It is September of 1863 and we join five of our seven Croy brothers as they move to capture and protect Chattanooga, Tennessee. As noted in the previous post, Greer Croy of the 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry (OVI) and Robert, William, Duncan, and David of the 92nd OVI came together under the Hungarian General Turchin and the Army of the Cumberland. They marched toward Chattanooga and, through a series of maneuvers, outwitted Confederate General Braxton Bragg and occupied the city. General Rosecrans followed Bragg into Tennessee, but rather than retreat, Bragg turned round in a surprise attempt to regain the city he had lost.
The Battle of Chickamauga began in earnest on September 19th and continued through the 20th. I cannot attempt to detail the battle here for lack of time and expertise. Excellent sources for more detail are noted at the end of the post.
The brothers no doubt performed heroically. While the Confederate Army took control of the battle, two thirds of Union rank and file, along with their leadership, fled the field. But under Major General George Thomas (“The Rock of Chickamauga”) Turchin with the 36th and 92nd OVI, held a section called Horseshoe Ridge long enough to prevent a complete rout. The Army of the Cumberland fell back to Chattanooga. Greer Croy worked his way back slowly, wounded for the second time in the war (the first at Antietam.)[i]
The Union cost in dead and wounded was severe. But, because the Rebels did not take advantage and pursue them or take back Chattanooga, it was a positive pivot point for the Western Theatre and the war in general. The Union soldiers could not know this. They would simply try to survive. Stuck in Chattanooga, with the Confederates controlling Lookout Mountain on the south and Mission Ridge (to be called Missionary Ridge) on the east, supplies were squeezed. Half and quarter rations compounded by cold, wet weather challenged morale. They hung on for a month.
At the end of October, in a brilliantly conceived plan, approximately 1,400 men, including the 36th and 92nd, floated down the Tennessee River without a sound, passing under the eyes of Confederates on Lookout Mountain. They set to work building a pontoon bridge and securing Brown’s Ferry, creating a supply line for Chattanooga that the soldiers called “Cracker Bridge.” With Sherman’s Army coming to support them and Grant heading to Tennessee to provide leadership, the brothers readied themselves for next phase of the conflict.
Mission Ridge was the controlling high ground and, on November 25, 1863, Grant meant to take it. He did not plan to take it with The Army of the Cumberland, now under Thomas’ leadership. Grant did not hold them in high regard…yet. Where Sherman and Hooker were slow to respond, Thomas was not. The brothers, under Turchin, stormed the ridge with the rest of the Cumberland. They pushed forward and did not stop, leading the charge up the ridge. They won control of the ridge and the strategic staging ground for the war. Among the wounded in the 92nd OVI was young David Croy.[ii]
Note: Copyright free photos from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs www.loc.gov/pictures
More on General John (Ivan) Turchin and Nadine Turchin who wrote the only military war diary by a woman in the Civil War: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Turchaninov
Additional resources: Crook’s Regulars,[iii] the Wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chickamauga, and Ohio Civil War Central http://www.ohiocivilwarcentral.com