Main Western Theater of The American Civil War - Tullahoma, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga (June–December 1863)

Tullahoma, Chickamauga, and Chattanooga (June–December 1863)

Middle Tennessee Operations
  • Dover
  • Thompson's Station
  • Vaught's Hill
  • Brentwood
  • 1st Franklin
Streight's Raid in Alabama and Georgia
  • Day's Gap
Tullahoma Campaign
  • Hoover's Gap
Morgan's Raid in Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio
  • Tebbs Bend
  • Lebanon
  • Corydon
  • Buffington Island
  • Salineville
Chickamauga Campaign
  • 2nd Chattanooga
  • Davis's Cross Roads
  • Chickamauga
Knoxville Campaign
  • Cumberland Gap
  • Blountville
  • Blue Springs
  • Campbell's Station
  • Fort Sanders
  • Bean's Station
Reopening the Tennessee River
  • Wheeler's Raid
  • Farmington
  • Brown's Ferry
  • Wauhatchie
  • Chattanooga
Operations on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad
  • Collierville
  • Wheeler's Raid
  • Farmington
  • Brown's Ferry
  • Wauhatchie
  • Lookout Mountain
  • Missionary Ridge
  • Ringgold Gap
Operations about Dandridge
  • Mossy Creek
  • Dandridge
  • Fair Garden

After his victory at Stones River, Rosecrans occupied Murfreesboro for almost six months while Bragg rested in Tullahoma, establishing a long defensive line that was intended to block Union advances against the strategic city of Chattanooga in his rear. In April, Union cavalry under Col. Abel Streight moved against the railroad that supplied Bragg's army in Middle Tennessee, hoping it would cause them to withdraw to Georgia. Streight's brigade raided through Mississippi and Alabama, fighting against Nathan Bedford Forrest. Streight's Raid ended when his exhausted men surrendered near Rome, Georgia, on May 3. In June, Rosecrans finally advanced against Bragg in a brilliant, almost bloodless, campaign of maneuver, the Tullahoma Campaign, and drove Bragg from Middle Tennessee.

During this period, Brig. Gen. John Hunt Morgan and his 2,460 Confederate cavalrymen rode west from Sparta in middle Tennessee on June 11, intending to divert the attention of Ambrose Burnside's Army of the Ohio, which was moving toward Knoxville, from Southern forces in the state. At the start of the Tullahoma Campaign, Morgan moved northward. For 46 days as they rode over 1,000 miles (1,600 km), Morgan’s cavalrymen terrorized a region from Tennessee to northern Ohio, destroying bridges, railroads, and government stores before being captured; in November they made a daring escape from the Ohio Penitentiary, at Columbus, Ohio, and returned to the South.

After delaying for several weeks in Tullahoma, Rosecrans planned to flush Bragg out of Chattanooga by crossing the Tennessee River, heading south, and interdicting the Confederate supply lines from Georgia. He began operations on August 18 and used a two-week bombardment of Chattanooga as a diversion. The Confederate high command reinforced Bragg with a division from Mississippi and a corps (Longstreet's) from Virginia. Rosecrans pursued Bragg into the rugged mountains of northwestern Georgia, only to find that a trap had been set. Bragg started the Battle of Chickamauga (September 19–20, 1863) when he launched a three-division assault against the corps of George H. Thomas. A command misunderstanding allowed a major gap to appear in the Union line as reinforcements arrived, and Longstreet was able to drive his corps into that gap and send the Union Army into retreat. If not for the defensive stand by a portion of the line led by Thomas ("The Rock of Chickamauga"), the Union Army would have been completely routed. Rosecrans, devastated by his defeat, withdrew his army to Chattanooga, where Bragg besieged it, occupying the high ground dominating the city.

Back in Vicksburg, Grant was resting his army and planning for a campaign that would capture Mobile and push east. But when news of the dire straits of Rosecrans's Army of the Cumberland reached Washington, Grant was ordered to rescue them. On October 17, he was given command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, controlling all of the armies in the Western Theater. He replaced Rosecrans with Thomas and traveled to Chattanooga, where he approved a plan to open a new supply line (the "Cracker Line"), allowing supplies and reinforcements to reach the city. Soon the troops were joined by 40,000 more, from the Army of the Tennessee under Sherman and from the Army of the Potomac under Joseph Hooker. While the Union army expanded, the Confederate army contracted; Bragg dispatched Longstreet's corps to Knoxville to hold off an advance by Burnside.

The Battles for Chattanooga began in earnest on November 24, 1863, as Hooker took Lookout Mountain, which is one of two dominant peaks over the city. The next day, Grant planned a double envelopment of Bragg's position on the other mountain, Missionary Ridge. Sherman was to attack from the north, Hooker from the south, and Thomas was to hold the center. But Sherman's attack bogged down in confusion, and Grant ordered Thomas to launch a minor attack as a diversion to relieve pressure on Sherman. Thomas's troops, caught up in enthusiasm and anxious to redeem themselves after their humiliation at Chickamauga, continued their initial attack by charging up the imposing ridge, breaking the Confederate line and causing them to retreat. Chattanooga was saved; along with the failure of Longstreet's Knoxville Campaign against Burnside, politically sensitive eastern Tennessee was free of Confederate control. An avenue of invasion pointed directly to Atlanta and the heart of the Confederacy. Bragg, whose personal friendship with Confederate President Jefferson Davis saved his command following his defeats at Perryville and Stones River, was finally relieved of duty and replaced by General Joseph E. Johnston.

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