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Battle of Chickamauga, 19-20 Sep 1863

Discussion in 'Military History' started by USMCPrice, Sep 5, 2022.

  1. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Thinking about Stones River Battlefield made me think of Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield in the Atlanta suburbs. When my older son was 15, one of his football coaches and history teacher talked him into doing some Civil War reenacting. Because you couldn't participate unless you were 16 years of age with signed parental consent, they tried to convince me to participate as well. I could lie and say he was 16 (he was a big kid, 6'1" and about 215lbs with no body fat at 15) and because I was with him everyone would be protected from liability. I finally agreed, bought the uniforms, rifles, accoutrements, etc. and we joined up. I enjoyed the primitive camping, cooking over an open campfire, early mornings, coffee, hanging out portions. I did acquire a bunch of good stories, and many of my more idiotic exploits are still talked about by the re-enactors. I am normally amiable, friendly and like to talk and joke around, but have no filter. I do have an extremely volatile temper when pushed, apparently when I get really mad my eyes get large and turn black and it scares people. I've been told so by lots of people that I can be scary, I don't see it but I'm on the inside looking out. I do know that mentally, once you've broken the Cain/Abel prohibition in your life, escalation of violence up to and including death is never again off the table (this will factor in later).
    So, there were a lot of big 135th anniversary events when we started so we did numerous reenactments and a number of historical programs for the National Park Service. We (our unit) were invited down to do historical presentations by the NPS for the 135th at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield. We went. Kennesaw Mountain, like Stones River has become swallowed up in larger metropolitan areas. Atlanta has grown north into and becoming contiguous with Marietta (Kennesaw) which has grown as well. Nashville has grown south into Smyrna, which along with Murfreesboro has expanded to become virtually contiguous. This has led Stones River and Kennesaw to become heavily used for recreational purposes by the surrounding communities, biking, jogging, etc. which competes with the battlefield's original intended purpose.

    So, we were supposed to be doing a firing demonstration with artillery and infantry in the confederate field fortifications. The Park Rangers were concerned with safety of people using a trail that ran along in front of and below the fortifications. So, they asked my son and I if we'd serve as sentries at a trail junction and direct people down an alternate trail to prevent them from passing in front of the confederate works. We set up at the junction, had a small fire where we were cooking some country ham, boiling some coffee, smoking a pipe, eating cornbread and chilling. When a biker, hiker or jogger would approach I'd walk forward to the junction, come to port arms with my rifle and fixed bayonet, barring their way and say, "There is a historical presentation taking place and for your safety the Rangers ask that you take the alternate path to the left. Thank you." Most people were nice and complied or stayed and talked for a few minutes, asked questions, etc. before going along their way. After about 40 minutes of so on post, a short guy and a hot girl came jogging towards us. I picked up my rifle with 18" .58 caliber socket bayonet fixed, walked towards the junction, came to port arms and started my spiel. The guy got an attitude, probably showing out for the girl, and said he didn't care they were going down the trail and started to go around me. I sidestepped and blocked his way, and he started going off on me. I was getting mad, the girl started turning pale and grabbed his arm in order to head down the other trail as I'd requested. He asked me, "who the f**k I thought I was and that I had no authority to block his way". I calmly replied, "I am acting under the orders of the National Park Rangers and the detour was for his safety, and they should go ahead and proceed by the detour". "I was not authorized to allow them to proceed down the trail". That's when he said, "I'm going down the f**kin' trail, that ain't no real gun and you ain't got no bullets, so you can't stop me."
    That was it, full fury mode, I levelled the bayonet, assumed an aggressive stance in a fraction of a second. "Awright, you silly little cocks*cker, this is a real bayonet, and you take one more motherf**king step and I'll shove it so deep it sticks six inches out your fuggin' back!" Scared my son, he thought I was going to kill the guy and took off running to get a Park Ranger, the girl screamed and took off sprinting back down the way they'd come, the little dude turned pale, shrank down, let out a little squeek and took off himself. I went got my pipe and coffee, sat down and chilled. The Park Ranger at the demonstration came down and brought two replacement sentries, it was time to swap us out anyway. He asked what had happened and I told him, he laughed, and we walked back to the demo. About 30 minutes later the head park Ranger radioed him and had him bring us down to the Park Headquarters, my son and I, the guy had filed a complaint that I'd tried to kill him. I told the head Ranger that was a lie if I'd wanted to kill him, he wouldn't have been around to file the complaint (what I didn't tell him was that if the guy had continued, I would have skewered him). When asked for a statement, the girl had said it was the guy's fault and I'd reacted to his provocations. They decided not to do anything to me, but I was banned from any similar type duties. By the end of the weekend everyone knew the story, (mostly spread by the Rangers themselves) even people in other units on other parts of the field. I had a Park Ranger from Shiloh that was there helping with the anniversary drive over just to meet me and shoot the shit.
     
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  2. Bolshevik

    Bolshevik Active Member

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    Good video.

    Breckenridges attack, as I surmised, should have halted after its initial success. Surely the loss of Hanson and the presence of political general Gideon Pillow were contributing factors to the loss of control. Medendalls guns reaped a rich harvest. It seems the situation was a little bit similar to Fredericksburg, with emplaced guns making any further advance after the hilltops East of Macfaddens Ford a dreadful killing ground, especially for troops that were bunched up and essentially leaderless, or close enough to make no difference.

    The general course of this battle seems to be a lot of missed opportunities to deliver the coup de grace. Especially the Confederate assault on the Union right on the first day, with men sent further around the flank, rather than pushing forward into the gap created right in front of them. Maybe if it was Breckenridges troops there instead their elan and enthusiasm to follow up on their initial success could have made the difference. But this enthusiasm worked against them on the second day.

    All in all, a very hard fought encounter, but with Bragg in charge, tactical victory was followed by strategic retreat.
     
  3. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Stones River/Murfreesboro is often overlooked, but it was a hard-fought battle, the highest percentage of casualties of any major battle.

    Slipdigit, you had more than one relative including William David Tindal (K Co.) in the 39th Alabama, additional relative(s) in the 22d Alabama, and two one killed and one died of injuries in the 33d Alabama if I understand correctly. Any additional relatives in the 33d? They were in Cleburne's Division, S.A.M. Wood's Brigade.

    There are some interesting accounts about the 39th (and 22d Alabama) from the battle:

    Capt. A. H. Flewellen Recollection of the battle of Murfreesboro MONTGOMERY, ALA., WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 14, 1863 From the Columbus Sun. Battle of Murfreesboro—39th Ala.
    The following letter written by Capt. A. H. Flewellen, of the above regiment, will prove highly interesting to many of our readers. The letter is dated three miles south of Murfreesboro, January the 1st:

    “I thank God that I am privileged to report myself alive to-day. He has, indeed, been very merciful and gracious to me. I have not time to relate the stirring and exciting events of the past five days. We have been in line of battle since Sunday.—Tuesday about 11 o’clock, A.M., the 28th and 39th were drawn up to support Robinson’s battery, about two miles from Murfreesboro, it being known that the enemy were advancing. We were drawn up behind a fence, and at 3 o’clock. P.M., the enemy came yelling, and then followed heavy firing on both sides. We repulsed them gallantly—the loss of the 39th being one man killed and three wounded—none of my company. The enemy lost 90 killed and wounded. They rallied and charged again at 6 o’clock, and were repulsed again—they losing 40 and we none. We held our position all night, sleeping or resting, till just before day, when we retired, as we heard them planting batteries very near us, and supposed they would shell us the first thing after light. At sunrise we discovered the enemy drawn up about a quarter of a mile in front of us, and we were ordered to charge the battery, which we immediately did, and found ourselves in the tightest place I ever was in. We advanced through the open field, not knowing the enemy was posted in the corn field, until we were fired upon. At the same time, the battery was cross-firing all the time, and between the two fires we suffered heavily. I went into the charge with 22 men—had two killed, (Osborn and Dunnaway,) and 9 wounded, none dangerously. Kennely was knocked down by a shell, but not hurt much. Lt. Gillis was wounded in the hip. We reached the battery or very near it, and captured one piece, but were compelled to fall back under a heavy fire to where we first started. We were thrown into confusion, and when we were ordered to rally and charge again, I could not find but two of my men, Holcomb and Wall. We passed through the same fire, and just as we reached our first position, near the battery, a ball struck Wall’s arm, broke it, passed on and knocked Holcomb down—They appealed to me, as I passed them, for help, but I could not as were in the thickest of the fight. We were again repulsed, being greatly overpowered. Capt. Jennings was wounded in the hip. Capt. Stanford killed, and Capt. Clayton mortally wounded. As we retreated or fell back for reinforcements, a “spent-ball” struck me in the back—I was not hurt. We rallied again, and finding one of my straggling men, I advanced again with one man only; but just before we reached the field, heavy reinforcements had been thrown in and enemy repulsed. I continued the onward movement until I was exhausted and could go on no farther. The battle raged furiously all day. The charges and retreats across the field were made in double quick. I lost my blanket, as I was unable to carry it longer. The enemy were driven back several miles, and I fear another battle will ensue this morning, having but three men fit for duty, I was ordered out here to collect all the efficient men of the regiment who had straggled. I returned in a few moments.”

    A. H. Flewellen Capt.
    Co. F, 39th Reg’t Ala. Vol.
    Murfreesboro’, Tenn
     
  4. Biak

    Biak Adjutant Staff Member Patron  

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    This has been interesting reading. Wondering if you have come across a Col. Fahnestock of the 86th Illinois Volunteer Infantry ?
    He fought at Chickamauga.

    Journal of Colonel Allen L. Fahnestock, Commander of Andrew Doran in the 86th Illinois Volunteer Infantry


    Allen L. Fahnestock (1828-1920) was a grocer in Glasford, Illinois in 1862. Responding to President Lincoln’s call for more volunteer soldiers, Fahnestock recruited volunteers from Peoria County for the 86th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. The 86th Illinois Infantry left Peoria in September 1862. Within a month, the 86th Illinois fought the Battle of Perryville, Kentucky. Fahnestock and his unit also fought at Chickamauga, Missionary Ridge, Tunnel Hill, Resaca, Ringgold and Kennesaw Mountain.


    Journal of Colonel Allen L. Fahnestock, Commander of Andrew Doran in the 86th Illinois Volunteer Infantry
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I am glad that you are enjoying.

    The 86th Illinois was part of the 2d Division, 2d Brigade (McCook's) of Granger's Reserve Corps.
    2d Division
    2d Brigade-Col. Daniel McCook, Jr.
    -85th Illinois
    -86th Illinois
    -125th Illinois
    -52d Ohio
    -69th Ohio
    -Battery I, 2d Illinois Lt. Artillery (a mixed battery of 2 x 12lb Napoleons, 2 x James Rifles and 2 x 10lb Parrot Rifles) I haven't covered the Parrot but will put it on my list.

    It was Granger, whose Corps was guarding the road back into Chattanooga, that decided, without orders, to march to the "sound of the guns" and saved Thomas, and the portion of the army that was holding out at Chickamauga. Understanding the topography involved is critical to understanding the battle. Chattanooga due to the topography, rail lines and location on the Tennessee River controlled access to the deep south and provided supply lines for the Confederate armies. The same topography was what made the various "gaps" in the high ridges and mountains crucial to armies. If you controlled a "gap" even with a small force, you could stop or seriously delay a much larger unit, and thruput capacity of the various gaps controlled the speed of movement. Granger was protecting Rossville Gap and if the Confederate infantry or even cavalry got control of it, the Army of Cumberland's supply line and line of retreat was cut. So, Granger deciding to leave the "gap" could have had serious or even fatal consequences for the army.

    In the following article (it's fairly long so will put it in a following post), remember Slipdigit's ancestor was in Dea's Alabama Brigade and was facing Granger's troops. Col. Fahnestock and the 86th Illinois, part of Granger's command were detached a mile further north fighting Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry to keep the line of retreat open. They were the last Federal troops to retire from the field.

    Probably as important as the troops Granger brought to Thomas was 100,000 rounds of reserve ammunition. The units Thomas had, were running out and having to rob cartridges off the dead and wounded to keep up the fight.

    (Article follows...)
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2022
  6. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Major General Gordon Granger's Reserve Corps of the Army of the Cumberland faced hard fighting at Chickamauga.
    By GORDON BERG 11/28/2006

    A blood-red autumn sun burned off the dense ground fog as it rose over the gently rolling Georgia hills into a cloudless turquoise sky on Sunday, September 20, 1863. But Lieutenant Colonel William Kinman took little comfort in the beauty of the tranquil Sabbath morning. He had had a premonition. “We shall have a desperate battle today, many of us will be killed, and I expect to be among the number,” he told a fellow officer in the 115th Illinois Volunteer Infantry.

    About 300 yards away on a hillside behind McAfee Church, Lt. Col. Isaac Clarke was more optimistic. He assured a comrade in the 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry: “I have no fear for myself. I shall go into this fight, and go through it, and comeout of it all right.”

    Kinman and Clarke were officers in the Reserve Corps of the Union Army of the Cumberland, 5,400 men and three artillery batteries, many of whom had never before been in battle. On that Sunday the Reserve Corps would shed its untested status and experience warfare’s fury, fighting Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee on the second day of the Battle of Chickamauga. The maelstrom would prove Kinman’s vision and destroy Clarke’s optimism. Before the sun set, the two officers and hundreds of their comrades in arms would lie dead or maimed on the bramble-covered slopes of Horseshoe Ridge.

    Major General Gordon Granger, commander of the Reserve Corps, was Regular Army, West Point class of 1845. The gruff New Yorker had served in the Mexican War, fought Indians in Texas, and seen action at Wilson’s Creek, New Madrid, Island No. 10 and the siege of Corinth. But Granger knew little more than his men about the role his command would be expected to play in the fighting taking place just a few miles up the La Fayette Road. The last order he received from Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, commander of the Army of the Cumberland, came late Saturday night, directing Granger to place his corps on the eastern slope of Missionary Ridge to provide support to the corps of Maj. Gens. Alexander McCook and George H. Thomas.

    That command did not make much sense to Granger.

    From his position at the junction of the Ringgold and Cleveland roads, his troops were in poor position to assist McCook’s XX Corps at the far right of the Union lines. Their best route to Thomas’ XIV Corps on the Union left would be a march of more than four miles along the La Fayette Road. To Granger, it seemed the only thing he was in a good position to do was protect the Rossville Gap and keep the road to Chattanooga, Tenn., open.


    As mid-morning approached, a growing volume of gunfire soon reached Granger’s ears, but he had no new orders from Rosecrans. Granger vacillated. Should he go to support Thomas, who hadn’t asked him for help, or hold his position and guard the road to Rossville and Chattanooga? Staff officers sent to Rosecrans for guidance returned, unable to reach the commanding general.

    Between 10:30 and 11 a.m., Granger and his chief of staff, Major J.S. Fullerton, climbed a haystack to get a view of the action. When Granger climbed down, one account has it that Colonel James Thompson, his chief of artillery, remarked that Thomas was “having a hell of a fight over there.” That convinced Granger it was time to move and “if we don’t hurry it will be too late.”

    Major Fullerton’s version, however, has come down through history as the more popular account. He wrote that after 10 minutes of watching on the haystack, Granger “jumped up, thrust his glass into its case, and exclaimed with an oath, ‘I am going to Thomas, orders or no orders.’”

    “And if you go,” Fullerton replied, “it may bring disaster to the army and you to a court-martial.” “There is nothing in our front now but ragtag bobtail cavalry,” Granger replied. “Don’t you see Bragg is piling his whole army on Thomas? I am going to his assistance.”

    The men of the Reserve Corps were ready to march in less than 30 minutes. Around 11:30 a.m. 1st Division commander Maj. Gen. James Steedman put the 1st Brigade of Brig. Gen. Walter Whitaker, the 96th and 115th Illinois, the 40th and 89th Ohio, the 22nd Michigan, 84th Indiana and the 18th Battery of the Ohio Light Artillery, on the march for the La Fayette Road. Right behind them came Colonel John G. Mitchell’s 2nd Brigade, comprising the 78th Illinois and the 98th, 113th and 121st Ohio supported by Battery M of the 1st Illinois Light Artillery. Granger left his remaining five regiments and an artillery battery under Colonel Daniel McCook at the McAfee Church, charged with keeping the escape route to Chattanooga open.

    Confederate Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk’s right wing was attacking Thomas, just as it had done the day before. But soon Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, sent west with three divisions to bolster Bragg’s army and in command of the Confederate left, would order Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood and 11,000 men concealed east of the Brotherton farm to advance.

    Elements of Hood’s division poured through a gap in the Federal lines a quarter mile wide near the Union center. Brigadier General Thomas J. Wood was withdrawing his division and moving it to the left even though he knew he was following an order from Rosecrans that was based on faulty information.

    Brigadier General Bushrod Johnson, who assumed command of the attack after Hood was wounded, described the scene as “unspeakably grand.” Union staff officer Ambrose Bierce wrote that he “saw the entire country in front swarming with Confederates; the very earth seemed to be moving toward us!” Decisive leadership and the courage of small groups of soldiers from splintered Union regiments, probably numbering no more than 2,000 men in all, would slow the pace of the Confederate juggernaut just enough to ensure that there would still be a Union army for the Reserve Corps to save.

    Granger moved his column at quick time, and Major Fullerton recalled the narrow road “was covered ankle-deep with dust that rose in suffocating clouds.” When the column reached the La Fayette Road near the Hein house, Maj. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest’s Rebel cavalrymen began to lob shells into the blue ranks. Provoked, Steedman sent out skirmishers and unlimbered Battery M of the 1st Illinois Light Artillery.

    Granger reined in Steedman, re-formed the column and decided that the La Fayette Road was too dangerous. The open fields southwest of the Cloud Church offered a safer and more direct route to Thomas. He also sent Major Fullerton back to the McAffee Church with orders to bring up McCook’s brigade to deal with Forrest. Granger had now fully committed his corps.
    (....continued)
     
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  7. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    The column now moved at double-quick time directly toward the Snodgrass cabin, with the lead regiments of the Reserve Corps arriving there between 1 and 1:45 p.m. While the tired Confederates were regrouping at the foot of Horseshoe Ridge, Thomas ordered the new arrivals to fill a half-mile gap in his line between Colonel Charles G. Harker’s brigade of battered Ohioans and the division of Maj. Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds on the far right of the Kelley farm field.

    Before Steedman could deploy his winded regiments, the sound of musketry to the right of the XIV Corps made Thomas change his mind.

    If there were Confederates advancing around the right, the rear of Thomas’ entire defensive perimeter would be exposed. A courier soon galloped up to confirm that attacking Rebels faced only remnants of the 21st Ohio on Horseshoe Ridge.

    “Those men must be driven back,” said Granger. Thomas agreed, then asked, “Can you do it?” Granger said: “Yes, my men are fresh, and they are just the fellows for that work. They are raw recruits and they don’t know any better than to charge over there.”

    “Those men” were Maj. Gen. Thomas C. Hindman’s Division, comprising Brig. Gen. Patton Anderson’s Mississippi brigade, Brig. Gens. Zachariah C. Deas and Arthur M. Manigault’s Alabama regiments, and Bushrod Johnson’s Tennesseans. The mostly untested soldiers of the Reserve Corps would receive their baptism in blood that day against these veteran regiments on the boulder-strewn slopes of Horseshoe Ridge.

    Determining time on a Civil War battlefield is an imprecise science at best, and proves especially difficult in accounts of Chickamauga. But Captain Seth Moe, Steedman’s assistant adjutant general, reportedly said, “[A]nd as this is likely to be an important event, gentlemen, just remember that it is now ten minutes past one o’clock.”

    It was now a race to the crest of the ridge. Steedman flung Whitaker’s exhausted brigade forward in a double line. In front were the 96th and 115th Illinois and the 22nd Michigan. Behind them came the 40th and 89th Ohio and the 84th Indiana. They sprinted uphill for almost 400 yards through oaks, fallen trees, boulders and brambles.

    After traversing a series of shallow ravines, the brigade ascended a long ridge where it encountered the first sporadic shots of the Rebel skirmishers approaching from the other end. As the hard-charging blue lines reached the crest of the hill, they got their first glimpse of the disciplined Confederate regiments aligned scarcely 60 yards below them.

    Their bayonets fixed, the Union attackers assaulted their foes with an élan that momentarily stunned the Mississippians. The Confederates quickly regained their poise, however, and—supported by a battery of six guns pouring out solid shot, grape and canister—halted the headlong Union advance about 100 yards down the southern slope. Then Colonel Cyrus Suggs’ veteran Tennessee regiments began to counterattack and slowly pushed the exhausted Union regiments back up the ridge.

    For the next 30 minutes, the two sides thrust and parried at each other, often at almost point-blank range. The 22nd Michigan, the first Reserve Corps regiment to come under enemy fire, suffered about 100 casualties in its first two minutes of battle. Every officer in the 115th Illinois was hit, and Colonel Kinman’s death premonition became a reality during the regiment’s first charge. The Confederates succeeded in pushing the first wave of Steedman’s troops off the crest.

    While General Granger remained with Thomas at the Snodgrass cabin, General Steedman chose to lead from the front. As the series of savage engagements seesawed up and down the slopes, he observed the decimated 115th Illinois again falling back in apparent disorder. When Colonel Jesse Moore told the general that his regiment had no fight left, Steedman told Moore he could go to the rear in disgrace if he wanted to. Then Steedman grabbed the regimental standard from the color bearer and ordered the stunned troops to follow him back to the top of the ridge. They did. There, after his horse was shot out from under him, Steedman continued to rally his troops on foot.

    The 96th Illinois was also breaking in the face of determined attacks by Suggs’ Brigade, now reinforced by Colonel John Fulton’s Brigade of Tennesseeans. Lieutenant Colonel Clarke’s optimism about coming through the battle unscathed ended abruptly when a Minié ball hit him in the chest, knocking him off his horse and killing him.

    But the timely arrival of Steedman’s 2nd Brigade under Colonel Mitchell pushed through the tattered remnants of the 96th and succeeded in extending the Union line beyond Fulton’s left flank. Mitchell formed his brigade into a double line in dense woods and moved up the ridge.

    The Confederates, fearing enfilading fire from Mitchell’s regiments and Battery M of the 1st Illinois Light Artillery, fell back toward the protection of their own batteries. An eerie silence enveloped Horseshoe Ridge about 2:45 p.m.

    Just a few minutes earlier, Thomas and his beleaguered defenders had received a second contingent of unexpected but welcome reinforcements. Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer had pulled his 1,200-man brigade out of the line above the now quiet Kelley field and, also without orders, marched his troops toward the sound of fighting. Thomas immediately ordered Van Derveer to relieve the tired remnants of Brig. Gen. John M. Brannon’s troops of the XIV Corps’ 3rd Division, who had been under a blazing sun and continuous gunfire since 1 p.m.

    (....continued)
     
  8. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    The sun was not bothering General Longstreet as he sat under a large shade tree, confidently following the Confederate offensive. A courier from General Bragg’s headquarters at Jay’s Mill cantered up, prompting Longstreet to ride to Bragg to report on the fight and ask for reinforcements from General Polk to hold the ground he had taken.

    When Bragg turned down the request, Longstreet was dumbfounded. Bragg didn’t seem to comprehend how close the Confederates were to total victory. Nonetheless, Longstreet was determined to finish what he had started. “There was nothing for the left wing to do,” he wrote in his memoirs, “but work along as best it could.”

    “Old Pete” may have been long on fight, but he was short on strategy. Two options other than directly assaulting Horseshoe Ridge were available to him. Either from ignorance or choice, he took neither of them.

    During a reconnaissance before lunch, Longstreet came under fire from some Union pickets near the half-mile gap in the Union lines that worried Thomas. Longstreet practically rode right by it, and Maj. Gen. Alexander Stewart’s Division spent much of the afternoon ignorant of the fact that it was almost in front of it. At the very least, the presence of skirmishers there should have resulted in a reconnaissance in force to ascertain Union strength in the area.

    The gap wasn’t plugged until Captain Charles Aleshire and his 18th Ohio Light Artillery limbered up and fled to the rear in the face of furious Confederate counterbattery fire. He took his guns back to the Snodgrass cabin, where Colonel James Thompson, Granger’s chief of artillery, promptly directed the battery to cover the potentially lethal break in the Union lines. Longstreet fully lost this window of opportunity late in the afternoon when the brigade of Brig. Gen. William B. Hazen moved into the gap from its original position above the Kelley farm field. Longstreet also had the option of bypassing Horseshoe Ridge altogether and moving his brigades up the Dry Valley Road to the McFarland and Rossville gaps, thus cutting off Thomas’ retreat route to Chattanooga.

    While Longstreet rode back from his disappointing meeting with Bragg, Bushrod Johnson decided to renew his assault on Horseshoe Ridge at about 3:30 p.m. In his official report, he correctly deduced “that this position on the extreme left was one of the utmost importance and might determine the fate of the day.”

    From a deep gorge and a nearby hill, Deas and Manigault’s Alabama regiments again surged forward with Fulton’s Tennesseans. In reserve was Colonel David Coleman’s brigade of mostly Arkansas men. Johnson rode along the line himself to position the brigades before sending them off for another crack at Steedman’s severely battered regiments.

    The two sides slaughtered each other for another 30 minutes before Deas’ Brigade broke and two regiments of Manigault’s Brigade, the 28th and 34th Alabama, refused to re-form and attack again. Coleman’s brigade almost crested the summit before it too was forced to retreat. By 4 p.m., Confederate soldiers not already dead or wounded withdrew under a curtain of canister fire from their artillery batteries to quench their thirst, redistribute ammunition and perhaps marvel that Providence had spared them.

    Longstreet had one more hammer to hurl at Horseshoe Ridge, and about 4 p.m. he decided to throw it. General William Preston’s Division of about 4,000 men had seen limited action and, compared to the troops opposing them, were fresh and full of fight. But the Confederates were again bedeviled by poor command and control. Preston’s largest brigade, mostly Alabama men commanded by transplanted New Yorker Brig. Gen. Archibald Gracie Jr., moved out before the rest of the division was positioned. An angry General Preston realized he could do nothing but order in his other partly formed brigades.

    Gracie attacked uphill across the Vittetoe Road in a single line of battle against the entrenched remnants of Harker’s brigade, some of the original defenders of Horseshoe Ridge. On a low slope of the ridge, Gracie’s line splintered. Some regiments halted while others advanced, but all suffered significant casualties. James Henry Haynie’s memoir of the 19th Illinois recalled: “[T]hey come so swiftly that we can hardly count their volleying….Through the thick smoke suddenly we see a swarm of men in gray, not in battle-line, but an on-coming mass of soldiers bent on burying their bullets in resisting flesh.” Gradually the Union defenders fell back, but Gracie’s bloodied regiments were too low on ammunition to press home their attack.

    Johnson, however, was still determined to seize the ridges on which so much blood had been spilled. About 4:30 p.m. he ordered a third assault by the splintered brigades of Fulton, Suggs and Manigault, now numbering only about 800 men. Most of the Union defenders were almost out of ammunition, and John Batchelor of the 78th Illinois later confided in his diary, “We were fighting Indian fashion—every one doing the best he could under the circumstances, without regard to tactics or alignment.”

    Yet another hour of savage fighting would finally force the Reserve Corps to withdraw. Steedman’s regiments were hopelessly intermixed, and since the Reserve Corps had no stretcher-bearers, many able-bodied men helped wounded comrades to safety, never to return to the line.

    The redoubtable Battery M of the 1st Illinois Light Artillery covered the withdrawal with volleys of double-shotted canister. According to the unit’s official history: “Our fire was reserved until they were so close as to be able to recognize an acquaintance, had there been one there, when our battery opened on them at short range, throwing them into disorder….We then fell back to a high hill a short distance to the rear.” Before it pulled all six of its guns off the field sometime after 6 p.m., Battery M had poured out 360 rounds of canister and 276 of spherical case.

    By 6 p.m., 23-year-old Colonel John Kelley and his motley collection of Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia men, now reinforced by Colonel Robert C. Trigg’s small brigade of three Florida regiments plus the 54th Virginia, began to secure a foothold on the lower slopes of Horseshoe Ridge. But General Thomas had decided to abandon it.

    While Johnson was urging his weary soldiers to summon their courage once more, Rosecrans’ chief of staff, Brig. Gen. James Garfield, after riding through Dan McCook’s skirmish line, arrived on the field. He made Thomas aware for the first time of the disaster that had befallen the rest of the Army of the Cumberland. Nearly one-third of the army had already fled the field northward to Chattanooga. A telegram from Rosecrans, then in Chattanooga, arrived between 4:30 and 5 p.m., ordering Thomas to assume command of all remaining forces and “take a strong position and assume a threatening attitude at Rossville.”

    Thomas was not a man to countenance defeat. He had at first intended to hold his position and withdraw toward Chattanooga only under the cover of night—still several hours away. He began to organize the final phase of the Battle of Chickamauga, a fighting withdrawal in which the Reserve Corps would lose, perhaps unnecessarily, a large portion of two regiments.

    With still two hours before dark, Thomas decided to begin withdrawing the divisions facing the Kelley farm field first. He sent Captain John D. Barker of the 1st Ohio Cavalry, the commander of his escort, with orders for General Reynolds to begin. Then Thomas turned over command of the forces on Horseshoe Ridge to Granger and rode off toward the La Fayette Road so he could personally position Reynolds’ division to cover the retirement of the rest of the army.
    (....Continued)
     
  9. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    At about 7 p.m., with the only noise coming from the crackling of burning brush and leaves, the men of Trigg’s Brigade crept up yet another ridge toward the remnants of the 21st Ohio. Lieutenant Wilson Vance later wrote, “Wrapped in the fog, they looked like so many phantoms on a ghostly brigade drill, and it gave one a creepy sensation to look at them.” When challenged, the gray wraiths replied, “We’re Jeff Davis’ boys.” Thinking that their relief had finally arrived, since Jefferson C. Davis was a Union general, the beleaguered defenders rose up only to find their “benefactors” belonged to the 7th Florida. After six hours of continuous fighting, the valiant remnants of the 21st Ohio downed their muskets and surrendered. To their right, the men of the Reserve Corps’ 89th Ohio quickly followed the example of their Buckeye brethren.

    On another ridge Lieutenant William Hamilton of the 22nd Michigan, the first Reserve Corps regiment to come under fire, was crouched behind his men. Out of the gloom came a heavy line of troops, and Williams would later write: “It was now so dark we could not distinguish the color of their uniforms. They marched towards us, guns at charge and when within two or three rods of us began to call on us to surrender.” Outnumbered and out of ammunition, “the men sprang to their feet and became prisoners.” The men of the 54th Virginia captured almost 250 of the Wolverines.

    Misery had been the order of the day for the Union Army. The dead were left unburied, and many of the severely wounded lay under the stars, each man enduring his suffering and thirst alone. Charles Partridge wrote, “[T]he survivors still recall it as a hideous nightmare.”

    It was not much better for the dazed and wounded survivors as they stumbled through the cold night, heading as best they could toward Rossville. Partridge remembered wounded horses carrying wounded men and “ammunition wagons were halted and filled with human wrecks…men were carried in blankets for miles…toiling on wearily through the hours, and along the road that was at once so strange and so long.”

    Even though it missed the savage fighting on Horseshoe Ridge, McCook’s brigade achieved a historical footnote. Its men had been successfully keeping the Confederate cavalry occupied, perhaps preventing it from closing the McFarland and Rossville gaps. His men were the last Union forces to leave the field when they limbered up their guns and, at about 10 p.m., filed off the low ridge near the McDonald farm.

    Chickamauga had lived up to its Indian name, “river of death.” The casualty lists for the Reserve Corps of the Army of the Cumberland reflect the ferocity of the fight. Granger and Steedman took 3,700 men to Horseshoe Ridge. In just over five hours of combat, they lost 16 officers and 200 enlisted men killed, 66 officers and 910 enlisted men wounded, and 35 officers and almost 600 enlisted men missing and captured.

    As much as any battle in the Civil War, Chickamauga was a soldier’s battle. Charles Partridge said the men of the 96th Illinois were “lions while the battle lasted.” He easily could have been speaking about all the men of the Reserve Corps.

    (End)

    A good artistic representation of the fighting just described from Keith Rocco, "To the Last Round", 21st Ohio at Snodgrass Hill/Horseshoe Ridge.

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    Here's one for Slip, 22d Alabama, Dea's Brigade at breakthrough at Brotherton House, Rick Reeve's. His ancestor, same brigade would have been similarly uniformed and equipped, same type colors (Regimental Flag).

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    There is a lot of really bad Civil War Art out there, the artists either are not particularly skilled or fail to research the details, uniforms, period grooming, location, arms and equipment, the actual action being depicted. Both Keith Rocco and Rick Reeves are the exception, well researched, great composition and well executed.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2022
    Biak likes this.

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