Today in History:

73 Series I Volume XXXI-II Serial 55 - Knoxville and Lookout Mountain Part II



December 12, 1863-10 a.m.

General Grant has just sent for me, to say that he was shes me to go to Washington to represent more fully his views and wishes with regard to the winter campaign. As the matter is important, I start this afternoon; but if you think it unnecessary for me to come, contrary orders will reach me at any point on railroad.

[C. A. DANA.]

Honorable E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

Numbers 6.

Report of Brigadier General William F. Smith, U. S. Army, Chief Engineer.

Nashville, Tennessee, January 19, 1864.

GENERAL: I have the honor to submit the following report of engineering operations done with reference to the battle of Chattanooga, November 23,24, and 25:

Frequent and careful reconnaissances had determined that Missionary Ridge, from the tunnel to the Chickamauga, was not occupied by the enemy, and that a passage of the river could be forced at the mouth of the Chickamauga.

General Grant having determined to attempt seizure of that portion of the ridge, the preparatory steps were, first, to put the works at Chattanooga in a defensible condition, in order to allow a comparatively small force to hold that place, and thus to bring every available man into the field. Do to this heavy details were made and kept constantly at work before the battles, so that on Saturday, November 21, the works were all in a condition to defy assault. Second, bridge material had to be collected for two bridges, and put in convenient positions for use. There was in the Department of the Cumberland one regular bridge train, which was scattered from Bridgeport to Chattanooga. This, by the strenuous exertions of Lieutenant George W. Dresser, Fourth Artillery, was collected in the vicinity of Brown's Ferry by Wednesday, November 17. The two saw-mills in my charge were also run night and day, and a new bridge started, under the superintendence of Captain P. V. Fox, Michigan Engineers. The river at the point selected to throw the bridge was at the time of measurement 1,296 feet in width, and the current gentle, so that no trouble was anticipated in the mechanical part of the operation.

In order to afford facilities for the occupation of the north bank of the creek and to allow a cavalry force to break the railroad between Knoxville and Dalton, the Chickamauga also required bridging at its mouth. This stream was about 180 feet in width, with a sluggish current. The North Chickamauga, which is a stream emptying into the Tennessee River on the right bank about 8 miles above Chattanooga, offered such facilities for launching the boats, that it was determined to put them in the water there and float them down, loaded with soldiers, to the point of crossing, as an operation quicker, and more quiet than that of launching them at the place of passage. By Friday night, November 20, 116 boats were in the creek, furnished with oars and crews, the creek cleared of snags to its mouth, and all the citizens in the vicinity put under strict guard to prevent the information getting to the enemy.