Major Highlights for the Week Wednesday, Sept. 16, 1863 Major General William S. Rosecrans was concentrating his Army of the Cumberland in the area of Lee and Gordon’s Mills on Chickamauga Creek, Ga., about 12 miles south of Chattanooga, Tenn. There were several days of skirmishing in the vicinity. Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to General Robert E. Lee expressing his concern over the withdrawal from Chattanooga and the “inexplicable” loss of the Cumberland Gap. He hoped that General Braxton Bragg would soon recover the lost ground.
Major Highlights for the Week
Wednesday, Sept. 16, 1863
Major General William S. Rosecrans was concentrating his Army of the Cumberland in the area of Lee and Gordon’s Mills on Chickamauga Creek, Ga., about 12 miles south of Chattanooga, Tenn. There were several days of skirmishing in the vicinity.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis wrote to General Robert E. Lee expressing his concern over the withdrawal from Chattanooga and the “inexplicable” loss of the Cumberland Gap. He hoped that General Braxton Bragg would soon recover the lost ground.
Thursday, Sept. 17, 1863
Action increased as the armies south of Chattanooga drew closer together. By nightfall, Major General William Rosecrans’s three corps were within supporting distance of each other. Confederate General Braxton Bragg had failed to prevent such concentration or mount an attack against isolated Federal elements on at least three different occasions. He blamed his officers and they blamed him. Bragg now planned to turn the Union left flank north of Lee and Gordon’s Mills, force Rosecrans back into the mountains, and get between him and Chattanooga. Part of Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s corps was just arriving from Virginia to assist Bragg, and plans were ready. However, Rosecrans understood Bragg’s moves and hurried to protect the roads to Chattanooga.
Friday, Sept. 18, 1863
CHICKAMAUGA CAMPAIGN BEGINS
Confederate General Braxton Bragg moved all but three divisions of his Army of Tennessee from the Ringgold, Ga., area across Chickamauga Creek, aided by a portion of Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s corps, which arrived in the morning from Virginia. Skirmishing between the Confederates and Federal cavalry broke out at Pea Vine Ridge, Alexander’s and Reeds’s bridges, Dyer’s Ford, Spring Creek and near Stevens’s Gap in Georgia. For his part, Federal Major General William Rosecrans moved Major General George H. Thomas’s corps of the Army of the Cumberland in a hard march northeast so that Bragg would not outflank the Federals towards Chattanooga. A major battle was now in sight.
In Washington, President Abraham Lincoln himself honorably discharged William “Duff” Armstrong from army service. As an attorney, Lincoln defended Armstrong in a famous murder case in 1858.
Saturday, Sept. 19, 1863
BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA BEGINS
Neither the Federal Army of the Cumberland under Major General William S. Rosecrans nor the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg was quite sure of the exact position of the other as they moved into roughly parallel lines west of West Chickamauga Creek, Ga. The section was densely wooded and concealed with underbrush. Federal Major General George H. Thomas sent part of his corps forward to investigate the enemy and ran into dismounted cavalry of Confederate Brigadier General Nathan Bedford Forrest, and actually opened the battle.
Fighting in the section grew more severe as other units joined in, and by afternoon the greater portions of both armies were engaged along a ragged three-mile line. Federal Major General Alexander McCook’s corps came from the south and Bragg was unable to penetrate between Chattanooga and the Federals, who held the roads to the city. Losses in the sporadic but heavy fire were high but results were negligible. At night, Rosecrans tightened his line and breastworks were built.
Sunday, Sept. 20, 1863
BATTLE OF CHICKAMAUGA ENDS
Daybreak on this fall Sunday in Georgia was supposed to see the Confederate drive renewed from the right, commanded by Lieutenant General Leonidas Polk. There was no attack until around 9:30 a.m., when Major General John C. Breckinridge’s division moved forward. The Union left under Major General George H. Thomas fell back, but held at the breastworks. Neither side gained or lost much from the heavy Confederate attacks until shortly before noon. Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s corps came in opposite the Federal center to discover a gap in the Union line. Longstreet’s corps hit and drove two Federal divisions away which cut the Union line and caused a major portion of it to flee in considerable disorder. Thomas managed to form a new line on a rounded eminence known as Snodgrass Hill, and held through the afternoon, repelling repeated Confederate assaults. It was here where Thomas received his nickname as the “Rock of Chickamauga.” Both sides fought until night when Thomas withdrew towards Rossville and the mountain gaps that led to Chattanooga. Even though the Union defensive was splendid, the battle was a Confederate tactical victory.
The Federal forces engaged approximately 58,000 troops and lost 1,657 killed; 9,756 wounded and 4,757 missing for an aggregate total of 16,170. The Confederates brought 66,000 troops into battle and sustained 2,312 killed; 14,674 wounded and 1,468 missing for a total of 18,454. The casualty rate for both sides stood around
Monday September 21, 1863
At Rossville, Federal Major General George H. Thomas, with the remnant of the defeated Army of the Cumberland, stood his ground all day. However, because of the danger of being flanked, Thomas retired to Chattanooga. By the next morning, the Federal Army occupied a good defensive position in and around Chattanooga. Confederate General Braxton Bragg ordered a pursuit but abruptly cancelled it, giving up possible greater fruits of victory. Bragg was in an excellent position to besiege the city. Fighting was listed as skirmishing at Rossville, Lookout Church and Dry Valley, Ga.
Tuesday Sept. 22, 1863
In the windup of the Chickamauga Campaign, skirmishing occurred at Missionary Ridge and Shallow Ford Gap near Chattanooga. Although Federal troops were in a strong position at Chattanooga, they were hemmed in by the mountains, the Tennessee River, and the Confederates, who held Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain which overlooks the city. Realizing that Federal Major General William Rosecrans needed reinforcements, three divisions of the Fifteenth Army Corps were dispatched from Major General Ulysses Grant’s army in Vicksburg.
In Washington, President Abraham Lincoln, already distraught over Rosecrans’s situation in Georgia, mourned the death of his Confederate brother-in-law, Brigadier General Ben Hardin Helm, who perished at Chickamauga.
Where Minnesota Regiments were the week of Sept. 16-22, 1863
1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Rejoined the Army of the Potomac near Culpeper, Va., where it remained until Oct. 9, 1863.
2nd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the Battle of Chickamauga.
3rd Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – Participated in the capture of Little Rock, Ark., where they remained for garrison duty until April 28, 1864.
4th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty at Helena, Ark., until Oct. 6, 1863.
5th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On duty at Bear Creek, Miss., until Oct. 14, 1863.
6th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry - On garrison duty in Minnesota until June 9, 1864.
7th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Minnesota until Oct. 7, 1863.
8th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Minnesota until May 24, 1864.
9th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Minnesota until Sept. 23, 1863.
10th Minnesota Volunteer Infantry – On garrison duty in Minnesota until Oct. 7, 1863.
1st Regiment Minnesota Cavalry “Mounted Rangers” – On duty at Fort Ripley and Fort Snelling until Dec. 7, 1863.
Brackett’s Battalion of Minnesota Cavalry – On duty in McMinnville, Tenn., until Sept. 30, 1863.
Hatch’s Independent Battalion of Cavalry – Organized at Fort Snelling and St. Paul. Companies A, B, C and D mustered in. On duty at Fort Snelling.
1st Minnesota Light Artillery Battery – On duty at Vicksburg, Miss., until April 4, 1864.
2nd Independent Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery – Participated in the Battle of Chickamauga.
3rd Battery, Minnesota Light Artillery - Four sections on duty at Pembina, Fort Ripley, Fort Ridgely and Fort Snelling until June 5, 1864.
2nd United States Sharpshooters, Company A – On duty in Virginia until Oct. 1863.