Today in History:

134 Series I Volume XXXI-II Serial 55 - Knoxville and Lookout Mountain Part II

Page 134 KY.,SW.VA.,Tennessee,MISS.,N.ALA.,AND N.GA. Chapter XLIII.

Baird opportunely arrived with his division, and went into position on our left. When the enemy came up a sharp contest here commenced, which afterward lasted until dark. After the Seventeenth Kentucky Infantry had wheeled to the left and fired a few volleys into the enemy's flank, thereby immediately relieving Baird's right, I directed General Wood to form his division on the ground it then occupied, for the purpose of resting his men and getting them also ready for the anticipated pursuit of the enemy.

Two and a half miles straight forward from the ridge, held by General Wagner and Colonel Harker at dark, is Chickamauga Creek. From this point it runs toward the north end of Mission Ridge, which was held by Major-General Sherman; then, sweeping around the same, it flows in a northwestern direction for a short distance and empties into the Tennessee River. Taking the north end of Mission Ridge as the apex, and the ridge and Chickamauga Creek as sides, we have an acute triangle. It was my design, as soon as the troops were sufficiently rested, to move, and, as soon as I could procure guides, to push Sheridan's division, supported by Wood's down Moore's road, and, if possible, get possession of the crossings of Chickamauga Creek; then, swinging my column around, to move toward the north end of Mission Ridge. By this movement I expected to capture many prisoners, together with wagon trains and artillery that could not get over the creek in time to be saved by the enemy. The night was favorable for this movement, as the moon shone clear and bright. At 7.15 p.m. I sent a dispatch to Major-General Thomas, informing him that I thought we could cut off a large number of the enemy by making a bold dash upon the Chickamauga, moving down the roads that led from our front, and that I was in readiness for any disposition that he might be pleased to make. Being, to my great disappointment, unable to procure guides acquainted with the country between the ridge and the creek, I was not able to commence the movement until midnight, so that by the time General Sheridan reached the creek the rear guard of the enemy was just crossing. The enemy was so closely pursued, however, that he was obliged to burn his pontoon bridge before all of his forces could cross the creek, leaving several hundred of them to fall into our hands as prisoners. We also captured a large number of wagons loaded with quartermaster's supplies, together with caissons, limbers, small-arms, artillery ammunition, &c.

In accordance with orders received from Major-General Thomas, I withdrew the troops from this pursuit before daylight, to make preparations to start on forced marches for the relief of Major-General Burnside at Knoxville.

The bold and successful attempt to storm Mission Ridge, the results that followed, the short time consumed in beating back the enemy, and the fruits of the victory, were such as to render this one of the most remarkable battles of the age. The ridge was taken after a hard struggle, and those who looked on from below were unable to tell which division or what regiment first reached its summit, for along my whole line many regiments appeared to dash over the breastworks on the crest at the same moment. Although it took but one hour to gain the ridge, my command lost 20.21 per cent. of the forces engaged, in killed and wounded. For the particulars of the casualties, I refer to the tabular statement of the same herewith filed. We captured thirty-one pieces of artillery and 3,812 prisoners.

General Sheridan reports 1,762 prisoners taken by his division,

Page 134 KY.,SW.VA.,Tennessee,MISS.,N.ALA.,AND N.GA. Chapter XLIII.