September 8, 1863: Preparing to enter Chattanooga

Map of Chickamauga

Rosecrans is getting multiple reports that Bragg has pulled out of Chattanooga, no doubt because Rosecrans has crossed the Tennessee and is now threatening Bragg’s rear. He informs Halleck. I’ve reproduced some of the dispatches from various subordinates describing the situation — all the infantry and artillery have left Chattanooga, which is held now only by cavalry. Rosecrans’ troops plan to move on Chattanooga in the morning, but Rosecrans is a bit testy with Maj. Gen. Stanley for not getting his cavalry forward more quickly.

(Received 3.15 p.m., 9th.)
Major General H. W. HALLECK,

Information to-night leads to the belief that the enemy had decided not to fight us at Chattanooga. Our reconnoitering to-day shows that he has withdrawn his pickets on Lookout Mountain, opposite and below us. Our troops are moving into Stevens’, Frick’s, and Winston’s Gaps. McCook and Stanley start to-morrow with advance to reconnoiter toward Broomtown Valley, and Crittenden to gain the summit of Lookout, south of Chattanooga, with a reconnaissance in force, holding his corps ready to enter the place, if practicable, Granger closed up to Stevenson and Bridgeport with four brigades.



Major-General THOMAS,
Fourteenth Army Corps:

GENERAL: The general commanding directs me to say that one of our most reliable scouts just in confirms the reports that the enemy are retreating. General Crittenden has been ordered to send two strong reconnoitering parties on Lookout Mountain to-morrow, and he directs that you send the Ninety-second Regiment Illinois mounted Infantry along the ridge road to communicate with the commanding officer of General Crittenden’s troops. You can support this regiment with infantry if you think best. The general commanding directs that General Brannan’s command be held in readiness to support General Crittenden should it be necessary.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Major and Aide-de-Camp.


HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE CUMBERLAND, Trenton, Ga., September 8, 1863-11 p.m.
Major-General McCOOK, Comdg. Twentieth Army Corps:

From all the evidence before us it appears that the enemy is evacuating Chattanooga and moving south; a part of his force has already reached the northern spur of Missionary Ridge. We must know as speedily as possible what route he is taking. To effect this purpose the general commanding directs you to send one brigade of infantry to support one brigade of calvary which is ordered to go out on the route taken by General Crook till it reaches the Chattanooga road, and move thence northward as far as the southern spur of Missionary Ridge, and, by a thorough reconnaissance, ascertaining the where bouts and direction of the enemy. In view of the delay in the expedition which the calvary was ordered to make, the order directing it is revoked, and the consequent modifications are made in the order you received to support the cavalry movement.

In addition to the above you will send one brigade to support a brigade of cavalry which is ordered to move on Alpine and reconnoiter the Broomtown Valley to Alpine, and from there as far toward Summerville as may be safe and useful. Your infantry support need not proceed farther than the foot of the mountain toward Alpine. A thorough reconnaissance must be made and the movements of the enemy ascertained, and no time must be lost in making it. The general in your front in force, and look well to the roads leading southward on the mountain.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.


WAGNER’S HEADQUARTERS, September 8, 1863. (Via Shellmound, 8 a.m.)
General WOOD:

I will to-day make a demonstration at Friar’s Landing, and also will shell the enemy in your front. They have two batteries at the foot of Lookout Mountain and strong works to fight them in. I don’t think you can carry them unless we can do something from this side, and we can’t get nearer then a mile. Have a dispatch from Colonel Minty. He says Burnside is in Knoxville; that Buckner has joined the forces here or is doing so; Loudon Bridge is burned, and thinks the Hiwassee Bridge is also burned; Burnside’s cavalry is at Washington and Post Oak Springs and leaves for Athens. I have a dispatch from their advance. Colonel Byrd says there is still a large force in Chattanooga – I think Cheatham’s division. I have sent men across to your command, it they do not get captured.



DEPARTMENT HEADQUARTERS, September 8, 1863-10 p.m.
General WAGNER:

Your dispatch of 5.20 p.m. yesterday is received. General Crittenden has been ordered to occupy Chattanooga in the morning early and push forward in vigorous pursuit. The general commanding directs you to cross the river immediately with all the forces under your command in the Sequatchie Valley and report to General Crittenden to join in the pursuit. Supply your command with five days’ rations, taking what ammunition and other things you need in marching rapidly over mountains, and leave the remainder at their leisure to join the train of the corps.

Lieutenant-Colonel and Assistant Adjutant-General.


1863-7.45 p.m.
Brigadier-General HAZEN:

GENERAL: I send you copy of a dispatch from General Wagner, now at the river opposite Chattanooga, for your information.

Colonel WILDER:

The enemy have certainly left. We have two guns on the river bank. There is no person here but a few sharpshooters. Colonel Monroe says he saw 150 cavalry down at Lookout. No reply to the artillery. Major Connolly saw to-day about a brigade of cavalry passing from Chattanooga toward Lookout Mountain. I have not head from Wood. It is too late to do anything to-day. I want to see you to arrange a plan of crossing; if we had a boat there we could take possession of the city to-night. I think this much [sic] the regiment placed to cross, we can cover the crossing with artillery.


This dispatch was received since dark.

I am, general,very truly, your obedient servant,
Captain and Assistant Adjutant-General.


HEADQUARTERS U. S. FORCES, Opposite Chattanooga, September 8, 1863-10 p.m.
Brig. General WILLIAM B. HAZEN:

GENERAL: Try to ascertain certainly whether the enemy are crossing or attempting to, as Colonel Minty seems to think. If so, or if you think there is a probability they will cross, Colonel Minty must be re-enforced, so as to prevent it, for it will not do to have a raid made upon the railroad at this time. Colonel Wilder would have attempted to cross in the morning, but I have directed him to await further information from Colonel Minty, for if he needs help Colonel Wilder must send it. Send me by return your opinion fully.

All of the infantry and artillery, so far as we can tell, have left the vicinity of Chattanooga, but quite a force of cavalry are to be seen. I have not heard from General Wood to-day. Do not know what has become of him. We can at any time enter Chattanooga. Get all ready to cross over.

Your obedient servant.
Brigadier-General, Commanding.

This is written in the wood;not sure you can read it.
G. D. W.


Major General D. S. STANLEY,
Chief of Cavalry:

GENERAL: I have a messenger from General Crook asking for turpentine, but whether for horse medicine or bridges does not appear.
The messenger brings nothing from you,but I learn from him that your command lies at the foot of the mountain on this side, intending to move in the morning. I am sorry to say you will be too late.

It is also a matter of regret to me that your command has done so little in this great movement. If you could do nothing toward Rome, nor toward the railroad, you might at least have cleared the top of Lookout Mountain to Chattanooga and established a patrol and vedette line along it, which I should have ordered had I not trusted to your discretion, expecting something more important to be done. But what is worse than this, you had peremptory orders to move, which were reiterated yesterday, expecting you would move this morning. It appears that the enemy have sent a large infantry and cavalry force to Alpine. Your cavalry ought to have full patrol from your position to that place. This you do not appear to have done. Had you gone according to orders you would have struck the head of their column, and probably inflicted on them irreparable injury. So far your command has been a mere picket guard four our advance. Orders accompany this, which I hope to see effectually executed. Let me always hear from you fully. Why have you not supplied your command with means of burning bridges and destroying railroads?
Very respectfully,your obedient servant,

Major-General, Commanding.

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