Learning Lincoln On-line
FROM-- SET FOUR, CIVIL WAR STUDIES
Readings About the Great Battles of the Civil War #18-- Battle of Chikamauga
From Wikepedia at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chickamauga
The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19–20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in southeastern Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign. The battle was the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theater of the American Civil War and involved the second highest number of casualties in the war following the Battle of Gettysburg. It was the first major battle of the war that was fought in Georgia.
The battle was fought between the Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg, and was named for Chickamauga Creek, which meanders near the battle area in northwest Georgia (and ultimately flows into the Tennessee River about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) northeast of downtown Chattanooga).
After his successful Tullahoma Campaign, Rosecrans renewed the offensive, aiming to force the Confederates out of Chattanooga. 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's Cross Roads. Bragg was determined to reoccupy Chattanooga and decided to meet a part of Rosecrans's army, defeat it, and then move back into the city. On September 17 he headed north, intending to attack the isolated XXI Corps. As Bragg marched north on September 18, 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 September 19. Bragg's men strongly assaulted but could not break the Union line. The next day, Bragg resumed his assault. In late morning, Rosecrans was misinformed that he had a gap in his line. In moving units to shore up the supposed gap, Rosecrans accidentally created an actual gap, directly in the path of an eight-brigade assault on a narrow front by Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet. Longstreet's attack drove one-third of the Union army, including Rosecrans himself, from the field. Union units spontaneously rallied to create a defensive line on Horseshoe Ridge, forming a new right wing for the line of Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas, who assumed overall command of remaining forces. Although the Confederates launched costly and determined assaults, Thomas and his men held until twilight. Union forces then retired to Chattanooga while the Confederates occupied the surrounding heights, besieging the city.
Sept. 23d 1863
I am laying out in a cotton field & doing well. I am at present within Bragg's lines but hope to be exchanged at once, as thousands of others are today and yesterday. We have just got some rations sent by Rosecrans, the first since the fight. When I closed this note, we started and marched rapidly 8 miles or more, and all at once got into a most terrific fight. I was under fire several hours, and rallied the men of my company and of others several times. I brought the flag back more than once when we were driven — but it was of no avail. The enemy overpowered us and drove us back.
At the crisis I fell headlong among them, shot through the thigh in two places, and my clothes riddled besides. I am doing well, and I am I assure you in good spirits and suffered no pain — neither when wounded or since. I am weak as it bled freely — and the sinews are cut and bone jarred very much. I expect to forward this from Chattanooga — will write whenever I can; believe me I will suffer less from pain than you will from pity.