Page images



to It may be interesting to notice how it was discharged in the 36th, and how the many dissatisfactions experienced by other regiments were avoided. Both now and when we were paid off at Cowan, the following course was adopted : Notice having been given through the regiment, each man prepared his letter, with the money enclosed ; then each company reported in turn at the Chaplain's tent, where several officers were present to assist him. Each letter was emptied of its contents and the amount entered on a roll—the letters being filed away. When this was done, and the amount on the roll and the amount of cash were found to agree, the money was refunded to the Paymaster, who issued his draft on Louisville for the total sum, and then all risk of loss by capture of the train was avoided. On reaching Louisville, the Chaplain drew the full amount from the U. S. Depository and replaced the necessary sum in each letter. On reaching Chicago, all letters that could not be delivered in person were sent out by express, the agent signing the receipt roll, and the rest were conveyed to the families personally, they signing the roll also. By this simple means all misunderstandings were avoided and entire satisfaction was secured. The amount thus distributed this time was about $17,000.

As the men were suffering so much for lack of warm clothing, the Chaplain obtained permission from headquarters to bring back with him a box of goods, not exceeding five hundred pounds, not loubting that friends at home would gladly fill such a box with socks and mittens. Everything being arranged, he was sent over in an ambulance to Kelley's Ferry, on Wednesday, Nov. 18th, taking the evening boat, which arrived at Bridgeport in the night. He there found that Gen. Sherman had been rowed down the river in a small boat; had started his troops forward with all haste, and that the previous evening a force had crossed

the river to penetrate the Trenton Valley, and thus begin that series of movements which in just one week drove the enemy from Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge.




N ONE respect, at least, the great battles of Chattanooga were in marked contrast to Chickamauga. The latter was fought on ground which afforded no points of view from which the nature and progress of the struggle might be seen and directed, and every division, and sometimes each brigade, had, in a sense,

to fight alone. As a consequence, not only was the general conduct of the battle hindered, but the troops were deprived of that moral support which comes from the knowledge of what others are doing, and the consciousness that their own conduct is observed by the rest of the army. These conditions were now to be exactly reversed, for if the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge will always furnish one of the most thrilling stories of the war and of modern times, it is partly because the theatre of those battles was such as not only to give



scope for great generalship and wise direction, but also to evoke from every soldier all the heroism and patriotism of which he was capable. A brief description of this theatre is absolutely essential to a correct understanding of the struggle by those who were not present. Every 36th man knows full well that country, and carries in his own remembrance a picture of it which will perish only with his life.

One of the inost prominent objects in that semi-circle of works erected by our army in front of Chattanooga was Fort Wood, remarkable not only for its great size and strength, but because from its location admirably adapted to reach the enemy's line even to the summit of Mission Ridge. From this fort the most comprehensive view of the situation could be obtained. Standing on the parapet, the town in the rear, the general line of our works reaching from the river above the town to the river at the foot of Lookout was plainly visible, with lesser works for the grand guards and the pickets in front. The most prominent object, of course, was Lookout Mountain, which seems to stand guard over this whole region, go where we will. From Fort Wood it is nearly five miles, though appearing only two, and from its summit the Southern flag waved and heavy guns boomed from day to day. In front, stretching away to the north, as far as the eye could see, to the south and south-east, until nearly touching Lookout, is Mission Ridge, itself a high mountain range but appearing low in contrast with Lookout. In front of this ridge, broken by detached hills, is the Chattanooga Valley, which sweeping south, turns to the south-east through a narrow opening between the ridge and Lookout range.

Of these detached hills which break up the valley, the principal one is Orchard Knob, directly in front of Fort Wood and half way between it and Mission Ridge, while a little to the south was the beautiful

mound shaped hill which afterwards was devoted as a national cemetery. All along the front, on the top of Mission Ridge, across the valley and on the top of Lookout, could be seen the tents and camps of the enemy, while directly in front of Fort Wood on the top of the ridge, Bragg's headquarters was in plain sight, with the flag waving over it. Through the valley, from north to south and in front of our line, were entrenchments for the grand guards and pickets of the enemy, and those on Orchard Knob and vicinity were quite strong works. On the north end of Mission Ridge he had a position of great strength protecting his railroad communications, while Lookout on his extreme left was regarded as unassailable, although Hooker held the valley below.

It was on Friday, the 20th of November, that the army in Chattanooga received orders looking to the coming battle, although, as we have just seen, movements had already been made from other points. On that day, every man was to be ready for action with two days' cooked rations in haversack and eighty rounds of ammunition. Dr. Lytle was detached from the regiment and placed in charge of Division Hospital No. 2, and the musicians, &c., were ordered to be ready with stretchers, to carry off the wounded from the field. Saturday, the 21st, was the day fixed for the attack, but a heavy rain commenced on the 20th and continued through the 21st, making it impossible for Sherman to get into position on our left. Indeed, it is but just to have it understood that not only the day fixed for the battle was changed, but the whole plan of attack was so modified by circumstances beyond control, that the final issue was entirely different from the original intention of Gen. Grant, and several of the most important movements did not enter into his plans at all. The original plan contemplated the principal movement to be



made by Sherman against the position of the enemy on the north end of the Ridge; the Army of the Cumberland to concentrate toward the north end of the Ridge, and ultimately join with Sherman in dislodging the enemy from it altogether. Hooker was in the meantime to hold Lookout Valley, but no attempt was to be made to take the Mountain. On the 22nd, a further postponement was necessary, in consequence of the parting of the bridge at Brown's Ferry, preventing two of Sherman's Divisions from crossing.

It was then that Gen. Thomas suggested the moving of Howard's Corps to join Sherman and the using of the divisions left behind in an attempt to take Lookout. Howard was accordingly moved into Chattanooga and took his place to the left of the Fourth Corps. All this day the troops were in an excited condition, and Fort Wood shelled Mission Ridge heavily. Deserters came in who said that troops had been sent to McLemore's Cove, and that there were indications that Bragg was about to retreat. This, joined to the fact that on the 20th he had notified Grant to remove all non-combatants from the town, induced the latter to order a reconnoisance, to find out whether Bragg was retreating or not. This reconnoisance proved to be the real opening of the battle, and its results were such as to have a marked effect on the subsequent movements.

It was about noon of the 23rd that the order was received to “Fall in," and Sheridan's Division was formed in line in front of the breastworks—to the right of Wood's Division, which was to lead the movement by a demonstration against Orchard Knob, while our Division was to act as support. It was a grand and imposing sight, as these divisions moved out in plain view of the enemy and started forth on their desperate task. It must have been that Bragg thought his position too strong for even

« PreviousContinue »