Honoring Manigault's Brigade on Missionary Ridge
by Olivia Sanford
Within the sprawling battleground of Chickamauga, a tablet in the park reads, “At 3 o’clock the brigade arrived at Vittetoe and formed on the left of Johnson’s Brigade of Bushrod R. Johnson’s division with the Deas Brigade on its left. It took part in the assaults of Snodgrass Hill its right reaching the crest of the spur east of the Vittetoe and its center advancing through the ravine near the house leading up the ridge. The right maintained its position on the hill upon the left of Johnson’s Brigade until the enemy retired. Strength in action 2315 officers and men. Casualties Killed 87 Wounded 46 Total 547 percentage of loss 23.63.”
Manigault’s Brigade, also known as the 28th Alabama Infantry Regiment, was formed in March of 1862 in Shelby Springs, Alabama. The quaint little town in Alabama would earn the title Camp Winn as a training facility for Confederate soldiers. The men in the Alabama Regiment committed to three years of fighting; however, like the general mass of soldiers who signed up, they believed the war would last only months. The regiment would earn the title “Manigault’s Brigade” because of the very man who would lead them through the battles of Tennessee. Arthur Manigault was a North Carolina resident who eventually took lead of the 28th Infantry Regiment. The regiment was assigned to General Beauregard before his retirement, and after that they would then be assigned to General Bragg.
Just a few short months after the battle at Chickamauga, the battle at Missionary Ridge would begin on November 23rd, 1863. Although the Confederates had been successful in their plight, General Bragg held back from taking Chattanooga because of the immense loss of almost 20,000 Confederate soldiers. General Bragg knew the army was weak; therefore, he continued to hold his position on Missionary Ridge and not take the city of Chattanooga. In lieu, Bragg had the 28th, along with the 24th Regiment, secure a line of protection at Orchard Knob, which is located at the bottom of Missionary Ridge. When the Union army advanced towards them, this was said about Manigault’s Brigade, “To have behaved well, resisting obstinately and fought with great gallantry. Many fought hand to hand and at bayonets point.” While the regiment was successful in holding their stance at Orchard Knob, the total number of dead, missing, and captured men would come to 172. Along with the lost men, the Union army had taken their regimental flag. The fighting was not over. Two days later they would have to continue to hold their ground against the Union soldiers trying to break through the line, and the scared Confederate soldiers trying to break out.
Today, a historical marker still stands in honor for Manigault’s Brigade at the Chickamauga Battlefield. Unfortunately, there is no standing tablet to honor the brigade who fought miles away just a few short months later. The tablet that should stand today would say something like this, “Nov. 23rd a portion of Manigault’s Brigade held Orchard Knob and the low rocky ridge in the south of it. Upon the advance of the enemy in force the 28th Alabama, misunderstanding its orders to be, to hold its position at all hazards, remained in rifle-captured. During the 24th Nov. the front rank of the brigade occupied the works at the foot of the Ridge, and on the afternoon of the 25th fell back before the Union advance, and joined the rear rank on the rest of the ridge. Deas’ Brigade was on its right, and Anderson’s (Tucker’) on its left. In the general assault it was attacked by the left of Wood’s Division. Its position being carried it retreated with its division to Chickamauga, crossing by Shallowford Road.”
The tablet that held these historic words “honoring the Manigault Brigade” has been missing for over thirty-five years, presumably stolen and yet to be replaced. The missing tablet stands for so much more than a missing relic, it stands for a part of Chattanooga’s Civil War story that would remain lost for decades to come, until the historic integrity of Missionary Ridge Battlefield is fully restored.
You can honor Manigault’s Brigade on Missionary Ridge by making a donation today. Designate your gift for restoration projects in the “Additional Information” section of our online donation form found here.