The Fight For Tennessee: July 1863 to January 1864

Siege of Chattanooga

Why is it sometimes called Lookout Mountain and sometimes called Missionary Ridge?

The topography around Chattanooga was daunting to the soldiers and map-makers of both sides, but it also presented some of the most splendid sights of the war. For many years after, Union and Confederate soldiers alike would wax about the beauty of the area surrounding Chattanooga.

From the Confederate lines, atop Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, there was an unparalleled view of the beauty of southern Tennessee. Gazing directly below, the Confederates saw the town of Chattanooga and almost the entirety of the federal forces. Looking to the horizon, they saw the mountains of central Tennessee, the area from which they had been chased by General Rosecrans four months earlier. From the Union point of view, standing in the town of Chattanooga, there was almost nowhere to gaze but “up.” South and southwest of the town was forbidding Lookout Mountain, towering 1,300 feet above sea level. East and south of the town was Missionary Ridge, which, while not as high as Lookout Mountain, was even more formidable because of its length. There were other promontories, such as Orchard Knob, and the chances are that some of the soldiers got the names reversed at times. But for the journalists on hand, and there were quite a few, the fighting in and around Chattanooga provided, perhaps, the most sublime scenery of the entire war. In their dispatches to the newspapers, they made the most of it.


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