What happened on November 25, 1863, remains one of the most mysterious events of the American Civil War. That afternoon four divisions of the Army of the Cumberland advanced against the Confederate rifle pits at the base of Missionary Ridge, overwhelmed the Confederate defenders there, and then, after assessing their rather perilous situation, continued up the slope and overran the main Confederate battle line.
For years to come this would be known, and not without reason, as the miracle on Missionary Ridge. But it was hard to ascertain exactly what happened. What was Ulysses S. Grant’s plan? What orders did George H. Thomas issue? Did the men act on their own in storming the crest of the ridge? What happened on Orchard Knob?