Today in History:

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


battery on the knob and the enemy's batteries on Mission Ridge.

At 6 p.m. I received a dispatch of which the following is a copy:


General GRANGER:

The general commanding the department directs that you have everything ready for an offensive movement early to-morrow morning.

Chief of Staff.

One mile in front of our position, and almost parallel with it, was Mission Ridge, a line or "backbone" of rugged hills running from a point about 4 miles northeast of Chattanooga, where it juts toward the Tennessee River in a southwesterly direction until it dips into the valley at Rossville, 4 miles south of Chattanooga. It is of almost a uniform height along the part mentioned, rising about 500 feet above the valley that lies at its base. On the side looking toward Chattanooga it presents a bare, rough, and broken surface, marked by gullies and ravines. This mountain barrier, evens as nature planted it, was a most formidable fortress. The commander who held it might be warranted in the conclusion that troops could not storm it. But strengthened as it was by the enemy with a line of heavy breastworks running along its base, with two additional lines of rifle-pits, one partly girdling it midway up and the other fringing its crest, and with epaulements on the summit for fifty guns, it could well be deemed impregnable. Lying between Mission Ridge and Orchard Knob and the ridge to the right is a broad wooded valley, extending on the right to the southwestern end of the ridge, while to the left it extends beyond Orchard Knob, stretching toward the river and Chattanooga. From the end of the ridge last mentioned this valley sweeps around into the Chattanooga plain; that part of it, though, is almost altogether cleared of timber, leaving open ground for the most part between Mission Ridge and the position held by Major-General Sheridan's division. In front of Mission Ridge the enemy had cleared away the timber for a distance of from 300 to 500 yards, so as to leave no obstruction to a direct and enfilading fire from them. During the night of November 24, the enemy withdrew from Lookout Mountain and from Chattanooga Valley, and commenced to mass his whole force upon Mission Ridge. At daylight the next morning, November 25, Major-General Sherman having crossed the Tennessee River at the designated points, gained possession of the northern end of the ridge near the railroad tunnel. Long columns of the enemy could be seen before sunrise moving toward that point, and it was not late in the day before their brothers in arms away off to their left, on the northern end of the ridge. They saw these veterans from Vicksburg coming to their relief and engaging the same enemy who had beleaguered them for nine long weeks, holding them in their defensive works by strong lines of circumvallation that rested upon Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge and in the Chattanooga Valley, and that stretched like an iron crescent from the river on their right to the river on their left. As the day wore on, their impatience of restraint gathered force, and their desire to advance became almost uncontrollable; at last came the order to move.