Following the capture of Lookout Mountain, Confederate forces re-concentrated along Missionary Ridge. Southern army and corps commanders were guilty of faulty troop deployments that contributed largely to defeat on Nov. 25, 1863. Instead of having solid lines, the infantry brigades were divided; half of the units were posted as skirmishers and in rifle pits at the base of the ridge. With a few exceptions, the remainder of the troops was positioned on top of the ridge. Some of the breastworks were in rear of the crest of the ridge and in some places the terrain prevented depressing their guns and cannon low enough to fire on an advancing foe.
Gen. U. S. Grant’s plan of attack called for Gen. W. T. Sherman’s four divisions to attack Bragg’s Confederates from the north (Confederate right) while Hooker’s corps attacked the Rebel southern flank, or as Capt. James Hall described it:
“Our line was being driven in from both ends while Gen. Grant was to make an attack on our center from Chattanooga.”
Daylight of Nov. 25 found Tipton’s men in Maney’s brigade on the Confederate right; a short distance from Gen. Bragg’s headquarters. The night before, they had witnessed a total eclipse of the moon, which many thought was a bad omen.
During early morning, Gen. Bragg and Corps Cmdr. William J. Hardee watched through field glasses, as Grant and his commanders deployed their troops for an advance. Hardee ordered his artillery to fire on the enemy formations. In a letter to his parents, John H. Sweet of Co. C, 9th Tennessee described the action that morning:
“Early Wednesday morning, the pickets met fighting and we knew we would have a general engagement. I stood upon the hill and I thought it was the grandest scene I ever beheld. I had been in general fights before, but was always so busily engaged I would see nothing, but this time we were on the ridge and the Yankee army racing through an open space to charge our fortifications…
“I was standing just behind one of our batteries (Capt. T. B. Ferguson’s South Carolina armed with six Napoleon cannon) and watched particularly the firing of one of the sections commanded by Lt. (Rene T.) Beauregard, son of our beloved Gen. Beauregard; I never saw such shooting done. It would pitch the shells into their ranks and I would see it all for it was beautiful, clear day, not a cloud to be seen and every time the order was given to fire, I would pray that the Almighty would direct the balls and send it directly on its bloody mission and make it effective in its work of destruction, a bloody prayer for a Christian man, but I believe it was right.”
By midday, Maney’s brigade and Gen. Alfred Cumming’s Georgia brigade were ordered further to the right to reinforce the 4,000 Confederates of Irish-born Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne’s division above Tunnel Hill.
Since early morning, Cleburne’s position had been attacked by elements of four Union divisions, 30,000 veteran soldiers, under Gen. William T. Sherman. With all of his might, Sherman failed to drive the Confederates. Upon arrival, Cleburne directed Maney’s brigade to take the front line where Granbury’s Texas brigade had been shooting at the Federals all day. The Texans refused to be relieved, so Maney’s regiments fell in behind them in reserve. Cleburne told Maney that he would send word when to send his best regiment into the fight in support of the Texans.
Continued next week