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In 1863, Chattanooga was a major railroad hub with a population of 2,500. In late November the city was in Union hands, while Confederate forces occupied Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. Both sides struggled for control, for if the Federals cemented their grip on Chattanooga, they would have a perfect staging area for an invasion of the deep South.
A Fortified City
By late November 1863, General Grant had transformed Chattanooga into a Federal stronghold bounded by earthworks. Union forces were now ready to take the offensive.
On November 23, Grant's troops captured Orchard Knob, a hill about midway between the Union fortifications in the city and the Confederate lines on Missionary Ridge. On the following two days, the Federals pushed the Confederates from Lookout Mountain and won a decisive victory on Missionary Ridge.