Thomas having secured Orchard Knob the night before, on the morning of the 24th Grant unleashed a coordinated attack on the whole length of the rebel front. Sherman took the north end of Missionary Ridge (though he would discover later that what he had taken was actually a disconnected knob off the end of the ridge; not quite the strong flanking position he thought he had. Nevertheless, it was a good start to the battle for the Union.
On the night of the 23rd November Sherman, with three divisions of his army, strengthened by Davis’ division, of Thomas’, which had been stationed along on the north bank of the river, convenient to where the crossing was to be effected, was ready for operations. At an hour sufficiently early to secure the south bank of the river, just below the mouth of South Chickamauga, by dawn of day, the pontoons in North Chickamauga were loaded with 30 armed men each, who floated quietly past the enemy’s pickets, landed, and captured all but 1 of the guard, 20 in number, before the enemy was aware of the presence of a foe. The steam-boat Dunbar, with a barge in tow, after having finished ferrying across the river the horses procured from Sherman with which to move Thomas’ artillery, was sent up from Chattanooga to aid in crossing artillery and troops, and by daylight of the morning of the 24th of November 8,000 men were on the south side of the Tennessee and fortified in rifle-trenches. By 12 m. the pontoon bridges across the Tennessee and the Chickamauga were laid, and the remainder of Sherman’s force crossed over, and at half past 3 p.m. the whole of the northern extremity of Missionary Ridge, to near the railroad tunnel, was in Sherman’s possession. During the night he fortified the position thus secured, making it equal, if not superior, in strength to that held by the enemy. By 3 o’clock of the same day Colonel Long, with his brigade of cavalry, of Thomas’ army, crossed to the south side of the Tennessee and to the mouth of South Chickamauga Creek, and made a raid on the enemy’s lines of communications. He burned Tyner’s Station, with many stores, cut the railroad at Cleveland, captured near a hundred wagons and over 200 prisoners. His own loss was small. Hooker carried out the part assigned him for this day equal to the most sanguine expectations. With Geary’s division (Twelfth Corps) and two brigades of Stanley’s division (Fourth Corps), of Thomas’ army, and Osterhaus’ division (Fifteenth Corps), of Sherman’s army, he scaled the western slope of Lookout Mountain, drove the enemy from his rifle-pits on the northern extremity and slope of the mountain, capturing many prisoners, without serious loss. Thomas, having done on the 23rd with his troops in Chattanooga what was intended for the 24th, bettered and strengthened his advanced positions during the day, and pushed the Eleventh Corps forward along the south bank of the Tennessee River, across Citico Creek, one brigade of which, with Howard in person, reached Sherman just as he had completed the crossing of the river. When Hooker emerged in sight of the northern extremity of Lookout Mountain, Carlin’s brigade, of the Fourteenth Corps, was ordered to cross Chattanooga Creek and form a junction with him. This was effected late in the evening, and after considerable fighting. Thus on the night of the 24th our forces maintained an unbroken line, with open communications, from the north end of Lookout Mountain, through Chattanooga
Valley, to the north end of Missionary Ridge.