Skip to content

1863 December 5: General Grant—“Lookout Mountain top, all the rifle pits in Chattanooga valley, and the Missionary Ridge entire, have been carried and are now held by us”

December 6, 2013

“News of the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge from The Polk County Press of December 5, 1863.

After their disastrous defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga, the 40,000 men of the Union Army of the Cumberland under General William S. Rosecrans retreated to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee besieged the city, threatening to starve the Union forces into surrender.  Bragg’s troops established themselves on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, both of which had excellent views of the city, the Tennessee River flowing through the city, and the Union’s supply lines.  Union forces under General Joseph Hooker assaulted Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee, on November 24, 1863, and defeated Confederate forces commanded by General Carter L. Stevenson.  Lookout Mountain was one engagement in the Chattanooga battles between General Ulysses S. Grant’s Military Division of the Mississippi and the Bragg’s Confederate Army of Tennessee.  The battle drove in the Confederate left flank and allowed Hooker’s men to assist in the Battle of Missionary Ridge the following day (November 25), which routed Bragg’s army, ending the Siege of Chattanooga.

Yet to come, but the beginnings of both are hinted at here, are the Battle of Ringgold Gap on November 27 between Union General Joseph Hooker and Confederate General Patrick Cleburne, and the Battle of Fort Sanders (Knoxville) on November 29 between Union General Ambrose E. Burnside and Confederate General James Longstreet.

Glorious Victory

The following has been received at Washington :

CHATTANOOGA, Nov. 25 — 7-15 P. M.

To Major General Halleck [Henry W. Halleck] :

Although the battle lasted from early dawn till dark this evening, I believe I am not premature in announcing a complete victory over Bragg.

Lookout Mountain top, all the rifle pits in Chattanooga valley, and the Missionary Ridge entire, have been carried and are now held by us.

Signed,     U. S. GRANT,
. . . . . . . . .Major General.

Battle of Chickamauga, by Kurz & Allison

Battle of Lookout Mountain, by Kurz & Allison¹


WASHINGTON, Nov. 25.—Official information received from Burnside to the 23d induces the belief that he is safe.

He will be supplied and re-inforced.

Bragg’s forces were in full retreat and our forces pursuing this morning.



To Gen. Halleck, Washington ;

The operations of to-day have been more successful than yesterday, having arrived Missionary Ridge from near Roseville [sic: Rossville] to the railroad tunnel, with a comparatively small loss on our side, capturing about 40 pieces of artillery, large quantities of small arms, camp and garrison equipage, besides the arms in hands of prisoners.

We captured 2,000 prisoners, of whom 200 were officers of all grades from Colonel down.

We will pursue the enemy in the morning.

The conduct of the officers and troops was everything that could be expected.

Missionary Ridge was carried simultaneously at six different points.

Signed,     GEO. H. THOMAS,
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Major General.

CINCINNATI, Nov. 26.—Bragg’s retreat from his position of last night is represented as a perfect rout.

Sheridan [Philip H. Sheridan] reached Chickamauga Station at 4 o’clock this morning, and captured 500 prisoners, four guns and a number of pontoons.

The enemy attempted to burn the bridge beyond him and partially succeeded.  They burned the depot and all the stores at Chickamanga.

Sherman [William T. Sherman] crossed the Chickamauga in the forenoon.

Hooker was reported at Ringold [sic: Ringgold], at 5 P.M.  Captures and desertions were rapidly thinning the rebel army.

The number of cannon captured, 52, including the celebrated Loomis battery, captured at Chickamauga.

Sherman’s loss is much less than estimated, and will not exceed 500.

Nearly 6,000 prisoners have been reported.

 Breckinridge’s son² and Maj. Wilson, his Chief of Staff, have been brought in.  Breckinridge [John C. Breckinridge] himself hardly escaped.  A strong column is in pursuit of the enemy, and it is not improbable but another disastrous defeat will be forced upon him.

WASHINGTON. Nov. 26.—The reports from Chattanooga received at the War Department represent that 3,000 prisoners were captured from the rebels yesterday, with 52 cannon, 5,000 stand small arms, and ten flags.  The rebel forces are utterly routed today and are in full retreat towards Dalton, Georgia.  They are burning bridges after them to retard pursuit; also burning their depots of stores and abandoning and destroying everything that will embarrass them in their fight.

NEW YORK, Nov. 27.—[Special to “Tribune”]—Although Burnside is invested by forces in position on the north side only of Knoxville, and although no direct advices have been received from him during the last two days, it is believed that the measures Gen. Grant has taken for his relief will be successful, and his assailants will soon find themselves on the defensive, fair prospects of being taken prisoner, or forced into an inglorious retreat.

Very full semi-official dispatches of the description of the operations of yesterday in front of Chattanooga are received here to-day.

They speak in terms of enthusiastic admiration, of the conduct of the troops, and particularly of the divisions of Generals Wood [Thomas J. Wood] and Sheridan, now embraced in the command of General Hooker.

These men, excited by the firing from the enemy’s rifle pits on the slope of Missionary Ridge, which they had been ordered to take at all hazards, rushed up the precipice beyond, and carried the crest of the hill, capturing some 300 cannons and 1,000 prisoners.

Battle of Lookout Mountain, by Kurz & Allison

Battle of Missionary Ridge, by Kurz & Allison¹

Neither Grant nor Thomas believed that the hill could be carried by direct attack.

No orders for assault were given, and the officers were almost literally swept along in the current of soldiers.

The hill besides being exceedingly steep, was enfiladed by artillery both from the right and left.

The number of rebels taken prisoners is reported at 3,500, but it will be largely increased by stragglers of whom large numbers are still coming in this morning.

This morning Bragg’s forces massed near Rossville in the forks of the Chickamauga to the the left of the position won by our army.

WASHINGTON, Nov 27.—Headquarters have received a dispatch from Grant, dated Chattanooga, 25th 8 A. M., stating that the route of the enemy is complete.  They abandoned wagons and caissons.

Pieces of artillery are found everywhere.

He thinks Bragg’s loss of artillery fully 60 pieces.  A large number of prisoners have been captured.

Pursuit will continue to Redclay in the morning.  Grant says he starts for there in a few hours.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27, 12-30 P.M.—[Special to Tribune.]—Advices received this morning by the War Department from Grant, state that the pursuit of the rebels was continued yesterday by Hooker and Thomas.

Bragg attempted to make a stand at Chickamauga Station but was again forced back.

The rebels were in full retreat on Dalton.

There is nothing later from Burnside.

It is conjectured that Longstreet will attempt to rejoin Bragg, but ample provision has been made to prevent the consummation of any such attempt.  He will therefore be forced to retreat in Virginia, if he is able to get away at all.

There is official authority for asserting that in the several battles just fought before Chattanooga, we have captured 7,000 prisoners at lease.

1.  “Battle of Lookout Mountain; November 24′ 1863—4′ & 14′ Corps, Army of the Cumberland & Geary’s Div. O. 12′ Corps, & 11′ & 15′ Corps, A.O.T. Tenn. Engaged.” This digital images is from an original 1889 Kurz & Allison print, available at the Library of Congress.
“Battle of Missionary Ridge; Fought November 23-25, 1863.”  This digital image is of an original 1886 Kurz & Allison print, available at the Library of Congress.
The UWRF University Archives & Area Research Center has in its Special Collections a copy of Battles of the Civil War: The Complete Kurz & Allison Prints, 1861-1865, Birmingham, Ala.: Oxmoor House, 1976 (Oversized E 468.7 .B3 1976), which includes a copy of both of these prints.
2.  John Cabell Breckinridge (1821-1875) was a Confederate general. His son Joseph Cabell Breckinridge II was a Confederate major.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2013 11:14 am

    I love the paintings. They add so much more to the content. Can you provide the name of the book from which they are published?


  2. December 6, 2013 11:18 am

    I read on and found the name of the publication in this post so no need to send me the info I requested. Guess I should read the entire post first!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: