Lookout Mountain rises 1700 feet above the Tennessee Valley, its steep sides protruding to the sky. The northern end the mountain is surrounded on three sides by a near vertical rock wall that has afforded protection to the occupants of the top for hundreds of years. The mountain is known for a weather phenomenon that occurs from 3-5 times a year. A layer of fog forms around the bottom of the Mountain then begins to rise, sometimes engulfing the entire mountain. This rising fog has been written about since the first European settlers visited the area before 1735. On November 24, 1863, during the height of the Civil War, this very weather situation set in, just as Union forces were closing in on the city of Chattanooga nearby and set up what would be known as the Battle of Lookout Mountain or more famously known as The Battle Above the Clouds. "Clouds enveloped the entire mountain" wrote Union General John Geary before the attack. Confederate General Edward Walthall, whose Mississippians made up part of the Rebel line would write that he detected Geary's movement at about 7:30am but before he could tell where the Union commander was headed "a mist obscured the valley" at about 8:00am. Geary was headed to the site of an old dam, where his engineers would build a bridge. By 8:00am the bridge was complete enough to send about 20 Union soldiers from 3 companies across to form a bridgehead. Stealth and the fog were on their side as they captured 42 Confederate pickets without firing a shot. At 9:30am the Geary's attack began in "thick fog" on the mountainside. The Union commander also noted that the fog in Lookout Valley had risen. The fog prevented Union General Hooker's artillery from joining the fray. Around 11:00 the clouds lifted to the point that the artillery could tell Rebel from Yankee and opened fire, even though the cloud bank was returning. One Union artillery man later compared it to "...a fire and cloud-capped Sinai." Reports from the battle notes that "...the enemy threw grenade and shell over the cliffs, and the fire of their sharpshooters was so galling that we must inevitably have lost many men but for a dense cloud that enveloped the mountain top about noon." The New York Times on Nov. 30, 1863, mentions the notable fact that in Gen. Hooker's fight up the slopes of Lookout Mountain, "much of the battle was fought above the clouds, which concealed him from our view, but from which his musketry was heard." The fog allowed more Union advances as the rebels became confused and it helped the union win an important victory that brought all of Tennessee under Union control and lead the road to Atlanta wide open for Union forces and eventually Sherman’s March to the Sea.
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