In once informed of this Rosecrans stopped his advance

In
September of 1863, the Confederate army led by General Bragg had settled down
into Chattanooga, with the Union forces led by general Rosecrans supposedly stationed across the
Tennessee River right next to town. Artillery from the river was constantly shelling
the city and the Confederate army, but besides that they could do nothing—they would
not dare to cross the river in front of the entire Confederate army. However,
this artillery shelling was just a distraction. General Rosecrans had actually sent
his army across the river on another part of the river, and was now headed
towards Chattanooga. This flanking maneuver pressured General Bragg to move his
forces out of the city and to the south. The Union’s army would chase the
Confederates down this way for some time. Eventually the Confederates would
stop their retreat, and once informed of this Rosecrans stopped his advance as
well.

Bragg
waited at his position for a few days for reinforcements, but they never came.
So, he left without them. Bragg had devised a plan to cut across Chickamauga
Creek (ironically translates to “river of death” in Cherokee) and move to be
north of the Union’s army in McLemore’s cove. This would cut off the Union from
their route back to Chattanooga, leaving them isolated. However, the plan was
not executed very effectively. Since the creek was so steep at its edges, Bragg
had to rely on bridges to transport his men and most importantly his wagons across
it. At the bridges, Union forces awaited them in attempts to resist any
Confederate crossers. At bridges defended by normal infantry brigades, the
resistance was fended off by the Confederacy easily. However, at Alexander’s Bridge,
John T. Wilder and his cavalry brigade were armed with 7-shot repeater rifles
and held their bridge for several hours before pulling back. After finally crossing
the river, the Confederate army camped down for the night while the Union army
was on the move, now having reports that the rebels had crossed the creek. The
following day, the second bloodiest battle of the Civil War would begin,
lasting from September 18–20, 1863.

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The
first fighting took place on accident. Bragg had sent reconnaissance units to
the area, and they encountered infantry sent to defend that location under the
command of General Thomas. Both General Rosecrans and General Bragg responded
to the skirmish in a similar fashion, sending their armies northward. The
forces would encounter each other because of this. General Rosecrans moved his
headquarters closer to the field, but that didn’t help his command much—one problem
that both Rosecrans and Bragg would encounter throughout the battle was that it
was very hard to tell very much what was going on not only in terms of their
own troops but especially the enemy’s troops. Not only did the smoke discharge
from weapons cloud much of the battlefield (as expected), but the thick
woodlands made it extremely hard to see into the distance. This also meant that
the troops in the fighting would not be able to see the opposing side until
they were well within firing range, meaning that commanders searching for enemy
forces may be surprised to suddenly have a mass of enemies directly next to
their flank. This problem lasted the entire battle. However, on the plus side,
this bushland provided cover for soldiers, so commanders could keep their
forces at a higher strength for a longer duration of time before having to fall
back. The fighting throughout the first day was chaotic and confusing, but was
even more confusing as it turned dark. A Confederate leader by the name of
Patrick Cleburne sent his troops in to attack the Union soldiers just as
darkness fell. However, all both sides had to fire at were the muzzle flashes
of the opposing side, meaning that accuracy was diminished almost entirely. This
engagement proved to be more disorienting and frightening than harmful for both
sides—especially since friendly fire was a prominent event. At the end of the
first day, rough estimates of casualties ranged from ~6000-9000 Confederate
losses and ~7000 Union losses.

At
night, General Rosecrans called a meeting with his top commanders to attempt to
determine their battle plan for the following day. They decided that they had
three options: attack, defend, or retreat from the field. After taking in
reports of losses, they determined that attacking was out of the question; their
units had been weakened way too much the previous day to be able to sustain
more heavy offensive moves. Politically, retreating was also undesirable:
reporting a retreat to the president and entire Union at this point in the war
would cause more trouble than it was worth. Therefore, they elected to defend
their position.

The defensive positions
Rosecrans planned out went as followed: General Thomas would defend the left
flank in a horseshoe formation, with the intent of bearing the main assault.
Thomas was the appropriate man picked for the job, known for his impressive
defensive skills. General McCook would protect Thomas’s right flank, forming
the center of the defense. Finally, General Crittenden would remain in reserve
and would be directed to the area under most heavy assault later in the day.
The ensuing night would drop below freezing, providing terrible conditions for
the soldiers. To add on to the fact, fires were not allowed