Battle of Ringgold Gap

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Battle of Ringgold Gap
Part of the American Civil War
Battle Ringgold Gap Drawing.jpg
Sketch of the Battle of Ringgold Gap
DateNovember 27, 1863 (1863-11-27)
Location
Result Confederate victory
Belligerents
United States United States (Union) Confederate States of America CSA (Confederacy)
Commanders and leaders
Joseph Hooker Patrick Cleburne
Strength
16,000[1] 4,200[2]
Casualties and losses
509 killed and wounded[3] 20 killed, 201 wounded[4]
Ringgold is located in Georgia
Ringgold
Ringgold
Location within the state of Georgia
Ringgold is located in the United States
Ringgold
Ringgold
Ringgold (the United States)

The Battle of Ringgold Gap was fought November 27, 1863, outside the town of Ringgold, Georgia, by the Confederate and Union armies during the American Civil War. Part of the Chattanooga Campaign, it followed a heavy Confederate loss at the Battle of Missionary Ridge from which General Braxton Bragg's artillery and wagon trains were forced to retreat south. The five hour Battle of Ringgold Gap resulted in the Confederate victory of Major General Patrick R. Cleburne and gave the Army of Tennessee safe passage to retreat through the Ringgold Gap mountain pass.

Background[edit]

The disastrous Confederate rout at Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25 forced the Army of Tennessee to retreat into northwest Georgia. On November 26, the army made its way south towards Dalton.[5] To allow time for his artillery and wagon trains to safely pass through the gap, Confederate General Braxton Bragg sent Patrick Cleburne's unit of 4,157 men[6] to defend it from the Union army. While Cleburne expressed doubt he could defend the gap adequately with his single division, Bragg refused to send any further troops to assist Cleburne.[7] Cleburne and his men proceeded south and reached Ringgold around 10:00 p.m.[8] After crossing through the East Chickamauga Creek, Cleburne's army made camp in the mountain pass known as the Ringgold Gap.[6]

All accounts the Union received about Bragg's army suggested a hasty and unorganized retreat following the Battle of Missionary Ridge.[9] The Union commander at Chattanooga, Ulysses S. Grant, had ordered a pursuit of the retreating Confederate army on the morning of November 26, but confusion over the orders prevented the Union forces from getting an early start.[10] General Joseph Hooker was given command of divisions from the IV Corps, XI Corps, XII Corps, and XV Corps and sent to cut off the Western and Atlantic railroad in pursuit of the Confederate rear guard.[11] However, when the Union forces arrived, they found that the Confederates had burned the bridges over Chickamauga Creek.[11] Having finally reached Ringgold Gap around 10:00 p.m.,[9] Hooker halted two and a half miles from the Confederate army during the night of November 26–27.[10]

Plans and movement to battle[edit]

Upon the Confederate army's arrival at Ringgold Gap, Cleburne deployed his men in three strategic locations — at Taylor's Ridge, White Oak Mountain, and within the gap itself. To the south, three Alabama regiments were stationed in the woods of Taylor's Ridge under the leadership of Major Frederick Ashford.[12] Brigadier General Mark Perrin Lowrey and Lucius Polk's troops of the Confederate Reserve were sent to guard the passage at Taylor's Ridge.[13] Further north, Brigadier General Hiram B. Granbury's Texas brigade was sent to defend against attack from White Oak Mountain. To his right, Major William Taylor was stationed with members of the 17th, 18th, 24th, and 25th Texas cavalry.[12] Inside Ringgold Gap, Brigadier General Daniel Govan led four Arkansas divisions alongside Captain C.E. Talley of the 7th Texas.[14] Cleburne's tactical position was completed with the placement of two cannons at the opening of the gap along with a regiment under the leadership of Richard Goldthwaite.[15]

Around 8:00 a.m. on the morning of November 27, Hooker dispatched Major General Peter Osterhaus and his division to scout the area. While out, they encountered Cleburne's watchmen, who raced back to the Ringgold Gap to inform Cleburne of their encounter and the impending battle.[11]

Armies[edit]

Union[edit]

Ulysses S. Grant had the following forces available in the Battle of Ringgold Gap under the leadership of Joseph Hooker:

Confederate[edit]

Braxton Bragg's Army of Tennessee had the following forces available in the Battle of Ringgold Gap under the leadership of Patrick Cleburne:

  • Liddell's Brigade, under Colonel Daniel Govan, consisting of eight Arkansas regiments including the 2nd Arkansas, 5th Arkansas, 6th Arkansas, 7th Arkansas, 8th Arkansas, 13th Arkansas, 15th Arkansas, and 19th Arkansas.[21]
  • Lowrey's Brigade, under Brigadier General Mark Lowrey, consisting of three Alabama regiments under Major Frederick Ashford and three Tennessee regiments.[21]
  • Polk's Brigade, under Brigadier General Lucius Polk, consisting of the 1st Arkansas and three Tennessee regiments including the 2nd Tennessee, 35th Tennessee, and 48th Tennessee.[17]
  • Smith's Brigade, under Colonel Hiram Granbury, consisting of the 7th Texas under Captain Charles Talley and the Texas Cavalry under Major William Taylor.[22]
  • Semple's (Alabama) Battery of the Artillery Battalion, under Lieutenant Richard Goldthwaite.[23]

Battle[edit]

Battle of Ringgold Gap, map by Hal Jespersen.[24]

Arriving at his lookout point from the depot,[25] Hooker saw a small line of infantrymen and decided to deploy his forces into the gap without his artillery.[26] Under the command of General Charles Woods, his brigade entered the gap, but were quickly driven back by Granbury's unit.[20] The Confederates held their fire until the Union line was fifty yards away.[27] Upon Cleburne's orders, Goldthwaite's men fired three shots from the disguised twelve-pound Napoleon cannons[23] while the rest of the Army of Tennessee exchanged fire with the bluecoats.[20]

Believing they could gain a tactical advantage, Woods sent the 13th Illinois right to seek shelter in the buildings of Jobes Farm.[28] After another failed attempt against Cleburne's troops, Woods' troops were halted by gunfire from Taylor's Ridge and cannon fire from within the gap. To counter the opposition, Osterhaus sent the 76th Ohio and 4th Iowa to attack the Confederate forces on Taylor's Ridge.[29] The initial volley disorganized Osterhaus's division[27] and his Union forces were unable to advance from their position for the remainder of the battle.[28]

John Geary's XII Corps division was the next to arrive around 10:40 a.m.[16] Under the command of David Ireland, one brigade again attacked the Confederate right while another regiment attacked the gap.[27] As they moved further into the gap, both forces were halted by heavy Confederate fire from Taylor's Ridge and White Oak Mountain.[16] Simultaneously, William Creighton and Orrin Crane's 1st Brigade was sent to support Williamson's 2nd Brigade on White Oak Mountain.[17] The brigade was driven back by Polk and Lowrey's regiments, and Creighton was killed during an attempt to rally his men against the Confederates.[30]

After holding his position for five hours,[31] Cleburne received communications from Bragg around 12:00 p.m.[17] notifying him that the army had made it safely through the gap and he could begin his retreat.[30] Leaving skirmishers along his front to hide his withdrawal, he pulled back from the gap about 2:00 p.m. and burned the bridge on the eastern side of the gap.[31] Grant arrived near the gap, and the scattered position of his army made him decide to return to Chattanooga; no further Union pursuit was organized.[32]

Aftermath[edit]

Cleburne had lost 20 killed and 201 wounded during the battle.[31] Union casualties totaled 509 killed and wounded. Although Hooker was severely criticized for his conduct of the battle by Union Assistant Secretary of War Dana and several of Hooker's men, Grant choose to retain Hooker temporarily.[32]

Battlefield today[edit]

A small park in Ringgold Gap commemorates the battle. A monument to soldiers from New York who sustained heavy casualties stands near Tiger Creek at the Ringgold Water Treatment Plant, while a monument in honor of Major General Patrick Cleburne and his men is located in the park. The nearby Western and Atlantic Depot (Ringgold Depot) still shows scars from the damage it received from artillery fire during the battle. The Ringgold Gap Battlefield was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.[33]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ McDonough, p. 220.
  2. ^ Broome, p. 34.
  3. ^ Broome, p. 40.
  4. ^ Cozzens, p. 384.
  5. ^ Grear, p. 132.
  6. ^ a b Bohannon, p. 246.
  7. ^ McDonough, pp. 220–222.
  8. ^ Grear, p. 133.
  9. ^ a b Grear, p. 137.
  10. ^ a b Cozzens, pp. 362–66.
  11. ^ a b c Grear, p. 136.
  12. ^ a b Grear, p. 135.
  13. ^ Bohannon, p. 247.
  14. ^ Bohannon, pp. 247–48.
  15. ^ Grear, p.136
  16. ^ a b c Grear, p.143
  17. ^ a b c d e Townsend, p.140
  18. ^ Cozzens, p.374
  19. ^ Grear, p.135
  20. ^ a b c Townsend, p.138
  21. ^ a b Bohannon, p.247
  22. ^ Grear, p.135; Townsend, p.138
  23. ^ a b Townsend, p.136
  24. ^ a b "General Patrick R. Cleburne Memorial". The Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 13 March 2017.
  25. ^ Townsend, p.135
  26. ^ Grear, p.137;Townsend, p.138
  27. ^ a b c Cozzens, pp. 374–79; Broome, pp. 37–29.
  28. ^ a b Townsend, p.139
  29. ^ Grear, p.139
  30. ^ a b Townsend, p.141
  31. ^ a b c Cozzens, p. 384; Broome, p. 40.
  32. ^ a b Broome, p. 40; Cozzens, pp. 384–85.
  33. ^ National Park Service

References[edit]

  • Bohannon, Keith S. (1998). Chattanooga-Ringgold Campaign: November 1863: Ringgold Gap, Georgia (GA005), Catoosa County, November 27, 1863. Civil War Battlefield Guide. pp. 246–248. ISBN 9780395740125.
  • Broome, Doyle D., Jr. "Daring Rear-Guard Defense." America's Civil War 6, no. 5 (November 1993): 34–40.
  • Cozzens, Peter. The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga. Urbanna: University of Illinois Press, 1994. ISBN 0-252-01922-9.
  • Grear, Charles D.; Woodworth, Steven E (2012). The Chattanooga Campaign. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press. pp. 132–150. ISBN 9780809331192.
  • McDonough, James Lee. Chattanooga—A Death Grip on the Confederacy. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1984. ISBN 0-87049-425-2.
  • National Park Service battle description
  • Townsend, Mary B. (2010). Yankee Warhorse: A Biography of Major General Peter Osterhaus. Columbia: University of Missouri. pp. 138–142. ISBN 9780826218759.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°54′40″N 85°06′05″W / 34.9112°N 85.1015°W / 34.9112; -85.1015