Monday, May 11, 2009

Tullahoma Campaign

The Tullahoma campaign is one of those events I wish there was more written about. There is a fair amount to see there as well. They have some nice modern interpretive markers. I think the lack of books is attributable to the campaign being waged at the same time as Vicksburg is winding down and Lee is in Pennsylvania. In a week and a half (June 24 to July 4) Rosecrans maneuvers Bragg out of Tennessee losing only 569 men killed, wounded and captured. Bragg losses at least 1634 men as that's how many men Rosecrans captured. Bragg called his casualties trifling and on the big scale 2000 men lost is not a huge deal considering how many men will fall in the next battle between these two armies, over 34,000 at Chickamauga.

This panel appears at every marker I saw. One side was this and one side provided the info for the particular spot we were standing at.

We stopped first at Hoover Gap. Here Wilder's Lightning Brigade surprised the Confederates and held on long enough for Union reinforcements to secure the gap. There was fighting at the other gap, Liberty, but I'll cover that later in this post. Wilder's men held back attacks from Bate's and Bushrod Johnson's brigades. Those Spencer Rifles in Wilder's Brigade were well worth the investment that day.

Besides the interpretive panel there is also a small cemetery in the gap.

And there is also a state historical society marker as well.

We then proceeded to Liberty Gap. The 39th Indiana, armed with Spencers, took the lead in taking this gap. Only two regiments opposed them which they pushed back with the aid of the rest of Willich's Brigade. Eventually the Confederates brought the brigades of Liddell and Cleburne against the gap. A second Union brigade joined the fight in the late afternoon but by then the gap was secured.

The marker there is not actually in the gap but in the nearby town of Bell Buckle. Its a nice little town and we took advantage of their cold sodas and Moon Pies.

Bragg was undone by bad cavalry operations. Neither Forrest or Wheeler gave him good information. It wasn't until June 26 that he learned the operations on his left, the fighting at Liberty plus some Union troops even farther west, was a feint. He was soon flanked out of these positions and forced to withdraw. Further flanking movements would force Bragg to retire all the way to Chattanooga.
After Bell Buckle we went to Wartrace which is where Hardee Corps was.
Across the street from the marker is Chockley Tavern where Cleburne had his headquarters. The proprietor saw us looking around and offered us an impromptu tour. It was getting late so we didn't stay too long with her but she told us some stories of when Cleburne was there. At that time the building was only open one day a week, and we were not there on the right day, we just got lucky.

We ended our day at Willow Mount Cemetery in Shelbyville. Here lies some of the Confederate dead from the campaign, as well as from Stones River and general illness from the first half of 1863.

It is also the final resting place for Sumner A. Cunningham. You may not remember his name but you are almost certainly familiar with the magazine he started publishing in 1893, Confederate Veteran. The magazine is still printed today. If you are a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans you get a copy, in fact that might be the only way to get a copy.


Chris Evans said...

I agree that the Tullahoma campaign should have more written more it. Rosecrans was right when he said ,to the effect, that the campaign would not be long appreciated because it was not written in blood.

Nick said...

Yep. Studying the campaign we can see how well Rosecrans did but at the time headlines were grabbed by body counts. If he had lost 15,000 men in a big fight to win that land it would have been big news, as it was it has mainly fallen out of the picture.