Monday, January 26, 2009

McFadden's Ford

After the first day of battle the two armies basically stared at each other on the second day. It was more complicated than that, there was some moving of troops and a little bit of fighting but very few casualties. It seems Bragg was hoping Rosecrans would retreat and Rosecrans thought his situation was too tight to retreat, plus he had fresh supplies and troops on the way (but couldn't be 100% sure that they would arrive as Wheeler was out there somewhere).

In any respect things were set for a third day of battle. During the day Captain John Mendenhall amassed plenty of cannon on the high ground near McFadden's Ford. This area had been where the Union had started their planned attack two days earlier and as events transpired during the day it is where the Confederates would attack as well.

Various sources put the number of cannon in the upper 50s. In fact the artillery monument lists 58 guns and the park plaque lists 57. I think 57 is right but either way it was a lot of cannon. When the Confederates made their attack on the other side of the river things went well at first. They pushed the Union back and had them on the run, but once they crested the ridgeline and were looking at 57 cannon things changed quickly. Some Confederates made it to the creek, probably more out of momentum than anything else. And there they met a horrible artillery barrage. The attack failed and the battle was over.

Mendenhall interests me because at Chickamauga he tries to do this exact same thing but doesn't have enough time to form the line before Longstreet's column is upon him. To me that is a big what if of Chickamauga, what if Mendenhall could have formed that line, what if he gets 57 guns again, maybe that ends Longstreet's attack. But that didn't happen. I don't think Mendenhall has ever received a biography, I'd love to read one if it exists.

Some guns near the artillery monument. I was told that the monument was made a large obelisk so that railroad passengers could see it without leaving the cars. An odd way of getting a tour but for someone on the move I guess its better than nothing.

The view from the line of cannon down to the river.
Looking back up the hill.
McFadden's Ford, or at least roughly near it.

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