Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fighting In The Dark

The Battle of Wauhatchie; a rare night battle was fought October 29th 1863 along the Georgia Tennessee boarder.

On October 28th 1863 Union General Joseph Hooker moved his soldiers through Lookout Valley.  He detached a division under Brigadier General John W Geary to Wauhatchie Station to protect his communications as well as the road to Kelley’s Ford.  Geary had about 1,500 men and was posted in an isolated area.  Confederate General James Longstreet determined to attack this Union force.  Longstreet ordered a night attack be made by Brigadier General Micah Jenkins.  At the same time Longstreet moved against Hooker to keep him from reinforcing Geary.

The battle was supposed to open by 10 pm on October 28th 1863, but was delayed until after midnight.  Geary was expecting an attack and had sent out pickets, but he was still surprised.  As the Union troops were hit from the north they formed a V-shaped battle line facing east and north.  When Hooker heard the sounds of the battle he ordered Union Major General Carl Schurz to march to Wauhatchie Station and reinforce Geary.  In the confusion however Union Brigadier General Adolph von Steinwehr got moving first.  Steinwehr’s men were fired on from a hill while passing Brown’s Ferry, and Hooker deployed more troops toward the area against Confederate Brigadier General Evander M Law.  With all this going on, no got out to Wauhatchie Station to help Geary.

Law held his hill top though he was heavily outnumbered.  After standing up to several assaults Law began a drawback, but just as his men were leaving their entrenchments the Union soldiers spilled in and captured some of the Confederates who hadn’t gotten the order to retreat.

Geary’s men were running low on ammunition, but were still holding tight.  Just as the Confederates were looking at victory they received information that Union reinforcement were arriving.  Jenkins broke off and retreated with the rest of the Confederates to Lookout Mountain.  In the fight at Wauhatchie Station the Confederates had losses that numbered 356.  Union casualties numbered 216; including Geary’s own son, an artillery lieutenant who died in his father’s arms.

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