Battle Above the Clouds
November 24, 1863
Lookout Mountain rises over the Tennessee Valley like a monolith, its steep sides protruding to the sky. The mountain, more than 1200 feet above the valley floor beneath it is surrounded on three sides by a near vertical rock wall that has afforded protection to the occupants of the top for hundreds of years.
The mountain is known for a unique weather phenomenon. Sometimes, after a clear dawn, a layer of fog descends toward the valley below, stopping about halfway down the peak. This inverted fog has been written about since the first whites visited the area sometime before 1735. It was on a fateful day, November 24, 1863, that this weather anomaly set in, creating the most poetic name for any battle in the American Civil War, The Battle Above the Clouds.
Moving 12,000 men west of Chattanooga, "Fighting Joe" Hooker turns south, crosses Lookout Mountain Creek and encounters some 1200 Rebels entrenched in the side of Lookout Mountain, under the command of Carter Stevenson. Ordered to "fall back fighting" the Rebels withdraw towards the northern face of Lookout Mountain under the cover of artillery positioned at the peak of the mountain. The only heavy fighting takes place at Cravens House, a rocky respid from the sheer north slope of the mountain. Three brigades of Rebels successfully form a line against three Federal divisions and actually launch a counterattack.
General Braxton Bragg orders Stevenson to withdraw and join him on Missionary Ridge for the battle to come in the morning. Hooker takes the mountain with 629 causalities and only 81 deaths.
Ulysses S. Grant would later write "The Battle of Lookout Mountain is one of the romances of the war. There was no such battle and no action even worthy to be called a battle on Lookout Mountain. It is all poetry."
Read Lt. Col. Samuel Taylor's Battle of Lookout Mountain
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