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THE BATTLE OF RINGGOLD GAP



The defeat of the Confederate forces at Missionary Ridge on November 25, 1863 was devastating. Braxton Bragg's troops were strung out across 15 miles, their wagons hub deep in mud. Union troops under the command of "Fighting Joe" Hooker were right behind him and he needed time to retreat and regroup. General Cleburne was assigned to give the Confederate forces time by holding the Union troops at Ringgold Gap.

Bragg passed through the city of Ringgold earlier in the day and left orders for Cleburne to protect his retreating army while he reorganized in Dalton. Early the next morning, as his men began crossing the creek and marching towards Ringgold, the Confederate general was standing at a gap in the mountains where the Western and Atlantic Railroad stretched toward the south and Atlanta.


Confederate Park

Using the Ringgold Depot as an anchor, Cleburne carefully concealed his men and cannon. They watched the Union soldiers approaching in formation, unaware of the rebels. Ordered not to fire until the Yankees were upon them, Cleburne's men let loose a volley on the advancing line just before it entered the gap. The line shuddered and fell, retreating under the fire.

Hooker considered the situation and decided to test the flanks of the rebel force. Immediately after the initial volley, Cleburne began moving troops to his flanks. He repulsed Union attacks on both sides and with only 4100 men, the rebel general stalled the advance of Hooker's Union troops over 12,000 strong.

In October of this year a statue will be erected in Ringgold Gap to honor General Patrick Cleburne and a two-day event, the first annual Ringgold Gap Civil War Festival honoring General Patrick Cleburne will be held on October 17th and 18th featuring a reenactment of this famous battle.
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