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

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
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.
Even had Rosecrans remained in command of the A of the C, he would have been under Grant’s command & immediate authority. Just like Thomas, Sherman, Hooker & every other general west of the mountains, he would have acted under Grant’s command. Had the Browns Ferry operation been a fiasco, all the generals who popped up like prairie dogs to claim credit would have disappeared in a flash, leavin Grant as the only one standing.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
Something was up, and Grant was trying to figure it out. Rosecrans had lost a battle, for sure. But the campaign in Tennessee was very successful as a whole. @Rhea Cole posted that the initial reaction to the Chicka. battle was not that negative. But then Dana turned against Rosecrans, Thomas sent very alarming messages to Grant, and Garfield, who had political ambitions, seems to have been covering his behind and blaming Rosecrans.
And what did Grant write about the Tullahoma campaign? Overall it was well conducted. Grant wondered why there was not a better position prepared at Chattanooga, but there was a political explanation for that. Stanton was eclipsing Chase and Stanton preferred the neutral Thomas to the leaning Democratic Rosecrans. As you note, the attention shifted from possibly using Rosecrans as the alternative to Lincoln, towards Grant. And Grant wanted to win the war first before becoming political.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
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 (?).
The small unit that was stationed at Browns Ferry was incapable of dealing with the bridgehead once established. Longstreet was beguiled with a diversion intended to reinforce his preconceived idea & guaranteed that no adequate force would be available to mount an effective counter attack. At every level, Grant out generaled Bragg & Longstreet.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Something was up, and Grant was trying to figure it out. Rosecrans had lost a battle, for sure. But the campaign in Tennessee was very successful as a whole. @Rhea Cole posted that the initial reaction to the Chicka. battle was not that negative. But then Dana turned against Rosecrans, Thomas sent very alarming messages to Grant, and Garfield, who had political ambitions, seems to have been covering his behind and blaming Rosecrans.
And what did Grant write about the Tullahoma campaign? Overall it was well conducted. Grant wondered why there was not a better position prepared at Chattanooga, but there was a political explanation for that. Stanton was eclipsing Chase and Stanton preferred the neutral Thomas to the leaning Democratic Rosecrans. As you note, the attention shifted from possibly using Rosecrans as the alternative to Lincoln, towards Grant. And Grant wanted to win the war first before becoming political.
The political angle is interesting, but I believe a much simpler explication is closer to the truth. After zouks & Corinth, Grant had about all of dealing with Rosecrans that he could stand. Grant valued harmony among his commanders almost above all else.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
Even had Rosecrans remained in command of the A of the C, he would have been under Grant’s command & immediate authority. Just like Thomas, Sherman, Hooker & every other general west of the mountains, he would have acted under Grant’s command. Had the Browns Ferry operation been a fiasco, all the generals who popped up like prairie dogs to claim credit would have disappeared in a flash, leavin Grant as the only one standing.
To quote Garfield there were people in Washington “not unwilling to see evil befall him [Rosecrans]”
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The small unit that was stationed at Browns Ferry was incapable of dealing with the bridgehead once established. Longstreet was beguiled with a diversion intended to reinforce his preconceived idea & guaranteed that no adequate force would be available to mount an effective counter attack. At every level, Grant out generaled Bragg & Longstreet.
Longstreet must have looked at the terrain and concluded that the better terrain was to the west, and Hooker would be used to outflank Missionary Ridge from the west and the south. That probably was consistent with how Rosecrans and Thomas had been operating in the past. But Rosecrans' plan to break the siege was different and depending on the tricky problem of converging forces acting together. Longstreet had to expect the US forces to avoid fighting along the Tennessee River, where they could trapped along the river which was in a high water stage.
The pontoons that could be used as rafts and fastened as a bridge was an unexpected addition that Longstreet did not anticipate.
Longstreet then employed a night attack, and then Geary unleashed his secret weapon, frightened mules.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
From a letter that appears in Robert Johnson’s Reminiscences. William LeDuc was a key player in the operation.

3DC7754C-DAE3-43B1-BC32-690E35BFA8E3.png


AAE59004-171C-4C35-AA01-0D4B381101BF.png
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
The political angle is interesting, but I believe a much simpler explication is closer to the truth. After zouks & Corinth, Grant had about all of dealing with Rosecrans that he could stand. Grant valued harmony among his commanders almost above all else.
Grant relieved Rosecrans in favor of Thomas. But he also detached Howard's German divisions from Hooker and left Hooker with a command made up Geary, Osterhause and one of Thomas' divisions. Then he overruled Thomas' plan for the assault on Missionary Ridge and gave the division and brigade commanders permission to go up the ridge if possible.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
The political angle is interesting, but I believe a much simpler explication is closer to the truth. After zouks & Corinth, Grant had about all of dealing with Rosecrans that he could stand. Grant valued harmony among his commanders almost above all else.
I’m currently working on Iuka. The conventional story is wrong. Hope to have a manuscript done in a few more months. I’d like to visit a couple more manuscript libraries but they’re closed.
 

wausaubob

Lt. Colonel
Joined
Apr 4, 2017
Location
Denver, CO
That would make sense, since there was no immediate push to replace Rosecrans and he was reorganizing his army. But when DeLuc and Hooker got to the Tennessee River, Rosecrans found out what Burnside already knew about Hooker, he was not to be trusted.
 

David Moore

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 26, 2014
Location
Washington, DC
That would make sense, since there was no immediate push to replace Rosecrans and he was reorganizing his army. But when DeLuc and Hooker got to the Tennessee River, Rosecrans found out what Burnside already knew about Hooker, he was not to be trusted.
It wasn’t prudent to relieve Rosecrans before the Ohio gubernatorial election on October 13.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
If indeed ten thousands mules died trying to supply the army there should have been enough mule meat to feed the army for two weeks maybe a month if salt was available to preserve the meat.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
I have spent my morning re- reading Dana’s reports from Chattanooga. They are available online from the Huntington Library’s Eckert collection. Dana had a personal cypher & his messages were entered onto a ledger separate from other telegraphic traffic. If you haven’t read Dana’s reports, I encourage you to do do. His reports are a real-time narrative of events. These reports came in from Gen so in do this morning... officers who deserted said this... officers said that. He was a newspaper man & The Who-what-when-where nature of the reports are very different from the often stilted official language of official reports.

The arc of Dana’s regard for Rosecrans that runs from admiration to alarm is documented in the reports. Nobody in this thread has any first hand knowledge of the Events surrounding the Browns Ferry operation, Dana did. His reports went directly to Stanton & Lincoln. He had a direct effect on decision making at the highest level.

So, before we go much further citing references at second, third & fourth remove from what Dana wrote, I suggest reading Dana’s very readable original reports from Chattanooga. Until then, you are citing what somebody else thought about what they read.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Longstreet must have looked at the terrain and concluded that the better terrain was to the west, and Hooker would be used to outflank Missionary Ridge from the west and the south. That probably was consistent with how Rosecrans and Thomas had been operating in the past. But Rosecrans' plan to break the siege was different and depending on the tricky problem of converging forces acting together. Longstreet had to expect the US forces to avoid fighting along the Tennessee River, where they could trapped along the river which was in a high water stage.
The pontoons that could be used as rafts and fastened as a bridge was an unexpected addition that Longstreet did not anticipate.
Longstreet then employed a night attack, and then Geary unleashed his secret weapon, frightened mules.
What Longstreet thought is thoroughly documented. He dismissed the threat of any attack to secure a bridgehead at Browns Ferry. As we know, two A of the P Corps popping up like a Jack in the box never entered into his planning. The documented record on that subject is unambiguous.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
What Longstreet thought is thoroughly documented. He dismissed the threat of any attack to secure a bridgehead at Browns Ferry. As we know, two A of the P Corps popping up like a Jack in the box never entered into his planning. The documented record on that subject is unambiguous.
Doesn't the blame there lay with Wheeler. Less raiding and more recon would have been worth its weight in gold to Bragg.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Doesn't the blame there lay with Wheeler. Less raiding and more recon would have been worth its weight in gold to Bragg.
Obviously, you can’t make decisions based on intel you didn’t have. Had Longstreet & Bragg sat down with a decent map in front of them & done a little war gaming, opening the Cracker Line might have have become obvious. Instead, their planning, such as it was, consisted of addressing what they thought Rosecrans/Grant would go instead of what they could do... a profound fallacy that even my ROTC 101 class covered.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Obviously, you can’t make decisions based on intel you didn’t have. Had Longstreet & Bragg sat down with a decent map in front of them & done a little war gaming, opening the Cracker Line might have have become obvious. Instead, their planning, such as it was, consisted of addressing what they thought Rosecrans/Grant would go instead of what they could do... a profound fallacy that even my ROTC 101 class covered.
Pete and Braxton were facing the known knowns the unknown knowns and the unknown unknowns. On the other hand union commanders were reading CS signals traffic, can we put the cracker line down as a sure thing. Was there any doubt of success, why would there be.
 

Rhea Cole

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 2, 2019
Location
Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Pete and Braxton were facing the known knowns the unknown knowns and the unknown unknowns. On the other hand union commanders were reading CS signals traffic, can we put the cracker line down as a sure thing. Was there any doubt of success, why would there be.
As anyone who has ever initiated a field trip with 2nd graders or the movements of armies knows all too well, no plan survives the the first step out the front door. What I have documented is that Grant’s situational awareness allowed him to operate inside Bragg & Longstreet’s OPDA Curve in a decisive way. He was making decisions based on certain knowledge. They were over coming their own misconceptions & attempts to react to what Grant had already done. No General in the war understood operational tempo the way Grant did.

The rickety state of the Nashville & Chattanooga RR cannot be exaggerated. Without it, there would not have been any crackers for the Cracker Line to carry. Taylor’s The Dupply for Tommorrow Must Not Fail is an excellent source about what it took to push millions of pounds of supplies down the N & C RR.
 
Last edited:

uaskme

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Location
SE Tennessee
Rosecrans knew eventually he could get his communications routes back. Reason he gave up Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountait. He knew it woyod be Temporar.

Thomas explained Baldy Smiths plan to Grant. They rode to Browns Ferry and Grant approved the overall plan.

Rosecrans had to fabricate 110 pontoon boats. Might they be importan? Might that take some time? Evidpence, he was doin, something.

The Grant Apologist are the source of much entertainment.
 
Top