Friday, September 20, 2013

Battle of Chickamauga 150th, Day 2

A print -- more artistic than accurate -- of the Battle of Chickamauga by Kurz and Allison.

20 September 1863 -- 150 years ago today -- the sun rose on a second day of vicious fighting between US General Rosecrans' Union Army of the Cumberland and CS General Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee along the banks of the Chickamauga Creek in North Georgia.

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Morning action at Chickamauga, 20 September 1863 [Credit: Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

Rosecrans had used the night hours to contract the Union lines along the LaFayette Road, in order to present a stronger defensive front.  US General Thomas, commanding XIV Corps and the Union left, requested more troops to bolster that end of the army -- anticipating Bragg's attempt to cut the Army of the Cumberland off from the safety of Chattanooga to the north.  Starting at 9:30AM, and lasting until about 11AM, the Confederate Wing of Lt. General Polk battered the Union left, but failed to crush it.

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Mid-day action and the collapse of the Union right, 20 Sept 1863. [Credit: Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

It was the mid-day attacks of James Longstreet's wing -- and the famous "gap" formed in the Union lines by miscommunication causing Union General Wood's shifting his troops out of the battle line -- that, starting around the Brotherton Farm in the center of the lines, caused the right of the Union Army of the Cumberland to crumble.

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The final phase of the battle, evening of 20 September 1863. [Credit: Drawn in Adobe Illustrator CS5 by Hal Jespersen. Graphic source file is available at]

Famously, while William Rosecrans fled the field, swept away with the right of his army, US General George Thomas oversaw the stubborn resistance of the remaining pieces of the Union army on Snodgrass Hill.  This action allowed the Union Army of the Cumberland to withdraw to Chattanooga, and foiled CS General Bragg's hopes of cutting the Yankees off from the north and their supply lines.  Thomas would soon replace Rosecrans as commander of the Army of the Cumberland, and earned the name: "Rock of Chickamauga."

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Virginia-born US General George Thomas, "Rock of Chickamauga."

The cost was high for a battle that failed to destroy the Union army as Bragg hoped: the Union lost some 16,000 casualties out of 60,000 to the Confederate 18,500 out of 65,000 in their victory.

This campaign left the Union Army of the Cumberland stunned and downtrodden in Chattanooga, and the Confederate Army of Tennessee battered but victorious on the heights around that city.  It would only to the arrival of a confident commander like U.S. Grant, however, to turn the momentum back the other direction, as would happen in November...

For more details, you might note:

Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park official site

NPS Battle Summary: Chickamauga

Civil War Home: Chickamauga Campaign (including official reports)

Live well!

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