Rosecrans moves north

Situation overview:20 September 1863 10:30am: To the north along today's Battleline Road, the Rebels launched a heavy attack after John Breckinridge's flanking movement failed to turn the line just east of Lafayette Road. South of the fighting, Yankees are preparing for an all out Confederate assault.

Since September 17th General William S. Rosecrans has been moving north along the LaFayette Road towards the safely of Chattanooga. Although slowed to a crawl by the advancing Confederate Army, he continued to move his men northward while protecting against an enemy attack from the east. He had hoped to use the strong battleline formed by Thomas' men to leapfrog a good deal of his army closer to Chattanooga. This maneuver is complicated under optimum conditions. It requires that a group of men withdraw from the line, then wait while the men on either flank extend their line to "plug the hole."

Northward movement, however, was creating a tactical nightmare for Rosecrans' staff. It was not easy to manage the organized movement of 50,000 soldiers, even without an opposing force within firing distance. With the heavy attack at the north end of the Chickamauga battlefield, and his left flank crumbling, Thomas renewed his calls for additional support, specifically, the Third Division, XIV Corps under the command of Brigadier General John Brannen [US, Thomas].

Brannen had received his orders from Thomas but was concerned because of his critical position behind the LaFayette Road just north of the Brotherton cabin. In fact, he had issued orders to withdraw from the line then quickly rescinded them. To cover the hole that Brannen's movement was suppose to create Major Frank Bond [US, Rosecrans] issued an order to Gen. Thomas Wood [US] which read "...close up on Reynolds as fast as possible and support him," verbatim from Rosecrans. (Rosecrans later claimed that it had been conditional on Brannen's withdrawal.)

Wood told the courier that Brannon was right next to him, to which the courier replied "Then there is no order," but Wood, who had been repeatedly chastised by Rosecrans for failure to execute orders in a timely manner decided to obey this one. He ordered Charles Harker to withdraw, then begin a northward move just before 11:00 am, September 20, 1863. His other brigade commanders were to follow.

Prelude (December, 1862 - September, 1863)
The Day Before (September 18, 1863)
First Contact
Early Fighting
The Conflict Widens
A Battleline is Drawn
A Bad Start
Rosecrans Moves North
Breakthrough at the Brotherton Cabin
Granger Reinforces Thomas


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