The Second Battle of Chattanooga, along with the launch of the Chickamauga Campaign, began on August 21, 1863. Union General William S. Rosencrans ordered Colonel John T. Wilder to march his troops to Chattanooga where General Braxton Bragg of the Confederacy was waiting with his men, expecting an attack from the northeast. Wilder’s troops marched from exactly that direction and could easily be seen by the enemy. The Union soldiers began shooting shells at Chattanooga and ships on the river just ahead of them, drawing a great deal of attention to themselves.
Launching shells continued for weeks, during which the Union brought down two Confederate steamers. On August 27, one shell killed three men and injured a fourth. P.J. Johnson, M.J. McAllister, and B.R. Holcroft all received the fatal blows; W.J. Ott was the lucky one, only being wounded in the shoulder.
The above casualties were occasioned by the explosion of a simple shell from the enemy’s batteries. The men were a portion of a detail of sixty—engaged in building a magazine near Capt. Hart’s Battery.
The firing of the shells kept Bragg and his men quite occupied, just as Wilder and Rosencrans had hoped. Ronsencrans made his move on Chattanooga on September 8, 1863, from the southwest side of the town, opposite of Wilder’s position. Bragg soon learned of the invasion and ordered his troops to abandon the town and march to LaFayette, Georgia.
Find more stories from the Civil War in the Confederate Casualty Reports.