Tuesday, October 29, 2013
When Grant arrived in Chattanooga to take command of the army under siege by Bragg's Confederates, he was told of a plan that had been devised by the army's chief engineer William “Baldy” Smith, to get supplies into the town. He liked it, and ordered that it be put into execution. It was called the Cracker Line. The plan was for supplies to be brought to Kelley's Ferry on the Tennessee, then overland through Cummings Gap in Raccoon Mountain, cross the river again at Brown's Ferry, then brought across the river directly into the city.
To use this line however Bragg's men would have to be driven across Raccoon Mountain. Grant planned to have Hooker move under cover of darkness to meet up with two columns of troops from Thomas, one of which would silently float pass Lookout Mountain while the other would march overland as reinforcements. He ordered that it be put into execution early on the morning of October 27th. The men from Thomas were successful in passing Lookout Mountain without being sighted. They set up a Pontoon bridge and captured Brown's Ferry with little resistance, as few Confederate units had been stationed in the area. The next day Hooker arrived, and the Cracker line was secured right under Bragg's noose. It was put into operation, and know there was no trouble getting men or supplies into Chattanooga.
The Confederates were upset that the siege had been lifted, and immediately began trying to cut the Cracker Line. Longstreet decided to strike at Wauhatchie Station, where John Greary's division was in a weaker position than the rest of Hocker's men. Longstreet ordered a night attack to be made, and it went into effect early on the morning of October 29, 150 years ago today. The strike was scheduled for 10 pm, but the darkness delayed the march for two hours. Greary's men were surprised, and were driven back into a V shaped position anchored on the river. Two Union corps were sent to his aid, and the Confederates fell back in co fusion. The battle had been badly planned on both sides, and the confusion of a night attack destroyed the Confederate chances for victory.