West Point in the Making of America

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Panels 1-11 | Panels 12-22 | Panels 23-32




Panel 23, Defending Both Fronts
Panel 23   Defending Both Fronts
Commanding the hard-pressed Federal left was Maj. Gen. George N. Thomas who, throughout the second day, maintained his lines against mounting enemy assaults. As he rallied his troops on the left, Thomas did not know that a massive Confederate attack was pouring through a gap in the Federal right flank. The whole right wing collapsed. Rosecrans, caught up in the wreckage of his army, was swept into Chattanooga. Thomas was left to fight alone.



Panel 24, The Rock of Chickamauga
Panel 24   The Rock of Chickamauga
Thomas took up a new line on high ground and held fast until sunset, covering the retreat of the rest of the army into Chattanooga. After dark, Thomas put his battered brigades on the road to Chattanooga. They were whipped—but their desperate stand had saved the Army of the Cumberland from destruction and it would fight another day. The North had a new hero in stubborn George Thomas, “The Rock of Chickamauga.”



Panel 25, A Virtual State of Siege
Panel 25   A Virtual State of Siege
Rosecrans’s beaten army dug in at Chattanooga in a virtual state of siege. Food for men and horses dwindled to starvation level. Confederates on Lookout Mountain watched the approaches to Chattanooga and they could stop any movement of supplies along the road and railway that passed by the foot of the mountain. The north reacted swiftly to the plight of the hungry army in Chattanooga. U. S. Grant himself was shortly on the way. Grant relieved Rosecrans and gave the Army of the Cumberland to George Thomas, the hero of bloody Chickamauga.



Panel 26, Establishing the “Cracker Line”
Panel 26   Establishing the “Cracker Line”
Grant’s first task was to open a supply line into beleaguered Chattanooga. A route bypassing Lookout Mountain was available if Confederate outposts west of the mountain could be eliminated. Some Federal troops moved overland and others, under cover of darkness, drifted past Lookout Mountain in flatboats to drive the Confederates away from Brown’s Ferry. The so-called “cracker line” was quickly put into operation, to the joy of the famished garrison in Chattanooga.



Panel 27, The Blue Army Stands Their Ground
Panel 27   The Blue Army Stands Their Ground
The Confederates struck back and attempted one night to break the newly opened supply line into Chattanooga. The Southerners’ attack failed and in a short time the Federals held a strong position in the valley beneath Lookout Mountain.



Panel 28, “Battle above the Clouds”
Panel 28   “Battle above the Clouds”
Grant planned a three-pronged attack against the besieging Confederates, from Lookout Mountain on the Federal right to Missionary Ridge in front and on the left. Fighting Joe Hooker’s corps was given the task of clearing the Confederates off Lookout Mountain. Hooker’s men greatly outnumbered the Mountain’s defenders and by late afternoon of November 24, 1863, Northern flags were flying on the heights. The conquest of Lookout Mountain looked more spectacular than it actually was, but war correspondents thrilled the North with their descriptions of the “Battle above the Clouds.”



Panel 29, Last Link of the Supply Line
Panel 29   Last Link of the Supply Line
The swiftly developing movements of the Federal Army could now be adequately supported. In October, Army engineers had thrown a stout wagon bridge over the Tennessee, completing the last link of the supply line into Chattanooga.



Panel 30, Storming the Missionary Ridge
Panel 30   Storming the Missionary Ridge
Although Hooker was in firm possession of Lookout Mountain on the right, Gen. William T. Sherman’s troops were stalled at the north end of Missionary Ridge. Grant ordered George Thomas to send the army of the Cumberland against the Confederate works at the base of the Ridge. The troops, 18,000 strong, went forward to the base of the Ridge—and kept on going to the amazement of Grant and his generals, and to the consternation of the Confederates staring down from the Ridge. This had never happened before—an army acting without orders to march into the teeth of what looked like an impregnable position. The shocked Confederates fired a few rounds, panicked, and ran for Georgia. The Army of the Cumberland had erased the stain of Chickamauga with one of the most stunning victories of the war. Artist Travis put himself in the lower left corner of the picture sketching the scene from the cover of a shell-shattered tree.



Panel 31, Rosecrans, Thomas, and their Victory Team
Panel 31   Rosecrans, Thomas, and their Victory Team
The war would go on for another year and a half but never again did the Army of the Cumberland know glory to equal its sweep up Missionary Ridge. Artist Travis here portrays the officers who, under Rosecrans and Thomas, led the army to its great afternoon of victory.



Panel 32, Travis’ Parting
Panel 32   Travis’s Parting
His mission accomplished, the artist rides home from the wars on “Big Fool,” his faithful mount. The curtain falls on one man’s vivid interpretation of war as he saw it.



Panels 1-11 | Panels 12-22 | Panels 23-32



Smithsonian National Museum of American History


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