Essay Example on The Confederate army led by General Bragg









In September of 1863 the Confederate army led by General Bragg had settled down into Chattanooga with the Union forces led by general Rosecrans supposedly stationed across the Tennessee River right next to town Artillery from the river was constantly shelling the city and the Confederate army but besides that they could do nothing they would not dare to cross the river in front of the entire Confederate army However this artillery shelling was just a distraction General Rosecrans had actually sent his army across the river on another part of the river and was now headed towards Chattanooga This flanking maneuver pressured General Bragg to move his forces out of the city and to the south The Union s army would chase the Confederates down this way for some time Eventually the Confederates would stop their retreat and once informed of this Rosecrans stopped his advance as well Bragg waited at his position for a few days for reinforcements but they never came So he left without them Bragg had devised a plan to cut across Chickamauga Creek ironically translates to river of death in Cherokee and move to be north of the Union s army in McLemore's cove 

This would cut off the Union from their route back to Chattanooga leaving them isolated However the plan was not executed very effectively Since the creek was so steep at its edges Bragg had to rely on bridges to transport his men and most importantly his wagons across it At the bridges Union forces awaited them in attempts to resist any Confederate crossers At bridges defended by normal infantry brigades the resistance was fended off by the Confederacy easily However at Alexander s Bridge John T Wilder and his cavalry brigade were armed with 7 shot repeater rifles and held their bridge for several hours before pulling back After finally crossing the river the Confederate army camped down for the night while the Union army was on the move now having reports that the rebels had crossed the creek The following day the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War would begin lasting from September 18 20 1863 The first fighting took place on accident Bragg had sent reconnaissance units to the area and they encountered infantry sent to defend that location under the command of General Thomas Both General Rosecrans and General Bragg responded to the skirmish in a similar fashion sending their armies northward 

The forces would encounter each other because of this General Rosecrans moved his headquarters closer to the field but that didn't help his command much one problem that both Rosecrans and Bragg would encounter throughout the battle was that it was very hard to tell very much what was going on not only in terms of their own troops but especially the enemy's troops Not only did the smoke discharge from weapons cloud much of the battlefield as expected but the thick woodlands made it extremely hard to see into the distance This also meant that the troops in the fighting would not be able to see the opposing side until they were well within firing range meaning that commanders searching for enemy forces may be surprised to suddenly have a mass of enemies directly next to their flank This problem lasted the entire battle However on the plus side this bushland provided cover for soldiers so commanders could keep their forces at a higher strength for a longer duration of time before having to fall back The fighting throughout the first day was chaotic and confusing but was even more confusing as it turned dark A Confederate leader by the name of Patrick Cleburne sent his troops in to attack the Union soldiers just as darkness fell However all both sides had to fire at were the muzzle flashes of the opposing side meaning that accuracy was diminished almost entirely This engagement proved to be more disorienting and frightening than harmful for both sides especially since friendly fire was a prominent event

At the end of the first day rough estimates of casualties ranged from 6000 9000 Confederate losses and 7000 Union losses At night General Rosecrans called a meeting with his top commanders to attempt to determine their battle plan for the following day They decided that they had three options attack defend or retreat from the field After taking in reports of losses they determined that attacking was out of the question their units had been weakened way too much the previous day to be able to sustain more heavy offensive moves Politically retreating was also undesirable reporting a retreat to the president and entire Union at this point in the war would cause more trouble than it was worth Therefore they elected to defend their position The defensive positions Rosecrans planned out went as followed General Thomas would defend the left flank in a horseshoe formation with the intent of bearing the main assault Thomas was the appropriate man picked for the job known for his impressive defensive skills General McCook would protect Thomas s right flank forming the center of the defense Finally General Crittenden would remain in reserve and would be directed to the area under most heavy assault later in the day The ensuing night would drop below freezing providing terrible conditions for the soldiers To add on to the fact fires were not allowed

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