Chickamauga Creek, Battle of


Chickamauga Creek, Battle of
(1863)
   One of the bloodiest battles of the American Civil War, especially in the western theater. Confederate dead were listed at 2,673 and Union dead at 1,656, with total casualties in killed, wounded, and missing numbering 37,129. Chickamauga (in Cherokee, “river of death”) was fought south of Chattanooga, Tennessee, in extreme northwestern Georgia. The Union Army of the Tennessee was commanded by General William S. Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee was commanded by General Braxton Bragg. The battle began when Confederate forces tried to move across Chickamauga Creek at the Alexander Bride crossing. During the day, the confused battle raged as small groups fought in the dense woods in thick gun smoke unable to hear officers’ commands. At dusk on September 19, the battle line lay along the LaFayette-Chattanooga Road.
   On September 20, the renewed battle became a rout after a garbled order caused a gap in the center of the Federal army’s line. Confederates commanded by General James Longstreet, who had just arrived by rail from Virginia, poured through the gap. The defense of Snodgrass Hill by General George Thomas, “The Rock of Chickamauga,” saved the Union Army, and, as night settled, Union forces slipped away to rejoin Rosecrans in Chattanooga. The battle was a tactical victory for the Confederates, but a strategic nullity because Bragg failed to march to Chattanooga to destroy the Union army or to drive it back to the Ohio River. Sympathizers with the Confederacy in Europe, and especially imperialists in France, were cheered for a short while and others thought it would bring peace. The battlefield is now the Chickamauga National Battlefield.
   FURTHER READING:
    Tucker, Glenn. Chickamauga: Bloody Battle in the West. Dayton, OH: Morningside Bookshop, 1984.
   ANDREW JACKSON WASKEY

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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