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John B. Catlin

John B. Catlin

One of Missoula’s most interesting pioneers, John B. Catlin, is among a select few who could claim a connection with the acclaimed Lonesome Dove saga. Lonesome Dove author, Larry McMurtry, acknowledged in an interview in 2001 that he based part of the book on Nelson Story who drove a herd of cattle from Texas to Montana in 1866 and “sold them at a profit”. (See American Heritage Magazine Feb/March 2001: THE MAKING OF “LONESOME DOVE”) John Catlin and his buddy, Steve Grover, were along for the ride. But that is a small part of the Catlin story. Let’s start from the beginning. The John B. Catlin biography appears in Progressive Men Of The State Montana, by A.W. Bowen & Co, 1902.

PART 1 - The Civil War

John Catlin was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1837, the son of a blacksmith. At the age of 2 his family then moved to La Porte, Indiana. One of four children he received his education in public schools, and “matured under the discipline of the farm. He continued to be identified with agriculture in Indiana until the period of the Civil war, when, on August 4, 1862, he enlisted in Company H, Eighty-seventh Indiana Infantry, and was in active service until July, 1865.”

Continuing his short autobiography, Catlin then gave us a brief glimpse of his military career  – using the characteristic reticence that would mark his demeanor throughout much of his life. Assigned to the “Army of the Cumberland”, he noted his participation in several battles, some of which were among the bloodiest of the Civil war.

After fighting at Franklin, Ky., in 1862, he went on to  “various engagements in the ensuing winter; then the memorable battles of Chickamauga and Mission Ridge, after which his regiment became a part of Sherman’s army in the celebrated march to the sea, and took part in the battles of Kenesaw Mountain, Buzzard’s Roost, Peach Tree creek, the siege of Atlanta, and thereafter the engagements at Jonesboro, Ga., whence the command moved to Savannah and to Goldsboro, N. C., thence to the national capital, where it participated in the grand review of the victorious Union armies. Mr. Catlin received no wounds of more than a trifling character during the entire term of service. He enlisted and served as a private until the fall of 1862, when he made fourth sergeant, and after the battle of Mission Ridge he was promoted commissary sergeant, while at Atlanta he was made captain of his original company and as such was mustered out.”


While he did not dwell on the nature of any of the battles he fought in, it is interesting to take a closer look at a couple of them. The battle of Chickamauga took place on September 19-20th., 1863, in the mountains of northwest Georgia, just south of Chattanooga, Tennessee. An important railhead with arteries extending both north and south, Chattanooga became the center of attention as Union military leaders saw it as a key to penetrating deeper into the South.  The name Chickamauga was allegedly derived from a Cherokee word meaning “river of death.”  Units involved in the battle of Chickamauga were the Union 'Army of the Cumberland', commanded by Major General William Rosecrans, and the Confederate 'Army of Tennessee', commanded by General Braxton Bragg (Fort Bragg in North Carolina is named for this Confederate General). Both Generals were West Point graduates.

One estimate gives the total number of troops involved in this battle as close to 125,000 men with each side composed of more than 60,000 men. Lasting only two days, the battle reputedly had the highest number of casualties of the war, excepting Gettysburg.  Losses were huge. One estimate gave Union losses as 16,170 (1,657 killed, 9,756 wounded, and 4,757 captured or missing); Confederate losses as 18,454 (2,312 killed, 14,674 wounded, and 1,468 captured or missing).

Fighting to a standstill on the first day of battle, the two forces were locked in close combat with numerous skirmishes taking place over an area of several miles. John Catlin’s Eighty-seventh Indiana Infantry was attached to the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division, 14th Army Corp. The 3rd Brigade was under the command of Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer (of the 35th Ohio Infantry) and included units from Ohio, Indiana, and Minnesota. The opening day of battle Colonel Van Derveer listed the combined strength of his command as 1,788 men. By the end of the second day of battle he had lost nearly half his men. “Our loss in the engagements of both days amounts to 13 officers and 132 men killed, and 25 officers and 581 men wounded, and 51 missing, the total loss being 802 men and officers.”

While John Catlin did not give us any details involving himself or his unit (87th Indiana) in the battle of Chickamauga, his superior officer Ferdinand Van Derveer did. In a report to the Assistant Adjutant-General’s office on Sept. 25th, 1863, Colonel Van Derveer gave an extensive account of the actions of his 3rd. Brigade: (See http://www.civilwarhome.com/chickama.htm)

“After a fatiguing march during the night of the 18th, and without any sleep or rest, while halting near Kelly’s house, on the Rossville and La Fayette road, I received an order from Brigadier-General Brannon, commanding Third Division, to move with haste along the road to Reed’s Bridge over the Chickamauga, take possession of a ford near that point, and hold it...

“Being without a guide and entirely unacquainted with the country, I am unable to state how near I went to Reed’s Bridge, but perceiving from the firing upon my right that I was passing the enemy’s flank, I wheeled the line in that direction and began feeling his position with my skirmishers...

“About this time I received an order stating that the Second Brigade was gradually giving back, and that it was necessary I should at once make an attack. This we did with a will, the first line, composed of the Thirty-fifth Ohio on the right and the Second Minnesota on the left, moving down a gentle slope, leaving the Eighty-seventh Indiana in reserve on the crest of the hill...

“The enemy having discovered our location, opened a furious fire of artillery and musketry, which was replied to promptly and apparently with considerable effect; for in half an hour the enemy slackened his fire, and his advance line was compelled to fall back. I took advantage of this moment to bring forward the Eighty-seventh Indiana, and by a passage of lines to the front carried them to the relief of the Thirty-fifth Ohio, which had already suffered severely in the engagement... Scarcely was the Eighty-seventh Indiana in line before fresh forces of the enemy were brought up in time to receive a terrible volley, which made his ranks stagger and held him for some time at bay...

“As the enemy slackened his fire, Colonel Kammerling [Ninth Ohio], chafing like a wounded tiger that he had been behind at the opening, ordered his men to charge. Away they went, closely followed by the Eighty-seventh Indiana and the Seventeenth Ohio, the enemy falling back precipitately...

“In the meantime the enemy, massing his forces, suddenly appeared upon my left and rear. He came forward, several lines deep, at a double-quick, and opened a brisk fire, but not before I changed my front to receive him...The Second Minnesota and the Eighty-seventh Indiana lay on the ground, and were apparently unobserved by the enemy, who moved upon the left of my lines, delivering and receiving direct fire... He advanced rapidly, my left giving way slowly until his flank was brought opposite my right wing, when a murderous and enfilading fire was poured into his ranks by the infantry, and by Rodney’s section shotted with canister. Notwithstanding this he steadily moved up his second and third lines. Having observed his great force as well as the persistency of his attack, I had sent messenger after messenger to bring up the Ninth Ohio, which had not yet returned from its charge, made from my original right. At last, however, and when it seemed impossible for my brave men longer to withstand the impetuous advance of the enemy, the Ninth came gallantly up in time to take part in the final struggle, which resulted in his sullen withdrawal. In this last attack his loss must have been very severe. In addition to the heavy fire of the infantry, our guns were pouring double charges of canister in front and on his flank, at one time delivered at a distance not exceeding 40 yards...”

The battle continued the next morning, Sunday, September 20th, 1863:

“On approaching the road, riding in advance of the brigade, my attention was called to a large force of the enemy moving southward in four lines, just then emerging from the woods at a run, evidently to attack Reynolds and Baird, who were both hotly engaged, in the rear, and apparently unseen by these officers. I immediately wheeled my lines to the left, facing the approaching force, and ordered them to lie down. This movement was not executed until we received a galling fire delivered from a distance of 200 yards. At the same time a rebel battery, placed in the road about 500 or 600 yards in our front, opened upon us with two guns. My command continued to lie down until the enemy approached within 75 yards, when the whole arose to their feet, and the front line, composed of the Second Minnesota and the Eighty-seventh Indiana, delivered a murderous fire almost in their faces, and the Thirty-fifth and Ninth Ohio, passing lines quickly to the front, the whole brigade charged and drove the enemy at full run over the open ground for over a quarter of a mile, and several hundred yards into the woods, my men keeping in good order and delivering their fire as they advanced. The rebels fled hastily to cover, leaving the ground strewn with their dead and wounded. We took position in the woods, and maintained a determined combat for more than an hour. At this time I greatly needed my battery, which had been taken from the brigade early in the day by command of Major-General Negley...

“I learned from prisoners that the force we fought and put to flight this day was the division of the rebel General Breckinridge. That we punished them severely was proven by their many dead and wounded, among the former of which were several field officers, and among the latter one general officer of high rank...

“About 2 o’clock, hearing heavy firing on the right of the line, and learning that the high ground in that direction was being held by General Brannan with a part of our division, I moved cautiously through the woods, and at 2:30 p.m. reported my brigade to him for duty. We were immediately placed in the front, relieving his troops, then almost exhausted. The position was well selected and one capable of being defended against a heavy force, the line being the crest of a hill, for the possession of which the enemy made desperate and renewed efforts...

“From this time until dark we were hotly engaged. The ammunition failing, and no supply at hand, except a small quantity furnished by Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger, our men gathered their cartridges from the boxes of the dead, wounded, and prisoners, and finally fixed bayonets, determined to hold the position...

“For an hour and a half before dark the attack was one of unexampled fury, line after line of fresh troops being hurled against our position with a heroism and persistency which almost dignified their cause. At length night ended the struggle, and the enemy, having suffered a terrible loss, retired from our immediate front. During the latter part of the day the position directly on our right had been held by the division of Brigadier-General Steedman, but which early in the evening had been withdrawn without our knowledge, thus leaving our flank exposed. From the silence at that point Brigadier-General Brannan suspected all might not be right, and ordered me to place the Thirty-fifth Ohio across that flank to prevent a surprise. This had scarcely been done before a rebel force appeared in the gloom directly in their front. A mounted officer rode to within a few paces of the Thirty-fifth Ohio and asked, “What regiment is that?” To this some one replied, “The Thirty-fifth Ohio.” The officer turned suddenly and attempted to run away, but our regiment delivered a volley that brought horse and rider to the ground and put the force to flight. Prisoners said this officer was the rebel General Gregg...

“At 7 p.m. an order came from Major-General Thomas that the forces under General Brannan should move quietly to Rossville...

“During the whole of the two days’ fighting my brigade kept well together, at all times obeying orders promptly and moving with almost as much regularity and precision as if upon drill. They were subjected to a very severe test on the 19th, when, being actively engaged with the enemy, another brigade (not of this division) ran panic-stricken through and over us, some of the officers of which shouted to our men to retreat or they certainly would be overwhelmed, but not a man left the ranks, and the approaching enemy found before him a wall of steel. Private Savage, of Smith’s battery, struck one of the retreating officers with his sponge and damned him for running against his gun...”

“It is a noticeable fact that the Second Minnesota had not a single man among the missing or a straggler.”

It is generally believed that on the second day of battle Union General Rosecrans mistakenly issued orders that caused a gap in the defenses of the Union position. Confederate forces attacked just as this gap appeared in Union lines and caused a collapse in the Union position. Retreating in panic, General Rosecrans fled back to Chattanooga leaving orders that Major General George H.Thomas take command of the remaining forces and begin a withdrawal. General Thomas resisted the panic and organized a defense that would later earn him the nickname ‘The Rock of Chickamauga’. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Chickamauga#cite_note-92)

The defensive actions by the troops under Thomas’ command are credited with saving the entire Cumberland Army from complete destruction. Colonel Van Derveer’s unit joined in the defense of Snodgrass Hill where Confederate General Longstreet later wrote they launched 25 separate assaults on the Union position.  Historian Steven E. Woodworth has noted the outstanding actions of the 21st Ohio in this battle citing them for performing “one of the epic defensive stands of the entire war.” (Woodworth, Steven E. Six Armies in Tennessee: The Chickamauga and Chattanooga Campaigns. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8032-9813-7)

It is interesting to note that Colonel James Garfield, a field officer for General Rosecrans, and future president, delivered the order given to General Thomas to begin withdrawal.

Despite their success, one Confederate Lt. General, D.H. Hill, summarized Chickamauga this way:

"It seems to me that the elan of the Southern soldier was never seen after Chickamauga. ... He fought stoutly to the last, but, after Chickamauga, with the sullenness of despair and without the enthusiasm of hope. That 'barren victory' sealed the fate of the Confederacy." (See Lamers, William M.,The Edge of Glory: A Biography of General William S. Rosecrans, U.S.A. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1961)

The Battle of Chickamauga was considered a significant Confederate victory as it temporarily stopped the Union army’s southward advance into Georgia. The Confederate victory came shortly after the defeats at both Gettysburg and Vicksburg, and served to buoy the flagging Confederate spirits. Shortly after the debacle of Sept. 20th., Union forces retreated back to Chattanooga, where 40,000 Union soldiers quickly found themselves surrounded by Bragg’s Confederate army. 

Siege of Chattanooga

After taking control of the high ground surrounding Chattanooga, at Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, and Raccoon Mountain, the Confederate forces began a siege of city. Bombarding it with artillery and effectively cutting off supplies, Confederate General Bragg expected that Union forces would surrender rather than starve. However, President Lincoln had no intention of letting that happen.

Within hours after the Union defeat at Chickamauga, Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, ordered Major Gen. Hooker to Chattanooga with reinforcements from The Army of Potomac, in Virginia. He also ordered Major General U.S. Grant to go to Chattanooga to organize the defense of the city as quickly as possible. Arriving in Chattanooga on Oct. 23rd, more than a month after the defeat at Chickamauga and the start of the siege, Grant encountered a desperate group of soldiers. Reviewing plans that had been proposed to break the siege he quickly concurred.  “He had been deeply concerned since his arrival about the situation, estimating at one point that the city only contained enough ammunition for a day’s battle.” (See article by Randy Golden, The Cracker Line, in About North Georgia http://ngeorgia.com/)

On Oct. 27th., in a brilliant maneuver under cover of darkness, Union forces under General William Hazen used improvised bridge pontoons to float down the Tennessee River, past Confederate guards on Lookout Mountain, to Brown’s Ferry on the Tennessee River. After a short skirmish Hazen’s forces took control of the landing at Brown’s Ferry.  Forces under General Hooker also moved from Bridgeport, Alabama, in conjunction with the attack on Brown’s Ferry, gaining control of the south side of the Tennessee River via the Kelley’s Ferry road.  Major General O.O. Howard’s Eleventh Corp., along with Brig. General John Geary’s Twelfth Corp., completed the operation when they repulsed a Confederate counterattack, and marched through Lookout Valley.

Howard’s forces then joined Hazen’s men at Brown’s Ferry, while Geary’s stayed at Wauhatchie Station, a stop on the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad. Confederate forces attacked Geary’s Union forces on Oct. 28th. and nearly overwhelmed them at what came to be called the Battle of Wauhatchie. However, after suffering high casualties the Confederate forces withdrew back to Lookout Mountain.  (Our subject, John Catlin, and General Howard would serve 14 years later in Montana.)

Orchard Knob, Lookout Mountain, and Missionary Ridge

The Battle of Missionary Ridge, mentioned by John Catlin, occurred only after the Union forces were reinforced and re-supplied following the siege of Chattanooga. Considered a part of the Chattanooga Campaign, it was the third of four battles fought in the relief of Chattanooga. Beginning on Nov. 23rd, 1863, Union forces under Generals Sheridan, Wood, and Howard quickly drove the Confederate forces from their positions in the first battle, known as Orchard Knob. This 'Knob' then became the headquarters for Generals Grant and Thomas throughout the rest of the campaign.

On Nov. 24th., the second battle, Lookout Mountain, began when Union forces under General Hooker began to attack Confederate forces on Lookout Mountain at 3 A.M., crossing Lookout Creek and moving toward Lookout bench - about two-thirds way up the mountain - rather than attacking the summit directly.  By noon Union forces had cleared the base of the Mountain and began attacking further up the slope. Outflanked, and outnumbered, Confederate forces began to withdraw by early afternoon. Poor visibility because of fog plagued both sides and allowed the Confederate forces to retreat in larger numbers than would have been possible otherwise. Because of the fog the battle was sometimes referred to as “The Battle Above The Clouds”. (Hebert, Walter H. Fighting Joe Hooker. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999. ISBN 0-8032-7323-1)

The third battle, Missionary Ridge, is one of the more famous of the entire conflict, as it spelled the doom of Bragg's Confederate Army of Tennessee. As a geologic feature Missionary Ridge is unique with its nearly vertical sides running for several miles extending all of the way from Chattanooga to Georgia.

After deciding to make a stand, Confederate forces under General Braxton Bragg occupied the ridge in hopes of stopping the Union onslought of the previous few days. Gathering his forces, Bragg had ordered units bound for Knoxville recalled. His defenses then moved to strengthen and fortify the crest of Missionary Ridge and to build rifle pits at the base of the ridge. Much of what occurred logistically  - on both sides - seemed to harken to the nonlinear ‘fog of war’ dictum by Clausewitz. Confederate survivors would describe the upper entrenchments at the crest of the ridge as more of an impediment that hindered them in defending themselves, since they could not see the advancing enemy over the barriers.

Confused orders, mistaken signals, and misinterpreted commands seemed to be the order of the day. On Nov 25th., Union General William T. Sherman, who had recently arrived with 20,000 troops, was ordered to attack the northern end of Missionary Ridge. The previous day his forces had occupied what they believed to be the northernmost end of Missionary Ridge, but came to learn that faulty intelligence caused them to sieze another prominitory called “Goat Hill”, short of the desired goal. From that hill he was able to observe that Confederate forces were busy fortifying the real Missionary Ridge.

With a superior force Sherman had been ordered to attack promptly the following morning.This did not happen due to the logistical problem from “Goat Hill.” Attacking later on the 25th. with just two small brigades, Sherman met fierce resistence and found his units repulsed three times. Finally advancing on the fourth attempt, Sherman's forces then gained ground, but only at a high price.  Sherman quit his attack at this point. Another element of Sherman’s force was stymied by a Confederate counter-attack later in the day, causing the destruction and capture of  2,000 of his men. General Grant observed that Sherman was not doing well.

Informed of General Sherman’s difficult engagement, General Grant discussed a modified plan of attack with General Thomas, who had replaced Rosecrans. Thomas expressed his disagreement, reluctant to attack until Hooker arrived at the southern flank and they could coordinate their attack. Hooker was stalled moving across a bridge that needed repair.  Nevertheless, Grant then instructed Thomas to attack the middle by advancing his troops to secure the first line of enemy rifle pits.

At this point General Thomas deployed four divisions toward the center of the Confederate positions – approximately 23,000 men aligned against 14,000 Confederates defending the ridge. John Catlin, serving under Colonel Van Derveer, became part of this attack. Ordered to begin the attack upon the firing of six artillery cannons, some Union officers complained of never hearing this fire. Many regimental officers complained of conflicting orders and seemed unsure of the objective. General Sherman sent an orderly requesting clarification on whether the goal was to secure the pits or the top of the mountain. “Most officers were guided only by what units on either side of them did.” (Cozzens, Peter. The Shipwreck of Their Hopes: The Battles for Chattanooga. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994. ISBN 0-252-01922-9)

As Union soldiers overwhelmed the Confederate rifle pits they paid dearly once the pits were secured. Receiving fire from the crests above, some of the Union units started to advance up the mountain rather than endure the slaughter. When General Grant observed these units climbing up the ridge he demanded to know which subordinate had countermanded his orders. Responding that no one ordered the charge, General Granger replied, “When those fellows get started all hell can’t stop them.” (Cozzens)

Following is a report of the battle given by Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer which appears in the Official Record (OR) of The Union and Confederate Armies:

Report of Colonel Ferdinand Van Derveer, USA, Commanding Second Birgade, Third Division, XIV Corps, Army of The Cumberland

My command consisted of the Ninth Ohio Volunteers, the Seventy-fifth Indiana, the Eighty-seventh Indiana, One hundred and fifth Ohio, One hundred and first Indiana, Second Minnesota, and the Thirty-fifth Ohio numbering in all 102 commissioned officers, and 1,577 enlisted men.
Having been supplied with 100 rounds of ammunition to the man... [We] took position about half a mile north of Bald Hill [Orchard Knob], facing and 1,200 yards distant from Missionary Ridge. At this point I formed my brigade in two lines, the first composed of the Eighty-seventh Indiana on the right, the One hundred and first Indiana on the left, and the Thirty-fifth Ohio in the center. The second line formed was by the Seventy-fifth Indiana and One hundred and fifth and Ninth Ohio regiments. The Second Minnesota was placed in front of the brigade, with two companies, under command of Captain Uline, deployed as skirmishers, and the residue of the regiment behind them as a reserve.

I ordered my skirmishers to advance to the far side of the woods, examine the position of the enemy, and report their apparent force in and about the rifle-pits at the foot of the ridge. After remaining in this place for an hour I was ordered to move forward and take the rifle-pits. This was about 4 P.M. I sent word to Lieutenant-Colonel Bishop [Second Minnesota] to move at once with his skirmishers and reserve, and pushed up the brigade to within supporting distance. The rifle-pits in our front appeared to be occupied by two battalions of the enemy, two stands of colors being visible upon their works. [This is part of Vaughan’s Brigade.] The skirmishers advanced gallantly into the open field, and, under a heavy fire from the enemy artillery on the ridge, and musketry from the lower works, dashed forward at the double-quick without firing a shot. As they approached within 150 yards of the enemy great uneasiness was apparent among the men in the rifle-pits, and by the time our skirmishers were at a distance of 100 yards they were retreating precipitately up the ridge to their rear.

Lieutenant-Colonel Bishop immediately got his command under cover of the enemy’s works, and within five minutes of this time, my first line having passed the open space under a very heavy direct and enfilading fire from the enemy’s batteries on the ridge, were also partially under cover of the same works. In the meantime, my second line was brought forward into the open ground and my men ordered to lie down. Fifteen minutes after the rifle-pits were taken, the general commanding the division [Brigidier General Absalom Baird] ordered a charge upon the crest of the ridge. My brigade moved at once with cheers and a hearty good will, the Second Minnesota occupying a position in the first line. The precipitous ascent, the enemy’s sharpshooters in front, and the terrific enfilading artillery fire upon each flank were forgotten in their haste to storm the heights. My second line came forward at a run, and after a few moment’s rest at the foot of the ridge followed closely the advance. In fifteen minutes more our colors were upon the summit, and in twenty the rebels had been driven out of their works on the crest, and we occupied the ground in front of the brigade. As we sprung over the works the enemy’s cannoneers were caught in the act of loading and were bayoneted or driven off before they could fire their pieces. Five guns were found here in position and captured by the brigade, two by the Second Minnesota and three by the Thirty-fifth Ohio. The larger part of the enemy retired along the ridge toward the left [North], vigorously persued, and driven nearly half a mile. For thirty minutes a very determined resistence was made by the enemy. Many of the troops of my command having in the charge up the ridge lost their regimental organizations, were in some disorder for a short time, but all pressed toward the enemy. The Ninth Ohio and the Seventy-fifth Indiana came up in good order, and were placed in a line perpendicular to the ridge and fronting the rebels. Darkness coming on firing ceased upon both sides, and my brigade bivouacked on the crest of Missionary Ridge.[OR 31, pt. 2, pp. 527-28.] (See Storming the heights: a guide to the Battle of Chattanooga, Matt Spruill, Lowell Forbes)

Major General Phil Sheridan also gave a report of the Battle of Missionary Ridge. His Second Division participated in close proximity to the Third Division Brigade commanded by Colonel Van Derveer above.

“To recur again to the assault on Missionary Ridge and the positions taken for the attack, I would make mention of the most terrible cross-fire of artillery and musketry to which my troops were subjected for a distance of at least 1 1/8 miles, while in and emerging from the timber, and during the time occupied in crossing the open plain to the first line of rifle-pits. In justice to my gallant officers and men, I must say that their conduct was more than heroic, It was the prompting of a brave heart in a just cause, and an inspiration caused by the sight of the old flag which had been borne by them through many battles. The gallant color bearers, officers and men, who planted their flags upon Mission Ridge are the true heroes of the battle. In giving praise I cannot, nor will our country, forget that 123 officers and 1,179 men of this division bathed the face of Missionary Ridge with their loyal blood. The living have a monument, the dead a glorious grave in the National Cemetery in the Valley of Chattanooga, at the base of Mission Ridge.” (See Sheridan Report O.R. –Series 1,Vol 31/2 [S#55]) http://www.civilwarhome.com/sheridanchattanooga.htm

As more Union units ascended the ridge, many Confederate units panicked and broke formation. Unexpectedly, the battle turned into a rout resulting in the losses of some 37 artillery pieces and the capture of  2,000 rebel soldiers – some anxious to surrender. Only the solid defense of Confederate troops under the command of General Cleyburne prevented Union forces from completely crushing the remainder of General Bragg’s army as it retreated off of Missionary Ridge and back to South Chickamauga Creek.

It is interesting to note that 15 Union soldiers participating in the Battle of Missionary Ridge on November 25th, 1863, received Congressional Medals of Honor. A compelling quote, attributed to General Thomas, gave voice to one soldier's view of the politics involved in this conflict. Asked by a chaplain what the order of burial should be, General Thomas replied, "Mix 'em up, I'm tired of State's rights." (See Eigher, David J., The Longest Night: A Military History of the Civil War, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001)

Additional information regarding the history of the 87th Indiana is available at the following:

next >> PART 2 – Catlin Goes West