By 1863, Confederacy was in a terrible bind - 4 July saw the loss at two diff battlefields hundreds of miles apart - decisive disaster on two fronts. One at Gettysburg and one at Vicksburg.
Chased out of Tenneesee, Confederacy deployed her combat rock stars like Hood, Longstreet and Bragg to delay, repel and defeat the Yankees long enough to draw one last time on the war weary reserves of Dixie.
Confederacy desperately needed a prestige victory.
Turning several square K of pure heaven into pure heck for three days, Confederacy ferociously fought at Chickamauga. And where a war that was almost won - was almost lost
Both sides were lined up - Confederacy facing west and Union facing East through thickets, woods, hills and dells. The line was drawn, reserves were available and everbody knew if Confederacy couldn't stop Union here - she probably never would.
Thanks to a goofy screw up in communiques, Yankee generals pulled a brigade out of the line to plug an imaginary gap to the north. General Longstreet threw his entire corps through the gap, shattering Union lines, annihilating and enveloping the Yankee left flank.
The rout was infectious and broken units fled back to Chattaboogie, while others fought to the death.
Advanced weaponry was in play at Chickamauga - like Colonel Wilder's 'Lightning Brigade' - horse infantry - freshly equiped with the world's first repeater rifles.
These cats kept the air alive with hot lead for over several hours and probably saved the Union army from a defeat far worse than the battlefield could have or should have delivered.
In von Clausewitz's must read doctrinaire "Vom Kriege" (On War for the English speaking) instant follow up is critical.
Every instinct will cry out to the commanders for pause, rest - refreshment.
"Once the great victory is gained, the next question is not aboutGeneral Bragg choose not to pursue the Union - he later led a slow leisurely siege of Union at Chattaboogie which only served to lengthen the war until Union busted out and fought non stop to Atlanta - where General Sherman debut'd the concept of Total War licking Georgia's peach clean till she begged him to hit South Cackalacky who had started the entire sorry mess to begin with.
rest, not about taking breath, not about considering, not about reorganising, etc., etc., but only of pursuit of fresh blows wherever necessary, of the capture of the enemy's capital, of the attack of the armies of his allies, or of whatever else appears to be a rallying point for the enemy. "
Pic "Rally in the center"