Chickamauga Campaign Heritage Trail
Pigeon Mountain is a rugged spur of Lookout Mountain, extending in a northeasterly direction into Walker County. The space between it and Lookout Mountain is McLemore's Cove. During the war, wagon roads passed from east to west through the mountains in a series of natural gaps. These gaps, located from north to south, were called Worthens' Gap, Catlett's Gap, Dug Gap, and Blue Bird Gap. During the Confederate withdrawal from Chattanooga, it became apparent that Pigeon Mountain would have strategic value by providing a second barrier to Federal forces coming over Lookout Mountain. This being the case, provisions were made to block and defend the gaps.
A wartime road passed through Catlett's Gap in Pigeon Mountain. It continued from Cooper's Gap off of Lookout Mountain on the west to Catlett community in the Chestnut Flats area on the western side of Walker County. This gap was much used in troop movements in the events leading up to the Battle of Chickamauga.
On September 8, 1863 Confederate cavalry fro General William T. Martin's command started the job of blocking the gaps, using large rocks and cutting down trees across the road. The next day, General Patrick Cleburne's infantrymen, from General Daniel H. Hill's Corps, strengthened the positions by digging rifle pits and building breastworks. The infantry remained in the gap until September 17, when they were relieved by cavalrymen from Joseph Wheeler's command. The defenses of the gaps were so strong that the Federal forces never breached them during the campaign.
At 4:30 a.m. on September 10, General Daniel H. hill received orders from General Braxton Bragg concerning the joint movement of his forces with those of General Thomas Hindman against the Federals a Davis Crossroads. At this late date he realized that the time factor mad the plan impractical and responded with a message to Bragg explaining why he could not comply with the orders. General Cleburne, hill explained, had overexerted himself on the retreat from Tyner, and had been sick in bed. Furthermore, Cleburne's command was widely scattered. Two thirds of the division was in LaFayette and the other brigade, commanded by General S.A.M. Wood, was picketing Catlett's Dug, and Blue Bird Gaps. Lastly, it would take hours to clear away the obstructions in Dug Gap placed there earlier by the Confederate cavalrymen. Bragg accepted these excuses, and modified his plan by ordering General Simon Buckner to march his corps to the defense of Hindman.
General Bragg proved unable to coordinate the planned attack on Davis Crossroads, and nothing of substance came from it. Catlett's Gap was then occupied by Confederate division Major-General John C. Breckinridge. "At daylight of the 18th," General Breckinridge, in D.H. Hill's Corps, wrote, "my command moved from Catlett's Gap and that neighborhood in the Pigeon Mountain, and the same afternoon took position on the east bank of the Chickamauga, near Glass's Mill, and composed the extreme left of the infantry of the army." This ended the campaign activities at Catlett's Gap.