Civil War Battles of Tennessee

Operations on the Memphis & Charleston Railroad (November 1863)

Memphis and Charleston Railroad

Occurring in Shelby County, Tennessee, Four minor battles were fought at Collierville during a three-month period. The railroad, which had been taken by the Union in April 1862, severed the Confederacy’s vital east-west rail artery. When the Confederate Cavalry learned that only two Union regiments defended Collierville, they attacked. The two largest battles occurred on October 11, 1863, and November 3, 1863.

Collierville (October 11, 1863) – This battle occurred when Confederate forces of Brigadier General James R. Chalmers advanced from its base in Oxford, Mississippi, to attack the Union garrison at Collierville. Union forces were commanded by Union Colonel D. C. Anthony of the 66th Indiana Infantry, which had established defenses at the railroad depot and a stockade with 8-foot-high walls and a line of rifle-pits. General Chalmers planned to cut the telegraph lines, burn the railroad trestles, and surround the fort. About 12 noon, a train constraining Major General William T. Sherman’s and his troops arrived from Memphis, which brought the total number of men fighting in the battle to about 4,000. General Sherman narrowly escaped capture as the Confederates boarded his train and captured personal items, including his horse, Dolly. The battle raged around the fort and depot, and eventually, the Confederates drove all the Union forces into the fort, the depot or railroad cuts for protection. However, during the battle that lasted about five hours, neither side was able to gain control. Fearing reinforcements from Germantown, the Confederates withdrew without taking the fort. Estimated casualties were estimated at 164 Union and 128 Confederate.

Collierville (November 3, 1863) – While Major General William T. Sherman’s 15th Army Corps was in the process of marching to the relief of Chattanooga, Tennessee, Confederate Brigadier General James R. Chalmers led another attack on Collierville. However, Union Colonel Edward Hatch possessed more men than Chalmers supposed, stationed at Collierville and Germantown, five miles to the west. Scouts warned Hatch of Chalmers’s approach from the south, so he ordered Collierville’s defenders to be prepared and rode from Germantown with cavalry reinforcements. As he had done only three weeks earlier, General Chalmers attacked from the south with Colonels Benjamin McCulloch’s and W.F. Slemon’s brigades. The Union troops repulsed the attack, and Chalmers, concluding that he was outnumbered, called off the battle and, to ward off Union pursuit, withdrew back to Mississippi. The battle resulted in an estimated 60 Union casualties and 95 Confederate. In the meantime, the Memphis & Charleston Railroad remained open to Tuscumbia, Alabama, for Union troop movements.

Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign (November 1863)

Also called the Chattanooga Campaign, this was a series of maneuvers and battles taking place in Hamilton County and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Ringgold Gap in Georgia. Following the defeat of Major General William Rosecrans’ Union Army of the Cumberland at the Battle of Chickamauga, Mississippi in September, the Confederate Army of Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg besieged Rosecrans and his men by occupying key high terrain around Chattanooga, Tennessee. Major General Ulysses S. Grant was given command of Union forces in the West, and significant reinforcements began to arrive with him in Chattanooga from Mississippi and the Eastern Theater. Grant replaced Rosecrans with Major General George Thomas, and a new supply line was soon established. Major General William T. Sherman’s arrived with his four divisions in mid-November, and the Federals began offensive operations.

Battle of Orchard Knob, Nov. 24, 1863, Kurz and Allison, 1888

Battle of Orchard Knob, Nov. 24, 1863, Kurz and Allison, 1888

Orchard Knob (November 23, 1863) – The first battle of the campaign occurred at Orchard Knob in Chattanooga when the Union Army observed columns of Confederate troops marching away from Missionary Ridge heard claims from Confederate deserters that the entire army was falling back.  General Grant became concerned that Confederate General Braxton Bragg was massively reinforcing Confederate General Longstreet and sought to disrupt the movement. Major General George Thomas ordered his division under Brigadier General Thomas J. Wood to advance in force. Wood’s men were soon joined by Major General Philip Sheridan’s division, and General O.O. Howards 11th Corp, extending the line and presenting over 20,000 soldiers. At 1:30 p.m., 14,000 Union soldiers moved forward, sweeping across the plains, stunning the 600 Confederate defenders, who were able to fire only a single volley before they were overrun. Casualties were relatively small on both sides. Orchard Knob became Grant’s and Thomas’s headquarters for the remainder of the battles.

Lookout Mountain (November 24, 1863) – Major General Joseph Hooker, with about 10,000 men, was ordered to Lookout Mountain. The Union troops were opposed by Brigadier General Edward C. Walthall’s brigade of Major General Benjamin F. Cheatham’s division. The troops pushed  Walthall’s badly outnumbered men back to the Cravens House, just below the mountain’s northern end. The men of Brigadier General John C. Brown’s Confederate brigade on the mountain top found themselves powerless to intervene in the battle raging below the cliffs. By about 3:00 p.m., thick fog enveloped the mountain, and though the two sides blazed away blindly, few men were hit. Realizing the battle was lost, General Braxton Bragg ordered the position abandoned, and at midnight when the fog cleared and, under a lunar eclipse, the Confederate troops retreated behind Chattanooga Creek, burning the bridges behind them.

Battle of Missionary Ridge, Kurz and Allison,1886

Battle of Missionary Ridge, Kurz and Allison,1886

Missionary Ridge (November 25, 1863) – General Grant ordered Sherman’s, Hooker’s, and Thomas’ troops to advance on Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga, where General Braxton Bragg and his men had taken refuge. As the morning progressed, Sherman launched multiple direct assaults, but he made little headway despite his significantly larger force. Hooker’s advance was slowed for hours by the burned bridges on Chattanooga Creek at the southern end of the battlefield. However, Thomas and his men advanced and quickly pushed the Confederates from their rifle pits but were then subjected to a punishing fire from the Confederate positions up the ridge. At this point, the other Union soldiers began to attack the remaining lines. The Union advance was disorganized but effective, finally overwhelming and scattering what ought to have been an impregnable Confederate line. By 4:30 p.m., the center of Bragg’s line had broken completely, and the troops fled in panic, abandoning  Missionary Ridge making a headlong retreat eastward to South Chickamauga Creek.

The combined casualties of the three battles were estimated at 5,815 Union and 6,670 Confederate. One last battle of the campaign would be fought at Ringgold Gap, Georgia, two days later, but this battle would result in a Confederate victory.

2 thoughts on “Civil War Battles of Tennessee”

  1. Looking for information on the 22nd Virginia cavalry. Trying to find out all the battles they fought after May 1863 up until November of 1863. Thanks for any and all help

    1. It’s more than you asked for, but hope this helps

      22nd Cavalry CSA “Bowen’s Regiment Virginia Mounted Riflemen”
      May Formed by adding eight companies to Baldwin’s Partisan Rangers. Baldwin’s two companies became Company A and Company E of the new regiment. Colonel Henry S. Bowen, Lieutenant Colonel John T. Radford and Major Henry F. Kendrick were assigned as field officers.
      Many of the new recruits had served in the 37th Virginia Infantry Regiment. The regiment was assigned to the Department of Western Virginia.
      September 1 Jonesboro, Tennessee
      September 12 Jonesboro, Tennessee
      September 21 Jonesboro, Tennessee
      October 24 Nicholas County
      December 9 Logan County
      December 15 Scott County
      December 17 Russell County
      April Assigned to Jenkins’ Cavalry Brigade, Department of Western Virginia.
      April 24 Breathitt County, Kentucky
      May Assigned to McCausland’s Brigade of Lomax’s Cavalry Division, Army of the Valley.
      May 7 Abb’s Valley
      May 9 Cloyd’s Mountain
      May 10 New River Bridge
      May 13 Jackson’s Ferry & Covington
      May 15 Abb’s Valley
      May 31 Pike County
      June 1 White Sulpher Springs, WV
      June 2 Covington VA
      June 4 Panther Gap
      June 6 Goshen
      June 7 Buffalo Gap
      June 8 Staunton Road
      June 10 Arbor Hill, Newport, Middlebrook and Brownsburg
      June 11 Lexington
      June 13 Buchanan
      June 15 Fancy Farm
      June 16 Otter River
      June 17 Forrest Depot
      June 18 Lynchburg
      June 20 Liberty
      June 21 Salem
      July 3 Leetown
      July 4 North Mountain Depot
      July 7 Hagerstown, MD
      July 8-9 Battle of Monocacy
      Major Kendrick was wounded in the hip and captured.
      July 10 Urbana, MD
      July 11 Rockville, MD
      July 12 Attack on Fort Stevens, Washington D.C.
      July 14 Edwards Ferry VA
      July 15 Snicker’s Gap, VA

      July 16 Loudoun County
      July 18 Ashby’s Gap, VA

      July 19 Berry’s Farm
      July 20 Stehenson’s Depot, VA
      July 23 Second Battle of Kernstown
      July 29 Mercersburg, PA
      July 30 Burning of Chambersburg
      August 2 Cumberland, MD
      August 4 New Creek, WV
      August 5 Shenansoah Valley
      August 7 Battle of Moorfield
      Federal cavalry caught McCausland’s brigade in camp by surprise after Union ‘Jesse Scouts’ dressed in Confederate grey captured the picket. The camp was overrun at dawn, capturing around five hundred men from the brigade. The catured men were imprisoned at Cam Chase, Ohio, for the rest of the war.
      August 9 New Creek Station VA
      August 10 Charles Town, WV
      August 11 Newtown, VA
      August Assigned to Bradley Johnston’s Brigade of Lomax’s Cavalry Division

      August 15 Charles Town, WV
      August 17 New Creek, WV
      August 21 Summit Point, WV
      August 25 Kearneyville, WV
      August 28 Opequan Creek, VA
      September 1 Brandy Station, VA
      September 2 Bunker Hill, VA
      September 3 Berryville, VA
      September 4 Maritinsburg, WV
      September 10 Big Spring WV
      September 12 Darkesville, WV
      September 19 Third Battle of Winchester
      The regiment acted as rear guard while Early’s army retreated after the battle to Fisher’s Hill.
      September 21 Front Royal Pike
      September 22-24 Battle of Fisher’s Hill

      September 24 Harrisonburg and Timberville, VA
      September 25 Gaines Crossroads, VA
      October 1 Port Republic, VA
      October Returned to McCausland’s Brigade.
      October 8-9 Battle of Tom’s Brook
      October 19 Battle of Cedar Creek

      October 23 Bentonville, VA
      October 26 Milford, VA
      October 29 Beverly, WV
      November 12 Nineveh (Cedarville), VA
      Lieutenant Colonel Radford was killed.
      November 22 Front Royal, VA
      December 17 Berry’s Ford, VA
      December 20 Madison Court House, VA
      December 23 Jack’s Shop, VA
      December 24 Gordonsville, VA
      January 29 Moorfield WV
      February 6 Balltown, WV
      February Major Kendrick was exchanged.
      March Ordered with the rest of Rosser’s Division to leave the Valley and join the Army of Northern Virginia at Petersburg.
      March-April Siege of Petersburg
      March 29 Quaker Road, VA
      March 31 Dinwiddie Court House, VA
      April 1 Battle of Five Forks

      April 2 Sutherland Station, VA
      April 3 Namozine Church, VA
      April 5 Avery’s Church Road, VA
      April 6 Jetersville, VA
      April 6-7 High Bridge, VA
      April 7 Cumberland Chuch (Farmville)
      April 9 Appomattox Court House
      The regiment cut its was through Union lines and escaed the surrender. Only two men, Corporal J.W. Whitman and Private A.H. Tate of Company G, surrendered with Lee’s army.
      Mid-April The regiment disbanded

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *