Closing In on Chickamauga in the Words of the Soldiers Themselves

Chick-SnodgrassA few weeks ago, Dave Powell said he’d be honoring the Chickamauga campaign by offering a number of first-hand accounts leading up to the battle over at his personal site, the Chickamauga Blog. If you’ve been following along, you can attest to the word of one soldier who said, “We are having some exciting times here now.”

If you haven’t been following along, get over there!

For a taste of Dave’s outstanding work:

“I like to be in a level country…” said William J. Carroll of the 13th Michigan as the Federal army pushed through the mountains, looking for their Confederate counterparts. A lieutenant with the 35th Ohio, said of the movement that “The flowing of this river reminds me of the march of the Union army southward….”

Confederates were likewise feeling confident. “[I]f the enemy dare meet us I fear not the result,” claimed Sgt. William E. McAnally, 37th Tennessee.

Back in Richmond, bureaucrats were feeling less sanguine. The manpower pinch was acute, wrote Captain Robert Garlick Hill Kean, head of the Confederate Bureau of War: “[Men] are wanted everywhere, but where will they come from?

As Bragg shifted his army, his men began to feel confused. “It looks like we are retreating again…” wrote Pvt. William P. White of the 36th Alabama Infantry.

I am inclined to think we will get Bragg in Chattanooga…” predicted Sgt. George Marsh of Company D, the 104th Illinois Infantry. Lieutenant Colonel Edward Kitchell of the 98th Illinois Mounted Infantry, had a different prediction: “We find the enemy has departed for Ringgold.”

On September 11th, the armies had their first real dust-up, in McLemore’s Cove. Dave describes it as “the battle that almost was.” “The rebs got everything…” wrote a breathless Wallace W. Darrah of the 10th Wisconsin in the wake of the encounter.

The armies continued to grope for each other while also protecting themselves. “The whole country was a wilderness of timber…” observed William H. Records, 72nd Indiana. Some Confederates felt that gave them the upper hand. “We was going to try and draw them on to some chosen ground,” predicted Private William Sylvester Dillon of the 4th Tennessee Infantry.

Follow Dave Powell as he shares the stories and observations of the men as they inexorably draw closer to the largest battle in the Western Theatre. They had no way to know it at the time, but destiny awaited only a few days away along the banks of Chickamauga Creek.

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