The Fight For Tennessee: July 1863 to January 1864

Siege of Chattanooga

How did Grant’s first action go?

He was no longer at the front, or even close. Grant had become too valuable for that. He was in Chattanooga, using his spy glass to observe, and things went well right from the beginning. The Confederates at the base of Lookout Mountain were surprised, then stunned, by the two-division attack that came on October 28, 1863. The only thing the Confederates had going their way that morning was that Colonel William C. Oates and his feisty Alabamian regiment—the same men who had attacked Little Round Top on July 2, 1863—were in the vicinity. Oates led a charge against the Federals, but when he went down with a wound that cost him a leg, the fight went out of his men. By later afternoon, the Federals had a pontoon bridge across the Tennessee River, and two days after that they had another, bridging the so-called Raccoon Peninsula. A new route for supplies was opened up, and Union men inside of Chattanooga cheered wildly, claiming that the “cracker line” had been established (this referred to the hunger which preceded the successful action and the men’s desperate desire for any food, even crackers).

The battle at Chattanooga, Tennessee, marked the end of the last defensive position in Tennessee for the South. Grant successfully routed Bragg out of the state, and with this defeat, the South was ripe for an invsion deep into its territory.


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