On Monday, September 21, 1863 General George Thomas continued to secure the approaches to Chattanooga, but he too would soon retire into the safety of that city. Although Rosecrans’ army was in a strong position within Chattanooga, it was hemmed in by the mountains, the Tennessee River, and Bragg’s Confederates who held Missionary Ridge and lookout Mountain overlooking the city.
President Abraham Lincoln was distraught over Rosecrans’ situation. While mourning the death of the Confederate brother-in-law, General Ben Hardin Helm, who had been killed at Chickamauga, a concerned Lincoln realized that Rosecrans needed immediate reinforcements.
To General Ambrose Burnside in eastern Tennessee, Lincoln wired, “Go to Rosecrans with your forces, with a moments delay.” To Rosecrans, the president wired his advice, noting“…save your army, by taking strong positions….”