|The Battle of Chickamauga, fought September 19ľ20, 1863, marked the end of a Union offensive in south-central Tennessee and northwestern Georgia called the Chickamauga Campaign. The battle was the most significant Union defeat in the Western Theater of the American Civil War.
The battle was fought between the Union Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg, and was named for West Chickamauga Creek, which flows into the Tennessee River about 3.5 miles (5.6 km) northeast of downtown Chattanooga.
After his successful Tullahoma Campaign, Rosecrans renewed the offensive, aiming to force the Confederates out of Chattanooga. The three corps comprising Rosecrans's army set out for Chattanooga by separate routes. In early September, Rosecrans consolidated his forces scattered in Tennessee and Georgia and forced Bragg's army out of Chattanooga, heading south. The Union troops followed it and brushed with it at Davis's Cross Roads. Bragg was determined to reoccupy Chattanooga and decided to meet a part of Rosecrans's army, defeat it, and then move back into the city. On September 17 he headed north, intending to attack the isolated XXI Corps. As Bragg marched north on September 18, his cavalry and infantry fought with Union cavalry and mounted infantry, which were armed with Spencer repeating rifles.
Fighting began in earnest on the morning of September 19, and Bragg's men strongly assaulted but did not break the Union line. The next day, Bragg continued his assault on the Union line, and in late morning, Rosecrans was informed that he had a gap in his line. In moving units to shore up the supposed gap, Rosecrans created an actual gap, and Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's men promptly exploited it, driving one-third of the Union army, including Rosecrans himself, from the field. Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas took over command and began consolidating forces on Horseshoe Ridge and Snodgrass Hill. Although the Confederates launched determined assaults on Thomas and his men, they held until after dark. The Union retired to Chattanooga while the Confederates occupied the surrounding heights, besieging the city.
Location: Fort Oglethorpe, GA
Category: Historic Places
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