Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

of men from Bragg's army, and it had made such requisition on his force for the newly organized lines in Mississippi that he was compelled or induced, wisely or unwisely, to fall back from Talla. hassee, Tullahoma to give up the country on the Memphis and Charleston railroad and probably to abandon the defences of Middle Tennessee."

Brigadier-General John A. Logan, whose deeds and fame are so inseparably blended with the opening of the Mississippi, was born at Murfreesboro, Jackson county, February 9th, 1826. In common with others, at that early day in Mlinois, his educational privileges were limited. Natural ability, however, triumphed over all obstacles, and he early become noted for the proficiency of his attainments. At the outbreak of the Mexican war he entered as a lieutenant in the 1st regiment of Illinois rolunteers, and valiently fought with his comrades till they returned home. Resuming the duties of civil life, he commenced the study of law in the office of his uncle A. M. Jenkins, formerly lieuten ant-governor of the State. On the completion of his studies he rapidly rose in his profession and obtained a wide-spread popularity. In 1852 he was elected prosecuting attorney of the 3d judicial district. In the fall of the same year he was chosen to represent the counties of Franklin and Jackson in the legislature, and was reelected in 1856. After the expiration of his last term in the legislature he was twice elected to congress, and while still a member in 1861, he returned home, and upon the organization of the 31st Illinois, was chosen its colonel. Of his subsequent operations in the war we have already spoken. From the iron fibre of his composition and his deeds of fiery valor, he has been styled the Murat of Illinois bravery

CHAPTER LXII.

1863-ILLINOIS IN THE CHATTANOOGA CAMPAIGN.

Battles of Chicamauga-Wauhachie-Lookout Mountain and Mis.

sion Ridge-Relief of Knoxville.

After the battle of Murfreesboro several months were spent by Rosecrans in recruiting his army, procuring supplies and opening up lines of communication to again advance on Bragg. Rigid discipline was enjoined and no effort spared to create in the minds of his men a proper appreciation of the work before them.

While these preparations were going on a number of minor en. gagements occurred in Middle Tennessee, in which Illinois troops were prominent actors. On the 3d of February, 1863, Forrest made a determined attack to recapture Fort Donelson, garrisoned by the 83d Illinois, but was repulsed. March 20th the 8th, 80th and 123d Illinois and some other troops under Col. Hall had a severe encounter with Morgan's cavalry vear Milton, and the latter were forced to retreat. Again on the 20th of April the 24th, 80th, 98th and 123d Illinois, assisted by a force of cavalry, overtook a body of rebels at Woodbury and drove them from the town.

At length, the Washington authorities, believing that Bragg's army had been weakened to strengthen that of Lee's, insisted on a forward movement. The rebel commander, after his defeat, retired to Tullahoma and Shelbyville, making Duck River his live of defense. His position in the towns was strongly fortified, while the occupation of the roads leading south, as well as the natural features of the country gave him additional security in case of an attack. Rosecrans determined to neutralize these advantages by a flank movement on the left and compel him either to retreat or fight outside of bis fortifications. Accordingly on the 24th of June the Union army set out from Murfreesboro, Thomas' corps in the centre, McCook's on the right and Crittenden's on the left. By a feint on Shelbyville with a portion of his army, he deceived the enemy, causing him to uncover Liberty, Hoover's and other principal gaps in the Cumberland Mountains through which the main advance was to be made. After hard fighting these were possessed by the national troops, the enemy's position at Shelbyville flanked and Bragg compelled to evacuate his works and escape to Tullahoma. Dispositions were immediately made to get in his rear and destroy his communications at the latter place, but he immediately abandoned it and retired in the direction of Chattanooga, pressed as far as practicable by the Union troops. Thus in a campaign of nine days, during which the roads were rendered nearly impassable by one of the most extraordinary rain storms ever known in the country, the enemy was driven from bis entrenched position and Middle Tennessee relieved from rebel domnination. Also in the various rencountres which occurred, there were captured 1,634 prisoners, six pieces of artillery and a large amount of stores.

The next step in following up the enemy was Chattanooga, the approaches to which were strong by nature and rendered more so by art. Rosecrans having put the railroad in operation to Stevenson for the transportation of supplies, commenced crossing the Cumberland Mountains, whose towering masses of rock lay between him and the stronghold he wished to subdue. Availing himself of the mountain passes previously captured, he reached the Tennessee and, descending it, prepared to cross in the vicinity of Chattanooga. The city being impregnable to a direct attack, Rosecrans decided to flank it on the west and south, and either force Bragg to evacuate it or suffer isolation from his base of supplies. With the exception of Hazen's division the enemy crossed the river below the city and commenced moving into Lookout valley. This, with the parallel valleys of Chattanooga and Chicamauga, extends south ward from the Tennessee, which, at this point, runs in a westerly direction. Creeks bearing the names and coursing through each valley fall into the river, the two most western below the city and the one farthest east above it. Separating the waters of the creeks are Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge, the former abutting on the river opposite Chattanooga and the latter a short distance above.

Hazen was instructed to watch the fords and make Bragg believe that the main body of the national troops was still on the north bank of the river. His force, although numbering only 7,000 men, was accordingly so dispersed; the heads of columns and camp-fires could be seen simultaneously at the fords along the river a distance of 70 miles. So adroitly was the ruse managed that McCook's corps had advanced up the valley 45 miles, and Thomas' 13, while Crittenden was on the river only 8 miles from Chattanooga before it was discovered by Bragg. He was now in a quandary. He could easily maintain himself against any as sault of his adversary within his fortifications, but how long could he defy starvation when the investing army had cut off his supplies. If he attempted to defend both Chattanooga and his communications his army would be divided and easily beaten in detail, and, if he abandoned the city, it would provoke a clamor, among the people of the South eagerly watching his movements. The last expedient was, however, chosen as the least of three evils, and abandoning the city and its well constructed fortifications, he moved his army up Chicamauga valley in the direction of Lafayette.

Crittenden having taken possession of the town without opposition, was ordered to leave a brigade as a garrison, and with the remainder of his corps pursue the retiring army up the valley. Rosecrans, believing that Bragg was in full retreat, and that his chief object should be to intercept him, McCook and Thomas were ordered through the passes of Lookout and Mission mountains to get in advance of him on the south. In makiug this disposition of his forces, like many other good generals before him, he was

deceived. Bragg was not retreating, but concentrating, in the vi. cinity of Lafayette, the most numerous army that had ever fought under rebel standards west of the Alleghanies. Buckner bad been summoned from Knoxville, Johnson had been drawn upon for one of his strongest divisions, and Lee, satisfied that Richmond was not in danger, dispatched Longstreet's heavy corps of veterans from the Rapidan. Ere this was known Crittenden, deflecting easterly, had collided with a portion of his force in the vicinity of Ringgold. Thomas had developed it near Lafayette, and McCook had completely turned his position on the south.

In this detached condition of the Union corps a rare opportu. nity was offered Bragg to crush them in detail. All it required was to fall on Thomas with such a force as to overwhelm him, then turn down Chicamauga valley, and throwing himself between the city and Crittenden crush him, and finally, turning up Lookout valley, intercept and capture McCook. Failing to immerliately avail himself of his advantages our generals discovered their mistake and rapidly commenced concentrating to avoid its consequences. Thomas at once pushed down the valley to within supporting distance of Crittenden, while McCook, whose isolation was greater, marched back into Lookout Valley and descending it, recrossed the mountains at Stephen's Gap. By this zig-zag course he effected a junction wiih the other corps and eluded Bragg, who had posted a heavy force to intercept him in the direct route down the Chicamauga. In the meantime affairs on the Chicamauga had assumed an alarmiug aspect. Bragg had received reinforcements, and, endeavoring to get between his antagonists, and Chatanooga, a race commenced between their respective armies on opposite sides of the creek in the direction of the city. This movement evinced a determination on the part of Bragg to turn our left, and Thomas was ordered to that end of the line, leaving Crittenden's and McCook's on the right. Its 7 divisions, Wood's Van Cleves', Palmer's, Reynold's, Johnson's, Baird's and Branpau's, now concentrated, extended down the west bank of the Chicamauga in the order mentioned, some 12 miles south ward of Chattanooga. Negley's, Davis' and Sheridan's were yet several miles south of the main force, and Granger's at Rossville, but after the commencement of the battle, they came up and participated, swelling the entire force to some 55,000.

Early on the morning of the 19th of September, 1863, clouds of dust were seen hanging over the road beyond the creek, caused by the heavy columns of the enemy moving in the direction of Chattanooga. At 10 o'clock the loud explosion of artillery on the extreme left signalled the commencement of battle, and Thomas, riding forward to ascertain the nature of the attack, found Branpan's division hard pressed. To his surprise, also, the enemy had crossed the creek, and all the advantages which it afforded as a means of defense was lost. The impetuosity of the assault came near sweeping his entire corps from the field before it could be rallied and reinforced. When at length this was effected, its sturdy regulars, stung by the disaster they had sustained, and catching the resolution of their commander, threw themselves with irresistable force against their assailants. Even Longstreet's veterans strore in vain to check the advance, and were swept back the distance of a mile, and all the lost ground recovered the charge which struck the left, extended toward the right, causing that end of the line to sway backward and forward according to the varying success of the combatants. At the centre such was the violence of the assault that Davis, who had come into the fight, was thrown to the right and Van Cleve to the left, and the rebels pouring into the gap the battle seemed to be lost. At this juncture Hazen massed some 20 pieces of artillery at the threatened point and discharging a crossfire of

grape and canister into the charging columns, forced them back. On the extreme right no very serious demon. strations were made till the afternoon, when several rebel brig. ades charged on one of our batteries and captured 3 of its guns. These were afterward retaken and the assault at this end of the line in the end proved a failure. At different times during the day victory was almost within the grasp of the enemy, but when night ended the conflict, the two armies stood face to face on ground that offered little advantage to either.

During the night, Longstreet with additional veterans from the army of Virginia, reinforced Bragg, swelling his army to 70,000, and giving him an excess over Rosecrans, of 15,000. The latter maile some slight changes in the disposition of his divisions to strenghten the left, against which it was expected the rebels would next hurl their greatly preponderatiug forces. With these preparations the troops rested in the bleak September air of the moun. tain region on the ground where they had so persistently fought.

At daybreak the armies were drawn up for battle, but a dense fog filling the valley and rendering objects invisible, it did not commence till near 8 o'clock. The time was improved by further strengtening Thomas, whose force now constituted about half of the entire army. Rude breastworks were also thrown up on his front, which afforded great protection in the subsequent battle. As soon as the fog disappeared the rebel squadrons moved up in an overwhelming charge. Thomas received the brunt of the onslaught. Bragg was again endeavoring to interpose his army between that of Rosecrans and Chattanooga, which the preceding day he had failed to effect. For a time the battle raged with frightful carnage and varying success. The rebels, however, when repulsed, continued to swarm up with fresh troops and augmented numbers, and at length threw themselves with such momentum on Thomas 'as to force him back. A new position was, however, taken and all further attempts to turn his flauk and get into Chattanooga proved abortive.

The right, in the meantime, had suffered irreparable disaster. Negley's and Van Cleves' divisions, having been ordered to the support of Thomas, opened a gap which the division commanders on the right were ordered to close, but owing to a misunderstanding in regard to the movement and the consequent delay, Longstreet threw Hood's command into the breach. The result was fatal. Davis' division moving up for the same purpose, was struck and severed by the blow which smote it. Palmer and Van Cleve on the opposite side, shared a similar fate, and soon the whole right wing crumbled into fragments, was sent in impotent disorder in the direction of Chattanooga. Rosecrans, with other prominent officers was swept along by the tide, and on arriving in the city he commenced preparations to defend the place and save the frag.

« AnteriorContinuar »