Diary of Orrin Brown, Chattanooga, Tennessee
At day light this morning we found ourselves in the verry midst of the Cumberland Mountains about 15 miles from Chattenooga and a verry rough country to rocks upon rocks nearly as high as I could see, we arrived in Chatenooga about 8AM, run arround town just as we were a mind to for two or three hours. I got a little to far and was ordered to show my pass, I had none so I had to go to the officer of the guard, he asked me a few questions and passed me out telling me to get a pass next time. I just got back in time to receive orders to march, we marched about a mile to Camp detatchment and here we are on a hill so that we can see all over the country and we cannot look in any direction only up or down without seeing camps of soldiers and earthworks in fact they are the principal part of the town for the town itself is’nt any larger than St. Joe, from where we are now we have a fair view of Lookout Mountain.
I should judge that there was at least 25,000 troops here the Rebs took some of our men prisoners at Dalton and tore up about 20 miles of railroad track last week, we are to go on to Atlanta as soon as the railroad is in runing order again, I am sitting within two rods of the graveyard where the Rebs burried their dead. There is 750 graves. It is hard to immagin how this place looks untill one sees it for himself it is cut up with entrenchments as far as the eye can see in every direction, the timber through here is all scrubby Oak seeder Pine hickory maple and a great many other kinds. The weather is generally quite warm through the day time but uncomfortably cool at night about like the 1st of Nov. in Michigan. We drew rations tonight of some soft bread and some hard tack a piece of salt pork, Coffee sugar and today we drew Beans and soap, we spread our blankets on the ground and went to bed with the sky for our shelter. The wind raised about noon and is blowing quite cool so that it is uncomfortable.
Chattanooga was a freight hub of about 2,500 population in the 1860s, with manufacturing and rail lines between Nashville and Atlanta crossing the navigable Tennessee River. Confederate General Braxton Bragg held onto the heavily fortified city until September 1863, when Union General William Rosecrans forced the Rebels to withdraw into northern Georgia. Bragg’s victory at Chickamauga (over the Georgia line) then pinned Union troops down in Chattanooga for the rest of the Autumn of 1863. This is when General Ulysses S. Grant was given command of Union forces in the West. After reinforcements poured through Central Tennessee, Grant’s forces moved Bragg off Lookout Mountain above the city and back into Georgia, setting the scene for Sherman’s Atlanta Campaign during the summer of 1864.