Origins and Timeline

Origins and Timeline

But seen from any angle Lookout Mountain stands impressively against the sky. Today with its many attractions it is a tourist paradise and on top is the ideally-located and quiet Town of Lookout Mountain. But the history of this massive rock abutment has been far from quiet. The great rock face has seen much. Though its lips are sealed by the ages, if it could speak, the story of Lookout Mountain might briefly be told as follows:

The Red Man’s Land
Centuries past Lookout Mountain belonged to the Indian. On top or in the shadow of the mountain he lived a simple existence, but it was not always a peaceful one. War was the red man’s way of life and across the northern point of Lookout ran the Great Warpath, a forest highway packed hard by the feet of the many war parties going north or south to fight enemy tribes.

DeSoto Seeks Gold But He Finds Only A Route Through Indian Country
It was in the spring of 1540 that the first white man found his way here. DeSoto sought treasure as he led his Spanish followers westward along the Great Warpath and across Lookout Mountain. It was a strange looking army of ragged men, fat pigs, starved horses and chained Indian slaves. The way into the heart of the Indian country had been discovered!

Indians Fight Off Pioneers
Dragging Canoe and his Chickamauga Indians lived in the vicinity of Lookout Mountain and kept land-hungry whites from settling the Tennessee River Valley. Following the Great Warpath John Sevier and a force of horsemen fought the last battle of the Revolution on the slope of Lookout, but did not drive the Indians away. Nor did Joseph Martin and his pioneer fighters succeed years later.

White Settlers Win, Send Indians Away On “Trail of Tears”
But Lookout Mountain and the surrounding area proved to be good land – too good for the Indians to own. So the red man was forced to cede more and more of his territory. Not satisfied with that, the white man finally deported all the Indians to the west over “The Trail of Tears” – the trail of unhappiness and tragedy. The white man now took over this area triumphantly.

Chattanooga Begins
With the Indians gone, settlers came in increasing numbers, for here among the mountains and beside the river was a good place for a city. Here was a valuable crossroad on the paths between the pig and corn areas of the north and the cotton country of the south. River and rail transportation developed and Chattanooga began and thrived until the War Between the States.

Federals Dig In
The Union army retreated after the Battle of Chickamauga into Chattanooga and fortified the town, preparing to hold this important railroad junction until help came to relieve them. But could Federals hold out with their meager rations?

Confederates Lay Siege
The Southerners hoped to starve the Federals into submission. The nearest Federal supply base was at Bridgeport, Alabama, and the road and railroad from there ran across the northern point of Lookout. Federal relief had to have the mountain. The Battle of Lookout Mountain had begun!

The Battle Above The Clouds
November 24, 1863
Some arm chair historians have said there was no real fight on the slopes of Lookout. Below are some typical army orders issued during the battle. They show the intensity of the action.

Hdqrs. Second Division, Twelfth Army Corps
Lookout Mountain, Tenn., Nov. 24, 1863 – 2:45 p.m.
Maj. Gen. D. Butterfield, Chief of Staff, Eleventh and Twelfth Army Corps:
General: We are pressed heavily, and need re-inforcements. We must have ammunition; I have sent for some, but it does not come. My rear should be well looked to,
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. W. GEARY
Brigadier-General, Commanding

Hdqrs. Second Division, Twelfth Army Corps
Lookout Mountain, Tenn., Nov. 24, 1863 – 7:00 p.m.
Maj. Gen. D. Butterfield, Chief of Staff, Eleventh and Twelfth Army Corps:
General: Our position will be untenable when the fog lifts owing to the great advantages of the enemy with his sharpshooters on the cliff.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JNO. W. GEARY
Brigadier-General, Commanding

Headquarters Eleventh and Twelfth Corps
Lookout Valley, Tenn., Nov. 24, 1863 – 8:45 p.m.
Col. T.P. Nicholas, Commanding Cavalry Detachment:
General Hooker directs that you keep your whole force out day and night constantly, and on the alert, until further orders. Fight and dispute the passage of any force, blocking their way. Give us full and timely information. Guard and watch all approaches. Acknowledge receipt of this.
Very respectfully,
DANL. BUTTERFIELD
Major-General, Chief of Staff

Headquarters Eleventh and Twelfth Corps
Lookout Valley, Tenn., Nov. 24, 1863 – 10:00 p.m.
Brigadier-General Osterhaus, Commanding Division:
General Hooker directs that you have your batteries cross Lookout Creek and report to him at daylight. Have all the ammunition replenished tonight, the animals well fed early, and everything in readiness for a good day’s work tomorrow. The Twenty-fifth Iowa have been ordered across Lookout Creek to join their division, moving at daylight.
Very respectfully,
DANL. BUTTERFIELD
Major-General, Chief of Staff

Headquarters Eleventh and Twelfth Corps
Lookout Valley, Tenn., Nov. 24, 1863 – 8:30 p.m.
Major-General Hooker:
Orderly just brought a dispatch from you. Orderly, horse, and all got in the creek and the dispatch is wet and torn. Could not clearly read it, but could make out order for destruction of the bridges over which Geary crossed and have sent full, positive and peremptory instructions. I sent you a report from cavalry sent to Trenton. I had heretofore directed Colonel Nicholas to picket and patrol all approaches. Will now send him word to keep his whole force out night and day on the alert until otherwise ordered.
Very respectfully,
DANL. BUTTERFIELD,
Major-General, Chief of Staff

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