Tuesday, October 22, 2013

September 21, 1863

September 21, 1863

--- Chickamauga Campaign: In Northern Georgia, Bragg has his army bury the dead and take care of all the wounded, rather than pursue the fleeing Army of the Cumberland.  Gen. Thomas has stopped at Rossville, and begins digging in.  Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest’s mounted troopers harass the retreating Yankees, and he sends back urgent messages, insisting that “every hour is worth a thousand men,” urging Bragg to send infantry to attack Thomas, whose forces are in disarray---but Bragg ignores Forrest’s entreaties. 

Gen. Rosecrans immediately begins strengthening the city’s fortifications.  He sends messages back to Washington that Bragg is in full retreat, but that he also needs Burnside, with his small Army of the Ohio, to march to Chattanooga without delay from Knoxville, which Burnside has just captured.  But Burnside tells Washington that his forces are spread out over eastern Tennessee, and that he has little to send.

---President Lincoln writes a letter to Gen. Halleck, with the strong suggestion that Gen. Rosecrans be sure to hold on to Chattanooga:



I think it very important for General Rosecrans to hold his position at or about Chattanooga, because if held from that place to Cleveland, both inclusive, it keeps all Tennessee clear of the enemy, and also breaks one of his most important railroad lines. To prevent these consequences is so vital to his cause that he cannot give up the effort to dislodge us from the position, thus bringing him to us and saving us the labor, expense, and hazard of going farther to find him, and also giving us the advantage of choosing our own ground and preparing it to fight him upon. The details must, of course, be left to General Rosecrans, while we must furnish him the means to the utmost of our ability. If you concur, I think he would better be informed that we are not pushing him beyond this position; and that, in fact, our judgment is rather against his going beyond it. If he can only maintain this position, without more, this rebellion can only eke out a short and feeble existence, as an animal sometimes may with a thorn in its vitals.

Yours truly,


---Gideon Welles, the U.S. Secretary of the Navy, writes in his journal, worried about the President and the results of the battle in Chickamauga:

The President came to me this afternoon with the latest news. He was feeling badly. Tells me a dispatch was sent to him at the Soldiers’ Home shortly after he got asleep, and so disturbed him that he had no more rest, but arose and came to the city and passed the remainder of the night awake and watchful. He has a telegram this P.M. which he brings me that is more encouraging. Our men stood well their ground and fought like Union heroes for their country and cause. We conclude the Rebels have concentrated a large force to overpower Rosecrans and recapture Chattanooga. While this has been doing, Halleck has frittered away time and dispersed our forces. Most of Grant’s effective force appears to have been sent across the Mississippi, where a large force is not needed. Burnside is in northeastern Tennessee, two hundred miles away from Chattanooga. While our men are thus scattered, a large division from Lee’s army in our front has been sent under Longstreet to Bragg. . . .

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