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Battle of Lookout Mountain
Report of Gen. John K. Jackson

The following is transcribed from the Southern Historical Society Papers, dated January to December 1880:

Headquarters Cheatham's Division,
Near Dalton, GA., 21st December, 1863.


Major J.J. Reeve, Assistant Adjutant General:

Major, -- My report of the unfortunate disaster on Lookout mountain on the 24th instant has been somewhat delayed in consequence of the delay of the brigade commanders in sending their reports to me, the last of which -- that of Brigadier General Moore was received this day. The result of that day's operations, and the character of the reports of brigade commanders, which are herewith sent inclosed, require of me a report more in detail than I would otherwise make it, and will excuse the personal cast which it assumes.

         On the 9th November, 1863, in conformity with orders from army headquarters, being temporarily in command of Cheatham's division, I reported to Major General W.H.T. Walker. A reorganization of the army having just taken place, I had with me to report to General Walker but one brigade of the division -- Wright's brigade having been left at Charlestown, Tennessee, under orders, and Moore's and Walthall's brigades having not then reported to me under the new organization. My headquarters were located on the west side of Chattanooga creek at a point advised by General Walker, and my brigade was placed where he directed. On the same day, I was invited by General Walker to accompany him and Lieutenant General Hardee to the Cravens house, which I did. The ground in that neighborhood was passed over, viewed and discussed, but no line to fight on was recommended by any one present; indeed, it was agreed on all hands that the position was one extremely difficult of defence against a strong force of the enemy advancing under cover of a heavy artillery fire. General Walker's opinion was expressed to the effect that at a certain point to which we had walked, which was a narrow pass, artillery should be placed in position, extending to the left for a short distance towards the top of the mountain; that this would prevent any surprise by forces approaching in that direction, and at the same time they would answer the guns from the hills on the opposite side of Lookout creek; also to have artillery near the Cravens house to answer the moccasin  battery guns. By the first arrangement, he said, the artillery could have retreated by the road, and the infantry, which was put there to defend the artillery and pass, would have felt strong, and been better satisfied and better able to hold their position. He said his experience was that infantry care but little for artillery if they have artillery to respond with, and that they are soon demoralized when they have quietly to sit and receive artillery fire without having some of their own to reply with. I ventured to express my own opinion to Lieutenant General Hardee subsequently, and in it I differed somewhat -- not without great presumption, but with great diffidence -- from that of so experienced a soldier as General Walker. If we were defeated on the slope, the guns, as I thought, must inevitably be lost from the impossibility of removing them under fire from their position. My plan of defence was to place a gun in every available position on Lookout point, and to sink the wheels or elevate the trails so as to command the slope of the mountain; in addition to which I respectfully suggested that on the point a sharpshooter should be posted where ever a man could stand, so as to annoy the flank of the enemy. In my judgment there was no place northwest of the Cravens house at which our infantry force could be held on the slope of the mountain; and in consequence of this firm conviction I gave orders to Brigadier General Walthall, which are hereinafter mentioned. Upon my return to the foot of the mountain on the 9th November, I found Brigadier General Walthall and his brigade in camp there. Brigadier General Moore's brigade was then at the Cravens house, where it had been for a time, how long I am not informed. General Walker directed that Brigadier General Gist, commanding his division, and I with my own and Walthall's brigade of Cheatham's division, should defend the line from Chattanooga creek to the foot of the mountain, and permitted us to divide the line according to our respective strength as we wished. After riding along the line with General Gist, we made the apportionment of it and gave orders to our respective commands. At that time I had no command over the mountain slope, although one of the brigades (Moore's) of the division was then on duty at or near the Cravens house. General Moore was in command of that portion of the line, under General Walker's orders, from 10th to 14th November. The command I found General Walker exercising -- extending over all the troops west of Chattanooga creek -- was under the general supervision of Lieutenant General Hardee; and upon General Walker's going away on a short leave on the 12th November, which he informed me he had some weeks before applied for, and upon the assurance of General Bragg that he would telegraph him when Sherman came up, before which time he anticipated no trouble, this command devolved on me. I at once asked for written instructions from the corps commander as to the mode of defence of the line, but received none. The command was a unit, and was doubtless intended to be handled as such. I continued to exercise it, and gave orders subject to the approval of Lieutenant General Hardee, until his headquarters were removed from the extreme right of the army to a point a little east of Chattanooga creek. This was about the 14th of November.

          About this time I went to the top of the mountain with Lieutenant General Hardee. We there met General Bragg, and after a view from Lookout point, General Bragg indicated a line on the slope of the mountain, which from that standpoint he thought ought to be the fighting line. As we descended the mountain, I again rode out with Lieutenant General Hardee to the Cravens house and again looked over the ground. The line indicated by General Bragg was to present quite a different appearance from a close view from the same as seen from the mountain top. This line, as I understood it, passed from Lookout point a little in the rear of the Cravens house and down to a point not far from the junction of the Kelly ferry and Cravens House roads, and thence to the Perception Rocks, near the mouth of Chattanooga creek. The engineers were put to work under some one's orders, whose I do not know, and fatigue parties furnished to them from my command at their request. On the 14th November a new disposition of the command was made. Major General Stevenson was assigned to the command of the troops and defences on the top of Lookout mountain. The ranking officer of Cheatham's division was directed to assume command of all troops and defences at and near the Cravens house. The ranking officer of Walker's division was charged with the line from the base of Lookout mountain east to Chattanooga creek and all the troops not at the points above named. This order emanated from headquarters Hardee's corps, and in conformity with it, as the ranking officer of Cheatham's division, I assumed command of the troops and defences at and near the Cravens house, and on the following day (the 15th November) established my headquarters at the junction of the Sumnertown road with the Mountainside road, leading to the Cravens house, with the approval of Lieutenant General Hardee. On the same day Brigadier General Walthall's brigade relieved that of Brigadier General Pettus near the Cravens house. On the night of the 16th or 17th a fatigue party was ordered to report to Lieutenant Stell, of the engineers, to commence work on the new line below the Cravens house. By direction of Lieutenant General Hardee, I went out in person to see that the work was progressing -- found that there was a misunderstanding as to the place of reporting. I walked down the road a considerable distance along the contemplated line, then went to the Cravens house and ordered the detail to be reassembled and to report to Lieutenant Stell immediately. This was at night -- the work was directed to be done at night -- as the working party would be under the fire of the Moccasin point battery. General Walthall's troops being some distance in advance of the proposed line and exposed to the enemy's artillery fire, I ordered him on the 18th, with the approval of Lieutenant General Hardee, to shorten his picket line as he proposed, and notice of which I promptly gave to General Stevenson, and to bring his troops in the rear (south) of the Cravens house, leaving his pickets where they were supported by one regiment. Upon inspection of the grounds General Walthall reported to me that as General Moore's troops were also in the rear of the Craven house there would not be room enough for his brigade between General Moore and my headquarters, and said that as he supposed the order I had given him was permission rather than directory, if I had no objection he would keep his troops where they were. To this I assented; giving him at the same time instruction, if attacked by the enemy in heavy force, to fall back, fighting over the rocks. I expected by the time his troops reached the Cravens house to be with them and form line of battle, with Walthall's left against the cliff and his right at or near the Cravens house, and Moore prolonging this line to the right. This was the general line pointed out by General Bragg, although it had not been defended by the engineers, nor had any work been done on it between the cliff and the Cravens house. Beyond the Cravens house there was no practicable line which was not enfiladed by the enemy's batteries except the covered way prepared by General Jenkins, and the flank of that was exposed to the infantry attack. On the afternoon of the 20th (I believe) I visited the works below the Cravens house in company with Captain Henry, of the division staff, and spent some time in their inspection. These works being a mere rifle pit, would be of no service when the enemy were once in possession of the Cravens house, as they would then be taken in flank -- almost in reverse. On the 22d of November my own brigade was ordered to report to me, and was moved from the top of the mountain to the slope and placed in the position which I had desired General Walthall to take. On the 23d it was ordered to the foot of the mountain out of any command to take, with Cummings' brigade, the place on the line which had been occupied by Walker's division. My position and that of Major General Stevenson were thus each weakened by a brigade. On the same day a brisk fire of artillery and small arms was heard coming from the extreme right. It was supposed to be a struggle for wood. Late in the afternoon of the 23d General Stevenson was placed in command of the forces west of Chattanooga creek -- Lieutenant General Hardee having been removed to the extreme right; and on the same night orders were received and distributed to prepare three days' cooked rations and to hold the troops in readiness to move at a moment's notice, in order to avoid anything like a surprise along the line. At 7+ o'clock P.M. I ordered Captain Henry, of the division staff, to visit the chief of "picket," and to direct them to be unusually vigilant in watching the movements of the enemy, and to guard against surprise. About 9 o'clock A.M. of the 24th I received a note from General Walthall to the effect that the enemy were moving in heavy force towards our left; that their tents had nearly all disappeared, and the pontoon bridges been cut away. Shortly afterwards I received another note from him to the effect that he was mistaken as to the number of tents that had disappeared, but that many of those which could be seen on previous days were then not visible. The original of both these notes were immediately dispatched to General Bragg, and copies to General Stevenson. I also sent a staff officer to order Generals Moore and Walthall to hold their commands under arms ready for action. I walked out on the road towards the Cravens house to a favorable point, and could distinguish the enemy's troops in the plain in front of Chattanooga -- all quiet, no massing, no movements of any kind from this point. I sent another staff officer to the Cravens house to report to me immediately anything of interest, and returned myself to my position at the forks of the road.

          The demonstrations of the enemy did not up to this time indicate the point of attack, whether upon my portion of the line or further to the left. General Stevenson inquired of me about this time if I needed reinforcements; to which I replied that I could not tell until there were further developments. I sent orders by a staff officer to Generals Moore and Walthall to place their troops in line as soon as skirmishing commenced, but not unnecessarily to expose them to the fire of the enemy's artillery. I expected from the rugged nature of the ground, and the fact that the enemy had to ascend the mountain, that the picket fighting would continue for some time before the main body would be engaged. About this time I received a message from General Moore, that he did not know where the line was. I sent back immediately an order that General Walthall would occupy the left, and that he (General Moore) would form on his (Walthall's) right, prolonging their line in the earthworks between the Cravens house as far as his troops would extend. About 12 M. I received a note from General Moore that the enemy had forwarded his line and commenced skirmishing with our pickets near the railroad bridge crossing Lookout creek; that he could not then tell their object, and inquiring where he should place his brigade. I sent to General Stevenson to ask for the offered reinforcements. Information came to me from General Walthall about the same time that the pickets had commenced firing, and a message from General Stevenson by Major Pickett, that the enemy was making an attack on my line. I now asked in writing for a brigade from General Stevenson, to be sent down at once, and ordered Major John Ingram, Assistant Adjutant General, to direct General Moore to advance and form on the right of General Walthall and prolong the line in the earthworks below the Cravens house. Major Ingram reported to me that he rode rapidly forward to a point some two hundred (200) yards from the Cravens house, passing General Moore's brigade moving up to their position and to support General Walthall's brigade, which was being rapidly driven back by overwhelming numbers. The substance of my orders was delivered by Major Ingram to Generals Moore and Walthall. The latter stated that although this order did not reach him in time, he had carried it out in his efforts to defend the position. General Moore expressed a desire to have a full supply of ammunition; was informed by Major Ingram that Captain Clark, division ordnance officer, had been ordered to furnish him from the division train. Within a few minutes after Major Ingram left as bearer of the above order to Generals Moore and Walthall, I proceeded in person, accompanied by Major Vaulx, of the division staff, to superintend the execution. Passing a great many stragglers -- officers and men -- along the road, I was met at some short distance from the Cravens house by an officer from General Walthall, who brought the information that his brigade had been driven back in considerable confusion, and that the Cravens house was in possession of the enemy. I immediately dispatched a staff officer to speed the reinforcements, and endeavored to rally the men, who were coming to the rear in large numbers, and formed a line where I was, selecting what I considered the most favorable position for a line, among rocks, where no regular line was practicable, and where the battle could be but a general skirmish. Failing in this, I rode back to the junction of the roads and there met General Pettus with three regiments of his brigade. He informed me that he had been ordered by General Stevenson to report to me. I directed him to proceed on the road and form line to reinforce Generals Moore and Walthall. I at the same time sent for a piece of artillery from the battalion of the division; and upon its arrival directed the officer in command to select the most favorable position on the Cravens House road and check the enemy. He soon after reported that he could find no position in which he could use his gun to advantage and for not more than one or two shots at all. I remained generally at the junction of the two roads, because I considered it most accessible from all points. General Stevenson was communicating with me by the road down the mountain, and General Moore by the same road up the mountain. General Pettus informed me by an officer of the disposition made of his troops, and asked for orders. Having placed his regiments on the left of the cross-roads, with the left against the cliff and extending intervals so as to connect with General Moore on the right of the road, I had no orders to give him, expect to hold that position against the enemy. His <shv8_394> dispositions were satisfactory, and I did not wish to change them. I subsequently received a message from him that the enemy was passing his left and asking for reinforcements, and about the same time I was informed by one of the division staff that General Walthall had sent the fragments of two regiments to that point, and that there was no danger to be apprehended there. I replied to General Pettus that I had no reinforcements to send him; that no more could be obtained from General Stevenson, and that he must hold his position. The enemy being held in check, matters so continued not materially changed until quite late in the afternoon, when I received a report from an officer from General Moore's brigade that unless he was reinforced his right would be turned. Receiving intelligence also from an officer of Pickett, who had escaped that way, that the Kelley Ferry road was entirely open, I knew that the enemy only had to press forward on it to obtain control of our road from the mountain, and expected that they certainly would do so.

          I rode to the top of the mountain to confer with General Stevenson, my immediate superior, upon the subject. We agreed that if the enemy did get possession of the road at or near the base of the mountain, I  should withdraw the troops of my command at dark and join him on top of  the mountain, and he so directed. Availing myself of General  Stevenson's writing material, I addressed written orders to the  division Quartermaster, Commissary of Subsistence and Chief of  Artillery, who were in the plain below, to retire beyond Chattanooga  creek and look for orders from corps headquarters, as I expected to be  cut off from them. After this short absence, I returned to my position on the mountainside, and there remained until near dark, having sent  orders to the brigade commanders that if we were cut off or  overpowered, we would retire by the top of the mountain, but to hold  their positions if possible until further orders. When it was near dark, and when the firing had become rather desultory, I again went to  General Stevenson's headquarters for final orders as to withdrawing the  troops. I was there informed that General Bragg ordered us to retire down the mountain, the road being still open, and that we must assemble  at the Gillispie house, to make final arrangements. A guard having been detailed from my command for some subsistence stores on the top of the  mountain, I went to relieve them, but found it had already been done.  Proceeding to the Gillispie house, at the base of the mountain, I  received orders from General Bragg, through General Cheatham, as to the time and mode of withdrawing the troops, and immediately dispatched them to brigade commanders by the Assistant Adjutant General and the Acting Inspector General of the division. In conformity with these orders, the troops retired south of Chattanooga creek, and the bridge was destroyed.

          On the 20th November -- the date of the report nearest to the day of the battle -- Moore's brigade had a total effective strength of 1,205, and Walthall's total effective strength of 1,489.

          The casualties on the 1st were 4 killed, 39 wounded, and 198 missing. On the 2d the casualties were 8 killed, 91 wounded, and 845 captured. In Pettus' brigade there were 9 killed, 38 wounded, and 9 missing.

          General Moore ventured the opinion that if I had given proper orders, a different result would have been accomplished. I beg leave to differ. The whole effective force I had at my command at the beginning was twenty six hundred and ninety four men. Of these, one thousand and forty five have been captured; some have been wounded, and a few killed. The enemy's force was (as reported) a division and two brigades. They were in possession of the high ground around the Cravens house, from which, from General Moore's own statement, his left was completely enfiladed. Under the circumstances, I was unwilling to hazard an advance movement with my shattered command, even aided by three regiments under General Pettus, who was himself pressed by the enemy. General Moore adds a report of the battle the next day on Missionary ridge, where he was not under my command, and goes out of his way to say that he did not see me during the engagement. I did not think it necessary for me to show myself to him. If he had desired to see me, he could have found me at all times during the engagement near the right of my line, which was on the top of the ridge, while the left was down the hill. If General Moore means to reflect upon the conduct of my brigade, I am glad to say there are other witnesses who bear different testimony. General Walthall must have misapprehended the remark made to him as I descended the mountain. I expected to receive orders from General Bragg, but not to see him in person. These orders were to come through General Cheatham. I made the remark that there were two six pounder guns at the Cravens house, under the command of Lieutenant Gibson, but they were without horses and could not be moved. In their position they could not be fired without endangering the troops of General Walthall. Lieutenant Gibson's report accompanies this. He never reported tome, although subject to my orders; and his two guns were all the artillery I could command for the purpose of defence, although I took the responsibility of ordering up a piece from the battalions of Cheatham's division. General Walthall's communication in relation to a piece of artillery to be placed in position was sent by me immediately upon its receipt to General Stevenson. Captain Henry, of the division staff, was the bearer of it. The movements of the enemy were very rapid, and an impenetrable fog hung around the mountain all day.


I am, Major, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


John K. Jackson, Brigadier General

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