Richard J. LeFevre (1931 - 2000)
watercolor and mixed media on paper
After retreating from Chickamauga, the Union Army of the Cumberland settled into Chattanooga while the Confederates ringed the hills around them so they could not get food. One army was in about as bad a shape as the other. In order to survive, General Ulysses S. Grant organized what he called a “cracker line” to bring hardtack down the Tennessee River by boat, and into the city of Chattanooga by mule trains. In a rare amphibious attack at Browns Ferry, the Confederates attacked the Federals at night, and the mule drivers in the rear of the Union lines panicked and ran. The unattended mules panicked and ran as well, except the mules ran directly at the Confederate lines. The Confederate troops thought it was a cavalry charge which they routed and drove the mules back across the river. The next day General Grants’ Quartermaster Major wrote a letter to Grant saying, “Because of the exceptional bravery shown by our mules, I recommend that they be given the rank of horse.” Two battles were fought for the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Battle of Lookout Mountain, also called the Battle Above the Clouds, was fought on November 24, 1863, and the Battle of Missionary Ridge was engaged the next day. I did not have the energy to paint both, so I painted the Battle of Lookout Mountain, and the quotation is from the Battle of Missionary Ridge. Shown on the left of this painting is General Grant, with Confederate General Braxton Bragg on the right. The Union Army is stretched along the bottom of the piece with Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker on his white horse preparing to lead the attack on Elk Mountain (he is also shown in a small picture at lower right). The general was called “Fighting Joe” Hooker by his troops, but he hated that term, perhaps due to how he acquired it. Each day of the war, the New York newspapers would publish headlines that read “Fighting:” followed by the rest of the headline. One day the newspaper omitted the colon after the word “fighting”, so the headline read “Fighting Joe Hooker”, and that's how Hooker got his accidental nickname.
Bequest of the Artist
Richard J. LeFevre (1931 - 2000), “Chattanooga,” Ewing Gallery Permanent Collection, accessed June 5, 2023, https://ewinggallery.omeka.net/items/show/193.