Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Siege of Chattanooga

There were times of short rations but in general the amount of food was adequate.  The only time the Seventeenth suffered a real shortage of food was during the time they were part of the Army of The Cumberland, and under siege in the area of Chattanooga, Tenn., in the fall of 1863.
                                                                                                                                   John Blackburn,
                                                                                                                                   Regimental Historian*

The retreat into Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga left the remnants of Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland isolated from their supply lines to the east as well as to the west.   The Confederates' hold on Lookout Mountain and the neighboring Wauhatchie Valley blocked resupply from Dechard and their position at Missionary Ridge prevented resupply from Knoxville.  

The Union chose to concentrate on Opening the Cracker Line, so named because of the Hard Tack wheat cracker that was the staple of a soldier's ration, and in a series of operations in and about the Wauhatchie and Lookout Valley finally were able to modestly supply the dwindling army as the sick and wounded continued to perish in Chattanooga.  

It became clear that, in order to save the Army of The Cumberland from certain defeat, Washington had to get involved.

The President's order of October 18th, which created the Military Division of the Mississippi with General Grant in command, placed General Thomas at the head of the Army of the Cumberland.  He assumed command formally on the 19th, and General Rosecrans having dictated a farewell to his army, left for Cincinnati before it was generally known that he had been relieved.

... In compliance with the President's order of September 28th, the Fourth  (Corps) was formed on the 9th of October, by the consolidation of the Twentieth and Twenty-first, and at the same time the Reserve Corps was attached to the Fourteenth.  ...  Under the new organization, there were three brigades in each division, designated as the First, Second and Third, and three divisions in each Corps, similarly distinguished.  Major-General Gordon Granger was assigned to the command of the Fourth Corps, and his division commanders in the numerical order of divisions were Major-Generals J. M. Palmer and P. H. Sheridan and Brigadier-General T. J. Wood.  **

The Seventeenth Kentucky Volunteer Infantry, remaining in Sam Beatty's Brigade, is now assigned to Wood's Third Division of Granger's Fourth Corps.

*    Blackburn, John, A Hundred Miles, a  Hundred Heartbreaks, 1972,  p.89
**  Van Horne, Thomas B., History of the Army of the Cumberland, 1875, pp. 394-395

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