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Orchard Knob
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Orchard Knob
November 23, 1863
Estimated engaged: 1,100 U. S. 175 C. S. A.

With the Confederate siege lifted following the Battle of Browns Ferry and Union soldiers being resupplied along the Cracker Line Ulysses S. Grant was ready to breakout of Chattanooga, Tennessee. On November_23, 1863 troop movements began, with General Joseph Hooker moving into the valley west of Lookout Mountain. William Tecumseh Sherman gathered his men a short distance north of the city. and the were stationed in and around Fort Negley and Fort Wood, east of downtown Chattanooga.

Over the two months that George Thomas's Army of the Cumberland had been trapped in the city they built extensive defenses in a line between Fort Negley and Fort Wood, which at the time were outside the city limits to the east. The first step in the breakout of Chattanooga was to extend the defensive perimeter by taking a small hill roughly halfway between the city and Missionary Ridge, where the bulk of Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee lay in wait.

Orchard Knob
Grant ordered General Gordon Granger to advance ("reconnaissance in force") and test the Rebel position on Orchard Knob. Granger chose Thomas Wood's division to lead the attack, with Phil Sheridan's division in support. The two divisions of Granger's IV Corps moved into position (Sheridan's to the right, Wood's to the left) while the rest of his men manned trenches. Wood assigned the main attack to William Hazen, whose men had taken Browns Ferry.

Opposing the Federal force of several thousand men were 2 Alabama regiments of Arthur Manigault's brigade assigned to picket duty on Orchard Knob. They had two lines, one built above the level plain facing the Union forts to west and a second line near the top of the hill. This was not the only forward position of the Confederate Army, but it was the most prominent one. Wood felt that if he could take this "citadel" the others would pullback.

Thomas Wood, however, was faced with a dilemma. Between his namesake fort and Orchard Knob there was no protection for his men, so they would have to advance for a mile under fire. Wood devised a plan where his men, armed and ready to fight would advance in an indirect route for the first half-mile in parade formation. As Grant would write in his memoirs, "By this time [2pm] the clouds had lifted so that the enemy could see from his elevated position all that was going on."

When the "parading" Union Army approached within about 800 yards the Yankee buglers sounded "Forward" of the position the Confederate pickets on Orchard Knob realized they were under attack and began firing their muskets. Soon Rebel artillery from Missionary Ridge was being fired in support of the pickets. 22 Union guns in Fort Wood joined the battle. There was an intense struggle as William Hazen's men stormed the knob but both Rebel lines were forced to withdraw under heavy fire.

The battle at Orchard Knob moved the Union line a mile closer to the entrenched Rebel Army on top of Missionary Ridge. Although artillery fire from both sides continued throughout the rest of the day, this was the end of the fighting on November 23rd. Attention now turned south, towards Lookout Mountain and the Battle Above the Clouds

Upon taking the knob General George Thomas conceived the idea for a cemetery. Today the Chattanooga National Cemetery holds the graves of some 37,000 American veterans.

Taking Orchard Knob as he did was a brilliant maneuver on the part of Grant. It gave him a place from which he could view the battle of Missionary Ridge in relative safety. It also forced Bragg to keep his center strong while Sherman and Hooker attacked his flanks on November 25.

The intimidation of the Confederate Army worked exactly as Grant planned. During the battle of Missionary Ridge Bragg's Army of Tennessee would break ranks from a relatively strong position.

Battle of Chattanooga links Courtesy of Roadside Georgia
The Battle above the Clouds.


Take I-75 north to I-24 West. At Exit 183A Turn right on Belvoir Avenue. At 0.6 miles turn left on Brainerd Road, which become McCallie Avenue as it climbs Missionary Ridge. After 2.5 miles, turn right on N. Hawthorne Street and Orchard Knob is on the right

Chattanooga, Tennessee
Chattanooga, Tennessee
The Civil War in Georgia
Beginning with the Great Locomotive Chase and the battle of Chickamauga, to the Atlanta Campaign and the March to the Sea

Article Links
Army of Tennessee
Army of the Cumberland
Battle Above the Clouds
Battle above the Clouds
Battle of Browns Ferry
Braxton Bragg
Browns Ferry
Chattanooga National Cemetery
Chattanooga, Tennessee
Cracker Line
George Thomas
Joseph Hooker
Lookout Mountain
Ulysses S. Grant
William Tecumseh Sherman

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