The battles for Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge were fought Nov. 24-25, 1863.
Gen. U. S. Grant commanded 70,000 battle-hardened veterans. Confederate Braxton Bragg had 40,000 infantry and artillery spread out in a long and thin line to oppose Grant’s superior numbers and resources. (Bragg had sent his cavalry off on a raid and had detached Gen. James Longstreet’s corps in an attempt to capture Knoxville.)
Union Gen. Joseph Hooker with three divisions, 10,000 men, attacked Lookout Mountain on Nov. 24. The dense fog concealed his movements; his men were able to surprise and attack the Confederates from front and flank. From morning until noon, Gen. Edward C. Walthall’s brigade stoutly defended against Hooker’s large force. Walthall’s 1,489 Mississippians were deployed in a picket line a mile long with no reserves.
William Dillon, of the 4th Tennessee, was a witness to the action:
“About 9 a.m. cannonading commenced from Lookout…shortly after skirmishing…and in a short time the fighting became very heavy around the base of Lookout and continued all day long and at night until 10 o’clock. The enemy drove our men from their works on the side of Lookout and occupied them. The enemy with an overwhelming force…had taken advantage of a dense fog in the morning and had quietly advanced their lines to within a short distance of our works…there were only two small brigades of our men defending this place that should have been guarded by at least a division as it was key to our position on Missionary Ridge…after dark the sight from our camp of the battle on the side of Lookout was very grand – the quick flashes of the small arms and the brighter glare of the cannon through the intense darkness was a sight never to be forgotten.”
Belatedly, Gen. John C. Moore’s 1,200 Rebels reinforced Walthall that afternoon. With ammunition exhausted, Walthall’s men were pulled back when Gen. Edmund Pettus’ brigade of about 1,300 men joined the fight. Late into the night, the Confederates were forced to evacuate Lookout Mountain. Walthall had lost more than 800 men captured.
A Confederate defender later wrote:
“While in front the incessant blaze of musketry revealed a solid mass of blue coats pressing forward. The assailed were conscious of the unequalness of the combat, and their sense of disparity of numbers was increased by the imagination, which, aided by the unnatural darkness, multiplied the enemy and imparted to their weird forms superhuman proportions…it is here that the graphic description of a demoralized eye-witness belongs: ‘I heard a voice as if from the clouds shout: ‘Attention world! Fall in by Nations, and fire by States!’”
Tipton’s Confederate soldiers were not in the Battle of Lookout Mountain.
In a letter written a week later, John H. Sweet of Co. C, 9th Tennessee wrote:
“You cannot imagine the sadness that was depicted on the countenance of the boys as they heard of the surprise and capture of Lookout Mountain. We all considered it the Gibraltar of the South…”
Capt. James I. Hall, 9th Tennessee, of Mt. Carmel, wrote of the movement of Maney’s brigade:
“During the night, our corps marched along our lines across the Chattanooga Valley to our extreme right on Missionary Ridge. As the march was made in the night and hastily, our men who were on picket line in front could not be recalled and remained on guard until the next day…On the 24th, there was no fighting on our front, (Union) Gen. (William) Sherman was spending the day strengthening his position."
Continued next week