Monday, September 11, 2006
Battle Timeline: Chickamauga
Union; Major General William Rosecrans commanding the Army of the Cumberland.
Confederate: General Braxton Bragg commanding the Army of Tennessee.
Prelude: In June 1863, Rosecrans had started a campaign against Bragg, hoping to force him out of Tennessee and into Georgia. By August Bragg was in north Georgia refitting his army and receiving reinforcements from Virginia in the form of Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s corps. When all was completed, Bragg had a force of 60,000 men and was ready to take on Rosecrans.
In early September, Rosecrans, fresh from securing Chattanooga, TN, resumed his offensive. He spread out his army on a fifty mile front and proceeded to sweep into Georgia. Despite the Federals being spread out, Bragg failed to take advantage of it. Rosecrans, beginning to see that there was something wrong, ordered his army to concentrate at Chickamauga Creek. For those farthest away, it required a fifty mile forced march to accomplish it.
September 19, 1863: As the Union line was forming, Major General George Thomas sent a division to the east in search of reported Confederate activity. What he found was cavalry under Brigadier General Nathan Forrest. A fight started which increased as more men were drawn in. There was not much form to this fight, which petered out at nightfall.
September 20, 1863: 9:00 a.m. Bragg sends in the corps of Longstreet and Major General Leonidas Polk to hit the Federal line, but was heavily repulsed.
9:30 a.m. Another Confederate attack, this time by the divisions of Major Generals Patrick Cleburne and John Breckenridge, was repulsed.
11:00 a.m. Rosecrans receives a report that his line has a gap, which he sends a division to seal. Problem was, there was no gap until the movement of the Federal division made the gap. Bragg takes advantage of that by slamming into the Federal right, collapsing it and forcing Rosecrans to leave the field. Rosecrans orders his troops back to Chattanooga.
To give the retreating Union forces time to get away, Thomas forms his troops on Snodgrass Hill and prepare to meet the Confederate assault.
1:00 p.m. Thomas withstands attacks from four Confederate divisions. The fact that some of the soldiers were using Henry repeating rifles played a factor. This as well as some timely reinforcements.
5:30 p.m. As darkness falls, Thomas orders his troops to head for Chattanooga. Bragg does not pursue.
The Army of the Cumberland manages to reach Chattanooga, but Bragg eventually followed them and laid siege to the city which would not be broken until November, 1863.
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