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2016 Seminar in the Woods

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  • 2016 Seminar in the Woods

    On March 11 and 12 I had the honor to participate in the 2016 Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park Study Group's Seminar in the Woods, led by CCNMP Park Historian Jim Ogden and Dave Powell, author of several recent books on the Battle of Chickamauga.

    On Friday, the 11th Instant, we took a bus tour of the Federal 21st Corps deception north of Chattanooga which was intended to divert Bragg's attention from the bulk of the Army of the Cumberland's crossing of the Tennessee River to the west of Chickamauga. The tour commenced with an examination of Rosecran's detailed orders for the movements of his army.

    Winchester, Tenn., August 15, 1863.
    I. The Fourteenth Army Corps, Major-General Thomas, will move as follows: Two divisions to a good camping ground north and in vicinity of Stevenson; two divisions into the Sequatchie and Battle Creek Valleys, in supporting distance of each other, near Jasper and north of Battle Creek. The divisions will take their ammunition, and not less than eight days rations, and forage for not less than five days. The sick will be sent to Nashville or left at Cowan, with one regiment for a guard, until they can be sent to Nashville. This regiment will also furnish guards for the depot at Cowan, the railroad bridge, and the tunnel. A regiment of infantry will be left to guard the depot at Tracy City, whence the left wing of the Fourteenth Army Corps will draw its supplies, for at least five days to come.

    General Thomas will provide rapid and certain communication between his right and left wings by courier and signal, or both combined; his right wing will draw supplies from the railroad; his staff officers, for the purpose, will correspond with and get orders from the proper chiefs of the department staff.

    The whole corps must be in position and report of the position must be at these headquarters by Wednesday evening next.

    General Reynolds will send his mounted brigade, under special instructions to be issued from these headquarters, to make a demonstration on Chattanooga and Harrison's Landing. A mounted force from the Fourteenth Corps will be left at Tracy City sufficient to protect the telegraph operator and act as couriers. The movement must begin to-morrow morning.

    II. The movements of the Twenty-first Army Corps will be as follows: Woods division, by the most expeditious and practicable route, to Therman, in the Sequatchie Valley, with ten days rations and eight days short forage. Palmers division, by the best route to Dunlap, believed to be through Irving College. Van Cleve will move with two brigades of his division and Minty's cavalry brigade; he will move the main body of the cavalry via Sparta, clearing out the rebels from Caney, and encamping the first night at or near Sparta, moving the next day on Pikeville. Two battalions of cavalry will accompany the infantry column, which will move, via Spencer, on Pikeville, and reaching there by Tuesday. Thus the whole corps and cavalry, save a brigade of Van Cleves division and a battalion of cavalry, will be in the Sequatchie Valley by Wednesday night, and open communication between divisions, and from the corps to these headquarters via McMinnville on the left and Tracy City on the right. Van Cleve will leave a battalion of cavalry at or near Sparta to watch the flank of his route, and give warning of rebel guerrilla or cavalry movements in that direction. On arriving at Pikeville, he will without delay push a strong cavalry reconnaissance, if possible, to the Tennessee River, via Morganton and Smiths Cross-Roads, to Blythe's Ferry and Washington, and get forward their reports without delay.

    General Palmer will on Thursday push a brigade of infantry to Soddy Post-Office, and send advances to Poe's Tavern, and on the direct road to Harrison's, supporting Colonel Wilder's reconnaissance, which will endeavor to reach the river on that day, opposite Chattanooga and Harrison's Landing. This brigade may have the show of the head of the column, by following it with a part of an other brigade and a battery to some intermediate point.

    General Wood will also send an infantry brigade, to make a reconnaissance as far as the eastern edge of Walden's Ridge, by the road through Therman, showing the head of his column opposite Chattanooga.

    These reconnaissances will be conducted with a show of modest concealment, indicating strength. The results must be sent to headquarters with the utmost dispatch; arrangements to insure this end must be made in advance. Should any threatening force of the rebel infantry appear, the reconnoitering parties will hold them selves in observation on the front, and report for orders. If they show nothing this side, but a strong force on the east side of the river, they will post an advance guard within observing distance, and take a good position near the valley, where all the trains will be left until further orders. Should perfectly satisfactory evidence be found that the enemy has evacuated the country and gone south, these advances should go to the river and guard it, while looking for all available means of crossing and report back information and for orders.

    Each division commander will divide his trains into three sections and replenish the haversacks of the troops from these sections successively, sending back the empty wagons for supplies to McMinnville, or Tracy City, should we succeed in placing enough subsistence at that point. Great pains must be taken to organize these trains under competent officers, adequate guards, and staff.

    III. The Twentieth Army Corps will move as follows: Johnson's division by the Bellefonte road to a camp near that point, where he will select a convenient camp, concealed from the observation of the enemy, and open communication with his corps headquarters at Stevenson by Wednesday night.

    General Davis' division will move by the best intermediate route over the mountains, down Raccoon Cove, and select a good camp for forage and water, near the railroad, between Mud and Raccoon Creeks, or its vicinity, and post himself in communication with the corps headquarters at Stevenson by Thursday.

    IV. The cavalry movements will be as follows: Minty's brigade will act under orders of General Van Cleve, according to special instructions of the general commanding. The chief of cavalry with the reserve brigade will follow the general headquarters, and will have special instructions for the remainder of the cavalry, which will be given him by the general commanding.

    V. The Reserve Corps will move as follows: An advance to Fayetteville to protect the depot; a column of two brigades of infantry and all the spare cavalry to Athens; an advance to Decatur, to be called the advance of the Reserve Corps, numbering 25,000 strong, and to remain there in observation with all means of transportation and movement on hand for advancing to cover our rear on the Tennessee, or protecting any point threatened within this State.

    VI. The garrison at Carthage will at once be moved-except a regiment to be left as depot guard-and take post at Alexandria, cover the line of Caney Fork, and communicate with McMinnville, the garrison of which will be relieved by this brigade as soon as practicable. This Carthage brigade, with Stokes' cavalry, will draw subsistence from Carthage until further orders. A line of telegraph will be constructed from Gallatin to Carthage as soon as more pressing wants of the service are attended to.

    VII. Subsistence for the right wing of the Fourteenth Army Corps, for the Twentieth Army Corps, for the cavalry, the pioneers, and headquarters, will be drawn either from the railroad or from the depot at Stevenson. For the left wing of the Fourteenth Army Corps, for the Twenty-first Army Corps, and the cavalry with them, subsistence will be drawn either from Tracy City or McMinnville. Corps and division commanders will be expected to keep up their supplies as near as possible to the amount with which they start.

    VIII. These headquarters will move to Stevenson on Tuesday next.

    Corps and division commanders are enjoined to observe as much reserve and secrecy and celerity as possible, and will take the utmost care to keep open communication with the parts of their commands and with these headquarters. They will see that plenty of horseshoes, nails, ropes, and paulins are taken along to replace breakages, and furnish means to improvise boats for crossing streams and even rivers.

    The depots and lines of communication will be in charge of Maj. Gen. Granger, who will give such orders as may be necessary for their protection, and to insure the prompt forwarding of supplies.

    By command of Major-General Rosecrans:
    Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General.

    (Copies sent to Major-General Thomas, Major-General McCook, Major-General Crittenden, Major-General Stanley, Maj. Gen. G. Granger, and Brigadier-General Garfield.)

    Official Records, Ser. I, Vol 30, Pt 3, pp 35-38
    These orders are exceptionally detailed, indicate which divisions should be where at what time, how much rations and forage to carry, specify where the corps are to draw their supplies, etc.

    The first stop on the bus tour was at Boynton Park on Cameron Hill in present day Chattanooga on the south side of the Tennessee River. In 1863, it was the site of a Confederate fortification and two 30-lb Parrott Rifles are now mounted there. The bus tour then drove up the Sequatchie Valley which lies between the Cumberland Plateau and Walden's Ridge. After stopping at Thermans and Dunlap (mentioned in the orders above), we crossed Walden's Ridge and stopped at Poe's Tavern and near the site of Harrison, which is now submerged by the damming of the Tennessee River. The last stop on the tour was on the north side of the Tennessee River, overlooking Chattanooga where Eli Lilly's battery's (of Wilder's mounted infantry brigade) bombardment was discussed as well as why Bragg did not significantly dispute the Federal movements north of the city.

    That evening we had additional discussion regarding the movements of the 21st Corps, led by Historian Ogden, Author Powell, and CCNMP Ranger (and author) Lee White.

    On Saturday morning, we hiked the battlefield, exploring the path of Van Cleve's division on the 19th. That afternoon, we followed the course of Breckinridge's attack on the 20th.
    Don't leave good whiskey for the damn Yankees!" John Hunt Morgan, Eagleport, Ohio, July 23, 1863

  • #2
    I hate I couldn't make it ! Maybe next year.
    I do not wish to have the slave emancipated because I love him, but because I hate his master."
    --Salmon P. Chase


    • #3
      Work & some other issues prevented my showing up as well.....I did get to spend Wednesday with Dave-we drove around the Resaca battlefield & visited several spots in Dalton as well. Glad to hear all went well!
      The muffled drums sad roll has beat the soldier's last tatoo. No more on life's parade shall meet that brave and fallen few.


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