Battle of Campbell's Station "A Race to the Junction" November 16, 1863
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, commander of the Union army besieged by Gen. Braxton Bragg's Confederate army at Chattanooga, Tenn., was delighted that Bragg had sent almost a third of his besieging force and one of the best Confederate generals, James Longstreet, on a mission into East Tennessee. Gen. William T. Sherman's Union army was on its way to Chattanooga from Vicksburg, Miss., and when it arrived, Grant's forces would outnumber the Rebels at Chattanooga 60,000 to 40,000. Then the Union soldiers could break Bragg's siege. Grant ordered Gen. Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Knoxville area, to keep Longstreet's forces occupied until the siege at Chattanooga was broken, at which time Grant's men would come to his aid.
Longstreet protested the detachment of his corps from the Chattanooga front for the same reasons that Grant was delighted to see him go. Bragg and President Jefferson Davis had ordered the movement, however, and Longstreet was too good a soldier not to give his best effort to the mission of recapturing East Tennessee for the Confederacy and reopening the connection with Virginia. As Longstreet's 16,000 men advanced from Chattanooga, Burnside's forces slowly withdrew toward their fortified lines at Knoxville.
At 2:00am on November 16, 1863, the Rebel soldiers found themselves on a muddy march through a driving rainstorm. Longstreet had learned that Burnside's Union force was traveling on a roughly parallel road several miles away and that the two roads joined at Campbell's Station, 10 miles ahead, where it then continued to Knoxville as one road. If Longstreet could reach Campbell's Station before the Union troops, he could block their line of retreat and force them to give battle outside their fortifications.
Fascinating Fact: Longstreet had been one of the leaders in the recent effort by Bragg's generals to have Bragg replaced. Bragg's motive for sending Longstreet away from Chattanooga was probably more personal than strategic.
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