|Source: Civil War Maps by Hal Jesperson|
Lookout Mountain lay on the Union's far right. Union Gen. Joseph Hooker advanced his men toward the fog-covered peak, attacking Confederates posted at the base of the mountain.2 Hooker didn't actually plan to attack the entire mountain that day, thinking the steep granite slopes too precipitous to overcome quickly. However, fog masked the Union advance, and Hooker's men were able climb more easily than imagined. One Federal officer, Daniel Wait Howe, wrote, "During a considerable part of the day it was so foggy that we could see only the flashing of the guns, but at intervals the fog lifted, revealing the Federal line in the distance looking like a dark thread, slowly advancing from rock to rock. Then cheer after cheer went up from our own lines, for it was obvious that the Federal troops were steadily but surely gaining ground. Far into the night the flashes of musketry indicated that the weird 'battle among the clouds' had not ceased."
|"The Battle Above the Clouds"|
A romanticized depiction of the Battle of Lookout Mountain
Source: Wikimedia Commons
1 To see a 360-degree presentation of Lookout Mountain and the Chattanooga battlefield, visit the Civil War Trust Website, Chattanooga 360.
3 Historian Wiley Sword writes about Bragg's attitude toward defending Lookout Mountain: "Lookout Mountain had become dispensable in Bragg's eyes. Following the failures at Brown's Ferry, Wauhatchi, and the difficulties with Longstreet, Bragg simply didn't see the military usefulness of this giant mountain beyond that of an observation post." Considering the many Confederate casualties, it's tragic that Bragg hadn't acted on this opinion sooner and vacated the position.
Not all soldiers agreed with Bragg's assessment of Lookout Mountain's importance. It's loss certainly had some demoralizing effect on the troops. Capt. Daniel Colemen of the 15th Mississippi Battalion Sharpshooters in Mark Lowrey's Brigade expressed their sentiment when he wrote in his journal, "Sure enough the enemy did attack Lookout last night and carry it–It is a great blow to us–Reported that a large portion of [?] Brigades was captured" (from the D. Coleman Diary, #3317-z, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill).
4 By evening, Grant erroneously supposed that Sherman had fought his way into possession of the north end of Missionary Ridge at Tunnel Hill. Based on this supposition, at midnight he issued an order for Sherman to attack the Confederates in his front in the morning. At the same time, he issued orders for Hooker to join in attacking the south end of the ridge. Thomas will launch his attack on the Confederates' center. These actions will bring on the decisive Battle of Missionary Ridge on the 25th.