Here is another negative assessment of the claims put forth by Rosecrans and Boynton, written in 1911:
The campaign of Chickamauga was directed against a city which was the very key to the interior of the Confederacy, the crossing point of its greatest lines of railroad from all directions, the citadel of Georgia and the whole interior South. So long as Chattanooga remained in Confederate hands, the enemy's power was practically unbroken, the great slave empire untouched.
General Loring, one of the most sagacious of all the officers that wore the gray, said to the writer of this article, near the close of the war, and before he had heard of the surrender at Appomattox: "Our cause is probably lost, but your temporary victories up to the latter part of 1863, had little to do with it. Not a man in the Southern Confederacy felt that you had really accomplished any thing until Chattanooga fell."
"You do not mean to say, general, that Vicksburg and Gettysburg were nothing?"
"The loss of Vicksburg," he replied, "weakened our prestige, contracted our territory, and practically expelled us from the Mississippi river, but it left the body of our power unharmed. As to Gettysburg, that was an experiment; if we had won that battle, the government at Washington would, perhaps, have tendered peace with a recognition of the Confederacy. Our loss of it, except that we could less easily spare the slaughter of veteran soldiers than you could, left us just where we were." •
"But in the latter part of 1863, some of your people lost hope?" I asked.
"Not exactly that," said he, "but they experienced then for the first time a diminution of confidence as to the final result."
"And may I ask what it was that occurred then which occasioned this change of feeling?"
"It was the fall of Chattanooga," he replied, "in consequence of the Chickamauga campaign, and the subsequent total defeat of GenEral Bragg'sefforts to recover it."
"Why did you regard Chattanooga as of such importance?" I asked.
"As long as we held it," he replied, " it was the closed doorway
to the interior of our country. When it came into your hands the door stood open, and however rough your progress in the interior might be, it still left you free to march inside. I tell you," continued he, with a vehemence which, iu so modest and quiet a gentleman, greatly impressed me, "that when your Dutch General Rosecrans commenced his forward movement for the capture of Chattauooga, we laughed him to scorn; we believed that the black brow of Lookout Mountain would frown him out of existence; that he would dash himself to pieces against the many and vast natural barriers that rise all around Chattanooga; and that then the Northern people and the government at Washington would perceive how hopeless were their efforts when they came to attack the real South."
"But the capture of Chattanooga convinced you that even the real South was vulnerable, did it?"
"Yes," said he, "it was then only a question as to whether we could beat back your armies by sheer force of desperate fighting, and as you largely outnumbered us, and our resources were every day diminishing, the prospects to the thinking part of our people looked gloomy indeed."
"But, general," I said, "there are people in the North who regard the Chickamauga campaign as a failure for the Union arms."
"Ah!" he replied, " we would gladly have exchanged a dozen of our previous victories for that one failure."
This conversation took place in the mouth of April, 1865, on board a steamer bound to New Orleans, the day after the battle of Blakely, in which General Losing commanded the Confederate forces, and he and his entire force that survived the battle, rank and file, were made prisoners by the Union Army under General Canby. I had approached the distinguished prisoner, who, by the way, with a comparitively mere handful of men, had bravely held the approaches to Mobile against us for a good many days, had introduced myself as war correspondent of one of the leading journals of the North, and had asked him to give me the exact relative position of the different bodies of troops under his command in the battle of the previous day. This he very courteously did, and authorized me to make use of the information in the account of the battle which I was preparing while hastening northward to the home office.
Then I gave him the latest information I possessed as to the progress being made by Grant in Virginia, aud of the advance of Sherman through the Carolinas toward Richmond. It was upon this that he made the first remark in the conversation I have just detailed, and in which 1 mentally noted every word he said with an absorbing interest which the reader will readily understand.
Half an hour afterward I was seated flat ou my haunches on the deck of the steamer, writing for dear life, when General Loring approached and accosted me.
"What are you writing now?" he inquired.
He had been so courteous under adverse circumstances to me, that I felt I could not be otherwise than entirely frank with him.
"I am writing out your remarks concerning the effect of the Chickamauga campaign," said I, "every word of which I well remember." i
"It struck me," said he, "that you might be doing that. But I think you will see that the publication of those remarks while the war continues might be seriously misunderstood by my compatriots in arms, and might subject me to heavy censure. I did not intend them for publication, and regarded them as part of a private conversation we were having after the public portion was closed. I can not take back the remarks now, and I have no power to prevent you from printing them. I can only ask you as a gentleman to withhold them from publication until the war is over."
It was a hard request to comply with. If the Jstruggle were to go on, General Loring's views would make a sensation, and be a great encouragement to the loyal people of the laud. I felt that in printing them I should make a big hit both as a journalist and a patriot. But with that courteous, sad-eyed, mild-mannered, and unfortunate gentleman standing over me, helpless as a prisoner of war who had given me his confidence, there was only one thing to do.
"Your wishes shall be respected, General," said I. "I shall finish my notes while our talk is fresh in my mind; but they will never see the light until I feel sure that their publication will discredit you with no one."
"Thank you," said he; "however the war may end, print what I said if you choose, and if you think it worth printing, any time after the conflict is closed."
More than twenty three years the notes of that conversation have remained in my hands, and they see the light for the first time to-day.
From https://books.google.com/books?pg=P...=onepage&q=general loring chickamauga&f=false