October 27 - November 25, 1863
With Rosecrans' Union army decisively defeated at Chickamauga and greatly demoralised, Braxton Bragg failed to pursue vigorously. Foregoing the options of direct assault or bypassing the enemy, Bragg loosely besieged the Union army in Chattanooga from a position based on Missionary Ridge about three miles from the city. Although never completely cut off, the Union army was in desperate danger and was slowly starving. Surrender or destruction of the army would have been a complete disaster for the Union cause that could have ultimately led to Confederate independence. To relieve the situation, US Grant was put in charge of relief efforts.
From Sunset Rock
This is the view looking west from Sunset Rock on Lookout Mountain, a vantage point used by Gen. Bragg. Grant's first priority was to open up a good supply line into Chattanooga, and the obvious route was along the Tennessee River, visible on the right of the picture. This is Moccasin Bend, and Chattanooga is up the river off the picture to the right. On October 27th, a brigade floated down river and defeated a small Confederate force at Brown's Ferry. This opened up a decent supply line into Chattanooga. The next day, Hooker's corps emerged from the gap in the mountains on the left of the picture and occupied the valley. Bragg observed the movement from this point and ordered Longstreet to attack, which he did that night. The fighting was naturally confused, and the single division that Longstreet used was inadequate for the task. With a regular supply line and more troops arriving, the Federals now had the advantage.
On November 23rd, Grant began to press his advantage. He ordered his Chattanooga troops to advance and capture Orchard Knob in front of Missionary Ridge. On the 24th, the action moved back here. In the valley on the right of the picture Hooker attacked the Confederates defending the lower slopes of Lookout Mountain and pushed them back to the northern end of the mountain.
Touring Note: Getting around on Lookout Mountain is difficult and confusing. Just finding Sunset Rock is difficult. If you visit Point Park, you must first extricate yourself from the one way streets there. Sunset Rock is located off West Brow Road, which is directly connected with the one-way road near Point Park, but it is blocked off. You must start driving back down the mountain, then turn right somewhere to find your way over to West Brow Road. The area is purposely poorly marked to discourage visitors. This is no doubt because Sunset Rock drops 90 feet but doesn't have a rail! Although scary, it is a rewarding and historically important site. On a clear day, the view must be considerably better.
The Confederates at the foot of Lookout Mountain were pushed back here to the Cravens House where they made a stand. When the Yankees stretched their line uphill to the cliffs off the picture to the left, they flanked the Confederate line, and in fighting known as the Battle Above the Clouds, captured the mountain.
Chattanooga From Lookout Mountain
This view gives a good feel for the area terrain. The 1863 city was much smaller, and was confined to the bend in the river. This is where much of the Union army had been holed up. Bragg's army was on Missionary Ridge visible on the right half of the picture. With Bragg's situation deteriorating, on November 22nd he sent troops northeast toward Knoxville where they would join Longstreet then hopefully defeat Burnside and threaten Grant's rear. With Grant's capture of Orchard Knob on the 23rd, these Confederate troops were ordered back. Enough of them made it back in time to give the Yankee effort a serious challenge. Grant's plan was for Sherman to advance under cover to the hills on the left of the picture, cross the river and attack the Confederate right flank on Missionary Ridge while Hooker attacked the Confederate left.
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