Volume XXIV Issue #3 • An Excerpt From:

The Chickamauga Campaign:
The Armies Collide

By William Glenn Robertson

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Note: All Blue & Gray feature articles are annotated.

Bragg Forces His Way Across Chickamauga Creek



The rebuilt Lee and Gordon's Mills on West Chickamauga Creek



The failure of Gen. Braxton Bragg’s bold effort to cripple the Federal XIV Corps in McLemore’s Cove on September 11, 1863 (see Maps, Pp. 10-11) did not break the offensive spirit of either the Army of Tennessee or its commander. After a few hours of fitful rest, Bragg was again issuing orders as early as seven o’clock the morning of the 12th. At that hour he directed Brig. Gen. Bushrod R. Johnson to continue shielding the army’s supply line by blocking any Federal push toward Dalton, Ga. If Johnson’s small brigade proved insufficient, he was to call upon the two brigades from Joe Johnston’s army arriving at Resaca, 13 miles south of Dalton (see Map, Pg. 12). Next, Bragg turned his attention back to McLemore’s Cove and Dug Gap, instructing the trusted Will Martin to picket the Pigeon Mountain gaps with part of his cavalry division and bring the remainder to La Fayette, Ga. By 8:30 a.m., Bragg had decided upon the next offensive action to take. Believing that Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Crittenden’s XXI Corps might be vulnerable, he resolved to send forces north from La Fayette to strike any elements of that corps that could be found. Accordingly, Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk was told to move Frank Cheatham’s large five-brigade division ten miles north on the Chattanooga road to Rock Spring Church. As soon as Polk’s other division, Thomas C. Hindman’s, could rest and cook rations, it was to follow Cheatham. Believing that he had set Polk in motion, Bragg turned to the task of rearranging his cavalry screen north of Rock Spring Church. Brig. Gen. Frank Armstrong’s cavalry division, which had been slowly pressed back beyond Lee and Gordon’s Mills on the previous day by elements of Thomas J. Wood’s Federal division, was to remain in contact with the Federals in its front. On Armstrong’s right, Brig. Gen. John Pegram was to deploy his two brigades in an arc stretching southeast toward the hamlet of Villanow, Ga., on the direct route from La Fayette to Resaca. When he learned around noon that Armstrong had broken contact with the Federals at Lee and Gordon’s Mills, Bragg sternly sent him forward again. If too much ground were given up unnecessarily, Bragg would not have enough space in which to maneuver successfully.1

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