Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20, 1863 (Friday): Grant Plans An Asault.

Summit of Lookout Mountain

Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
CHATTANOOGA, November 20, 1863- 11 a.m.
    One brigade of John E. Smith's division, of Sherman's army, crossed the Brown's Ferry bridge just before dark last evening, leaving the other brigades 5 or 6 miles behind in Lookout Valley. They were moved over during the night, and got out of sight on the road to the proposed place of landing, but the operation was performed so slowly that it was impossible to get Howard's corps over until after daylight. As Ewing's division moves from Trenton down the valley this morning, all in full view of the enemy, he will understand that he is to be attacked. As yet, however, there is no evidence that Bragg surmises where the precise point is that is to be assailed. There are to be only two attacking columns, the idea of a demonstration on Lookout Mountain having been abandoned. Sherman's column will consist of his own troops and part of Jeff. C. Davis' division, not over 20,000 men in all.  The co-operating column from here, moving across Citico Creek, will be 18,000 men, under Granger. Howard's corps is posted north of the Tennessee, ready to cross at Sherman's bridges or at the bridge here, to support the one or the other column. A brigade and a half of Stanley's division comes from Shellmound and Bridgeport to take the place in Lookout Valley vacated by Howard, or possibly a brigade from this division may be added to Howard's reserve. Sherman's landing will be covered by eighty guns from the heights north of the Tennessee. The ground where he lands is bottom, a little more than 2 miles wide before reaching the ridge he is to seize and occupy. Bragg's total force here cannot exceed 50,000 men, and, judging from the great number of deserters, they are not as dangerous as formerly.

      [C. A. DANA.]

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 2, Pages 61-62.

Sherman had just arrived with 20,000 men from Vicksburg.  Grant, Sherman, and Thomas planned an attack by Sherman against the northern end of Missionary Ridge, supported by Thomas in the center.  Hooker was supposed to capture Lookout Mountain and then move across the valley to Rossville, Georgia where he would block Bragg's retreat route.  Grant was, at this point, still not entirely convinced of the plan.  Bragg was not aware of how much danger his center was in and was not prepared for what was about to come.  Dana, who wrote this memo, was a journalist who visited the armies at the behest of Secretary of War Stanton.  His role was to give feedback to Stanton on the condition of the armies and the capacity of their commanders.


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