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Nov. 25, 1863

The action on the Confederate right was a battle between giants; Pat Cleburne, the best of Bragg’s division commanders, and Grant’s finest, W. T. Sherman. One historian described it plainly:

“The fact was, Sherman—with two corps of the Army of the Tennessee, Howard’s corps of the Army of the Potomac, and Jefferson C. Davis’ division of the Army of the Cumberland all at his disposal as well as Absalom Baird’s division of Cumberlanders sent by General Grant,…could not drive Cleburne’s division, assisted by only two other brigades and two regiments, off the ridge.”

In the forenoon of Nov. 25, 1863, Gen. George Maney’s brigade was sent to support Gen. Patrick Cleburne’s division. Upon arrival, Maney’s Tennesseans were placed a short distance north of the railroad tunnel where they found Cleburne’s men repulsing heavy attacks from Sherman. Shortly thereafter, Cleburne called on Maney for reinforcements; the 1st, 27th and 50th Tennessee regiments were sent into battle. With assistance from Cumming’s Georgians, these Tennesseans counter-attacked the Federal attackers sending them down the ridge capturing 500 prisoners and eight enemy flags.

Capt. James I. Hall’s Company C, 6th & 9th Tennessee, saw limited action that day, being mostly in reserve. Capt. Hall wrote:

“A detachment from our brigade was sent out in front of our works to drive a way some Yankee sharpshooters who had a secure position behind a precipitous cliff. Our men, finding that they could not reach them with bullets, rolled some large rocks down the hill on them and in this way succeeded in dislodging them from their position.” Among the defeated Federals of Sherman were Col. Charles C. Walcutt and his 46th Ohio, the troops that burned the town of Randolph in 1862.

About 4 p.m., with Sherman’s repulse on the right, Grant ordered an attack on the center. Four divisions of more than 23,000 Union infantry, in brilliant formation, marched forward to Missionary Ridge. These divisions were from north to south: Absalom Baird, Thomas J. Wood, Philip Sheridan and Richard W. Johnson; the brigades were situated from north to south: Edward H. Phelps, Ferdinand Van Derveer, John B. Turchin, Samuel Beatty, August Willich, Wm. B. Hazen, Geo. D. Wagner, Charles D. Harker, Francis T. Sherman, William L. Stoughton and William P. Carlin.

For two days, from Missionary Ridge, the Confederates had witnessed the massive columns and formations of the Union army. Realizing their own scant numbers, perhaps 10,500 defenders, they grew despondent and weary of success. For many of the Rebel soldiers, this would be their first battle in which they stood to receive an attack from the Yankees.

The Confederate center was composed of the divisions of Patton Anderson, William B. Bate and Alexander P. Stewart. Their troops were posted on the west side of Missionary Ridge along a two-mile front with poorly constructed breastworks. About one-half of the troops were at the base of western side of the ridge while the other portion was on top along the crest of the ridge.

Tipton infantrymen were among the defenders along the center of Missionary Ridge; the men of the consolidated 154th (Co. D) and 13th Tennessee were in Anderson’s division; the “Tipton Rifles” 4th Tennessee (consolidated with the 5th Tennessee) were in Stewart’s division. With the exception of the 5th regiment, these Tennesseans had served together since the summer of 1861 at Fort Wright and Randolph on the Mississippi. The ensuing battle and aftermath would be a severe trial for these soldiers of the “Volunteer State.”

Continued next week

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