Chickamauga Chattanooga Who was most responsible for opening the Cracker Line?

Mango Hill

Corporal
Joined
Jul 23, 2020
A brief summary the Army of the Cumberland faced at Chattanooga after the retreat from Chickamauga. AOT commanding General Bragg placed his army just across the Tennessee River on Lookout Mt overlooking the city of Chattanooga on ideal high ground, while Longstreet placed troops on Racoon Mt effectively closing the RR, Tennessee River and roads connecting Bridgeport and Chattanooga. There was one road open that was used to supply Chattanooga immune to direct fire from Bragg's army and Longstreet's Corp and it ran from Jasper, around and north of Chattanooga over rough terrain. The trek over this mountainous road was long and deadly to the pack animals that had to haul the supply wagons. By late September, 1863 the AoC had begun to survive on reduced rations. As October passed continuous rain and repeated use of the road forced teamsters to reduce the amount of fodder carried. The effect on the pack animals was becoming catastrophic. It is estimated that 10,000 animals died on this road. "Unless a better route could be opened soon the army was going to die". On the morning of the 24th of October Grant went to see Generals George Thomas and "Baldy" Smith to get a look see about the topography of the area and enemy troop dispositions. A plan to open a safe route had discussed between General Rosecrans and Grant days prior to the latter's arrival at Chattanooga. Baldy Smith had also proposed a similar plan to Grant upon his arrival at there. Thomas had approved the plan before Grant's arrival. Hooker's Corp had been tasked with guarding the RR leading to Bridgeport upon his arrival and now became part of the solution to open the Cracker Line by taking his Corp from Bridgeport to Wauhatchie to guard against an attack from Longstreet. By October 30th a small steamboat built from scratch at Bridgeport unloaded 40,000 rations and 39,000 lbs of forage had been landed at Kelly's Ferry. See Catton Grant Takes Command and B & L Vol. III The Little Steamboat That Opened The Cracker Line

There are several men who can be credited with opening the Cracker Line:

General Rosecrans
General Baldy Smith
General Thomas
General Grant
General Hooker
General Bragg
General Longstreet

or The little steamboat
 
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
I have my old copy of THE EDGE OF GLORY: A BIOGRAPHY OF GENERAL WILLIAM S. ROSECRANS, USA by WILLIAM M. LAMERES pub. 1961 which I consider a classic. If one reads and study it one will see that Rosecrans and William F. Smith should have all the glory for the creation of the Cracker Line and the Mule Trail. Grant arrived and appeared at the moment the operation was to be carried out and officially was in command at the execution of the operation. Grant wrongly got credit for the Cracker Line. Grant will make W. F. Smith a Corp Commander and imposed him upon Ben Butler/Army of James afterwards. I appears to me that was a gift to Smith to keep his mouth shut about who get credit for the Cracker Line. Grant and Smith later have a severe falling out at Petersburg shortly after Smith's Corps got butchered at Cold Harbor which he blamed on Grant/Meade.
 
Joined
Aug 4, 2019
I have my old copy of THE EDGE OF GLORY: A BIOGRAPHY OF GENERAL WILLIAM S. ROSECRANS, USA by WILLIAM M. LAMERES pub. 1961 which I consider a classic. If one reads and study it one will see that Rosecrans and William F. Smith should have all the glory for the creation of the Cracker Line and the Mule Trail. Grant arrived and appeared at the moment the operation was to be carried out and officially was in command at the execution of the operation. Grant wrongly got credit for the Cracker Line. Grant will make W. F. Smith a Corp Commander and imposed him upon Ben Butler/Army of James afterwards. I appears to me that was a gift to Smith to keep his mouth shut about who get credit for the Cracker Line. Grant and Smith later have a severe falling out at Petersburg shortly after Smith's Corps got butchered at Cold Harbor which he blamed on Grant/Meade.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Grant was the one that finalized the command and ordered it. He would have been the one to blame if it had failed.
Lubliner.
When Hooker and his divisions were sent to the west, Stanton and Lincoln realized something had to done to create an overall commander. Hooker's reputation was not restored yet, and Thomas and Sherman were not eligible for promotion. Grant was the solution. It was the Rosecrans/Smith plan, but someone had to force Hooker to co-operate and not go wandering off into an independent expedition.
In addition, Grant's Iulka failure, and Vicksburg success informed him that very precise orders were mandatory. There could be no listen to the sound of guns. Details about where exactly to land and how to converge the three forces had to be precise. It looked easy, only because Grant was there to force it be done quickly and correctly.
 
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Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
No truer statement was ever made than victory has a thousand parents & defeat is an orphan. Rosecrans’ last act as commander of the A of the C was a recon of the Brown‘s Ferry crossing. He rode his horse to the bank of the Tennessee River where the ferry landing on the other bank is in plain view. Mr Brown can take credit for establishing the ferry crossing.

The absolutely critical, could not happened without itelement of the Brown’s Ferry operation were the pontoon boats. They were a unique design created & constructed by the engineers of the A of the C.

It was Lincoln & Stanton who ordered two corps of the A of the P into motion toward rail heads within hours of receiving reports of Chickamauga. Without the timely arrival of Hooker’s command, the Cracker Line could not have been opened.

The Army of the Tennessee was Grant’s army. He had raised it, led it in victorious combat & molded the officer corps into a cohesive, mutually supportive band of brothers. He had earned Sherman’s absolute trust. Sherman climbed into the pontoons built by A of the C engineers secure in the knowledge that Grant believed it was worth the risk.

It was Rosecrans & Thomas who had nurtured the spirit of entrepreneurship that marks every level of the A of the C’s operations. The list of officers & soldiers whose innovations were encouraged & championed by the A of the C commanders is long & storied. Without that, the Brown’s Ferry operation could not have been undertaken.

James Longstreet, in command of Lookout Mountain & the western approach’s to Chattanooga had developed an unshakable conviction that the Union attack would be made from Lookout Valley against Missionary Ridge. Unlike Rosecrans, he never grasped the game changing potential of a secure crossing at Brown’s Ferry. His preparations & deployment made it impossible to effectively react on time to prevent the establishment & securing of the river crossing.

Famously, Longstreet & Bragg were alerted to the arrival of Hooker’s two corps by an officer who called for them to see it with their own eyes. It would is not hard to understand how profoundly shocked they must have been, sitting on their horses on top of Missionary Ridge. Army of the Potomac battle flags marking corps, divisions & brigades were clearly visible. The column must have looked like it was made up of toy soldiers. Once again, Joseph Wheeler had failed to alert Bragg of the movements of enormous numbers of Union assets. Wheeler’s incompetence made him directly responsible for the success of the Brown’s Ferry operation.

In total contrast to Bragg & Longstreet’s oblivion, Grant had comprehensive, real time knowledge of what his opponents knew & what they intended to do. When CSA Capt Charles Eastman waved flags or torches from Lookout Mountain, his every move was observed & the messages passed onto Gens Thomas & Grant. Sherman stepped into the pontoon boat secure in the knowledge that Bragg & Longstreet had no idea what was happening. (Added 2/22)

In the end, all the men who realized the innovations of the A of the C, quick decision by Lincoln & Stanton, Sherman, Hooker, Thomas & everyone else all have one thing in common. When it came time to realize all that potential, they all stood in silence & faced toward one man. That one man looked back at them & said, ‘Do it.’ That was Grant.
 
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Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
Joined
Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
No truer statement was ever made than victory has a thousand parents & defeat is an orphan. Rosecrans’ last act as commander of the A of the C was a recon of the Brown‘s Ferry crossing. He rode his horse to the bank of the Tennessee River where the ferry landing on the other bank is in plain view. Mr Brown can take credit for establishing the ferry crossing.

The absolutely critical, could not happened without itelement of the Brown’s Ferry operation were the pontoon boats. They were a unique design created & constructed by the engineers of the A of the C.

It was Lincoln & Stanton who ordered two corps of the A of the P into motion toward rail heads within hours of receiving reports of Chickamauga. Without the timely arrival of Hooker’s command, the Cracker Line could not have been opened.

The Army of the Tennessee was Grant’s army. He had raised it, led it in victorious combat & molded the officer corps into a cohesive, mutually supportive band of brothers. He had earned Sherman’s absolute trust. Sherman climbed into the pontoons built by A of the C engineers secure in the knowledge that Grant believed it was worth the risk.

It was Rosecrans & Thomas who had nurtured the spirit of entrepreneurship that marks every level of the A of the C’s operations. The list of officers & soldiers whose innovations were encouraged & championed by the A of the C commanders is long & storied. Without that, the Brown’s Ferry operation could not have been undertaken.

James Longstreet, in command of Lookout Mountain & the western approach’s to Chattanooga had developed an unshakable conviction that the Union attack would be made from Lookout Valley against Missionary Ridge. Unlike Rosecrans, he never grasped the game changing potential of a secure crossing at Brown’s Ferry. His preparations & deployment made it impossible to effectively react on time to prevent the establishment & securing of the river crossing.

Famously, Longstreet & Bragg were alerted to the arrival of Hooker’s two corps by an officer who called for them to see it with their own eyes. It would is not hard to understand how profoundly shocked they must have been, sitting on their horses on top of Missionary Ridge. Army of the Potomac battle flags marking corps, divisions & brigades were clearly visible. The column must have looked like it was made up of toy soldiers. Once again, Joseph Wheeler had failed to alert Bragg of the movements of enormous numbers of Union assets. Wheeler’s incompetence made him directly responsible for the success of the Brown’s Ferry operation.

In the end, all the men who realized the innovations of the A of the C, quick decision by Lincoln & Stanton, Sherman, Hooker, Thomas & everyone else all have one thing in common. When it came time to realize all that potential, they all stood in silence & faced toward one man. That one man looked back at them & said, ‘Do it.’ That was Grant.
Sunset Rock sits upon the western crest of Lookout Mountain, some ways back from the Point. There was a trail marker there years ago that spoke of Bragg and Longstreet looking out over the valley where Tiftonia is nestled into the western base of Lookout. I am not sure if that was the time the Union army moved up from Shellmound and Kelley's Ferry crossing into the valley, or it was just previous to it. The whole western base of Lookout was supposed to be picketed along the creek all the way down. It is unimaginable the confederates didn't anticipate the movement.
Lubliner.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Sunset Rock sits upon the western crest of Lookout Mountain, some ways back from the Point. There was a trail marker there years ago that spoke of Bragg and Longstreet looking out over the valley where Tiftonia is nestled into the western base of Lookout. I am not sure if that was the time the Union army moved up from Shellmound and Kelley's Ferry crossing into the valley, or it was just previous to it. The whole western base of Lookout was supposed to be picketed along the creek all the way down. It is unimaginable the confederates didn't anticipate the movement.
Lubliner.
It might be unimaginable, but I commend to you Longstreet’s description of the event in his memoir. I also have the account of the officer who went to fetch them. Wheeler’s incapacity as an army cavalry chief knows no bounds. As I am sure you know, Dan Butterfield’s system of marker flags were very familiar to Longstreet. He would have instantly recognized the corps he was looking at. It must have been a real gob smacker.
 

Lubliner

1st Lieutenant
Forum Host
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Nov 27, 2018
Location
Chattanooga, Tennessee
It might be unimaginable, but I commend to you Longstreet’s description of the event in his memoir. I also have the account of the officer who went to fetch them. Wheeler’s incapacity as an army cavalry chief knows no bounds. As I am sure you know, Dan Butterfield’s system of marker flags were very familiar to Longstreet. He would have instantly recognized the corps he was looking at. It must have been a real gob smacker.
Oh, I wasn't doubting the event as it happened. The confederates did try to move in and block the approach but were unsuccessful if I recall correctly. The connection for the line was made after some sharp fighting. I guess my tongue-in-cheek was a mild sarcasm (?).
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
By the time Grant got to Chattanooga he had relieved McClernand in Mississippi, and Rosecrans in Tennessee. The probably had the attention of everyone in the west. If you wanted to retain your command, or get a promotion, you paid attention to Grant. Hooker at first thought he could get away with a separate headquarters. O.O. Howard did the right thing and met Grant on his way to Chattanooga. Rosecrans did not skip briefing Grant.
Rosecrans had already relieved McCook and Crittendon, Woods and Sheridan survived. Granger was rewarded for sticking with Thomas.
Grant was sent to Chattanooga, and went in person, to signal to the Cumberland Army, they weren't going to be given up. It did not take long to link up with Bridgeport and Hooker's divisions, and after that the advantage shifted to the US.
We concentrate on Grant, because of his subsequent career, but my memory from various sources is that there were many more VIPs there.
From Chattanooga emerged Grant, Sherman and Sheridan. Thomas held his command and was part of Reconstruction. It was a virtual West Point post graduate course in command co-operation.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
No truer statement was ever made than victory has a thousand parents & defeat is an orphan. Rosecrans’ last act as commander of the A of the C was a recon of the Brown‘s Ferry crossing. He rode his horse to the bank of the Tennessee River where the ferry landing on the other bank is in plain view. Mr Brown can take credit for establishing the ferry crossing.

The absolutely critical, could not happened without itelement of the Brown’s Ferry operation were the pontoon boats. They were a unique design created & constructed by the engineers of the A of the C.

It was Lincoln & Stanton who ordered two corps of the A of the P into motion toward rail heads within hours of receiving reports of Chickamauga. Without the timely arrival of Hooker’s command, the Cracker Line could not have been opened.

The Army of the Tennessee was Grant’s army. He had raised it, led it in victorious combat & molded the officer corps into a cohesive, mutually supportive band of brothers. He had earned Sherman’s absolute trust. Sherman climbed into the pontoons built by A of the C engineers secure in the knowledge that Grant believed it was worth the risk.

It was Rosecrans & Thomas who had nurtured the spirit of entrepreneurship that marks every level of the A of the C’s operations. The list of officers & soldiers whose innovations were encouraged & championed by the A of the C commanders is long & storied. Without that, the Brown’s Ferry operation could not have been undertaken.

James Longstreet, in command of Lookout Mountain & the western approach’s to Chattanooga had developed an unshakable conviction that the Union attack would be made from Lookout Valley against Missionary Ridge. Unlike Rosecrans, he never grasped the game changing potential of a secure crossing at Brown’s Ferry. His preparations & deployment made it impossible to effectively react on time to prevent the establishment & securing of the river crossing.

Famously, Longstreet & Bragg were alerted to the arrival of Hooker’s two corps by an officer who called for them to see it with their own eyes. It would is not hard to understand how profoundly shocked they must have been, sitting on their horses on top of Missionary Ridge. Army of the Potomac battle flags marking corps, divisions & brigades were clearly visible. The column must have looked like it was made up of toy soldiers. Once again, Joseph Wheeler had failed to alert Bragg of the movements of enormous numbers of Union assets. Wheeler’s incompetence made him directly responsible for the success of the Brown’s Ferry operation.

In the end, all the men who realized the innovations of the A of the C, quick decision by Lincoln & Stanton, Sherman, Hooker, Thomas & everyone else all have one thing in common. When it came time to realize all that potential, they all stood in silence & faced toward one man. That one man looked back at them & said, ‘Do it.’ That was Grant.
Are you saying Rosecrans, whose plan it was according to a War Dept Board, wouldn’t have said “Do it”?
Conclusion of the Report is on pages 20-21. The rest of the book is documentation.
 

Carronade

Captain
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Location
Pennsylvania
Grant met with Rosecrans when he first arrived at Chattanooga and commented in his memoirs that Rosecrans "described very clearly the situation at Chattanooga and made some excellent suggestions as to what should be done. My only wonder was that he had not carried them out."
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
Grant met with Rosecrans when he first arrived at Chattanooga and commented in his memoirs that Rosecrans "described very clearly the situation at Chattanooga and made some excellent suggestions as to what should be done. My only wonder was that he had not carried them out."
Citing Grant’s Memoirs isn’t proof of anything. You could read the War Dept Board on the relief of Chattanooga. An earlier attempt to start the plan was postponed by Hooker for lack of animals.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Too much attention is paid to Grant, and not enough attention to Lincoln, Seward and Stanton wanting Salmon Chase out of power and his ally, William Rosecrans out of command, even if just temporarily. Before Rosecrans left he had relieved the last survivors of Buell's time in command.
At least two prominent US generals had lost their commands and then had been restored to command, McClellan and Grant. Thus relieving Rosecrans was only temporary. It turned out that John Sherman and William Sherman were too important to Ohio politics to allow any competition from Rosecrans.
There wasn't much wrong with Rosecrans' planning ability and his evaluation of terrain. It was his politics, tending Democratic, that probably caused his downfall.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
Too much attention is paid to Grant, and not enough attention to Lincoln, Seward and Stanton wanting Salmon Chase out of power and his ally, William Rosecrans out of command, even if just temporarily. Before Rosecrans left he had relieved the last survivors of Buell's time in command.
At least two prominent US generals had lost their commands and then had been restored to command, McClellan and Grant. Thus relieving Rosecrans was only temporary. It turned out that John Sherman and William Sherman were too important to Ohio politics to allow any competition from Rosecrans.
There wasn't much wrong with Rosecrans' planning ability and his evaluation of terrain. It was his politics, tending Democratic, that probably caused his downfall.
It was all politics. The war was fought for political reasons. It wasn’t a contest to prove who had the better armies. The Republican Party had few generals. Fremont - who replaced Rosecrans in West Virginia- was one of the few Republican generals. They had to create generals and Elihu Washburne latched on to Grant and won the big prize. (They later had a permanent break over presidential political rivalry in 1880.) Rosecrans turned down political support of Horace Greeley for an effort to challenge Lincoln in 1864.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Are you saying Rosecrans, whose plan it was according to a War Dept Board, wouldn’t have said “Do it”?
Conclusion of the Report is on pages 20-21. The rest of the book is documentation.
Good question. I don’t have crystal ball, so no I don’t know what Rosecrans or anybody else might have done. My point is that I do not accept the premise of the question. The Browns Ferry operation involved the combined efforts of a large number of individuals to make it a success.

I inadvertently left out A of the C signalists who routinely intercepted & decoded the A of T visual signal traffic. In real time, Grant knew that the demonstration intended to play to Longstreet’s preconceived ideas had worked. Grant could order the very hazardous passage of Sherman’s pontoons secure in the knowledge that Bragg was clueless. The well oiled A of the C signal net was very much a result of Rosecrans’ nurturing.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
Good question. I don’t have crystal ball, so no I don’t know what Rosecrans or anybody else might have done. My point is that I do not accept the premise of the question. The Browns Ferry operation involved the combined efforts of a large number of individuals to make it a success.

I inadvertently left out A of the C signalists who routinely intercepted & decoded the A of T visual signal traffic. In real time, Grant knew that the demonstration intended to play to Longstreet’s preconceived ideas had worked. Grant could order the very hazardous passage of Sherman’s pontoons secure in the knowledge that Bragg was clueless. The well oiled A of the C signal net was very much a result of Rosecrans’ nurturing.
Rosecrans was about to restart the plan - a previous attempt having been called off by Hooker- and then he was relieved of command.
The Board Report is filled with evidence of the paramount role of Rosecrans yet it is the Grant Memoirs quote that is cited.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
Gen Palmer on politics in the War. Palmer himself
became a politician. From his Recollections

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