This week it will be 155 years since the Battle of Chickamauga.
Do you have a favorite officer from that battle? Why do you admire his leadership?
Col. John T. Wilder. The actions his Lightning Brigade undertook throughout the entire campaign are memorable, Specifically his actions of September 18-20 displayed true leadership. Starting with the defense at Alexander’s Bridge on September 18 (along with Col. Robert Minty’s defense of Reed’s Bridge) his Brigade assisted in blunting Bragg’s attempt to cut off the lines of communication for Rosecrans army. In addition, Wilder’s leadership and the actions of his brigade in the West Viniard Field on the 19th stabilized the Union Line. The Brigade was fully engaged on the 20th until ordered to retreat at the behest of Charles Dana. John Wilder’s life story was quite the journey and well worth discovering.
Bushrod Johnson. He’d been a competent, but pretty average, brigade commander for well over a year, but certainly nothing spectacular. At Chickamauga, he finds himself in command of a provisional division and sees significant action all three days. Leads Bragg’s right wing over Reed’s Bridge on the 18th, heavy action in the Viniard/Brotherton area on the 19th, and leads the breakthrough on the 20th with continued fighting on Horseshoe Ridge. He does pretty well commanding an ad hoc division made up of brigades that hadn’t entirely served together before. Then, just as quickly, he becomes pretty obscure again. Johnson never had another day during the Civil War as eventful, or as effective, as his three days at Chickamauga. Plus, that’s just a cool name……
On the Union side, I’d have to go with Charles Harker or Ferdinand VanDerveer. VanDerveer was just everywhere at Chickamauga.
Since I’ll always stick up for the unsung gunners, Chief of Artillery John Mendenhall, who did his best to stem the Rebel tide by trying to recreate what he accomplished at Stones River.
One of my favourite generals of the Civil War is George Thomas, “the Rock of Chickamauga,” who acquired his moniker as result of a Union defeat. “Bragg failed to press his advantage, and the Federals were allowed to reach safety at Chattanooga” — according to history.com. But, it is not Chickamauga that so impresses me about General Thomas, but EVERYTHING else: Mill Springs, Chattanooga, Franklin, Nashville… as well as refusing orders to relieve Don Carlos Buell in 1862.
Competence, and Class.
I agree with everything you wrote about Thomas, one of the CW’s unsung heroes, except for your reference to the Battle of Franklin. Gen. Schofield was the Union commander there. Thomas was in Nashville at the time cobbling together an army that would eventually decimate Hood’s Rebels.
Thanks for having a look a look and catching that mistake, as the line in question should read: “But, it is not Chickamauga that so impresses me about General Thomas, but EVERYTHING else: Mill Springs, Chattanooga, Franklin- Nashville Campaign… as well as refusing orders to relieve Don Carlos Buell in 1862.”
George Thomas, even though his constant demand for more troops inadvertently led to the Wood fiasco. I am totally in agreement with Mr Maxwell on that assessment. In many ways he saved his best work for last, cobbling that army together at Nashville, unleashing the master stroke and pursuit. Indomitable.
But I’ve also always had a soft spot for Gordon Granger marching to The Sound of the Guns!
And the sparkling Alexander McCook, who proves that any of us, regardless of competence, can eventually become a Corps commander and be given the opportunity to try to lose not one, but THREE battles!
Has to be the Rock of Chickamagua, he literally saved the Army as it retreated at a full run to Tenn.
Would love to hear what Mr. Dave Powell has to say
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