Final Struggles at Chickamauga

Situation overview 20 September 1863 4:00pm: William S. Rosecrans [US Lincoln] has fled the battlefield along with Corps commanders Thomas Crittenden and Alexander McCook.On Snodgrass Hill and Horseshoe Ridge, Thomas has formed a line barely a man deep in places. Out of ammunition and in danger of losing the Horseshoe Ridge (Thomas's line of retreat), Gordon Granger arrives with fresh troops, which Thomas uses to stabilize the situation. Shortly before 4:00 pm General James Garfield, Rosecrans chief of staff, returns, telling Thomas that no reinforcements and no ammunition is on the way.

For the last three hours George Thomas had been concentrating on the battle in front of him on Snodgrass Hill. Nine brigades were also making a valient stand to the east along Battleline Road. When Garfield returned he quickly appraised the situation and sent Rosecrans a telegram with specific instructions on what needed to happen, including ordering Thomas to withdraw to Rossville and form a line. Anxciously, Rosecrans' generals waited for a response. Half an hour later it came. Each of Garfield's recommendations were reworded and issued as orders, including the one ordering a withdrawal to Rossville. The return communication caused one of the great controversy's of the battle. From the wording, it appears that Rosecrans received and read Garfield's recommendations, a claim Rosecrans steadfastly denies. However, Rosecrans wrote the time on the telegram down wrong, making it appear as though he had done it on purpose. Most scholars believe that in spite of Rosecrans denials, he did get Garfield telegram and simply reworded as orders for Thomas.

Regardless of Rosecrans actions, Thomas now had to prepare to remove his men from the quagmire. With Major General Gordon Granger able to direct the men at Snodgrass Hill, Thomas rode a half mile east to LaFayette Road. He was relieved to find that outside of being severly short of ammunition, his men had held their position all day in spite of repeated strong Rebel attacks.

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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