Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Battle of Ringgold Gap

After the Confederates were defeated at Chattanooga, Bragg retreated south towards Atlanta. When the army passed Ringgold Gap, he ordered Cleburne to hold it to the last ditch so the rest of the army could escape. Although it was considered to be a suicide assignment, Cleburne and his men did it gloriously. On November 27th, 150 years ago today, they held the gap successfully, giving Hooker there the same reception they gave Sherman on Missionary Ridge. Covering the hill with slain, they effectively stopped the pursuit in its tracks. Hooker lost around 509 men, Cleburne 221.

Bragg halted his discouraged men, and as he had after the battle of Murfreesboro, offered to turn over his command. This time this offer was accepted. In his time as commander of the Army of Tennessee, Bragg had fought four battles, and although three could be claimed as victories, in two of those cases he followed his claimed victory with a retreat. Although he had penetrated deep into Kentucky, his mistakes had led him into a disastrous retreat from an almost impregnable position. Jefferson Davis would eventually decide to replace him with Joseph E. Johnston. Johnston had shown on several occasions that he was very hesitant to fight, but the president could find no better man for the job. 


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