September 19 - 20, 1863
After the battle of Stones River in December of 1862 and January 1863, Rosecrans' Army of the Cumberland gained ground in Tennessee in the nearly bloodless Tullahoma campaign in the summer of 1863. In September Rosecrans' army advanced further, taking Chattanooga without a fight. Chattanooga was a vital to the Confederate war effort, and Confederate troops were rushed to the area, including nine brigades from the Army of Northern Virginia under Gen. Longstreet. The Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg increased from 35,000 men to 71,000 men.
Rosecrans' army was widely dispersed, so Bragg decided to strike the center column at McLemore's Cove. The operation failed and only alerted Rosecrans to his dangerous predicament. Bragg then failed to attack the northernmost Union column, and Rosecrans began to concentrate near Chickamauga Creek. Instead of waiting for all of Longstreet's men to arrive, Bragg chose to attack on September 19, 1863, believing he had the opportunity to strike before the Federals were completely concentrated. The Confederates forced crossings of Chickamauga Creek in order to move against the Union northern flank.
September 19, 1863 Bragg forces a crossing and attacks.
September 20, 1863 Bragg attacks and breaks through.
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