Chickamauga, Georgia (September 19-20 1863)
While not the most famous of campaigns, the Chickamauga campaign is the second bloodiest battle on our list. General Braxton Bragg, a very famous Confederate general led the Confederate Army of Tennessee against Maj. General William Rosecrans and the Army of the Cumberland.
Total Troops: North – 60,000 South – 65,000
Casualties: North – 16,170 South – 18,454 Total – 34,624
Despite the numbers above, the victory was given to the Confederacy. This is an interesting battle if you study military history, as the reason for the retreat of the Northern Army was a mistake made because of misinformation given to Rosecrans on the second day of battle.
During the morning on the second day of battle, the fighting was fairly even for both sides. The Confederates had attacked the advancing Union line, but had been rebuffed on the first day. Sometime during the early part of the second day, Rosecrans was informed that he had a gap along his lines, but he actually didn’t. However, by moving his troops to cover up this invisible gap, he created an actual gap for the South to use, which cut off almost a third of his forces from his main army, including himself.
So despite the casualty numbers, which fell in the North’s favor, the South retained position by the end of the second day of fighting, so the victory goes to them according to historians.
From a perspective of “what did you learn,” it is important to note that communication is very hard when you’re leading 60,000 men into battle, especially when you don’t have the electronic communication that we use today. Mistakes and miscommunication like what happened to General Rosecrans were fairly common.
This particular miscommunication proved costly for the North, as the battle of Chickamauga is considered the North’s worst defeat in the Western Theater during the entire conflict.