Monday, September 9, 2013

The Game Is Afoot

Note:  Much of the information regarding troop movements in these days before the Battle of Chickamauga are taken from pages 318-327 of Thomas B. VanHorn's History of the Army of the Cumberland:  It's Organization, Campaigns and Battles, 1992, Broadfoot Publishing Co., Wilmington, DE

Since January of 1863, Rosecrans and Bragg had been playing a game of cat and mouse throughout middle Tennessee, with Bragg as the mouse.  His series of tactical retreats following the Battle of Stones River were designed to keep his forces intact as he fell back to the prized city of Chattanooga.  Rosecrans, on the other hand, had the Army of the Cumberland spread from Nashville to Tullahoma, leaving brigades and /or divisions behind to garrison his newly won territory.

With fall approaching, both generals knew that a decisive engagement must come soon.  Neither could stand the political fallout that would follow another winter of inaction.  Bragg continued his southward movement, essentially leaving Chattanooga for the taking.  He prized the higher ground to the south and concentrated his army near Rossville, Georgia, just across Chickamauga Creek from Chattanooga.

On this day in 1863, possibly mistaking Braggs' withdrawal as a sign of weakness, Rosecrans orders General Thomas L. Critttenden, who had only recently departed McMinnville, Tennessee, to take Chattanooga.  Crossing the Sequatchie River north of Chattanooga, part of his XXI Corps entered Chattanooga from the north through Harrison and the remainderfrom the south via shelmound.  Crittenden sent Woods' Division to occupy the city and, pursuant to Rosie's orders, advanced the rest of his corps through Rossville and on to Crawfish Springs, Georgia on the trail of Bragg.  The Seventeenth Kentucky, being in VanCleve's Division, participated in this action with the head of the column reaching Rossville by this evening.

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