John Bell Hood's Charge - A Chickamauga Civil War AU

The Battle of Chickamauga - Action
Midday, September 20, 1863, at Chickamauga:

Longstreet had discovered a gap in the Union lines, and rushed to exploit it as quickly as possible. He gave the order to move at 11:10 a.m. and Johnson's division proceeded across the Brotherton field, by coincidence to precisely the point where Wood's Union division was pulling out of the line. Johnson's brigade on the left, commanded by Col. John S. Fulton, drove directly through the gap. The brigade on the right, under Brig. Gen. Evaner McNair, encountered opposition from Brannan's division (parts of Col. John M. Connell's brigade), but was also able to push through. The result was what was very soon to be a devastating rout of the Union Army. The few Union soldiers in that sector ran in panic from the onslaught.

As the Union troops were withdrawing, Wood stopped his brigade commanded by Col. Charles G. Harker and sent it back with orders to counterattack the Confederates. They appeared on the scene at the flank of the Confederates who had captured the artillery pieces, causing them to retreat. The brigades of McNair, Perry, and Robinson became intermingled as they ran for shelter in the woods east of the field. Hood ordered Kershaw's Brigade to attack Harker and then raced toward Robertson's Brigade of Texans, Hood's old brigade. Reaching his former unit, he managed to take cover, barely avoiding being struck by a Union bullet. He rallied them into a charge against Harker, assisting Kershaw's advance and quickly routing the Union forces before they were able to settle into good defensive ground.

With the Union lines along Horseshoe Ridge crumpling inwards, Brig. Gen. Arthur Manigault would launch a devastating attack on Sheridan's two remaining divisions, under Brig. Gen. William H. Lytle and Col. Nathan Walworth. With the eastern section of Horseshoe ridge already having been routed, and with Lytle having been killed in action, his men in full retreat, Assistant Secretary of War Anderson Dana angrily approached Wilder, proclaiming that the battle was lost, and demanding they retreat to Chattanooga at once. Wilder, forced to calm him down, lost an opportunity to launch a counterattack on Manigault's advancing men. He begrudgingly pulled back, though less due to Dana's order and more to an understanding of the futility of such a movement. The southern end of the Army of the Cumberland fled in the direction of Chattanooga, through McFarland's gap. Rosecrans sent Garfield to Thomas with orders to take command of the forces remaining at Chickamauga and to withdraw to Rossville.

Meanwhile, the Union positions around Kelly Field remained in a strong position. However, with Confederates now holding Horseshoe ridge, largely due to John Bell Hood's brave charge, Thomas began pulling back in an attempt to avoid being encircled. Confederate forces under D.H. Hill seized advantage of this, launching a massive assault on the Union left while Longstreet's forces rushed to close off the escape routes and encircle Thomas's forces. Polk himself would advance near the front lines despite the warnings of his aides, anticipating one of the greatest victories of the war and wishing to witness it himself. Famously, Braxton Bragg did not order him to remain at headquarters, declaring to an aide, "Let the pompous old fool march to his death." This statement would later have severe political ramifications. As Thomas's forces fell back, reinforcements from Brannan and Steedman that had fallen back from Horseshoe ridge earlier began to arrive and slow the retreat. Notably, a fierce stand by the 21st Ohio, armed with five-shot Colt revolving rifles, would expend 38,850 rounds over the course of their defense, two of which struck Polk himself, one in the upper arm, and the other in the thigh. He would be thrown from his horse and trampled, dying in mere seconds to blood loss and trauma.

With Polk's death, the Confederate advance wavered, allowing the Union to create an effective rearguard to cover their retreat somewhat. However, a final coordinated push from D.H. Hill, now having assumed Polk's command, and Longstreet would smash into the weary Union forces that were beginning to run out of ammunition. During the brutal rearguard action, Thomas remained behind to rally the men and hold for as long as possible. Nicknamed 'The Rock of Chickamauga', he held back overwhelming Confederate forces approaching from multiple directions for hours. However, during a particularly fierce engagement with one of Preston's divisions, Thomas was struck by numerous bullets in both arms, his left shoulder, and his left leg. He would quickly bleed out, dying while desperately rushed to a field hospital. With his death, the Union withdraw turned into panic as the rearguard was routed, with Confederate cavalry inflicting enormous casualties. However, as darkness fell, pursuit became infeasible, and the fleeing Union forces managed to escape to relative safety.

Bragg, despite urged by many of his generals to advance and take advantage of the retreat, decided to camp for the night instead. His men were weary, many lacking ammunition and supplies. A significant number of artillery horses had also been killed, and the Tennessee river was also an obstacle, not helped by the fact that he had no pontoon bridges that would allow him to cross. For now, his forces rested.
 
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hey guys, forgive the minor double-post here, just wanted to quickly explain the thread-

this is a civil war AU, with the POD being that John Bell Hood is not shot while riding to rally Robertson's brigade, and he leads them to assist with Kershaw and rout Harker's forces before they settled into good defensive ground. there are obviously a few other changes that happen, such as Polk and Thomas dying, that aren't directly related to that, so one could consider this a timeline with multiple POD's, though i think the thing with Thomas staying behind to rally the rearguard is fairly in-character and realistic for him(and is tragic), and likely would happen as a result of the earlier effects of Hood's charge. the only one that is a bit strange is Polk riding out to see the battle, though by my reckoning it still makes a fair amount of sense considering his personality(and was satisfying to write. was two bullets and the horse trample enough? perhaps a meteor hitting him would be too ASB-ey). obviously the minor reorganization of the Army of Tennessee and Army of the Cumberland due to those deaths will have an effect on later things. whoever replaces Thomas and Polk will certainly impact the Chattanooga campaign... and perhaps Bragg oughtn't to have been so callous...
 
The Battle of Chickamauga - Aftermath
Casualties for the Battle of Chickamauga

Confederate:
14,355
2,253 dead
10,853 wounded
1,249 captured or missing

Union:
23,229
3,163 dead
13,354 wounded
6,712 captured or missing

Confederate

The Army of Tennessee was in a strange position following the battle of Chickamauga. They'd inflicted a painful defeat on the Army of the Cumberland, driving Union forces out of Georgia entirely and trapping Rosecrans in Chattanooga after rapidly occupying the high ground around the city. However, Bragg now had to deal with another issue- his officers. After winning the Battle of Chickamauga, despite having a large advantage in numbers, Bragg refused to assault the Union forces trapped within the city. He felt that his forces lacked the ammunition and pontoon bridges required for a massive assault, and, having received intelligence that Rosecrans's men had only size days of rations, Bragg chose to simply lay siege to the Army of the Cumberland. His officers were furious, wanting to quickly destroy the smaller Union army before it could be reinforced by Grant.

With Polk dead, control of Polk's Corps passed to Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham. John Bell Hood was promoted for his stunning bravery to the position of Major General. Meanwhile, Bragg was attempting to order Longstreet to travel to Knoxville in order to prevent Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's reinforcement of the besieged federal forces there. However this, along with his refusal to assault Chattanooga, would lead to nearly a full-blown insurrection among his officers. Finally, after many furious letters and telegrams, Jefferson Davis finally agreed to travel to the Army of Tennessee and evaluate the issue. Blaming him for the death of Polk, and fully agreeing with the officers that the city should be assaulted due to their large numerical superiority, Braxton Bragg was finally sent back to Richmond for general incompetence, due to his enormous string of failed battles, disastrous Tullahoma campaign, and inability to pursue and destroy federal forces following the victory at Chickamauga. He was relieved of command, replaced as commander of the Army of Tennessee by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet.

Possessing enormous numerical superiority, and enjoying the support of his subordinate officers, Longstreet made preparations to launch a large assault as quickly as possible, in order to decisively destroy the Army of the Cumberland before aid from Grant could arrive. Assigning Lt. Gen. William J. Hardee to command the left, and Lt. Gen. D.H. Hill to control the right, he shifted divisions into place for an attack.

Union

The loss at the Battle of Chickamauga was enormous- over a third of the Army of the Cumberland had been killed, wounded, or captured, leaving only around 36,500 men present for duty. Meanwhile, their scouts estimated that the Confederates had only lost around 13,000 to 16,000 men, meaning that by even the most generous estimate, the Army of the Cumberland was outnumbered 37,000 to 49,000. A number of officers had also perished, most notably George Henry Thomas, who had earned the nickname "The Rock of Chickamauga" for his brave rallying of the rearguard in order to buy the retreating divisions time.

In Chattanooga, Rosecrans was stunned by the defeat of his army and became psychologically unable to take decisive action to break out of Chattanooga. Meanwhile, with Thomas dead, Absalom Baird took his place as the commander of the XIV Corps. Much of the Union high command had wanted to replace Rosecrans with Thomas for some time, and were planning on doing so if Rosecrans suffered a major defeat. However, due to Thomas's death, they were left with few options but to allow Rosecrans to maintain his post, at least, for now. Meanwhile, the XX Corps and the XXI Corps were consolidated into a new IV Corps commanded by Granger.

However, things were not as bad as they may have seemed for Union forces in the west. Stanton had ordered Joseph Hooker to march with 20,000 men to Chattanooga. Further, Grant had been ordered even before the Union defeat to send his available force to assist Rosecrans, and it departed under his chief subordinate, Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman, from Vicksburg, Mississippi.
 
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The Battle of Chattanooga - Opening Movements
September 29, 1863

On September 29, Stanton ordered Grant to go to Chattanooga himself, as commander of the newly created Military Division of the Mississippi, bringing all of the territory from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River (and much of the state of Arkansas) under a single commander for the first time. Grant was given the option of replacing the demoralized Rosecrans with Granger. Although Grant did not have good personal relations with Granger, he heartily disliked Rosecrans. He selected Granger to command the Army of the Cumberland. Hearing an inaccurate report that Rosecrans was preparing to abandon Chattanooga, Grant telegraphed to Granger , "Hold Chattanooga at all hazards. I will be there as soon as possible." He replied immediately, "I will hold the town till we starve." Grant traveled over the treacherous mountain supply line roads in an attempt to reach Chattanooga before a battle erupted.

Longstreet had been using Wheeler's cavalry to intercept and raid supply trains on their way to Chattanooga, both as a way to lower the morale and strength of the Army of the Cumberland, and to make up for the poor Confederate mountain supply routes. However, on September 29, Longstreet issued orders for Wheeler to take positions near Walden's Ridge, a ways north of Chattanooga, on the other side of the Tennessee River. Later that day, when supplies arrived to the city unmolested, Granger began to suspect that an attack was imminent. He sent urgent messages to both Hooker and Grant, though it would still be a few days until either of them could arrive.

Longstreet continued to arrange his corps. He was growing increasingly nervous as the day went on. Not only would this be his first major test of independent command, it would also be an offensive battle against a fortified opponent, a situation which went against Longstreet's generally defensive approach to warfare. Aides reportedly witnessed him pacing outside his tent, asking seemingly random questions about minor details within the order of battle, such as how many men were in each regiment under Manigault, or how many batteries were assigned to Smith's brigade. Much to the annoyance of his subordinates, he would also continuously micromanage the positions of various divisions and brigades in preparation for an attack.

Finally, he summoned the commanders of each corps- Maj. Gen. John B. Hood, now commanding Longstreet's old corps, Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham, now commanding Polk's old corps, Lt. Gen. D.H. Hill, Maj. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner, Sr., and William H.T. Walker, along with Maj. Felix H. Robertson, commander of the reserve artillery. He explained to them the plans for the next day- at dawn, a massive artillery barrage from the main army's elevated positions around the city. Meanwhile, Wheeler's pieces of low-caliber artillery, particularly horse-drawn mortars, would open fire from the north side of town. After an hour-long barrage, infantry would descend from their positions, assaulting the city while Wheeler moved to cut off retreat from the bridge crossing the Tennessee river, and descend into the town. His officers heartily agreed, riding back to their men to finish preparations for the attack.

Meanwhile, Longstreet had been exchanging messages with Brig. Gen. Nathan B. Forrest. During the aftermath of the Battle of Chickamauga, Bragg had sent Forrest out to conduct raids across central Tennessee. Longstreet, however, saw the importance of Forrest's cavalry as a method to prevent Union reinforcements from participating in the battle, and so ordered Forrest to hinder Hooker's corps and prevent them from arriving at Chattanooga, "[So] that our assault of the city may go smoothly, and remain unmolested". Forrest reportedly cheered upon receiving the news that an assault of the city was underway, and set off with his men, who were bivouacked east of Tullahoma, set out to harass Hooker's forces, which had recently departed from Murfreesboro on their way to Chattanooga to relieve the Army of the Cumberland.

Granger, despite being trapped inside the city, had not remained idle. His demoralized forces had spent the days since their defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga digging in and heavily fortifying the city. Despite their low morale and lack of supplies, they were determined to hold the city in time for reinforcements to arrive. As Longstreet's movements made it increasingly obvious that an attack was imminent, and with Grant's men at least a month away, it became clear that Joseph Hooker's 20,000 men were the only hope for the Army of the Cumberland to hold off a Confederate attack. Granger urgently attempted to wire Hooker to explain the direness of his situation. However, the lines had been cut by Forrest's men, who were then preparing to assault and capture one of Hooker's divisions. Due to a blunder in communication, a division under Brig. Gen. Adolph von Steinwehr, had been left isolated and "in the air", with no natural defenses, in bivouac north of Manchester.

What followed was the Battle of Duck River, also known as the Battle of Manchester by Confederate forces. During a night raid, two divisions under Forrest's command burst from the woods near Manchester to attack von Steinwehr's weary, unprepared men. Catching them by surprise, they quickly routed Union forces, scattering attempts at resistance with speed and overwhelming numbers. Within half an hour of the initial assault, most of the division had either surrendered, or was dead or wounded. A small contingent of the division escaped and fled north. In total, 3,296 men had been captured, and 422 men were dead or wounded.
 
Followed. But as a cousin of Leonidas Polk I must say, despite being a terrible commander, he was exceptional man in many other ways and I don’t appreciate the trampling! I lived in his brother Lucius’ home, Hamilton Place, across from St John’s for a couple of years, next to the former site of Leonidas’ house, Ashwood.

also a bit confused as to why Bragg needs pontoons when the city is on the south side of the Tennessee River
 
Two things:
First: NOOOO, THOMAS! In my 100% not biased opinion, the Union just lost their best general.
Second: Watching and enjoying this TL. Looking forward to new updates. Again IMO, Chickamauga is the Civil War's most underrated battle, and I am glad to see that a TL is being created for it.
 
Two things:
First: NOOOO, THOMAS! In my 100% not biased opinion, the Union just lost their best general.
Second: Watching and enjoying this TL. Looking forward to new updates. Again IMO, Chickamauga is the Civil War's most underrated battle, and I am glad to see that a TL is being created for it.
thanks, and yeah, i would agree about Thomas- Granger is good, but he's certainly no replacement for the Rock of Chickamauga. the western theater is going to start getting a lot more brutal- grant, sherman, granger, baird, and hooker against longstreet, d.h. hill, hood(mentally/physically intact), forrest, and cleburne. quite a match-up, there, instead of the utter curbstomp that it was IOTL, with grant, sherman, thomas, granger, and hooker against bragg, wheeler, hardee, hood(drugged out shell of a man), and johnson.

i think hood doesn't get anywhere near enough credit, to be honest. post-leg amputation, he was a reckless insane person, yeah, but he was a constantly drugged-out, bitter, angry shell of a man who was commanding ten times as many men as he was used to. he was completely out of his depth- as a division commander he repeatedly demonstrated how competent and brave of a commander he was- he also had a good knack for battlefield positioning and timing, and worked well with longstreet. without getting injured, he has the potential to become a nice b-tier general. forrest, d.h. hill and longstreet definitely have the potential to be a dollar store jackson/longstreet/lee.

on a side note, really enjoyed your jackson survival timeline, btw- you might remember me whining about typos and casualty numbers at one point lol
 
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The Battle of Chattanooga - Action
September 30, 1863

Beginning at 4:30 AM, Wheeler's cavalry made their way into positions on the hills north of Chattanooga. Quickly laying the pieces of small-caliber artillery at their disposal, primarily horse-drawn mortars and a small number of howitzers, into firing positions, they would fire the first shots of the Third Battle of Chattanooga. Due to a miscommunication, they would begin firing on the city 10 minutes before the massive artillery corps assembled to the south and east of the city would erupt into one of the largest artillery barrages of the war. Finally, after a full hour of firing on the city from all sides, the guns ceased, and both sides prepared for an assault.

Longstreet's movement of Maj. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner's corps put the right flank of the Army of Tennessee nearer to Union positions than Longstreet had intended, and shortly after issuing the order to advance towards the city at 6:00 AM, Buckner was met with surprisingly fierce resistance. Believing it to merely be a Union picket line, and wanting to quickly seize the small hills on the edge of town, Buckner rushed his men forward before reinforcements arrived. Unbeknownst to him, the force he had stumbled upon was not a Union picket line, but in actuality, the left flank of the Army of the Cumberland, under the command of Maj. Gen. Absalom Baird. Despite catching them by surprise and dealing a large number of casualties, Buckner's corps was repulsed. He rallied them and charged two more times, repulsed each time, before being struck in the arm by a stray bullet. Falling off his horse, he was quickly carried to a surgeon in the Confederate camps, while on the field, Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne took command of the corps.

Understanding the futility of another attack, and under the assumption that he was facing a force equal to or superior to his own, Cleburne requested reinforcements and pulled back, launching an artillery duel from the more elevated positions to their rear, and letting sharpshooters throw up a screen of fire. Meanwhile, he sent three divisions under Brig. Gen. William Preston to flank around the ridge that the Union left had nestled into.


As Buckner was initially setting off on the Confederate right, Maj. Gen. John Bell Hood and Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham began advancing their corps towards the Union center. Due to miscommunication within Union Maj. Gen. Charles Cruft's corps, Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan and Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Wood were positioned roughly 1.5 miles away from one another, leaving a gap between the two even with both corps' spread widely in the woods around the city. Confederate Brig. Gen. George Maney, discovered this gap soon after an exchange began between Hood's and Cruft's corps' erupted to his left. Cruft, outnumbered by Hood and in a poor defensive position, quickly began fell back to a hill near the city. However, what began as an orderly withdraw quickly turned into panic as Maney's men charged into their right flank. The retreat was only prevented from total disaster by Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan's division slowing the attack down at the cost of enormous casualties.

Meanwhile, poor communication within Lt. Gen. D.H. Hill's corps, forces on the Confederate right would not begin advancing until 6:00 AM, well after the battle had begun. By this time, Maj. Gen. John M. Palmer had dug his men in, and initial forays by Confederate Maj. Gen. Alexander P. Stewart's division were repulsed. Hill ordered Stewart to wait until Breckinridge's division arrived before attacking. Again, they were repulsed, but after repeated assaults, and receiving reinforcements from Brig. Gen. John R. Liddell, Confederate forces were finally able to break through the Union right.

As the Army of the Cumberland was slowly being pushed further towards the city itself, Wheeler's cavalry was engaged in a brutal fight with Col. Eli Long's division over control of the bridge across the Tennessee river. Convinced that Wheeler's Corps was a relatively small raiding party, Long refused to burn the bridge, fearing that it would be necessary as an escape route if the Army of the Cumberland needed to escape the city. The numerical superiority of Wheeler's corps began to show, and as it became clear that they weren't dealing with a raiding party, Long hastily retreated, with Confederate forces nearly seizing the bridge before it was set ablaze, trapping Wheeler's men on the other side of the Tennessee river.

Meanwhile, Cleburne rallied his corps, launching another assault on Baird's corps, which was now positioned firmly on Tunnel Hill, as Preston's men assaulted from the north. Baird was determined to hold the hill, and with his superior numbers, managed to withstand repeated assaults from two sides, until two brigades under Brig. Gen. Lucius E. Polk launched an attack from the southern end of the hill, routing Baird and seizing the hill while the remainder of Cleburne's corps chased Baird's men into the city.

Despite severe resistance, Cleburne's men were the first to enter the city of Chattanooga, sweeping through the unfinished fortifications on the northeast side of the city. His men were quickly subject to a counterattack by Long's cavalry, and eventually driven back as the remainder of Cruft's command swung into their left flank. Hill's corps arrived shortly afterwards on the southwestern end of the city, encountering a large number of reserve troops and members of the garrison under Brig. Gen. James B. Steedman. Steedman bravely rallied the garrison a number of times, resisting three Confederate assaults, before being struck by multiple bullets during the fourth assault, which broke through the defenses entirely. Hood and Cheatham, who for much of the battle had been engaged in a drawn-out fight centered around Orchard Knob with the majority of the Army of the Cumberland, launched a final coordinated assault against Union lines, with enormous casualties on both sides before most of D.H. Hill's men swung back south and attacked the Union center from the rear.

Surrounded and outnumbered, Cruft's corps, and with it, most of the remaining Army of the Cumberland, surrendered. Granger, in Chattanooga itself, would formally surrender the Army of the Cumberland to the Army of Tennessee in a meeting in his headquarters. Present Confederate generals were Maj. Gen. John B. Hood, Maj. Gen. Joseph Wheeler, Maj. Gen. Benjamin F. Cheatham, Lt. Gen. D.H. Hill, and Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne. Present Union generals were Lt. Gen. Gordon Granger, Maj. Gen. Charles Cruft, Maj. Gen. John M. Palmer, and Maj. Gen. Absalom Baird. Longstreet demanded unconditional surrender, with Granger finally agreeing after a few moments of silent contemplation.
 
Well regardless of how the war ends, Longstreet will go down in history as one of the greatest American generals ever.

Which imo, he should have gotten OTL but that’s a different story.
 
The Battle of Chattanooga - Aftermath
The reaction of the Army of Tennessee upon the news of Granger's surrender was beyond jubilant- the enemy, which they had spent years being pushed back by, defeated, humiliated by, and unable to drive out of their Tennessee, had finally been defeated in stunning fashion. Further, this development seemed to coincide almost entirely with the arrival of James Longstreet and, to a lesser extent, John Bell Hood, two figures which were instrumental in the victory of both and seemed to the men of the Army of Tennessee almost like saviors. Cheers had erupted for both of them, along with Hill, Cheatham, and interestingly, Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, who had taken control of Buckner's corps during the Battle of Chattanooga and defeated stiff Union resistance, becoming the first to enter the city itself.

With the surrender of the Army of the Cumberland, the nature of the Western Theater had changed. Prior to the disastrous Chickamauga and Chattanooga campaigns, the Union forces in Tennessee (not including garrisons and other support elements) numbered around 124,500 men- 60,000 men in the Army of the Cumberland, 20,000 men under Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker, 28,000 men under Sherman marching west under the Army of the Tennessee (Union), and 21,500 men under Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside in the Army of the Ohio. Afterwards, the Union possessed only around 59,500 men after the surrender of the Army of the Cumberland, numerous raids by Wheeler and Forrest, and incidents such as the Battle of Duck River a day prior to the Battle of Chattanooga. The vital railway hub of Chattanooga was once more in Confederate hands, and Longstreet had already sent 18,000 men under Hood northwards on a plan to reinforce Forrest and defeat Hooker before retaking Knoxville from Burnside.

Meanwhile, Longstreet departed, along with the corps of D.H. Hill, Joseph Wheeler, and Patrick Cleburne, on a campaign to catch and destroy Sherman's army before it could link up with Grant. He left 10,000 men behind in Chattanooga itself, under the command of William H.T. Walker, taking 36,000 men with him in total. This move was uncharacteristically aggressive for Longstreet, more in line with a general like T.J. Jackson. Longstreet was no doubt influenced by his officers, who were all generally highly aggressive fighters who preferred the offensive, and also by a partnership that had begun to sprout over the previous weeks between Longstreet and Forrest. They had begun exchanging messages almost immediately after the Battle of Chickamauga, with Longstreet wanting to utilize Forrest more in combat, rather than just the raiding of the last year and a half. The two, while sharing entirely different approaches to combat, shared a mutual respect of one another. Following the Battle of Duck River, Longstreet personally congratulated Forrest on his victory, recommending his promotion to major general.

There was another, hidden reason for his increased aggression. Lee was outnumbered in Virginia, and required reinforcements to deliver a serious blow to Meade. Those would be expected to come in the form of men from the west, as per the Confederate strategy of shifting men from front to front. Longstreet had a number of goals he wished to accomplish while he still had a large number of men at his disposal, and so rushed his men out as quickly as possible, in order to prevent orders from Lee or Davis to shift divisions northwards.

When news of the victory at Chattanooga reached Richmond, there was celebration in the streets. The last few months had been dour, with a bloody stalemate in the east and a string of failures in the west, but here, there finally was major, decisive victory for the Confederacy. The Army of the Cumberland, which had occupied Tennessee and threatened Alabama and Georgia a number of times, had surrendered, and a major city and railway hub was finally back in Confederate hands. A number of politicians and officers congratulated Longstreet, chief among them Robert E. Lee, Longstreet's former commander, and Jefferson Davis, who had agreed to the promotion of Nathan B. Forrest to major general.

In Washington, the reaction was far more somber. Never before, in the history of the United States, had so many men surrendered. The entire western front was now in disarray, with the Confederates now holding a sizable advantage in men and Union forces scattered across the state. It hadn't been since the days of 1862 that such a tremendous loss had afflicted the morale of people across the Union so poorly. Meanwhile, Lincoln asked Maj. Gen. George Meade to send 20,000 men to reinforce Union troops in the west. George, resentful and feeling as though the men were better needed in the east, protested, but after Lincoln pressured him, he was forced to send the men. He spitefully put them under the command of Maj. Gen. William H. French, sending only 16,000 of the requesed 20,000 while he turned his attention to Lee. Knowing that Lee wouldn't simply let the Army of the Potomac reinforce the Union presence in Tennessee, he sent 10,000 men under Maj. Gen. Alfred Pleasonton to occupy Culpeper Court House and threaten Lee's position.
 
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From future ATL Musical--
From the number Chattanooga (Otl Yorktown from Hamilton)

Hood: After a hours or years of fighting, a young man in a blue coat stands on a parapet
Wheeler: We lower our guns as he frantically waves a white handkerchief.

DH Hill: And just like that, it's over, we tend to our wounded, we count our dead
Ours and their soldiers wonder alike if this really means it's over

(Spotlight on a darkened corner goes on)
Grant:Not yet
(Spotlight goes out)

Cleburne: We negotiate the terms of surrender,
I see Pete Longstreet smile
We escort their men out of the trenches
They stagger on single file

Longstreet: Tens of thousands of people flood the streets
There are screams and church bells ringing
And as our fallen foes retreat
I hear the song our men are singing
 
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Sending that many men might be a disastrous decision. From what I remember the AoTP was like Afghanistan in 1990; bombed out and depleted.

In the Bristoe campaign and at Mine run, the AoTP has about 70—80,000 men at arms against the ~50,000 men of the AoV.

If Meade is forced to send a third of his army west, that deprives him of any real numerical advantage, and opens up a chance for Lee to deliver a blow to it that might send it North of the Potomac until 1864.

That said, Meade did a competent job in the fall of 1863 and unless the AoTP is on the whole 20-30% weaker than OTL I don’t see Lee risking his army in an offensive campaign without his “old warhorse” Longstreet with him to execute it.
 
Sending that many men might be a disastrous decision. From what I remember the AoTP was like Afghanistan in 1990; bombed out and depleted.

In the Bristoe campaign and at Mine run, the AoTP has about 70—80,000 men at arms against the ~50,000 men of the AoV.

If Meade is forced to send a third of his army west, that deprives him of any real numerical advantage, and opens up a chance for Lee to deliver a blow to it that might send it North of the Potomac until 1864.

That said, Meade did a competent job in the fall of 1863 and unless the AoTP is on the whole 20-30% weaker than OTL I don’t see Lee risking his army in an offensive campaign without his “old warhorse” Longstreet with him to execute it.
yeah, it would be a difficult decision, but it definitely seems like one lincoln would make. being forced to give tennessee back up to the confederates would be devastating to the union war effort- tennessee would be able to supply an enormous amount of food and supplies to the armies of the confederacy, especially pork. it would also mean that the AoNV and the AoT could easily reinforce one another along the east tennessee & virginia railroad, which would be a nightmare to union forces in both fronts. further, it would prevent the union from being able to threaten much of the deep south and potentially allow for the confederates to retake parts of the mississippi or raid parts of indiana, illinois, and ohio as they did earlier in the war. it would also isolate the union troops across mississippi and louisiana and make it harder to resupply them. the entire western front is basically in panic mode atm, they would need reinforcements from a large, nearby army that isn't currently doing anything
 
yeah, it would be a difficult decision, but it definitely seems like one lincoln would make. being forced to give tennessee back up to the confederates would be devastating to the union war effort- tennessee would be able to supply an enormous amount of food and supplies to the armies of the confederacy, especially pork. it would also mean that the AoNV and the AoT could easily reinforce one another along the east tennessee & virginia railroad, which would be a nightmare to union forces in both fronts. further, it would prevent the union from being able to threaten much of the deep south and potentially allow for the confederates to retake parts of the mississippi or raid parts of indiana, illinois, and ohio as they did earlier in the war. it would also isolate the union troops across mississippi and louisiana and make it harder to resupply them. the entire western front is basically in panic mode atm, they would need reinforcements from a large, nearby army that isn't currently doing anything

True that, it’s the best decision that can be made right now and the East is relatively peaceful (stalemated) at the moment so those men can be spared, though Lincoln’s decision may backfire if Lee gets a clean win and runs rampant in the north again...
 
True that, it’s the best decision that can be made right now and the East is relatively peaceful (stalemated) at the moment so those men can be spared, though Lincoln’s decision may backfire if Lee gets a clean win and runs rampant in the north again...
that it may... that it may.
 
I really hate to butt in in this manner. But the more I see of this TL the more it becomes utterly implausible.

I have to comment on the scenario as described. Ironically the one part that I think could be made to go even *more* in the Confederacy's favor is the actual battle of Chickamauga (this was discussed in a thread 8 years ago: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-bragg-destroyed-the-army-of-the-cumberland.191284/ , and I actually had a sketch of a TL where the AotC escapes with only 22,000 men.)

Past that I am afraid that, without some more context and some details changing, there are parts of this that are ASB-level of leaning on the scales in the Confederacy's favor. Not that the overall impact cannot be made to happen and even to the degree iTTL - start with an even more decisive Chickamauga and roll from there - but certain parts *cannot* happen as described. The top issues I see so far:

  • The Union defensive line at Chattanooga was a very small, compact line. Rosecrans intentionally gave up Missionary Ridge and all parts of it (such as Tunnel Hill, which will thus never be part of the TTL battle) because he didn't have enough men to hold such an extended defensive line in strength. With even higher casualties and thus fewer men, there is no way he will go back on this decision.
  • In light of this, and that Rosecrans made it a point of listening to his engineers (having been one himself), when he does lay out the TTL defensive line, there is *no way* it will have a *mile-and-a-half* wide hole in it.
  • The scene of Bragg not ordering Polk to remain at his headquarters needs some clarification. I was not under the impression that Civil War commanders generally (or ever) directly ordered their subordinates to not go too far forward during an engagement. I'll listen to sources or events to the contrary for sure, but my understanding is that at most commanders would suggest that their subordinates not unduly risk their lives. Furthermore, as much as we (this entire community) loves to dump on Bragg, and I am guilty of this as well, he was a professional. The only way he makes his statement as given is if he *has*, in fact, ordered Polk to not move forward, probably repeatedly, and had Polk disobey him. Even then he will only ever *say* that statement out loud to loyal members of his staff in pure frustration. It is highly unlikely word of it ever gets back to Davis, and then considering Davis' equally close friendship with Bragg plus his very large battlefield victory, it remains unlikely at best for Davis to sack him (order him back to Richmond as an advisor, even).
  • Bragg's firing, if it does happen, is *far* too rapid. Consider the OTL timing: Bragg's first suspensions of any subordinates (Polk and Hindman) was on September 29 (and only after giving them official notice of their supposed failures during the battle and asking for their explanations (which were provided)). The "mutiny" of corps and division commanders - their secret meeting writing a petition to suspend Bragg - then happened on October 4. Bragg telegraphed Davis to come west to deal with things personally on October 5. He reached Atlanta on October 8 and talked with Polk, and arrived at the army on October 9. He stayed at least two days listening to the top commanders and, while it was clear he intended to leave Bragg in command from minute 1, he did not make obvious announcements to this effect until, at earliest, the 11th, via endorsing the suspension of Hill. Travel times, at minimum, are un-shorten-able. If TTL speeds up any of the other steps in a parallel process, explaining *why* is imperative.
  • If Davis does relieve Bragg through clenched teeth, he orders Johnston to come from Mississippi to assume command. This was the plan should Bragg have to be removed as far back as pre-Stone's River. If Johnston turns this down it explicitly means he is endorsing Bragg to remain as army commander (this was also understood since pre-Stone's River). If Longstreet, a corps commander on temporary loan, is elevated to army command, explanation of *why* is critical.
  • OTL, on September 29, Grant was ordered to travel to Memphis as soon as his health permitted to oversee the sending of his men to succor Rosecrans (that order was received OTL on September 23). However, Grant never got this message until October 5 due to low water and navigational mishaps. Then on October 10 he was ordered onward to Cairo instead of Memphis. Grant did not arrive until October 16. He was then ordered to Louisville to finally get orders in person - to which he traveled via train and arrived to meet Stanton. He did not replace Rosecrans with Thomas and send his iconic telegram to hold Chattanooga at all hazards and its reply of "until we starve" until October 19. If this or a parallel sequence of events happens radically faster than OTL, explaining *why* is necessary.
  • Depending on how exactly you are envisioning the Union defensive line at Chattanooga - If they do not hold Lookout Mountain (which they shouldn't if they aren't holding Missionary Ridge), then their pontoon bridges across the Tennessee are *the* only line of supply and retreat they have. Not only will Long have standing orders to defend them to the last, but provisions will be made to support him if he is too hard pressed. If the Union is, for some reason, holding Lookout Mountain, then that throws off the entire description of the Confederate attack on the Union left.
  • Minor point I just saw - Hood was already a Major General long before Chickamauga, so he couldn't be promoted to it.
  • Both OTL and TTL the Confederates' numerical strength is set - about 68,000 troops entering Chickamauga. With casualties as you described that means about 54,000 troops after the battle (including Forrest's semi-independent cavalry). They will lose quite a few more troops in the assault on prepared positions at Chattanooga, no matter how great their ultimate victory may be. If they have much more than 45,000 men left after that it would be a stretch. So those are the numbers Longstreet has to work with for his offensive past Chattanooga. If he leaves 15,000 men in the city then he is advancing with 30,000, a far cry from 52,000. If he somehow avoided even these moderate casualties then explaining *why* is peremptory; likewise if he got more reinforcements (from where? Everything that could be stripped was already stripped just to get to Chickamauga-levels of strength).
  • Lastly, Lincoln and company was *obsessed* with defending Washington. They only dispatched Hooker OTL because they knew for a fact that Longstreet had already gone west so the Army of the Potomac could afford to send a comparable % of troops west. If, iTTL, further support is needed, Lincoln would immediate order Grant to forward the entire Army of the Tennessee eastward - far more than just a 4 division detachment under Sherman, but rather everyone that isn't absolutely needed to hold strongpoints along the Mississippi River - plus calling in troops from elsewhere in the western theater: Banks' expedition based in New Orleans, starting with the entire XIII corps and then some; a mopping up operation against Price in Arkansas; Recalling Burnside from East Tennessee to send him back towards Nashville and on via rail towards Chattanooga. *All* of these moves and then some more would happen before Lincoln touched another single man from the Army of the Potomac, beyond the XI and XII corps already sent.

I don't think any of these issues are irresolvable - at least in terms of getting the same outcome you're driving towards iTTL - but as currently stated they definitely need some more detailing and/or reworking.
 
I really hate to butt in in this manner. But the more I see of this TL the more it becomes utterly implausible.

I have to comment on the scenario as described. Ironically the one part that I think could be made to go even *more* in the Confederacy's favor is the actual battle of Chickamauga (this was discussed in a thread 8 years ago: https://www.alternatehistory.com/forum/threads/wi-bragg-destroyed-the-army-of-the-cumberland.191284/ , and I actually had a sketch of a TL where the AotC escapes with only 22,000 men.)

Past that I am afraid that, without some more context and some details changing, there are parts of this that are ASB-level of leaning on the scales in the Confederacy's favor. Not that the overall impact cannot be made to happen and even to the degree iTTL - start with an even more decisive Chickamauga and roll from there - but certain parts *cannot* happen as described. The top issues I see so far:

  • The Union defensive line at Chattanooga was a very small, compact line. Rosecrans intentionally gave up Missionary Ridge and all parts of it (such as Tunnel Hill, which will thus never be part of the TTL battle) because he didn't have enough men to hold such an extended defensive line in strength. With even higher casualties and thus fewer men, there is no way he will go back on this decision.
  • In light of this, and that Rosecrans made it a point of listening to his engineers (having been one himself), when he does lay out the TTL defensive line, there is *no way* it will have a *mile-and-a-half* wide hole in it.
  • The scene of Bragg not ordering Polk to remain at his headquarters needs some clarification. I was not under the impression that Civil War commanders generally (or ever) directly ordered their subordinates to not go too far forward during an engagement. I'll listen to sources or events to the contrary for sure, but my understanding is that at most commanders would suggest that their subordinates not unduly risk their lives. Furthermore, as much as we (this entire community) loves to dump on Bragg, and I am guilty of this as well, he was a professional. The only way he makes his statement as given is if he *has*, in fact, ordered Polk to not move forward, probably repeatedly, and had Polk disobey him. Even then he will only ever *say* that statement out loud to loyal members of his staff in pure frustration. It is highly unlikely word of it ever gets back to Davis, and then considering Davis' equally close friendship with Bragg plus his very large battlefield victory, it remains unlikely at best for Davis to sack him (order him back to Richmond as an advisor, even).
  • Bragg's firing, if it does happen, is *far* too rapid. Consider the OTL timing: Bragg's first suspensions of any subordinates (Polk and Hindman) was on September 29 (and only after giving them official notice of their supposed failures during the battle and asking for their explanations (which were provided)). The "mutiny" of corps and division commanders - their secret meeting writing a petition to suspend Bragg - then happened on October 4. Bragg telegraphed Davis to come west to deal with things personally on October 5. He reached Atlanta on October 8 and talked with Polk, and arrived at the army on October 9. He stayed at least two days listening to the top commanders and, while it was clear he intended to leave Bragg in command from minute 1, he did not make obvious announcements to this effect until, at earliest, the 11th, via endorsing the suspension of Hill. Travel times, at minimum, are un-shorten-able. If TTL speeds up any of the other steps in a parallel process, explaining *why* is imperative.
  • If Davis does relieve Bragg through clenched teeth, he orders Johnston to come from Mississippi to assume command. This was the plan should Bragg have to be removed as far back as pre-Stone's River. If Johnston turns this down it explicitly means he is endorsing Bragg to remain as army commander (this was also understood since pre-Stone's River). If Longstreet, a corps commander on temporary loan, is elevated to army command, explanation of *why* is critical.
  • OTL, on September 29, Grant was ordered to travel to Memphis as soon as his health permitted to oversee the sending of his men to succor Rosecrans (that order was received OTL on September 23). However, Grant never got this message until October 5 due to low water and navigational mishaps. Then on October 10 he was ordered onward to Cairo instead of Memphis. Grant did not arrive until October 16. He was then ordered to Louisville to finally get orders in person - to which he traveled via train and arrived to meet Stanton. He did not replace Rosecrans with Thomas and send his iconic telegram to hold Chattanooga at all hazards and its reply of "until we starve" until October 19. If this or a parallel sequence of events happens radically faster than OTL, explaining *why* is necessary.
  • Depending on how exactly you are envisioning the Union defensive line at Chattanooga - If they do not hold Lookout Mountain (which they shouldn't if they aren't holding Missionary Ridge), then their pontoon bridges across the Tennessee are *the* only line of supply and retreat they have. Not only will Long have standing orders to defend them to the last, but provisions will be made to support him if he is too hard pressed. If the Union is, for some reason, holding Lookout Mountain, then that throws off the entire description of the Confederate attack on the Union left.
  • Minor point I just saw - Hood was already a Major General long before Chickamauga, so he couldn't be promoted to it.
  • Both OTL and TTL the Confederates' numerical strength is set - about 68,000 troops entering Chickamauga. With casualties as you described that means about 54,000 troops after the battle (including Forrest's semi-independent cavalry). They will lose quite a few more troops in the assault on prepared positions at Chattanooga, no matter how great their ultimate victory may be. If they have much more than 45,000 men left after that it would be a stretch. So those are the numbers Longstreet has to work with for his offensive past Chattanooga. If he leaves 15,000 men in the city then he is advancing with 30,000, a far cry from 52,000. If he somehow avoided even these moderate casualties then explaining *why* is peremptory; likewise if he got more reinforcements (from where? Everything that could be stripped was already stripped just to get to Chickamauga-levels of strength).
  • Lastly, Lincoln and company was *obsessed* with defending Washington. They only dispatched Hooker OTL because they knew for a fact that Longstreet had already gone west so the Army of the Potomac could afford to send a comparable % of troops west. If, iTTL, further support is needed, Lincoln would immediate order Grant to forward the entire Army of the Tennessee eastward - far more than just a 4 division detachment under Sherman, but rather everyone that isn't absolutely needed to hold strongpoints along the Mississippi River - plus calling in troops from elsewhere in the western theater: Banks' expedition based in New Orleans, starting with the entire XIII corps and then some; a mopping up operation against Price in Arkansas; Recalling Burnside from East Tennessee to send him back towards Nashville and on via rail towards Chattanooga. *All* of these moves and then some more would happen before Lincoln touched another single man from the Army of the Potomac, beyond the XI and XII corps already sent.

I don't think any of these issues are irresolvable - at least in terms of getting the same outcome you're driving towards iTTL - but as currently stated they definitely need some more detailing and/or reworking.
I definitely appreciate this post, and wasn't aware of all the things mentioned in it, but some of the smaller issues were either typos or had been explained. For instance, Rosescrans wasn't in command by the time Longstreet launched his assault ITTL, the Confederates *do* hold Lookout Mountain prior to the battle, I meant to say "Lt. Gen." instead of "Maj. Gen.", etc.

The ones that are bigger but still more an issue with the way it was written rather than anything is stuff like the gap in the line being 1.5 miles wide, which was more just an issue with scale in my head. I was thinking of the fortifications and lines being much larger than they had been IOTL. The important part with that was more just that there was a gap in the first place, that allowed Maney to flank Cruft's men as they were withdrawing under fire. The "52,000" men thing was just a dumb mistake in which I forgot to factor in the casualties for Chickamauga or Chattanooga into my troop count estimate. As far as how I envisioned the Union lines at Chattanooga, I was thinking they were significantly further out from Chattanooga itself than IOTL. Something like an extra mile or two out, hence why Confederate forces were engaged with part of the Union center at Orchard Knob at one point. Oh, and the whole 'Bragg tent' scene- he's saying it out of frustration to an aide, and somebody outside the tent hears it, and the aide is questioned by somebody. Regardless, it slips out.

As far as the exchange of Bragg for Longstreet, I have... less reasoning. I think it's pretty reasonable for Cheatham to take Polk's place after Polk dies, Baird to take Thomas's place after Thomas dies, Hill to take command of the right wing at Chickamauga after Polk dies, etc.. A few officers got shuffled around during the reorganization of the Army of Tennessee after Longstreet took command, one of those changes was Cleburne's division being exchanged with Stewart's division due to the relationship between Hill and Cleburne being rocky. Longstreet taking command after Bragg is sent to Richmond is hard to justify, to be honest. Obviously, I just wanted to put him there because it would make the western front a lot more interesting, as Longstreet, Hill, Hood, Cheatham, Cleburne, Wheeler, and Forrest is a group of officers that is actually remotely capable of defeating the union "dream team" of Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, etc.. I suppose a decent in-universe explanation is that, with the death of Polk, there really aren't very many people to replace Bragg with. Buckner had a consistent record of failure, Hill was hated by pretty much all of his superiors, Cheatham hadn't even commanded a corps before, let alone an army, Wheeler was just a cavalry commander, as was Forrest. Longstreet would have the support of Lee and a lot of the Confederate high command and still had a pretty much unblemished record at that point aside from his mixed performance at Gettysburg. Plus, he'd wanted to go east and replace Bragg for ages, since before even the Gettysburg campaign had begun. I admit, it definitely is still quite a stretch, but it's not quite ASB levels. Maybe instead... Bragg gets hit by a stray artillery shell, and Johnston declines to take his place?

Also, as far as the Union reinforcements in Tennessee go, it would takes ages for Banks to arrive, far too long to be of much use outside of a long-term campaign, and he would be far from unopposed. Meanwhile, Burnside could definitely send quite a few of his troops away to support other armies, but securely holding onto Knoxville would be extremely important to make sure the Confederate armies can't support one another on the East Tennessee & Virginia railroad. What the Union forces in Tennessee need more than anything is a quick injection of a large number of troops to contain the Army of Tennessee until further reinforcements arrive, to prevent the Confederacy from retaking most of Tennessee. It's gonna take awhile for Banks to arrive, and in late 1863, Price still had quite a bit of gas in the tank- hell, Little Rock only fell like 3 weeks before the Confederate victory at Chattanooga. If Steele left, Price would just re-occupy it and erase a ton of progress that the Union had made in Arkansas.

Finally, the whole thing with Grant's message- in this timeline, they don't mess up getting it to him and he gets the message pretty quickly. Maybe the 30th or something like that. Maybe the message gets sent a bit earlier. Either way, regardless of whether it's Rosecrans or Granger commanding the Army of the Cumberland, the resulting battle would be pretty much the same.

All in all, yeah, there definitely are quite a few stretches or outright mistakes, most of them I'll just say, yeah, I forgot about this or that. A few of them, though, I think were more in line with the scenario than they might appear, at least the reinforcements parts.
 
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