Friday, October 9, 2009

Lookout Mountain: Then & Now

After the battle of Chickamauga in September of 1863, the Union Army of the Cumberland reoccupied Chattanooga along the Tennessee River. Looking down on them from the heights of Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain was Confederate General Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee.

Moccasin Point (Then)

Photo caption: "From heights such as this Lookout Mountain perch over Moccasin Point on the Tennessee River, General Braxton Bragg's Rebels controlled nearly all routes to Chattanooga, thus throttling the flow of supplies to the Union army in the town." But this position was not as effective as one would imagine. The artillery did not have the necessary range to cover the entire vicinity; because of the extreme angle of the slopes, gunners could not lower their guns enough to cover all attacks; a dense fog (precipitation or battle smoke?) helped mask Union attackers; and, importantly, southern troops suffered from extremely poor provisions.

Moccasin Point (Now)
Private Sam Watkins, Company H, First Tennessee (Confederate), remembers his time spent on Lookout Mountain: "Maney's brigade fortified on top of Lookout Mountain. From this position we could see five states. The Yankees had built a fort across the river, on Moccasin Point, and were throwing shells at us continually. I have never seen such accurate shooting in my life . . . The soldiers were starved and almost naked, and covered all over with lice and camp itch and filth and dirt. The men looked sick, hollow-eyed, and heart-broken, living principally upon parched corn, which had been picked out of the mud and dirt under the feet of officers' horses. We thought of nothing but starvation."

The stranglehold snapped on November 25, when the Federals (joined by Sherman from the west and Hooker from Virginia, and placed under overall command of U.S. Grant) wrestled Lookout Mountain from the southerners' grips in the "Battle Above the Clouds," helping to unlock the valley for Sherman's subsequent march to Atlanta.

Lookout Rock (Then)
In the pre-dawn hours of November 25, 1863, Captain John Wilson and five others of the 8th Kentucky climbed Lookout Mountain and planted the regiment's national flag. Photo caption: "Captain [John] Wilson poses . . . with the five soldiers of the 8th Kentucky who helped him signal victory by carrying the first Union flag to the crest of the mountain. From left to right stand Sergeant Joseph Wagers, Private Joseph Bradley, Sergeant Harris Davis, Private William Witt, and Sergeant James Wood. The bearded, 49-year-old Wilson balances at the edge of the stone outcropping, holding the flag. All of the men were granted 30-day furloughs for their brave and inspiring action."

Lookout Rock (Now)

Wilson remembered: "Those who have seen the awe-inspiring precipice at the top of the great mountain can realize what a serious undertaking was before us . . . Dim daylight was dawning. We crept cautiously upward, clutching at rocks and bushes, supporting each other, using sticks and poles and such other aids as we could gather. At every step we expected to be greeted with deadly missiles of some sort from the enemy. But fortune favored us, and before sun-up I, in front, reached the summit and planted the flag on top of Lookout Mountain. It was the highest flag that was planted during the war . . . [We] were the lions of the day in the Union army."


-Mathless, Paul and Henry Woodhead, ed. 1863: Turning Point of the Civil War. Alexandria, Virginia: Time-Life Inc., 1998.

-Watkins, Sam. Company Aytch: Or, a Side Show of the Big Show. M.Thomas Inge, ed. New York: Penguin Putnam, 1999.


  1. Wow, the soldiers on Lookout Rock caught my attention like no other pictures I've been going through to find more info on the Cravens house. I love history. Thanks for sharing this and your website contents and writings. Very impressive!

  2. Richie L.May 28, 2012

    My great, great-grand-father Ellsberry Little was in the 8th Ky Volunteers (Union) and was wounded in the leg the following day during the assult on Missionary Ridge and was dischatged days later after he refused amputation. A few weeks later he made it back to Wolfe Co, Ky in time for X-mas. Small world: My best friend's ancestor is Sgt. Joseph Wagers! What are the odds.

  3. AnonymousMay 07, 2013

    Can I just say what a comfort to discover someone who really understands what they are discussing on the net.
    You certainly know how to bring a problem to light and make it important.

    More people need to check this out and understand this side of
    your story. I can't believe you are not more popular given that you definitely have the gift.

    Also visit my site; acoustic guitar chords for beginners

  4. AnonymousJune 01, 2013

    I visited several blogs however the audio quality
    for audio songs present at this web site is really excellent.

    My webpage Louis Vuitton Outlet

  5. AnonymousJune 06, 2013

    What's up everybody, here every person is sharing such know-how, so it's
    fastidious to Read This webpage, and I used to go to see this webpage everyday.

  6. AnonymousJune 06, 2013

    I just could not go away your website prior to suggesting that I really loved the standard info an individual supply in your guests?
    Is going to be back ceaselessly in order to investigate cross-check new posts

    Feel free to surf to my website link

  7. AnonymousJune 09, 2013

    I just couldn't go away your site prior to suggesting that I actually enjoyed the standard information a person provide for your visitors? Is gonna be again frequently in order to check up on new posts

    my website; Boutique Air Max

  8. AnonymousJune 11, 2013

    What's up, for all time i used to check weblog posts here early in the daylight, as i love to learn more and more.

    Here is my website Air Jordan

  9. AnonymousJune 14, 2013

    Magnificent goods from you, man. I have take note your stuff previous to
    and you're simply extremely excellent. I really like what you have bought right here, certainly like what you're stating and the way in which during which
    you say it. You're making it enjoyable and you still care for to stay it smart. I can't wait to read far more from you.
    That is actually a tremendous site.

    Stop by my web page: Air Max