By Thursday, August 20, 1863 General William Rosecrans’ Union Army of the Cumberland neared the Tennessee River west of Chattanooga, Tennessee. A separate force of Union troops at Covington, Kentucky also was poised to assist Rosecrans’ renewed offensive.
Opposing these forces was the Confederate Army of Tennessee which was headquartered at Chattanooga and commanded by General Braxton Bragg. Bragg, a West Point graduate and career soldier, was known as a strict disciplinarian and had a reputation throughout his career for arguing with insubordinate officers; Rosecrans, also a West Point graduate, possessed a brusque, outspoken manner and willingness to quarrel openly with his superiors, a characteristic that had adversely affected his career.
These two, controversial officers would soon engage at Chickamauga, the bloodiest battle of the western theatre of war.