Monday, November 25, 2013

November 23, 1863 Monday): Grant Takes Orchard Knob

Grant's HQ (Library of Congress)

ORCHARD KNOB, November 23, 1863-3 p.m.
General THOMAS:
     The enemy's rifle-pits in front, 1,200 yards, very strong and filled with rebels. They cannot be carried without heavy loss.

     G. GRANGER,

NOVEMBER 23, 1863-4.15 p.m.
General THOMAS:
     Heavy columns are passing to our left to the front of Howard. They have double lines of rifle-pits in his front.


FROM THE POINT, November 23, 1863-5 p. m.
    I observed closely the movements of the enemy until dark. An object seemed to be to attract our attention. All of the troops in sight were formed from center to left. Those on their right moved to center. The troops from Raccoon were in line in full sight. If they intend to attack, my opinion is it will be upon our left. Both of their bridges are gone.*


No demonstration anywhere upon line so far as heard. Signal corps thinks they have advanced nearly to road leading down from Simonton [Summertown?]. They have opened from their batteries
*Copy of this found also among the Thomas papers as of 11 p. m.

Honorable E. M. STANTON,
Secretary of War.
CHATTANOOGA, November 23, 1863-8 p.m.
     Our casualties are about 75 in all, including both killed and wounded. After 4 p.m. rebels opened artillery from top of Missionary Ridge; the total number of cannot they displayed about twelve, all small caliber. Just before dark they displayed a force on our left where Howard had taken up his position. Nothing shows decisively whether enemy will fight or fly. Grant thinks latter; other judicious officers think former. River has risen 5 feet since yesterday morning. Enormous quantities of drift. Both Chattanooga bridge and Brown's Ferry bridge broken. Current furious; difficult to anchor pontoons firmly. Woods' division still remains in Lookout Valley.

    [C. A. DANA.]
    Honorable E. M. STANTON,

Camp opposite Chickamauga, November 23, 1863.
Major General U. S. GRANT,
    DEAR GENERAL: I received your letter at the hands of Captain Audenried, and immediately made the orders for the delay of twenty hours. I need not express how I felt, that my troops should cause delay, but I know Woods must have cause, else he would not delay. Whitaker's and Cruft's troops fill the road, doubtless, and it must be a ditch full of big rocks. But Ewing is up, and if possible Woods or Osterhaus (for I got an orderly in the night announcing that he had overtaken and would resume command to-day) will be also. But in any event we will move at midnight, and I will try the Missionary Ridge to-morrow morning, November 24, in the manner prescribed in my memorandum order for to-day. I will use the Second Division in place of the First as guide, and Jeff. C. Davis' division will act as reserve, and bring me forward the artillery as soon as the bridge is put down. I will try and get out at least six guns in the first dash for the hills.
     As you ask for positive information, I answer: No cause on earth will induce me to ask for longer delay, and to-night at midnight we move. What delays may occur in the pontoons I cannot foretell. I will get Jeff. C. Davis to make some appearances opposite Harrison, to make believe our troops are moving past Bragg to interpose between him and Longstreet.
     Every military reason now sanctions a general attack. Longstreet is absent, and we expect no more re-enforcements, therefore we should not delay another hour, and should put all our strength in the attack.
     Yours, truly,

     W. T. SHERMAN,

Official Records, Series I., Vol. 31, Part 2, Pages 23, 66, 103, 674.

Based on reports from deserters that Bragg was withdrawing some of his brigades, Grant became convinced Bragg was reenforcing Longstreet.  To prevent this Grant sent 14,000 men to engage a rear guard of only 600 Confederates at Orchard Knob.  The rebels fired a volley and were over run.
Grant established his headquarters in this new position and waited for a chance to renew the attack with Sherman's newly arrived troops in the morning.

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