General Grant wants my corp to march just North of Chattanooga, cross the Tennessee River on a pontoon bridge and attack the North end of Missionary Ridge, the right flank of Bragg’s army. This plan is to throw up the bridge just as my troops arrive so that we can cross unseen and unmolested.
This morning, I was supplied with the necessary maps and information, and at dawn, rode in company with Generals Grant, Thomas, W. F. Smith, Brannan, and others. We visited positions on the west bank of the Tennessee River, from which we could see the camps of the enemy, encompassing Chattanooga and the line of Missionary Hills, with its terminus on Chickamauga Creek, the point that I was expected to take, hold, and fortify. Pontoons, with a full supply of balks and chesses, had been prepared for the bridge over the Tennessee, and all things are pre-arranged with a foresight that elicited my admiration. From the hills we looked down on the amphitheatre of Chattanooga as on a map, and nothing remains but for me to put my troops in the desired position. The plan contemplates that, in addition to crossing the Tennessee River and making a lodgment on the terminus of Missionary Ridge, I should demonstrate against Lookout Mountain, near Trenton, with a part of my command. The plan is well thought and possible.
In a meeting with General Grant, I agreed to the plan and the attack. General Grant ordered the attack to take place on the 22nd, impatient for action, rendered almost acute by the natural apprehensions felt for the safety of General Burnside in East Tennessee. I left to return to Bridgeport at once. My command has marched from Memphis, three hundred and thirty miles. I have pushed them as fast as the roads and distance will admit, but I see enough of the condition of men and animals in Chattanooga to inspire me with renewed energy.
We rode into Kelly’s Ferry shortly after the steamboat had departed for Bridgeport. Not wanting to be delayed, I commandeered a large canoe and with 4 soldiers, rowed down the Tennessee at nightfall. We stopped at Shellmound where I got a new crew and we paddled into Bridgeport arriving late in the night. Immediately on arrival I put in motion my divisions in the order in which they had arrived. I immediately ordered my leading division (General Ewing’s) to march via Shellmound to Trenton, demonstrating against Lookout Ridge, but to be prepared to turn quickly and follow me to Chattanooga.