Monday, September 30, 2013

September 24, 1863 (Saturday): The Roads At Chattanooga

Chattanooga and Environs (Battles & Leaders)

BOB WHITE'S HOUSE, September 24, 1863-7 p.m.
Brigadier-General GARFIELD, Chief of Staff:
     GENERAL: I am here at the forks of the Haley trace and Cut-off roads. The road to the foot of the mountain from here is very rough and steep. The road from the foot of the mountain to Chattanooga is pretty good, but I can wiggle a road through that will be 50 per cent, better, and have so far fixed all my points.
     The crossings of Big and Little Suck Creeks will in any case have to be bridged, but not until I locate the points at which to cross.
     The cut-off is described as a mere path, but can be made a better road than the Haley trace. I shall explore both and the river road to-morrow. I shall keep in view all your instructions and decide on the best. The road I came over to foot of this mountain is exposed to fire for 5 miles from other side of river. If the enemy occupy the other side of the river, the road would be difficult in a military point of view, but I think we can occupy the Raccoon strongly with a small force to furnish patrols for safety.
     I am of opinion that there is another trace besides the Haley and cut-off. I shall not give this thing up until I get the best. I learn that the river road round this mountain is 10 miles longer than any other.
My proposed improvements of the road to this point are practical. I do not contemplate any great or expensive undertaking, but what can be done with comparatively small labor and expense. I expect Mr. Kelley, the surveyer, here by daylight, at which time I shall start, leaving word with the courier stations-whenever I find them-my probable location. Do send me the news.
     Very respectfully.


Official Records, Series I., Vol. 30, Part 3, Page 813.

This letter gives some idea of the logistical challenges facing the two armies.  Rosecrans was stunned (Lincoln said like a "duck hit in the head") and besieged physically and psychologically.  The roads around Chattanooga were often, as described here, merely traces.  Meanwhile, Bragg had fired Polk and Hindman for their inaction at Chickamauga, and his officers were circulating round robbins aimed at having him removed from command.  All roads, on both sides, lead to confusion and inaction.  Arthur Ducat, the Inspector General, was a leading insurance executive after the war and was a noted expert on fire prevention.

No comments:

Post a Comment