Monday, June 24, 2013

Holding The Gaps

George H Thomas
The Battle of Hoover’s Gap a part of the Middle Tennessee Campaign was fought June 24th 1863.

After the Battle of Stones River, Confederate General Braxton Bragg established a line from Shelbyville to Wartrace along the Duck River, this included holding the Bellbuckle, Hoover’s and Liberty Gaps.  Union leaders fearing that Bragg would go to the support of Vicksburg pushed Major General William Rosecrans to attack Bragg’s position.

Rosecrans made a move towards Shelbyville on June 23rd 1863 to get Bragg’s attention, while the mass of his troops headed for the Gaps.  On June 24th 1863 Union Major General George H Thomas attacked Hoover’s Gap.  Thomas used Colonel John T Wilder’s mounted infantry known as the “Lightning Brigade” armed with Spencer Rifles to spearhead the attack.  They met Confederate Colonel J Russell Butler’s 1st Kentucky Cavalry, and pushed them back 7 miles, before Wilder’s men came up against Brigadier General William B Bate’s brigade.  Wilder entrenched on the hills to the south of the gap and held throughout several Confederate attacks.  More units arrived on both sides and everyone settled down hold their position.

On June 26th 1863 the Confederate force began pulling back.  Although rain made moving slow Rosecrans pushed Bragg’s men until they fell back to a defensive line at Tullahoma.

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