Civil War in Tennessee: A Fight for Lookout Mountain
Chattanoooga, nestled along the banks of the Tennessee River and the northern gateway to the Georgia railroad system, was strategically important to both the United States and the Confederacy in the Civil War. Lookout Mountain (Exits 175 and 178) was a key vantage point for military control of the river traffic and the railroads into the city. The Union army retreated to Chattanooga after its September 1863 defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga in north Georgia. Confederate forces surrounded the city and fortified Lookout Mountain. On November 24, the Federals captured Lookout Mountain. Charging Union soldiers expected a deadly shower of bullets. One wrote: "Every moment we expected to hear [our charge] broken by sharp shots from the rocks overhead, or by a rattling volley from the innumerable boulders in front." But they overwhelmed the Confederate defenders in a fight known as the "Battle above the Clouds" because of a thick fog that shrouded the mountain.