Today in History:

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


Cumming, as senior officer present, being placed in command of the two brigades. I was advised by the lieutenant-general commanding to transfer my headquarters to the Craven house, and subsequently to the camp just vacated by him.

Having thus, without the slightest premonition-not only a large portion of the troops, but even the permanent commander having been removed-been placed in command at night, at a most critical period, over a wing of the army, with whose position and disposition, as I have already stated, I had enjoyed no opportunity of making myself acquainted, I at once used every exertion to gain the necessary information by sending every officer of my staff and devoting the whole night myself to riding over and examining the lines. I found the position at which General Hardee advised me to establish my headquarters to be on the eastern side of Chattanooga Creek, some distance beyond the extreme right of my line, and at least 2 1/2 miles from the base of the mountain. The distance and the fact that the situation was most unfavorable for personal observation determined me to return to the mountain, which afforded this advantage in the highest degree, and I accordingly addressed you the appended communication (A).

On my way back I examined the whole line, and at sunrise reached the Craven house. I found the troops in position as assigned by Lieutenant-General Hardee. Moore's brigade was bivouacked along the eastern side of the mountain near the Craven house, Walthall's on the northwestern slope in front of the Craven house. After examining the ledge I became satisfied that no tenable line could be established on the northwestern slope, so completely was it commanded by batteries which the enemy had erected for the purpose, and that the only feasible plan of defense was for Walthall's, in case the enemy should cross the creek and attack him, to fall back fighting upon Moore on a line near the Craven house, holding them in check until the only movable force that I had could be sent to assist. This would expose the enemy to a flank fire at short range from the crest of the mountain on which I proposed to deploy the remainder of my force not engaged in guarding the passes on the west side as sharpshooters. Accordingly, after seeing General Moore and conversing with him upon the subject of his line and his ability to ability to hold it-of which he spoke with some confidence-being informed that all was quiet on that line, I went to the top of the mountain to make what I conceived to be the proper disposition of the troops there. I directed Brigadier-General Brown, then commanding my division, to hold the larger portion of Pettus' brigade ready to move at moment's notice to any point to which it should be ordered. I thus provided, as well as the means at my disposal permitted, either for an attack upon Cumming or Jackson.

Immediately upon my arrival on the mountain I directed the lookouts at the point to keep a close watch and advise me of any movement the enemy might make.

About 10 a.m. I received from Brigadier-General Jackson the communication (B) written him by General Walthall, and soon afterward was informed by the men at the point that there was some picket firing on Lookout Creek. I immediately rode to the point to see what was going on. The enemy had by felling trees constructed three temporary bridges over the creek and in a short time forced a passage. The troops as they crossed formed to cover the passage of the remainder. I immediately sent a staff officer of General Hardee