookstore ] [Events ] [Letters ] [Help ] [Kudos ] [Randy's Corner]
Other Places: Today in Georgia History : Today in The Civil War : Georgia Attractions : Georgia Hiking : Chattanooga
Golden Ink Internet Solutions