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Missionary Ridge

Updated on April 3, 2014
(  mccormick harverster co)
( mccormick harverster co)

By: Wayne Brown

(Writer’s Note: In November of 1863, Grant’s Army engaged the Confederate Forces at LookoutMountain and won coming off a stinging defeat at Chicamauga. The Confederates under the command of General Bragg entrenched forces on a ridge to the east referred to by locals as Missionary Ridge. The Confederates were dug into the ridge at three successive elevations including the top. Even Grant had doubts that he could overcome such a natural fortress which the Confederates held. The Union Army prevailed and took the ridge thanks in great part to the pressures brought to bear by General Fightin’ Joe Hooker and his Army of men. Some say this was the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. I was inspired to write about it in verse from a soldier in that army’s perspective.)


We was just boys, green; but dressed in blue array

Fightin’ a southern army who came dressed in gray

Now we come to a spot with a burned out bridge

Hampering our progress up to Missionary Ridge



Fightin’ Joe Hooker is the General of our command

He’s a well-respect, strong whiskey-drinkin’ man

We’ll follow him through hell and beyond a smidge

He’s gonna lead us up to take Missionary Ridge



Sherman’s up on the north fighting his way in

Grant’s to the west pushing with his men

Fightin Joe’s gotta rebuild this old broken bridge

So’s all us boys can get to Missionary Ridge



Johnny Reb’s well entrenched up on that high ground

Sittin’ in his battle perch watching Yanks all around

Bragg ain’t backing down, holding that ground his will

But us Yanks are coming up on Missionary Hill



The battle is raging now as we put this bridge in place

Soon we can move across and up the ridge we’ll race

With Fightin’ Joe waving us across the bridge

We comin’ from the south up on Missionary Ridge



If we were old enough to have a little more sense

We might be afraid to charge that Rebel defense

But there’s no time to be afraid; just get across the bridge

Get your butts up that slope and take Missionary Ridge



As we advance from the bridge on the creek

Canons roar, muskets fire, blood and death reek

Fear abounds as paralyzed men can only stand still

Sighting Fightin’ Joe advancing on Missionary Hill



Sherman’s gaining from the north; Hooker from the south

Grant’s army is hitting the center crawling into the mouth

Our strategy is working and soon the gaps will bridge

We'll run the Rebs down the back of Missionary Ridge



On November 25, 1863, we took that ridge to close the door

On any hopes the south might have of ever winning the war

This battle was theirs to lose and ours to win on sheer will

And many a Yank cheered victory from atop Missionary Hill


© Copyright WBrown2010. All Rights Reserved.


Fight Joe Hooker on horseback (
Fight Joe Hooker on horseback (


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    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @breakfastpop...I am amazing aren't I? LOL...Shucks, Poppy, you know I'm just a drug-store poet making rhymes behind the soda counter! Thanks for those great words! WB

    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      You are amazing! What a fabulous way to appreciate history. Voted up and awesome.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @drbj...Thanks to you as well. I hope we both attain "greatness" over 2011! WB

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks for those added details, Wayne, appreciate your effort. May 2011 be the greatest for you!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @drbj...I believe I read that the locals around Chattanooga give it that name because it was a place frequented by monks or missionaries. I don't know if there was actually a mission in the area but that is my understanding of the name. Fighting Joe Hooker, by the time of this action, had actually fallen in grace and position in the Union Army. At one point, he was a key figure but his personality did not lend itself to the political scenario making way for his replacement. Many feel that he created the pivotal effort to win the ridge with his triple flanking action but in the end Grant gave the credit to Sherman. This may be the reason Sherman got the nod for the march to the sea. WB

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      8 years ago from south Florida

      Very realistic, Wayne. Do you happen to know why it was called Missionary Ridge? Just wonderin'.

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @samiaali...Happy Year to you as well. We had lots of fun watching our favorite three-piece rock band do Clapton, Cream, Van Morrison, The Beatles, Buddy Holly, The Rolling Stones...just about everything. A few sips of wine and a nice dinner and life is good! Thanks for the good words on the poem. I really had to work to find a good approach for this one...I think it worked out in the end. WB

    • samiaali profile image


      8 years ago

      Happy New Year Wayne Brown, I agree with WillStarr. This is excellent! I love every word and I love the flow. A very enjoyable read! :)

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @K.Burns Darling...Thank so much for those very kind and encouraging words. I really was not sure that I could achieve the effect I wanted on this battle. I have been thinking about it a while and reading about it. My point was not so much to try to weigh the carnage as it was to describe the standoff and how much of an advantage the Confederacy held. At the same time, Grant's army was ready for a victory after the beating they had taken at Chicamauga and sheer will and determination prevailed in the end. This was an extremely valuable piece of real estate for the north for it set up the logistics channels needed to supply Sherman's advance on Atlanta and push the Confederacy to the final breaking point. If you enjoyed this one, you might like my hub "Buffalo Hunters" as well. Two other poems related to the Civil War are "One" which was inspired by my ggggrandfather fighting for the Confederacy at Vicksburg. Another, "March To The Sea" is a poem which speaks of Sherman's advance to Savannah. I hope will read them as well. Thank You! WB

    • K. Burns Darling profile image

      Kristen Burns-Darling 

      8 years ago from Orange County, California

      Your presentation of this story is wonderful. I think that it would make a great tool for teaching American History. Great Hub!

    • Wayne Brown profile imageAUTHOR

      Wayne Brown 

      8 years ago from Texas

      @WillStarr...Thank you sir...that one has been gnawing at me a while but I never could figure out just how to approach it. WB

      @Old Poolman...Good story. It kind of goes along with what Fighting Joe Hunter said, "May God have mercy on Robert E. Lee because I will not!" WB

    • profile image

      Old Poolman 

      8 years ago

      Wayne - good story and nicely presented. At one time I lived in Galena, IL., two houses away from General Grants real home. The joke in town was when General Grant left town to go fight the war, he said "don't do anything till I get back", and they didn't.

    • WillStarr profile image


      8 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Just excellent!

      Voted up and awesome!

      Well done.


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