Battle of Chickamauga

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Battle of Chickamauga
Georgia Civil War History

Battle of Chickamauga

Other Names: Chickamauga Campaign

Location: Catoosa County and Walker County, Georgia

Campaign: Chickamauga Campaign (1863)

Date(s): September 18-20, 1863

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans and Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas [US]; Gen. Braxton Bragg and Lt. Gen. James Longstreet [CS]

Forces Engaged: Army of the Cumberland [US]; Army of Tennessee [CS]

Estimated Casualties: 34,624 total (US 16,170; CS 18,454)

Result(s): Confederate victory

Battle of Chickamauga Map
Battle of Chickamauga Map.gif
Civil War Chickamauga Battlefield Map

Description: After the Tullahoma Campaign, Rosecrans renewed his offensive, aiming to force the Confederates out of Chattanooga. The three army corps comprising Rosecrans’s army split and set out for Chattanooga by separate routes. In early September, Rosecrans consolidated his forces scattered in Tennessee and Georgia and forced Bragg’s army out of Chattanooga, heading south. The Union troops followed it and brushed with it at Davis’ Cross Roads. Bragg was determined to reoccupy Chattanooga and decided to meet a part of Rosecrans’s army, defeat them, and then move back into the city. On the 17th he headed north, intending to meet and beat the XXI Army Corps. As Bragg marched north on the 18th, his cavalry and infantry fought with Union cavalry and mounted infantry which were armed with Spencer repeating rifles. Fighting began in earnest on the morning of the 19th, and Bragg’s men hammered but did not break the Union line. The next day, Bragg continued his assault on the Union line on the left, and in late morning, Rosecrans was informed that he had a gap in his line. In moving units to shore up the supposed gap, Rosecrans created one, and James Longstreet’s men promptly exploited it, driving one-third of the Union army, including Rosecrans himself, from the field. George H. Thomas took over command and began consolidating forces on Horseshoe Ridge and Snodgrass Hill. Although the Rebels launched determined assaults on these forces, they held until after dark. Thomas then led these men from the field leaving it to the Confederates. The Union retired to Chattanooga while the Rebels occupied the surrounding heights. (See Battle of Chickamauga Homepage.)

Notes: James Garfield, furthermore, served as Major General William S. Rosecrans' Chief of Staff at Chickamauga. Four months after becoming President of the United States, Garfield was shot in the back by a disgruntled office seeker and died two months later on September 19, 1881, the anniversary of the Battle of Chickamauga.

Sources: National Park Service; Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park

Recommended Reading: This Terrible Sound: THE BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA (Civil War Trilogy) (Hardcover: 688 pages) (University of Illinois Press). Description: Peter Cozzens is one of those amazing writers that brings you onto the field and allows you to experience the campaign. You advance with Cleburne's Division as it moves through the dusk shrouded woods and your pulse races as you envision Gen. Lytle's command trying to decide whether to save their dying commander or flee as the Rebs pound up that smoke-filled hill. Continued below...

This account of the Battle of Chickamauga is first rate and thrilling. The profusion of regimental and brigade disposition maps are particularly useful for any serious visit to the battlefield. There are some intriguing ideas introduced as well. Forrest's role in the early stages of the battle is fascinating to read and to contemplate. Also revealing are the ammunition problems that plagued the mounted units; a problem that would hinder Forrest's command at Spring Hill a year later.

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Recommended Reading: Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns (Great Campaigns of the Civil War). Description: When Vicksburg fell to Union forces under General Grant in July 1863, the balance turned against the Confederacy in the trans-Appalachian theater. The Federal success along the river opened the way for advances into central and eastern Tennessee, which culminated in the bloody battle of Chickamauga and then a struggle for Chattanooga. Continued below...
Chickamauga is usually counted as a Confederate victory, albeit a costly one. That battle—indeed the entire campaign—is marked by muddle and blunders occasionally relieved by strokes of brilliant generalship and high courage. The campaign ended significant Confederate presence in Tennessee and left the Union poised to advance upon Atlanta and the Confederacy on the brink of defeat in the western theater.
 

Recommended Viewing: The Battle of Chickamauga (DVD) (Special Widescreen Edition). Description: WINNER OF THE 2008 SILVER TELLY AWARD, The Top Prize At The Ceremony! The Battle of Chickamauga proved to be one of the fiercest engagements of the American Civil War. Over a period of two days in September 1863, more than 100,000 men struggled for control of the south's most strategic transportation hub, the city of Chattanooga. Along the hills and valleys surrounding the Chickamauga Creek, over 34,000 casualties would be suffered, and the Confederate Army of Tennessee would achieve their last, great victory. Only one battle would surpass the bloodshed and carnage of bloody ChickamaugaGettysburg. Continued below…

Shot on location using High Definition cameras, this 70-minute documentary film dramatically recreates the battle by including more than 50 fully animated maps, period photographs, historical documents, and reenactors. This Special Edition DVD also contains over 30 minutes of bonus features, including an in-depth tour of the Chickamauga-Chattanooga National Military Park's very own Fuller Gun Collection. Absolutely a must have for the Civil War buff. FIVE STARS by americancivilwarhistory.org

 

Recommended Reading: Chickamauga 1863: The River Of Death (Campaign). Description: By the autumn of 1863 the Confederacy was in dire straits. In a colossal gamble, Confederate President Jefferson Davis stripped forces from all the major Confederate armies to reinforce the Army of Tennessee in a last ditch attempt to crush the Union. On 19th September the Confederates attacked the Union army along Chickamauga creek south of Chattanooga. On the second day of bloody fighting the entire Union right collapsed and the army retreated headlong for Chattanooga, all except General George H. Thomas' Corps who fought on doggedly until nightfall delaying the confederate advance, saving the Union and earning his fame as the "Rock of Chickamauga". Continued below…

About the Author: James R. Arnold is a US-born freelance writer who has contributed to numerous military publications. James spent his formative years in Europe and used the opportunity to study the sites of historic battlefields. He has more than 15 published books to his credit, many of them focusing on the Napoleonic campaigns and American Civil War.

 

Recommended Reading: Rock of Chickamauga: The Life of General George H. Thomas. Reader's Review: Cleaves' book is an excellent read for the person who wishes to learn more about one of the best (North or South) and overlooked generals of the Civil War. While many books focus on Lee, Jackson, Grant, and Sherman, Cleaves succeeds in bringing to light the very important accomplishments by General Thomas. Continued below…

Included in the book are Thomas' many military victories: the complete defeat of a Confederate army at the battles of Mill Springs and Nashville, repulse of Hood's attacks at Atlanta, and of course, perhaps his most stunning achievement - holding the Confederate Army at bay on Snodgrass Hill while the rest of the Union Army retreated from Chickamauga. Throughout the book, Cleaves describes Thomas as a man who willingly subordinated his desires for the best of the nation, something lacking in most "leaders" today. Several times Cleaves describes Thomas as a calm, confident, and not easily shaken man in whom soldiers took great comfort in knowing he was in charge. “[A] great read…refreshing change from the status-quo.”

 

Recommended Reading: Guide to the Battle of Chickamauga (The U.S. Army War College Guides to Civil War Battles). Description: "The most thorough, detailed, and accurate books of their kind. I have used them [U.S. Army War College Guides to Civil War Battles] to lead guided tours of several battlefields, with great success", -- James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize winning author.

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