Friday, September 20, 2013

Chickamauga, Sept. 20, 1863 (Part 1)

At daybreak on Sunday an impenetrable mist covered the field of battle, obscuring the armies; but the sun rose in the sky like a huge blood-red ball, gliding along the mountain tops, and soon dispelled the mist.  [Blackburn, page 127]

Rosecrans met with his commanders at the Widow Glenn's cabin the previous night and reallocated his troops.  Thomas was to take charge of the left and Negley's division would be moved from their position at Brotherton's northward to his support, leaving McCook to take charge of the right (essentially fortifying Negley's abandoned position at Brotherton's Field).   The two remaining divisions of General Crittenden's XXI Corps would be held in reserve at Dyer Field with Wood in front and Van Cleve forming the second line. [Powell and Friedrichs, page 140]

By 8:00 AM, Negley had moved to Thomas' support and Crittenden's units had  formed in Dyer Field, abandoning the fortifications they had built through the night, but McCook's men had made little movement for their positions of the previous night.  Brotherton's was unprotected. After dressing down Negley for moving too quickly, Rosecrans found McCook still at the Widow Glenn's and chastised him for his inactivity.
[Powell and Friedrichs, page 142]

 By 9:00 this had become a crisis and an agitated Rosecrans ordered Wood forward from his position in Dyer Field. Wood formed his division along a line behind the crest of Brotherton's Field, finally covering Negley's exposed right .  Wood realized that his division would not quite cover the frontage abandoned by Negley and so requested and was granted the loan of Barnes' brigade from Van Cleve's division.  This move left Van Cleve alone in reserve with just the brigades of Dick and Beatty and he was ordered to a position behind Wood with the instructions to advance and engage wherever he should find an open spot in the lines.  [Powell and Friedrichs, page 144]

It was about this time that Thomas, still fearful of being out flanked on his left, ordered Brannan's division northward to support Baird, mistakenly believing that Brannan was held in reserve.  Once again, Thomas' initiative created a problem for Rosecrans by shifting resources to the north.  Meanwhile Longstreet, without making a move, now fronted Brotherton's with overwhelming force as well as dominating the Federals' right flank. [Powell and Friedrichs, page 146]

McCook had yet to move from his overnight position.

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