Breakout from Chattanooga
In September 1863, Confederate General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee attempted to recapture Chattanooga, Tennessee, from federal forces by besieging the city. Union leaders responded by sending Major General Ulysses S. Grant and reinforcements to Chattanooga with orders to break the siege. After establishing a new supply line into the city, Grant executed a breakout offensive in late November that successfully drove Bragg’s army back into northern Georgia.
Following the breakout from Chattanooga, Grant sent Major General William T. Sherman with 25,000 soldiers to break Confederate General James Longstreet’s siege of Knoxville. After driving Longstreet away from Knoxville, Sherman returned to Ohio, where he spent Christmas with his family. In February, he traveled to Vicksburg, where he began a campaign against General Leonidas Polk’s troops at Meridian, Mississippi. Confederate President Jefferson Davis countered Sherman’s threat against Meridian by ordering General Joseph Johnston, who had replaced Bragg, to send troops to reinforce Polk.
Skirmishing Near Rocky Face Ridge
When Grant learned that Johnston’s Davis had weakened Johnston’s force in Georgia, he ordered Major General George Thomas, commanding the Army of the Cumberland, to probe Johnston’s depleted defenses at Rocky Face Ridge, near Dalton, on February 22, 1864. The Federals enjoyed some success in the early skirmishing, but Thomas found Johnston’s position to be strong. On February 25, Union soldiers attempted to seize a heavily fortified gap through Rocky Face Ridge near Dalton, but the Rebels drove them back. The Confederate defenders also repelled a simultaneous Yankee assault from Crow Valley. When Polk withdrew from Meridian, Johnston’s soldiers returned to Dalton. Facing a larger foe, Thomas withdrew from the area on February 27.
Results of the relatively minor Battle of Crow Valley were inconclusive. The Union suffered 345 casualties (killed, wounded, captured/missing) and the Confederacy lost 260 men.