Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant

While the advance up Mission Ridge was going forward, General
Thomas with staff, General Gordon Granger, commander of the
corps making the assault, and myself and staff occupied Orchard
Knob, from which the entire field could be observed. The moment
the troops were seen going over the last line of rebel defences,
I ordered Granger to join his command, and mounting my horse I
rode to the front. General Thomas left about the same time.
Sheridan on the extreme right was already in pursuit of the
enemy east of the ridge. Wood, who commanded the division to
the left of Sheridan, accompanied his men on horseback in the
charge, but did not join Sheridan in the pursuit. To the left,
in Baird’s front where Bragg’s troops had massed against
Sherman, the resistance was more stubborn and the contest lasted
longer. I ordered Granger to follow the enemy with Wood’s
division, but he was so much excited, and kept up such a roar of
musketry in the direction the enemy had taken, that by the time I
could stop the firing the enemy had got well out of the way. The
enemy confronting Sherman, now seeing everything to their left
giving way, fled also. Sherman, however, was not aware of the
extent of our success until after nightfall, when he received
orders to pursue at daylight in the morning.

As soon as Sherman discovered that the enemy had left his front
he directed his reserves, Davis’s division of the Army of the
Cumberland, to push over the pontoon-bridge at the mouth of the
Chickamauga, and to move forward to Chickamauga Station. He
ordered Howard to move up the stream some two miles to where
there was an old bridge, repair it during the night, and follow
Davis at four o’clock in the morning. Morgan L. Smith was
ordered to reconnoitre the tunnel to see if that was still
held. Nothing was found there but dead bodies of men of both
armies. The rest of Sherman’s command was directed to follow
Howard at daylight in the morning to get on to the railroad
towards Graysville.

Hooker, as stated, was detained at Chattanooga Creek by the
destruction of the bridge at that point. He got his troops
over, with the exception of the artillery, by fording the stream
at a little after three o’clock. Leaving his artillery to follow
when the bridge should be reconstructed, he pushed on with the
remainder of his command. At Rossville he came upon the flank
of a division of the enemy, which soon commenced a retreat along
the ridge. This threw them on Palmer. They could make but
little resistance in the position they were caught in, and as
many of them as could do so escaped. Many, however, were
captured. Hooker’s position during the night of the 25th was
near Rossville, extending east of the ridge. Palmer was on his
left, on the road to Graysville.

During the night I telegraphed to Willcox that Bragg had been
defeated, and that immediate relief would be sent to Burnside if
he could hold out; to Halleck I sent an announcement of our
victory, and informed him that forces would be sent up the
valley to relieve Burnside.

Before the battle of Chattanooga opened I had taken measures for
the relief of Burnside the moment the way should be clear. Thomas
was directed to have the little steamer that had been built at
Chattanooga loaded to its capacity with rations and
ammunition. Granger’s corps was to move by the south bank of
the Tennessee River to the mouth of the Holston, and up that to
Knoxville accompanied by the boat. In addition to the supplies
transported by boat, the men were to carry forty rounds of
ammunition in their cartridge-boxes, and four days’ rations in
haversacks.

In the battle of Chattanooga, troops from the Army of the
Potomac, from the Army of the Tennessee, and from the Army of
the Cumberland participated. In fact, the accidents growing out
of the heavy rains and the sudden rise in the Tennessee River so
mingled the troops that the organizations were not kept
together, under their respective commanders, during the
battle. Hooker, on the right, had Geary’s division of the 12th
corps, Army of the Potomac; Osterhaus’s division of the 15th
corps, Army of the Tennessee; and Cruft’s division of the Army
of the Cumberland. Sherman had three divisions of his own army,
Howard’s corps from the Army of the Potomac, and Jefferson C.
Davis’s division of the Army of the Cumberland. There was no
jealousy–hardly rivalry. Indeed, I doubt whether officers or
men took any note at the time of the fact of this intermingling
of commands. All saw a defiant foe surrounding them, and took
it for granted that every move was intended to dislodge him, and
it made no difference where the troops came from so that the end
was accomplished.

The victory at Chattanooga was won against great odds,
considering the advantage the enemy had of position, and was
accomplished more easily than was expected by reason of Bragg’s
making several grave mistakes: first, in sending away his
ablest corps commander with over twenty thousand troops; second,
in sending away a division of troops on the eve of battle; third,
in placing so much of a force on the plain in front of his
impregnable position.

It was known that Mr. Jefferson Davis had visited Bragg on
Missionary Ridge a short time before my reaching Chattanooga. It
was reported and believed that he had come out to reconcile a
serious difference between Bragg and Longstreet, and finding
this difficult to do, planned the campaign against Knoxville, to
be conducted by the latter general. I had known both Bragg and
Longstreet before the war, the latter very well. We had been
three years at West Point together, and, after my graduation,
for a time in the same regiment. Then we served together in the
Mexican War. I had known Bragg in Mexico, and met him
occasionally subsequently. I could well understand how there
might be an irreconcilable difference between them.

Bragg was a remarkably intelligent and well-informed man,
professionally and otherwise. He was also thoroughly upright.
But he was possessed of an irascible temper, and was naturally
disputatious. A man of the highest moral character and the most
correct habits, yet in the old army he was in frequent trouble.
As a subordinate he was always on the lookout to catch his
commanding officer infringing his prerogatives; as a post
commander he was equally vigilant to detect the slightest
neglect, even of the most trivial order.

I have heard in the old army an anecdote very characteristic of
Bragg. On one occasion, when stationed at a post of several
companies commanded by a field officer, he was himself
commanding one of the companies and at the same time acting as
post quartermaster and commissary. He was first lieutenant at
the time, but his captain was detached on other duty. As
commander of the company he made a requisition upon the
quartermaster–himself–for something he wanted. As
quartermaster he declined to fill the requisition, and endorsed
on the back of it his reasons for so doing. As company
commander he responded to this, urging that his requisition
called for nothing but what he was entitled to, and that it was
the duty of the quartermaster to fill it. As quartermaster he
still persisted that he was right. In this condition of affairs
Bragg referred the whole matter to the commanding officer of the
post. The latter, when he saw the nature of the matter
referred, exclaimed: “My God, Mr. Bragg, you have quarrelled
with every officer in the army, and now you are quarrelling with
yourself!”

Longstreet was an entirely different man. He was brave, honest,
intelligent, a very capable soldier, subordinate to his
superiors, just and kind to his subordinates, but jealous of his
own rights, which he had the courage to maintain. He was never
on the lookout to detect a slight, but saw one as soon as
anybody when intentionally given.

It may be that Longstreet was not sent to Knoxville for the
reason stated, but because Mr. Davis had an exalted opinion of
his own military genius, and thought he saw a chance of “killing
two birds with one stone.” On several occasions during the war
he came to the relief of the Union army by means of his SUPERIOR
MILITARY GENIUS.

I speak advisedly when I saw Mr. Davis prided himself on his
military capacity. He says so himself, virtually, in his answer
to the notice of his nomination to the Confederate presidency.
Some of his generals have said so in their writings since the
downfall of the Confederacy.

My recollection is that my first orders for the battle of
Chattanooga were as fought. Sherman was to get on Missionary
Ridge, as he did; Hooker to cross the north end of Lookout
Mountain, as he did, sweep across Chattanooga Valley and get
across the south end of the ridge near Rossville. When Hooker
had secured that position the Army of the Cumberland was to
assault in the centre. Before Sherman arrived, however, the
order was so changed as that Hooker was directed to come to
Chattanooga by the north bank of the Tennessee River. The
waters in the river, owing to heavy rains, rose so fast that the
bridge at Brown’s Ferry could not be maintained in a condition to
be used in crossing troops upon it. For this reason Hooker’s
orders were changed by telegraph back to what they were
originally.
_____

NOTE.–From this point on this volume was written (with the
exception of the campaign in the Wilderness, which had been
previously written) by General Grant, after his great illness in
April, and the present arrangement of the subject-matter was made
by him between the 10th and 18th of July, 1885.

CHAPTER XLV.

THE RELIEF OF KNOXVILLE–HEADQUARTERS MOVED TO NASHVILLE
–VISITING KNOXVILLE-CIPHER CIPHER DISPATCHES–WITHHOLDING
ORDERS.

Chattanooga now being secure to the National troops beyond any
doubt, I immediately turned my attention to relieving Knoxville,
about the situation of which the President, in particular, was
very anxious. Prior to the battles, I had made preparations for
sending troops to the relief of Burnside at the very earliest
moment after securing Chattanooga. We had there two little
steamers which had been built and fitted up from the remains of
old boats and put in condition to run. General Thomas was
directed to have one of these boats loaded with rations and
ammunition and move up the Tennessee River to the mouth of the
Holston, keeping the boat all the time abreast of the troops.
General Granger, with the 4th corps reinforced to make twenty
thousand men, was to start the moment Missionary Ridge was
carried, and under no circumstances were the troops to return to
their old camps. With the provisions carried, and the little
that could be got in the country, it was supposed he could hold
out until Longstreet was driven away, after which event East
Tennessee would furnish abundance of food for Burnside’s army
and his own also.

While following the enemy on the 26th, and again on the morning
of the 27th, part of the time by the road to Ringgold, I
directed Thomas, verbally, not to start Granger until he
received further orders from me; advising him that I was going
to the front to more fully see the situation. I was not right
sure but that Bragg’s troops might be over their stampede by the
time they reached Dalton. In that case Bragg might think it well
to take the road back to Cleveland, move thence towards
Knoxville, and, uniting with Longstreet, make a sudden dash upon
Burnside.

When I arrived at Ringgold, however, on the 27th, I saw that the
retreat was most earnest. The enemy had been throwing away guns,
caissons and small-arms, abandoning provisions, and, altogether,
seemed to be moving like a disorganized mob, with the exception
of Cleburne’s division, which was acting as rear-guard to cover
the retreat.

When Hooker moved from Rossville toward Ringgold Palmer’s
division took the road to Graysville, and Sherman moved by the
way of Chickamauga Station toward the same point. As soon as I
saw the situation at Ringgold I sent a staff officer back to
Chattanooga to advise Thomas of the condition of affairs, and
direct him by my orders to start Granger at once. Feeling now
that the troops were already on the march for the relief of
Burnside I was in no hurry to get back, but stayed at Ringgold
through the day to prepare for the return of our troops.

Ringgold is in a valley in the mountains, situated between East
Chickamauga Creek and Taylor’s Ridge, and about twenty miles
south-east from Chattanooga. I arrived just as the artillery
that Hooker had left behind at Chattanooga Creek got up. His
men were attacking Cleburne’s division, which had taken a strong
position in the adjacent hills so as to cover the retreat of the
Confederate army through a narrow gorge which presents itself at
that point. Just beyond the gorge the valley is narrow, and the
creek so tortuous that it has to be crossed a great many times
in the course of the first mile. This attack was unfortunate,
and cost us some men unnecessarily. Hooker captured, however, 3
pieces of artillery and 230 prisoners, and 130 rebel dead were
left upon the field.

I directed General Hooker to collect the flour and wheat in the
neighboring mills for the use of the troops, and then to destroy
the mills and all other property that could be of use to the
enemy, but not to make any wanton destruction.

At this point Sherman came up, having reached Graysville with
his troops, where he found Palmer had preceded him. Palmer had
picked up many prisoners and much abandoned property on the
route. I went back in the evening to Graysville with Sherman,
remained there over night and did not return to Chattanooga
until the following night, the 29th. I then found that Thomas
had not yet started Granger, thus having lost a full day which I
deemed of so much importance in determining the fate of
Knoxville. Thomas and Granger were aware that on the 23d of the
month Burnside had telegraphed that his supplies would last for
ten or twelve days and during that time he could hold out
against Longstreet, but if not relieved within the time
indicated he would be obliged to surrender or attempt to
retreat. To effect a retreat would have been an
impossibility. He was already very low in ammunition, and with
an army pursuing he would not have been able to gather supplies.

Finding that Granger had not only not started but was very
reluctant to go, he having decided for himself that it was a
very bad move to make, I sent word to General Sherman of the
situation and directed him to march to the relief of
Knoxville. I also gave him the problem that we had to
solve–that Burnside had now but four to six days supplies left,
and that he must be relieved within that time.

Sherman, fortunately, had not started on his return from
Graysville, having sent out detachments on the railroad which
runs from Dalton to Cleveland and Knoxville to thoroughly
destroy that road, and these troops had not yet returned to
camp. I was very loath to send Sherman, because his men needed
rest after their long march from Memphis and hard fighting at
Chattanooga. But I had become satisfied that Burnside would not
be rescued if his relief depended upon General Granger’s
movements.

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