Battle of Missionary Ridge
Chapter 39 (November 25, 1863)
Battle of Missionary Ridge
Wednesday November 25
On the morning after the battle, a mist covered the mountain and, as it cleared away, the top of Lookout could be seen by the troops down in the valley and in Chattanooga, whilst we, within a few hundred feet of the top, were still in the clouds of mist. During the night some of the boys crawled up to the top and thereon planted that grand old flag, the Stars and Stripes, which replaced the Confederate flag that had floated there so defiantly for a number of months.
The Rebel troops withdrew during the night by a road about 6 miles back from the peak of the mountain, and had gone across the valley to Missionary Ridge about three and a half miles away. Soon the clouds arose from the mountain and then we too saw Old Glory floating so proudly upon the mountain height. Then again cheering broke forth, echoing and reechoing all along the mountain side, thru its ravines and in the valley below us.
We were on the right flank of our army and on the left flank of the Confederate army, and were thus in a position to see almost the entire length of both lines of battle. It was cold at night and the fires made a sight never to be forgotten. Lookout Mountain was the key to the position of the Rebel army in the southwest, and let it be remembered that the authorities at Washington considered it a very important point.
Notice for one moment the great generals who participated in this battle, and those battles which immediately followed. Grant at the head of the list: (General Grant accompanied our White Star division as far as Ringgold, Ga.) Sherman, Hooker, Rosecrans, Thomas, McPherson, Chief of Artillery, General Hunt, Schoffield, Granger, Kilpatrick, Sheridan, the McCooks, and a host of others, any one of whom could have commanded this vast army in case of necessity.
From our position we could see the Yankee boys far away in the valley around Chattanooga, march hither and thither in battle array. The Rebels having established their line from Rossville Gap on their left to the Tennessee River, on their right along Missionary Ridge. We lay on the mountain side for several hours, thinking that perhaps our work was done, but not so. At about 10 AM we were ordered to fall in, when we slowly descended old Lookout, and the march across the valley to Rossville Gap was commenced.
General Grant’s headquarters was at Orchard Knob, while Sherman’s forces were near the Tennessee River and the railroad tunnel. Hooker, with Geary’s White Star Division, was advanced to Rossville Gap, where we arrived about 3:30 o’clock, when the battle opened in all its fury along the entire line.
Slowly the enemy was being driven in our front. While halting for a few moments a battery of artillery could be seen just a short distance in our rear, but hidden from the view of the Rebels by a clump of trees. When the captain of the battery and his bugler rode up to where we were, the bugle call was given for the battery to advance and in almost less time than I can tell it the spurs were put into the flanks of the horses and on they came at full gallop and close by our company halted, unlimbered their pieces and opened fire upon the retreating and much surprised foe.
We cheered lustily and advanced rapidly until Walthal’s brigade of Confederates was compelled to surrender. Just then General Hooker (always in front in battle) rode among us and we cheered for old fighting Joe. The Johnnies felt as tho they wanted a part in the fun also and took off their hats and cheered for Hooker. This was another great day for the Yankees.
Missionary Ridge was in our possession by sundown, along with many prisoners, artillery and other munitions of war. On our way from Lookout Mountain to the Ridge we passed Major Breckenridge (the son of former Vice President Breckenridge) who had just been captured. He looked very saucy and was well dressed, with high legged fancy boots and was a fine appearing fellow. When we passed the boys twitted him and someone said “Wouldn’t I like to go for that fellow’s boots?” “Hello, Johnnie Reb.” etc. But our officers soon stopped this annoyance. A signal station was placed just in the rear of our line from which place they kept signaling to Lookout Mountain and from there along our line of battle. And now comes the strange part. While on the mountain the previous night we so much admired the bright fires of the two great armies but we never thought that the next night we would occupy the enemy’s quarters along the ridge! Sleep where they had slept the night before and, as we carried no blankets with us, we were so glad for their quarters, as they sheltered us from the cold. Their tents were made by splitting boards. Shingles were used for the roof and here with plenty of fire we spent a pretty comfortable night.