After a major defeat at the Battle of Chickamauga, Union troops retreated into Chattanooga. The only route from the federal supply depot in Bridgeport, Alabama that the rebels did not control was a 60-mile wagon road northward to Jasper, up Walden’s Ridge on Anderson Pike, and down Roger’s Gap Road into Chattanooga.
During October 1863, storms reached hurricane proportions. Horses and mules foundered in the mud as they struggled to bring their loads along the difficult road. Events came to a flashpoint on October 3, when General Joe Wheeler led his Confederate cavalry to catch a train of 800 Union supply wagons stretching from Sequatchie Valley to the crest of Walden’s Ridge.
Warned that Union General Rosecrans was despondent over the raid and on the verge of retreating, President Abraham Lincoln ordered General Ulysses Grant to take command of Chattanooga forces. On October 22, Grant with his small party set forth on horseback up Sequatchie Valley and over Walden’s Ridge on mountain roads described in his memoirs as “almost impassable from mud, knee deep in places and from washouts on the mountain sides.”
Grant’s party passed by what became the McCoy Farm and Gardens, where the Federal Army at some point during the war had a large storehouse. Grant’s horse slipped and fell on his already injured leg during the trek, most likely at or near the top of Roger’s Gap road, which was then a “V” and is now the “W.” Grant made it into town by nightfall in one piece. The General went on to command Union victories at Brown’s Ferry and Missionary Ridge.