Chronological History of the American Civil War
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direct long-range artillery fire not only onto the Union entrenchments around the city, but also onto the major rail and river routes that supply the city. Saturday, October 24, 1863 : President Lincoln expressed his disappointment, that General Meade (U.S.) had not crossed the Rappahannock River in pursuit of Lee. However, as a politician, he still failed to fully understand the impact Gettysburg had on both armies, even though it was some four months after the battle. In fact, Lincoln assumed, that as four months had passed the Army of the Potomac (U.S.) should have been in a position to pursue Lee’s army. General Grant after hearing a report from General "Baldy" Smith, Chief Engineer, Grant rode out with him to inspect a proposed route for a new supply line, cutting the distance of the old route in half. Smith's idea involved a bold amphibious assault on Browns Ferry combined with the advance of some 15,000 troops in Bridgeport under the command of Henry Slocum and Oliver O. Howard. Sunday, October 25, 1863 : The first of the flat-bottomed supply ships, were launched in Chattanooga. The need for supplies by Union troops was great, but the Tennessee River was not secure to travel. In Pine Ridge, Arkansas, Confederates under Brig. General, John S. Marmaduke advance, but not allowed to enter the town. 300 African-American Union soldiers rolled cotton bales out of the warehouses for barricades to protect court square. After failing to take the square by force, the Rebels attempted to burn out the Union forces, but to no avail. The Confederate forces retreated, leaving Pine Bluff to the Federals. The federals suffered 11 killed and 27 injured. The Confederates had 53 killed & 164 wounded. Monday, October 26, 1863 : The Tennessee River had to be made safe for the Unionists, if the supply- boat was to succeed. In Chattanooga, General Thomas (U.S.) ordered the capture of Brown’s Ferry. Meanwhile in West Tennessee, General Hurlbut (U.S.) orders Fielding Hurst (U.S.) to move his regiment toward Bolivar and Jackson. He orders Hurst to live off the land, leave receipts for supplies taken and horses fit for Government service. “No plundering or pillaging by men or officers will be allowed. The people of the country will be informed that they must organize to put down robbers and guerrillas, or be subject to the continual presence of force that will.” Tuesday, October 27, 1863 : At 05:00 a.m., 1,800 Unionist soldiers attacked Brown’s Ferry, Tennessee, outside of Chattanooga, having been moved along the Tennessee River, by pontoons. By 10:00 a.m. some 4,000 Unionist soldiers, had control of both sides of the river. The supply ship could now sail from Chattanooga, passed Moccasin Point in relative safety. This opens the “cracker line” and will allow much needed food and supplies to enter Chattanooga again. In Bolivar, Tennessee, John Houston Bills (The Pillars), settler, merchant, planter and diarist writes: “The Federals return to town & remain all day, sending back for reinforcements fearing to cross the river, during the day the ferryman (Wellington Moore) is shot from the North side of the river by a guerilla as they suppose, his wound in the hip is serious, but not dangerous. 5 of the Federal soldiers demand & get dinner with me. 4 of them return for supper.” The men sleep in the courtyard and eat breakfast with Mr. Bills the next morning; leaving without any incidents. Wednesday, October 28, 1863 : The South attempted to re-capture Brown’s Ferry. The rare nighttime
assault lasted until early October 29 th . However, it was now that the infighting among the senior Confederates officers hit home. Bragg would have been aware that General Longstreet (CSA) (pictured) had asked President Jefferson Davis to remove Bragg from his post. Bragg and Davis had known each other as good friends for over 20 years, so it is inconceivable that Davis had not informed Bragg of what Longstreet had requested. The Confederate attack at Brown’s Ferry was to be led by Longstreet. Without telling Longstreet, Bragg removed from the attack some of the units that Longstreet had chosen to use. Instead of having 8,000 men in the attack, Longstreet had 4,000, and they were up against the Union force that now numbered 5,000. The North lost 77 men killed, while Longstreet lost over 300 men killed. The Union remained in control of Brown’s Ferry. The failure of Longstreet to succeed at Brown’s Ferry - information that was swiftly conveyed to Davis – was sufficient to convince Davis that his decision to keep Bragg was the correct one.
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