Battles & Leaders of the Civil War
NOTES ON THE CHICKAMAUGA CAMPAIGN.
HOUSE OF MR. J. M. LEE, CRAWFISH SPRINGS, ROSECRANS'S HEADQUARTERS BEFORE BATTLE.
CHATTANOOGA was the indispensable key to all the objects committed to the Army of the Cumberland, and General Halleck planned two widely separated movements toward their accomplishment. General Burnside, starting from the Ohio River with one column, was to cross the mountains of eastern Kentucky. To overcome the great advantage of the enemy's position and works, and secure at one blow a decisive victory, General Rosecrans conceived a series of brilliant movements from Murfreesboro' where his four corps were concentrated. On the 23d of June he began the formidable operations which sent the enemy out of middle Tennessee and left our army at the western base of the Cumberland mountains.
General Rosecrans halted there till the 16th of August, and between him and Halleck the question of delay was renewed with spirit. Rosecrans justly urged that, before crossing the Tennessee River, his right and rear ought to be protected by the part of our army made idle by the surrender of Vicksburg, because the enemy's superiority in cavalry forced him constantly to weaken his line of battle, to protect the long line over which supplies were brought to him. This sound view, however, did not prevail, and if General Bragg had perceived the advantage to him of Halleck's error I am sure that the peremptory order by which Rosecrans was sent across the Tennessee River and into the mountains between Bridgeport and Chattanooga would have proved disastrous.
If Bragg had stubbornly defended his several positions, he certainly could have retained Chattanooga and assumed the offensive, for reenforcements soon made his army larger than. ours. It would have been rash for Rosecrans to move his force on the theory that the enemy would not defend at least some of the formidable positions that now separated the two armies. He had to assume that his adversary's conduct would be stubbornly defensive.
On the 16th of August he put his army in motion, crossed the Cumberland mountains, and caused his main columns to appear at several points on the river, the extremes fifty miles apart.
These movements so deceived Bragg that he was comparatively harmless where we really wished to cross ; and by the 4th of September the army, followed by its artillery, wagons, and beeves, safely reached the south bank of the Tennessee River.
Then, throwing as much energy into his movements as though he had approved them, Rosecrans promptly marched upon Chattanooga.
With but slight opposition his columns wound through the defiles of Raccoon Mountain and came to the western base of the Lookout range.
On its highest point the enemy's signal-flags were seen announcing to Bragg in Chattanooga the presence of our army. There are only three routes by which armies can cross the range, respectively 2 miles, 26 miles, and 42 miles south of Chattanooga. Unless Bragg should defend these passes, he could remain in the town only to surrender, because the two more distant routes would give us