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Battle of Missionary Ridge (November 1863), US Civil War

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The Battle of Missionary Ridge was fought on November 25, 1863, as part of the Chattanooga Campaign of the American Civil War. Following the Union victory in the Battle of Lookout Mountain on November 24, Union forces in the Military Division of the Mississippi under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant assaulted Missionary Ridge and defeated the Confederate Army of Tennessee, commanded by Gen. Braxton Bragg, forcing it to retreat to Georgia.

In the morning, elements of the Union Army of the Tennessee commanded by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman attempted to capture the northern end of Missionary Ridge, Tunnel Hill, but were stopped by fierce resistance from the Confederate divisions of Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, William H.T. Walker, and Carter L. Stevenson. In the afternoon, Grant was concerned that Bragg was reinforcing his right flank at Sherman's expense. He ordered the Army of the Cumberland, commanded by Maj. Gen. George Henry Thomas, to move forward and seize the Confederate line of rifle pits on the valley floor, and stop there to await further orders. The Union soldiers moved forward and quickly pushed the Confederates from the first line of rifle pits, but were then subjected to a punishing fire from the Confederate lines up the ridge.

At this point, the Union soldiers continued the attack against the remaining lines, seeking refuge near the crest of the ridge (the top line of rifle pits was sited on the actual crest rather than the military crest of the ridge, leaving blind spots). This second advance was taken up by the commanders on the spot, but also by some of the soldiers who, on their own, sought shelter from the fire further up the slope. The Union advance was disorganized, but effective, finally overwhelming and scattering what ought to have been, as General Grant himself believed, an impregnable Confederate line. In combination with an advance from the southern end of the ridge by divisions under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, the Union Army routed Bragg's army, which retreated to Dalton, Georgia, ending the siege of Union forces in Chattanooga, Tennessee.