1 « Official Beoords, War of BebelUon,'' yoL zzx, pt. U, pp. 29i, 295.

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Bragg lost the advantage which he held over Crittenden, and at the same time sacrificed twenty-four hours. This delay was Crittenden's salvation. He utilized it to move all his corps to Lee and Gordon's Mill west of the Chicka-manga, two thirds of it having been to the east of it near Ringgold, and by so doing established his communication with Thomas, and covered his line of retreat by Chattanooga. This he accomplished by nightfall on the 12th}

On the night of the 11th, General Bragg, discovering that he was mistaken as to the position and attitude of McCook, turned his attention to Crittenden. Polk was directed to countermarch Cheatham's division and take position at Rock Spring Church, eight miles from Lafayette, and five miles from Lee and Gordon's Mill. During the afternoon of the 12th, Walker's division was added to this force; and toward the morning of the 13th, Hindman's also, which was then ^ for the first time returned to General Polk from the duty which it had been performing against Thomas in McLemore's Cove.

Unaware of the concentration which, during these movements, Crittenden had effected at Lee and Gordon's Mill, and believing him to be divided between this latter point and Peavine Church (see map). General Bragg, at 6 P.M. of the 12th, wrote Polk that from his position, which was five miles south of the mill and two miles southwest of Peavine Church, he had presented to him a fine opportunity for striking Crittenden in detail, and at 8 P.M. followed this note with an explicit order to attack at daylight the column at Peavine Church, on the Grays-ville and Lafayette road. These communications, cqin-cident with the concentration of all Crittenden's corps

1 <' Official Records, War of Rebellion/* vol. zzz, pt. i, p. 604. 8 Ihid,, ToL XXX, pt It, pp. 641, 642.

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at Lee and Gordon^s Mill, had as their foundation the reports sent General Bragg by his cavalry, who, operating on the 12th against Crittenden's two divisions marching from Ringgold, had been met by the forces sent out to cover this movement. Wilder, on the Lafayette and Ringgold road, made a fierce attack on Pegram, and Palmer threw out a force as far as Peavine Church. These aggressions liad been interpreted and reported as the real advance of Crittenden's detached dixdsions, and were again reported as such to General Polk upon his arrival (7 p.m.) at his position. He also learned then that the force at Lee and Gordon's Mill was likewise moving forward, a brigade having been advanced thence that afternoon for the purpose of a reconnoissance. As the first information,was in keeping with that which he had just re(*eived from army headquarters, General Polk, without further investigation, assumed all to be correct. Wishing to ensure, not merely the defeat of Crittenden's corps, but its destruction, he transmitted aU this information tx) General Bragg at once (8 p.m.), and, after stating the disposition of Cheatham's and Walker's divisions, added, " I am therefore clearly of the opinion that you should send me additional force, so as to make failure impossible; and great success here would be of incalculable benefit to our cause." He then suggested that Buckner's corps be sent him, leaving Hill for any contingency at Lafayette. After saying that all his general officers agreed in this opinion, he continued: " I am myself so profoundly convinced of this, that I beg leave most respectfuUy and urgently to press this upon your attention." Then, in allusion to his position and plan, pending the arrival of Hindman, who was essential to his attack, he said: " The enemy is moving with steady step upon my position—it is a strong one—and will

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no doubt attack early in the morning. My troops I cannot get into position in tinie to attack myself at so early an hour as day-dawn. If I find he is not going to attack me, I will attack him without delay."

In reply General Bragg ordered Buckner forward, and at 12.30 A.M. added: " The enemy [McCook] is approaching from the south, and it is highly important that your attac^k in the morning should be quick and decided. Let no time be lost."

At daylight the cavalry moved forward to develop the enemy. Hindman got into position about six o'clock, and the line was soon ready to advance; but the question was. Upon which road ? General Bragg had directed it upon the Graysville road, and the enemy had been reported in heavy force in that direction jtlie night before; but the cavalry now reported that there was no enemy in that direction. They had retired, as we have seen, the evening before, as soon as the purpose of theii- advance had been accomplished, which, as we have shown, was the junction of all Crittenden's divisions at Lee and Gordon's MiU.

This fact was discovered about noon. It was now evident that the Confederate leaders had been outwitted, as no such force had been in Polk's front the night before, as had been reported tiO him, and as he reported to General Bragg.

In judging Polk's attitude in this matter, due weight must be given to his real purpose, which was to turn General Bragg's attention from McCook, and so fix it upon Crittenden that he would move upon him with force enough to accomplish, not merely his defeat, but his destruction. This purpose was in part fidfilled, because Buckner's corps was moved up, and General Bragg himself cftm^ to tb(3 front as eaiiy v^ 9 A.M. About

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noon the enemy was definitely located at the mill, and Polk with 25,000 men was ready to move upon him.

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Bnt General Bragg declined to go farther, halted the troops, and, taking Buckner's corps with him, returned to Lafayette.

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At first it is difficult to understand General Bragg's reason for not moving direct upon Crittenden at this time, as be was only five mile« away, and the creek was easily fordable at many points both below and above his position. McCook, however, was again the disturbing element. This General Bi-agg stated at the time, and it is shown in his reply to General Polk's dispatch urging concentration upon Crittenden. There was a striking resemblance in all this to the attitude at Harrods-burg in the Kentucky campaign,— the same lack of information, the same vacillation,— and it was a suggestive revelation to those who had made the Kentucky (campaign.

The 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th passed, and still nothing was attempted. General Polk's corps was withdrawn, and, with the remainder of tlie army, lay at Lafayette, watching Thomas and expecting McCook. Forty miles of road running across a difficult mountain range separated the Federal right from its companion corps. General Bragg stood with his army united in the midst of his enemy's disjointed forces, but he was bewildered and confused. The miscarriage of his plans seemed to paralyze him, and General Polk reluctantly fidmitted to himself that the condition of the (commanding general was fast approaching that which during the retreat from TuUahoma had caused General Hardee so much uneasiness. He was physically unable to withstand the strain, and this became only the more apparent as the campaign progressed.

General Rosecrans finally abandoned the idea with which he had seemed possessed, that General Bragg was in disorderly retreat, and awakened at last to a sense of the peril of his position. He therefore retired Crittenden to the foot of Missionary Ridge, and directed

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McCook to close on Thomas at Stevens's Gap as rapidly as possible. On the 17th of September these three corps were within supporting distance of each other, their line extending from opposite Lee and Gordon's Mill on their left, through McLemore's Cove, to the top of Lookout Mountain on their right.

Moving up carefully, Greneral Bragg succeeded by the night of the 17th of September in placing his army in position upon the east side of the Chickamauga: its line extending from McLemore's Cove on the left to Reed's Bridge on the right; its center, commanded by General Polk, resting opposite Lee and Gordon's Mill.

In view of the tempting opportunity now offered to the Confederate general, with the army of Rosecrans spread out before him. General Polk proposed that a strong demonstration be made at Lee and Gordon's Mill, and, under cover of this feint, that the remainder of the army should march rapidly by the right flank as far as Reed's Bridge and fords near by, and, having crossed Chickamauga Creek and Valley, should occupy Rossville; and then, moving at right angles to the Lafayette and Chattanooga road, close the exit of the opposing forces from the valley in the direction of Chattanooga.

The movement could have been supported by General Longstreet's troops, then arriving at Ringgold from Virginia, and in spite of the presence of Granger, then at Chattanooga, would have effectually barred Greneral Rosecrans' communication with Chattanooga, and placed him in the power of the Confederate general. This movement could have been executed on the 17th or 18th of September. But General Bragg, who practically had already formulated a similar plan, believed he could accomplish the same end by crossing nearer the mill, the point at which the Federal left then rested, and in ac-

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cordance with this design he issued the necessary orders. By nightfall of the 18th he had placed Hood's and Walker's commands, with Forrest's cavalry, to the west of the river, covering the bridges and fords by which he intended to cross the remainder of the army on the following day. Forrest was at Alexander's Bridge, Walker half a mile in front of him, Hood in front of Thedford's Ford, about nine hundred yards east of the Chattanooga road. General Polk and General Hill were opposite Lee and Gordon's and Glass's Mills respectively, and during the day made demonstrations against the forces at these points, in order to cover the movements just noted.

Pending these movements, General Rosecrans, perceiving General Bragg's purpose, shifted his line farther down the stream, retaining Crittenden at Lee and Gordon's MilL He moved McCook near Pond Spring, and Thomas was directed to pass to the rear of Crittenden and take position near Kelly's house, on the Lafayette and ChattAuooga road, nearly opposite Reed's Bridge. (See Map 1 of the series.) Thomas succeeded by dawn of the 19th in placing Brannan's and Baird's divisions in the position t-o which he had been ordered.

Leaving for a moment the movement of troops, we will now give some notice to the field upon which the battle of Chickamanga was to he fought.

It was an undulating surfjice, gi'adually rising as it extended from the stream t^ the spurs and ravines of the foothills of Missionary Ridge, from two to four miles to the west. The road from Chattanooga to Lafayett(% called the State road, ran through this space in a nearly straight line from Rossville on the north, where it crossed Missionary Ridge, to Lee and Gordon's Mill on the south, where it crossed the Chickamanga. The line of this part

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of the road; together with the general line of the stream, which lay east of the road, formed an acute angle, with its apex at Lee and Gordon's Mill and its base toward Rossville. It was within this angle that the Confederate line fonned, conforming itself in the main to the line of the road, and for that reason at a distance from the stream, which increased gradually from left to right. On the 19th the Federal line conformed in the main to the line of the road, but on the 20th was forced to alter this relation, as will appear. The entire area, more especially that part between the road and the stream, was covered mostly with undergrowth still in leaf. In the main it was heavily wooded, but here and there, particularly along the line of the State road, were cultivated fields. There had been but little rain for some time prior to the battle, consequently the old coating of dead leaves and the dry grass afforded a ready fuel for the spread of fire. Partly from the accidents of battle, but mainly from the camp-fires, this was soon developed, and upon the right, where the woods were most dense, so much smoke was created as to embaiTass movement after dark.


At dawn on the 19th of September the Confederate demonstration at Lee and Gordon's Mill was resumed, with a view of holding the enemy in their position at that point. In order to complete the left of the Confederate line of battle, General Buckner now took position to the left of General Hood, his left resting on the stream some fifteen hundred yards below the mill. Cheatham, who had been detached from General Polk during the previous night, crossed Hunt's Ford about 7 a.m., and took post in the rear of Walker's position of the day pre-

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vious, from which Walker had moved to take post on Hood's right. Forrest, under orders direct from army headquarters, moved at dawn with Pegram's division to reconnoiter in the direction of the roads leading west from Reed's Bridge, and in doing so struck a brigade that had gone out in like observation under the direction of General Thomas.

Forrest attacked, and the battle of Chickamauga began : unexpectedly to Creneral Bragg, however, because it was in a direction for which he was unprepared, for he still placed the enemy's left at Lee and Gordon's Mill, where he had planned to assail and turn it.

General Rosecrans, as we have seen, had judiciously thrust his left beyond the Confederate right to an advantageous position, which enabled him not only to cover his line to Chattanooga, but to assault the Confederate right with the expectation of crushing it in the bed of the Chickamauga. General Thomas was honored with the command of this assault, and he strove with his best will to achieve it. Asking Palmer, of Crittenden's corps, to strike in front while he attacked in flank, he added, " I think we can use them up." With Bran-nan's and Baird's divisions he bore down heavily against Forrest until the latter appealed to Walker for relief. Ector's and Wilson's brigades speedily responded, and with this force the gallant cavalry chief stayed the tide of battle. The check, however, was but temporary. General Bragg next dispatched the remainder of Walker's command to his support. Its timely onset about 11.30 a.m. placed the advantage with the Confederates.

The divisions of Johnston, Palmer, and Reynolds now came into General Thomas's line on the right, and, striking Walker's left flank while he was forcing back Bran-nan and Baird, seriously threatened the capture of a

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good part of his command. Skillfully extricating his command from the danger involved, Walker now slowly withdrew. It was then near 1 P.M., and it strongly appeared that Thomas would accomplish his design of driving the Confederate right to the stream. But Cheatham had been ordered to Walker's support. He formed his division to the left and rear of Walker in two lines across the road leading from Alexander's Bridge, and, moving up to Thomas's exultant divisions, struck their exposed right and threw it back in disorder.

General Polk, who had remained with Hindman to press the demonstration at Lee and Gordon's Mill, received orders at noon to withdraw this division as early as practicable, move it across the stream, and assume command of the operations in progress on the right. Hastily issuing the necessary orders to Hindman, he rode at once to the scene of conflict, which he reached just as Cheatham was moving forward to the assault we have already mentioned. From a reconnoissance of the position, necessaiily brief, he formed the opinion that the forces under him were contending with Thomas's entire corps, and, perhaps, fractions of other corps. He reported this to General Bragg, and, as Walker had suffered severely, asked that another division might be placed at his disposition. In the meanwhile, Cheatham had become engaged and was steadily pressing forward, and Walker having reformed his command, Polk had ordered him to the right, so as to take position m echelon and cover Cheatham's right flank, Forrest covering the extreme right.

The Federal forces, righting their line, now moved against Cheatham's front so vigorously that he was compelled to yield. Half of Walker's command was now thrown forward on the right of Cheatham to meet the

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pressure in that direction. Stewart's division of Buck-ner's corps now came upon the ground. Its arrival was most opportune. Cheatham's left had in turn been flanked by Reynolds, and his entire command was fall-ing back. Lieutenant Richmond, General Polk's aide, familiar with the ground, and alive to the urgency of the situation, put Stewart in position on Cheatham's left, and pointed out the direction for his attack. Moving promptly forward, Stewart's division struck Reynolds's, and swept it out of the way. Continuing farther, he met Van Cleve's division on its way to the relief of Thomas, and drove it in disorder across the State road. While Stewart was executing this daring and brilliant advance, Cheatham, faUing back, had reached a strong position, where he halted his line, ran forward Turner's battery, and opened so fierce a fire that the center of Thomas's line gave way. This occurred just as the Federal left reached Walker's line. Thomas, now, with Stewart on his right, Cheatham in front, and Walker on his left, was compelled to halt, and, after a stubborn effort, retired. After disposing of Van Cleve's division, Stewart pierced Rosecrans' center, and moved beyond the State road some four hundred yards; for the want of support he had then to retire, as Negley and Davis seriously threatened his rear. About sunset he took post some six hundred yards to the east of the State road.

General Thomas, finally realizing that General Polk was about to turn the tables and "use him up," retreated until he reached the position near the State road from which he had stalled out in the morning. Placing Johnston's and Baird's divisions in line of battle well in front, he supported them by Palmer's, Reynolds's, and Brannan's in the rear as a reserve, Brannan being placed en echdmi to the right, in view of the attack from which Stewart was then retiring.

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Cleburne's division reached the portion of the line where this stubborn conflict had been going on about 6 P.M. General Polk at once put him in line on the right of Cheatham and in front of Walker, and moved again upon the enemy. Cleburne and Cheatham were ordered to advance and attack, and Walker was directed to move in the rear as a support. Pending the execution of these orders, General Polk turned to Captain Wheeless of his staflf, and said: " Go to General Bragg:, and tell him that I feel certain, from the prisoners captured, we have been fighting Rosecrans' entire army. I am now placing Cleburne in position on the right, and will advance in a few moments on the enemy, and expect to drive them before us. Present my compliments to General Bragg, and assure him that I feel confident of success to-morrow." Cannon and musketry announced a renewal of the persistent conflict. Cheatham struck the enemy in front, Cleburne in front and flank, and the Federal line was driven back until darkness supervened. General Polk then halted his troops. The wi'iter delivered the order to General Cheatham just at the moment when Brigadier-General Preston Smith was killed. He fell but a short distance from us, with the expiring volley of Thomas's hne. He was one of the best soldiers in the army.

On the left of the Confederate line no event of note occurred prior to 2 p.m., when General Hood's skirmish line was driven in, and he assumed the aggressive. Taking, together with his own command, Trigg's brigade of Preston's division, he moved across the State road, driving the enemy's forces in his front. He soon encountered Wood's division and a portion of Sheridan's on his left and rear, and the divisions of Negley and Davis in front, which compelled him to withdraw his

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troops some six hundred yards east of the road, where they were posted for the night. This conflict, though not as prolonged as that on the right, was very fierce while it lasted, and the loss was comparatively heavy. During the conflict upon tlie left General Bragg brought into action all the forces he had placed on tliat part of the field, excepting two brigades of Preston's division: these he held in position near the stream, and yet in sufficiently close proximity to the State road to enable him to check any ordinary attempt of the enemy upon that flank.

The day's fighting and manoeuvering provided so good a test of the powers and i-esources of the two armies, that i^ is of interest for us to ascertain the force which was employed upon the two sides.

Adopting the kind of division into which the battle, from i(5 beginning to its ending, seemed naturally to fall, we present the accompanying tabulation of the forces as they were opposed in the main upon the two wings.

General Bragg, Confederate Army.

Right wing. General Polk commanding: Walker's division, Cheatham's " Stewart's *' Cleburne's " Forrest's cavalry (Pe-gram's division). Total, 22,016.

Genei*al Rosecrans, Federal Army.^

Left wing, General Thomas commanding: Brannan's division, Baird's

Johnston's " Palmer's " Reynolds's " Van Cleve's " Cavalry.

Total, 25,000.

1 The Federal force is estiinated after a careful comparison of the field returns and rejKnrts.

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General Brag^, Confederate Army.

Left wing. General Hood commanding: Hoo<rs corpsy Trigg's brigade. Total, 8,428.

General Rosecrans, Federal Army.

Right wing, General Crittenden commanding: Wood's division, Negley's " Davis's " (in part), Sheridan's " "

Total, 10,000.

From this statement it will be seen that General Bragg had not succeeded in placing all his army in action that day. The divisions of Hindman and Breckinridge had been held respectively opposite Lee and Gordon's and Glass's Mills, while the two brigades of Preston's division had been utilized in the manner already mentioned. This force formed a total of 12,583 infantry and artillery. As to the enemy's force engaged on that day, General Rosecrans, in his official report of the battle, says:

The reserve corps (Granger's) covered the approaches from the Chickamauga toward Rossville and the extension of our left, and the fact that at the dose of the day we had present but two brigades which had not been opportunely and squarely in action, opposed to superior numbers of the enemy, assured us that we were greatly outnumbered, and that the battle of the next day must be for the safety of the army and the possession of Chattanooga.

This is well-merited testimony to the intrepidity of the Confederate soldiers and the skill of their commanders.

At the close of the day, while adjusting his line for the final attack, General Polk directed his engineer to locate his headquarters for the night at some central point in rear of his line. So many falsehoods have been

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published conceniing the relation of these headquarters to the line, I have deemed it proper to insert the statement which tliis officer, Captain W. J. Morris, made in regard to the matter.

About 5.30 P.M. General Polk desired me to locate his bivouac for the night, and informed me that he had directed his ambulance to be sent to Alexander's Bridge. At that moment we were at a point on the field where we had been the greater part of the day—somewhat to the right, and between the first and second lines of battle. About three hundred yards to our rear was the edge of the woods we were then in, and which covered the battlefield; from the edge of these woods Alexander's Bridge was in full view, about seven hundred yards away across a flat, low, open field. On leaving the general I rode my horse at a trot, and reached the bridge in three or four minutes. I found the headquarter ambulance on the south side of the Chickamauga; and on the east side of the road, immediately at the bridge, I directed the driver to turn into the woods just to his right, and I located the bivouac within fifty yards of the bridge. A part of the staff slept on either side of the road.

The place was in every way acceptable to General Polk, because it was entirely fitted for his purposes. Being on the route to army headquarters, which were at Thed-ford's Ford, in rear of the extreme left of the army, it was placed so that all communication between his wing and army headquarters must pass directly by him; being also a conspicuous point, one well known to the army, it was free from the chance of not being found by the numerous interests depending upon him. The confusion which prevailed that night in rear of all parts of the line on that wooded and smoke- and fog-obscured battlefield accentuated tlie wisdom of the selection.

About 9 P.M. General Polk rode from his line to army

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headquarters to report the operations of the command under him, and to receive instructions for the coming day.

After the report was made General Bragg announced that the army would be officially divided into two wings, the right wing to be under General Polk, and the left wrng to be under General Longstreet, who was then expected every moment.

This arrangement was, in reality, but a continuance of that upon which the battle of the day had been fought, and involved no change of commanders except on the left, for General Polk had conducted the operations on the right, while General Hood had directed the operations on the left, pending the arrival of his superior. General Longstreet. But this disposition had one serious disadvantage,— it ignored General Hill, and for that reason was not altogether satisfactory to General Polk, who saw in the arrangement an injustice and a needless affront to General HiU, who had but just received his promotion and come to that army.

It was quite as easy for General Bragg to have made three divisions of his army. General Hill, with his corps intact, was already on the right, and General Polk in the center; it only remained to assign Longstreet to the left. It came out in the conference, however, that General Bragg was greatly irritated against General HiU for his failure to cooperate with Hindman in Mc-Lemore's Cove the morning of the 10th, and for what he characterized subsequently as his " querulous and insubordinate spirit in general; ^ and he left the impression that, to save himself contention in the emergencies of the battle, he would ignore him, and, continuing as he had begun, would fight his army in two wings.

The forces assigned to General Polk were in the main

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those with which he had fought upon the right that day, the exceptions being Stewart's and Breckinridge's divisions. The former was detached to the left wing, and the latter was added to the right, the addition restoring the integrity of Hill's corps, which, in common with all others in the army, excepting General Hood's, had been disjointed to meet the requirements of the day's fighting. Hindman's division of Polk's corps was assigned to the left wing, and, together with some of the Virginia troops to arrive the following morning, completed the formation of that wing.

Verbal instructions were given to General Polk to attack at daylight by the division on the extreme right, from which the attack was to be taken up, by divisions, successively, to the left, the design being to renew the effort to turn the enemy's left and by direct attack force him into McLemore's Cove.

During this interview Greneral Polk suggested that a larger force than that which had been allowed should be massed upon the right. He urged upon General Bragg's attention the inference from the day's fighting — that Rosecrans would be accumulating his forces in front of the right wing of the Confederate line. General Polk further emphasized the fact that Granger's corps at Ross\dlle was in a position from which to assail in flank and rear the force that might succeed in turning the Federal left. But the commanding general held to the opinion that the bulk of the enemy were nearer Lee and Gordon's Mill than General Polk supposed, and consequently more nearly in front of the left, and that the disposition made was therefore the proper one.

Informing General Bragg of his location for the night. General Polk rode direct to his quarters at Alexander's Bridge. On the way he was met and accompanied by

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General Breckinridge, who reported his division lying near the bridge. As his men had just come from the extreme left and were much fatigued, it was agi'eed that the command should rest for a while in an open field just west of the bridge, but General Polk dii-ected him to be in line by dawn. He then invited General Breckinridge to bivouac with him.

Immediately on reaching his quarters, the following order was issued:

Headquarters, Right Wing, Army of Tennessee, Near Alexander's Bridge, September 19,1863,11.30 p.m. Circular.

Ist. Lt.-Gen. Hill on the right will attack the enemy with his corps to-morrow morning at daylight.

2d. Maj.-Gen. Cheatham on Hill's left will make a simultaneous attack.

3d. Maj.-Gen. Walker's corps will act as reserve. Corps and division commanders will see that their troops are amply suppHed with ammunition before dayhght.

By command of

Lt.-Gen. Polk,

J, Thos. M. Jack, A.A.-G.

Lt.-Gen. D. H. Hill.

Maj.-Gen. Cheatham.

Maj.-Gen. Walker.

Copies of this order were placed in the hands of reliable couriers, with instructions to deliver them at once. In order to facilitate the approach of any one seeking for General Polk, sentinels were placed at the bridge and upon the road directly opposite the camp, and were instructed to build fires and to keep a sharp lookout, especially for Generals Hill, Cheatham, and Walker. These sentinels remained at their posts until 2 a.m. and were then withdrawn, General Walker and a staflf-officer

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of Greneral Hill (Lieutenant Reid), as well as several other persons, having meanwhile been directed to General Polk.»

While the orders for the coming day were being issued, General Polk and General Breckinridge talked over, at supper, the plans and prospects for the ensuing; day. Breckinridge then withdrew to General Polk's tent for a short sleep before marching his men to the line.

The orders for Generals Cheatham and Walker were delivered promptly. But it was General Polk's misfortune that the courier sent to General Hill failed to find him, although he searched diligently for him, not only at Thedford's Ford, the point designated as the one at which Gteneral Polk would find General Hill, but along his line of battle as well, to which the courier subse-(juently extended his search.^

In the light of after-events, it was an error to entrust the order to but one channel j but it must be said that General Polk very properly regarded his headquaterrs as but one of the two under obligation to communicate with General Hill that night, and also that he counted with certainty upon seeing that officer speedily at his headquarters, having in person delivered messages to that effect to two of General Hill's staff—which messages were received,* one of them as early as midnight.*

It appears, however, that General Polk was the only one who made any attempt to reach General HiU. The commanding general, although he had but just detached him (about ten that night) from his own headquarters and assigned him to General Polk, who till then had

I ''Oi&cial Records, War of Rebellion,'' yoL zxz, pt U, pp. 5S-^. « lUA., p. 57. 8 Ibid., p. 64. 4 ibid., p. 140.

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had no authority over Hill, neither communicated this fact, nor indeed anything to Hill, until the next morning at eight o'clock, when he met him on his line of battle.

It appears that General Hill was approaching army licadquarters when he received General Polk's message tliat he had been placed under his (Polk's) orders, and tliat he wished to see him at his quarters that night.^ Instead of reporting himself at one headquarters or the other,' General Hill unfortunately waited until near four o'clock, — more than three hours,— and then, passing almost through Polk's camp, accompanied by his staff, rode on to his line.

. At five o'clock General Polk learned of the failure to find and deliver the orders to General Hill. Duplicates of the following order were then sent direct to General Hill's division commanders.

Headquarters, Right Wing, Near Alexander's Bridge, Sept. 20,1863,5.30 a.m.

General: The lieutenant-general commanding having sought in vain for Gen. Hill, gives you directly the following order:

Move upon and attack the enemy as soon as you are in position.

Maj.-Gen. Cheatham on your left has been ordered to make a simultaneous attack.

Respectfully, general, your obedient servant,

Thos. M. Jack, A. A.-G.

Maj.-Gen. Cleburne.

Maj.-Gen. Breckinridge.

After this order was dispatched, and as General Polk was about to ride to his line, an inquiry came from General Bragg as to the cause of the delay. In reply it was explained that General Hill had not been found, and that orders had been sent to his division commanders. Gen-

1 " Official Records, War of Rebellion," vol. xxx, pt ii, p. 140.

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eral Polk also told Major Lee (the officer who bore the inquiry) to say to General Bragg that some further delay would necessarily result from the failure to reach General Hill in proper time. The story of the delivery of the order to General Hill's subordinates, taken in connection with all that had gone before, is of such interest that it is given entire.

[StaUsment of J, Frank Whedesa.]

In Camp, September 30,1863.

The following is a statement of facts within my knowledge relating to the engagement on Sunday, Sept. 20:

On the morning of the 20th inst., between daylight and sunrise, Lieutenant-General Polk seut for me to carry orders to Major-Generals Cleburne and Breckinridge to make an immediate attack upon the enemy. I went directly to Colonel Jack, Assistant Adjutant-General, to get orders. As he handed them to me, he remarked that duriug the night General Polk sent orders to General Hill to make the attack at daylight, that it was now after that time, and the person who carried the order had returned and reported that he had searched in every part of the field and could not find General Hill, and that the orders he (Colonel Jack) was then giving me were sent direct to the division commanders to make the attack at once. General Polkas last remark to me was, not to lose time, but ride as rapidly as possible.

This I did. Passing by Major-General Cheatham's headquarters in rear of his Une, I left with him a copy of the orders I had for Generals Breckinridge and Cleburne, and said to him that it was for his information, and he was expected to conform to the movements.

I proceeded rapidly along the line of battle until I found General Cleburne's command, in rear of which I found Lieutenant-General Hill and Major-Generals Breckinridge and Cleburne around a camp-fire. On dismounting, I remarked that I had orders from General Polk. General Hill put forth his hand as if to receive the orders, when I said, " These orders

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are for Generals Breckinridge and Cleburne," and then, in explanation of why the orders were sent direct to the division conunanders, I told General Hill that dnring the night General Polk sent him orders to make the attack at daylight, but the bearer of the order could not find him, and when General Polk became aware of this, he sent these orders—these orders just delivered—to the division commanders. Either General Cleburne or General Breckinridge, when he had read the order, handed it to General HiU and remarked that the men could not go into the fight until they had their rations distributed to them, to which General H(ill) consented. I then asked General H( ill) if he had anything he desired to say to General Polk. He remarked that General Polk had promised to have a courier at the bridge to show him [General H(ill)] the way to his (General Polkas) headquarters, but that he could not find the courier when he went there. He then requested me to wait and he would write a note to General Polk. I said to General Hill I knew General Polk had couriers placed at the bridge; that they remained there until late, but the hour I did not know. I waited some ten minutes or more for General HilPs note, and then started back to General Polk. On my way I met Captain (J. M.) Williams with duplicate orders of the ones I had just delivered. I informed him that I had delivered the original orders, consequently there was not any use in his going further, but requested him to go up *to General Cheatham and say to him that it would be an hour or two before General Hill was ready to attack the enemy. This he did. Some two hundred yards farther on I met General Polk on his way to the field. I turned back, and he stopped for me to read General Hill's note. When I had finished I said, " General, you notice General Hill says it will be an hour or so before he is ready to make the attack. I am confident that it wiU be more than two hours before he is ready to make the attack.'' General Polk said to me he was going out to inspect his lines, and ordered me to keep his escort there and establish his headquarters just on the right of where they had been the day before. Some fifteen minutes after General Polk left. General

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Bragg came up and aaked me where he was. I replied that he had gone along the line to make an inspection and find out the cause of the delay in making the attack. I remarked that General Polk would return there, but that he (General Bragg) would no doubt find him sooner by going along the line ) and I then said: '^ General, in case you should not find General Polk, I will tell you what has been done this morning: General Polk sent orders to General Hill in time for the attack to have been made by daylight if General Hill could have been foimd; but this was impossible, and when General Polk learned this he sent orders by me to Generals Breckinridge and Cleburne to make an immediate attack. Major-General Cheatham was informed of this and ordered to conform with the movements; I found Generals Breckinridge and Cleburne and HiU together, and delivered the orders to Generals Breckinridge and Cleburne in the presence of General Hill." I then told General Bragg the contents of General Hill's note to General Polk, and I said I did not beheve General Hill would be ready to move to the attack iu two hours, but that he should have done so at daylight. General Bragg asked me how I expected General Hill to make the attack before he received orders to do so. I said: "General, you will remember, when General Polk sent me to you yesterday evening, you instructed me to say that you would send a staff-ofl&cer for him and the other generals, as you wished to have a conference with them. My last remark was made under the impression that General Hill was, of course, present at that conference and understood that he was to make the attack at daylight, and that General Polk has renewed the orders himself so that there could not possibly be any mistake.'' I then said: "General, General Cleburne reported to General Hill this morning, while I was there, that the enemy were felling trees on his front all night." General Bragg said: " Well, sir, is this not another important reason why the attack should be made at once t" I said : " Yes, sir, it does certainly seem so to me; but it did not seem to impress General Hill in that way."'

1 " Official Records, War of Rebellion,'* vol. xxx, pt. il, p. 61.

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The note brought by Captain Wheeless was this:

Sept. 20,1863.

General: I could find no courier at Alexander's Bridge, and therefore could not find yon. My divisions are getting their rations, and will not be ready to move for an hour or more. Breckinridge's wagons seem to have got lost between Thed-ford's Ford and this place.

It will be well for you to examine the line from one end to the other before starting.

Brigadier-General Jackson is running from east to west. My line is from north to south. General Cleburne reports that the Yankees were felling trees all night, and consequently now occupying a position too strong to be taken by assault. What shaU be done when the point is reached Y Respectfully,

D. H. Hill, Lieutenant'General.

After reading this note General Polk sent General Bragg the following:

In the Field, Sept. 20,1863, 7 a.m.

General: I am this moment in receipt of my first communication from General Hill, who informs me that he will not be ready to move for an hour or more because his troops are receiving rations, and because his wagons were lost last night. The attack will be made so soon as he is prepared for it.

Respectfully, general, your obedient servant,

L. Polk, Lieutenant-General Commanding,

Brigadier-General Mackall, Chief of Staff, A. A.-G,^

I In writmg of the order sent to his subordinates, General Hill stated in his official report that it was received by him at 7.25 a.m. Unfortunately, that morning he omitted writing the hour upon the note he sent General Polk by Captain Wheeless in return, but as Polk's note to Bragg, announcing the reception of Hill's note, is dated 7 A.M., there clearly is a discrepancy. Collateral testimony can determine which is correct.

To determine the relation of the terms **sunrise" and '*sundown" to actual time, it should be stated that sunrise in that latitude on that date

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About an hour after this note was sent, General Polk, who meanwhile had seen Genei'al Hill and all the division commanders, met General Bragg on the center of his Kne. He then made an extended report of the causes of the delay, and showed him that he was only waiting for Hill's command to bo ready.

In view of the fact that General Bragg washed his hands of all responsibility touching General Hill from the moment that he tinned him over to Polk at ten o'clock the night before, it is of impoi*tance to follow him to General Hill's line and learn what occurred there.

General Bragg rode up about 8 A.M., and inquired of me (Hill) why I had not begun the attack at daylight. I told him that I was then hearing for the first time that such an order had been issued, and had not known whether we were to be assailants or assailed. He said angrily: '^ I found Polk after suurise sitting down reading a newspaper at Alexander's Bridge, two miles from the line of battle, when he ought to have been fighting."!

It is not worth while to dwell upon the inconsistencies of HilPs reply to General Bragg in this interview as to his ignorance of the attitude which his corps was expected to assume that morning. Waiving the information which he had just received from Captain Wheeless and General Polk on that subject, it is well to point out,

was 5.47, but the usual interval between dawn and sunrise was shortened that morning by the obscurity due to the dense fog and the smoke.

The order in question was dated 5.30. Captain Wheeless took it as soon as written, and consumed fifteen minutes in its transmission. Breckinridge says in his official report that it was received soon after sunrise. Sunrise being fixed at 5.47, this statement of Breckinridge, sustained as it is by the date on the order and by Wheeless's statement, establishes the time at which Hill received the order as some time between 6 and 6.30 at the latest Add to this the time of Polk's note to Bragg, — 7 A.M., — and the evidence is conclusive as to General HilFs error.

1 " Battles and Leaders of the avil War,"vol. iii, p. 653.

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however, that he probably was the only man in that army who was ignorant of the purpose for which it had crossed the Chickamauga, and the only officer of any prominence who was unaware of the fact that the success of the day before, in which he had taken part, was but the first step in the program of aggression.

It is a matter of some importance to call attention to the commanding general's attitude toward General Polk in this interview. The truth of his statement is disproved in the footnote next below,^ and had it possessed a bearing merely personal to General Polk, it would require no other notice. But it went further.

General Polk and General Hill were of equal rank, and commanded the companion corps of the army. General Hill, coming from another army, had just been promoted, and this was his first battle in his new position and with his new surroundings. When General Bragg met him that morning, he had already learned that he had been made

1 The charge is best stated in the following extract from a letter written by General Bragg to Major E. T. Sykea, of Columbus, Miss., beai^ ing date Febmary 8, 1873. Referring to a question as to General Polk's responsibility for the delay in the attack on the morning of the 20th, General Bragg replied:

'* This question is best answered by my official report, an<i I send you by this day's mail a written copy, which I must beg you to preserve and return, as it is invaluable to me. In addition to what is there said, I can now add —but would not put it in an official report—that the staff-officer sent to General Polk,—Major Lee, A. I.-G.,—to urge his compliance with the orders of the previous night, reported to me that he found him at a farmhouse, three miles from the line of his troops, about one hour after sunrise, sitting on the gallery reading a newspaper, and waiting, as he (the general) said, for his breakfast."

In answer to this statement the writer submits the following:

1st. General Polk's headquarters were at Alexander's Bridge, located in a spot cleared of undergrowth and small trees the day before by troops temporarily camped there,-no farmhouse was near. The spot was about 1200 yards in rear of General Walker's line. (See map of field and statement of Captain Morris, the engineer-officer who located the camp already given.) The writer saw Major Lee deliver General Bragg's

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subordinate to General Polk, but he had not heard it from General Bragg; it had come to him indirectly. He now received it from the commanding general direct, who accompanied the announcement with an accusation which discredited it at once. As might have been expected, Bragg's attitude was not lacking in fruit, as was discovered by those who had occasion to carry orders to General Hill that day.

The incident furnishes a characteristic index of General Bragg's conception of the requirements of army discipline. Any other commander, conscious of the truth of his statement, would have arrested General Polk without a moment's hesitation, and in so doing have but vindicated himself and his army, and have administered the only punishment adequate to the offense charged.

In compliance with instructions from General Bragg the night before. General Polk's line retained the position it had occupied at the close of the previous day.

Breckinridge's division was placed in one line on the extreme right, covering the Reed's Bridge road, with

message to General Polk at this camp. General Polk had then breakfasted, and was preparing to mount his horse to ride to the front.

2d. The time of this interview is nearly enough fixed by the following reply made by General Cheatham to an inquiry from General Polk, which was made in relation to this very interview with Major Lee:

" To the best of my recollection, I saw you at Turner's Battery about

sunrise, you having, as I understood, just returned from the right of

your lines." (** Official Records, War of Rebellion," vol. xxx, pt. ii, p. 63.)

In conclusion, the following extract is given from a letter from Major

Frank McNairy, General Cheatham's aide-de-camp:

" I left General Cheatham's headquarters before daylight the morning of the battle, and went to General Polk's headquarters with a message from General Cheatham to General Polk. When I got there, which was about daylight, I found General Polk and staff on their horses, about moving to the field, which they did at once; they got there before I did, as I stopped to water my horse, as he had not had water for twenty-four hours. When I arrived on the field, he was there; the sun was not mors than up when I got to the field."

3d. Colonel Lee, about two weeks after the battle, when asked by a member of General Polk's staff if he had made any such report to General Bragg said he had not.

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Forrest's cavalry on its flank, Cleburne in one line next to Breckinridge, and Cheatham in two lines on the left. Walker's division was in reserve in the rear of < Jlebume and Cheatham, the three constituting Polk's column of attack.

This disposition was faulty, however, as it made Cleburne and Breckinridge dependent upon reserves outside their own organizations. It would have been better to place Walker in the line, two brigades in front, two in reserve j then Cleburne and Breckinridge, without shortening the general line, each could have placed a brigade in reserve. But an entire division in reserve was directed by General Bragg for both wings. This compelled the formation of Hill's corps in one line, as the ground from Cheatham's right to the Reed's Bridge road had to be covered in order to gain the proper distance beyond the enemy's flank. Assuming that the general line of battle was correct, the formation of the right wing was, under the circumstances, the proper one, and General Bragg, who ordered it, confirmed this opinion after an examination. It turned out, however, that the general line of battle was faultily arranged. "As soon as the day of the 20th had dawned," Longstreet, who had arrived the night before, rode to the front to find his troops. He " set to work to have the line adjusted by closing to the right, in order to occupy some vacant ground between the two wings and to make room for Hood in the front line." * This movement threw Stewart— who moved some five hundred or six hundred yards — across the whole of Cheatham's front, and encroached upon Cleburne's line of advance. It brought his right in contact with the enemy, who, upon Polk's front, occupied a position in advance of that opposite

1 '' OfflcUa Records, War of Rebellion,'' vol. xzx, pi. ii, p. 288.

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Longstreet; and, in consequence, Stewart had to refuse his right. Owing to the distance between Stewart's rear and Cheatham's front (about six hundred yards), and also to the thick undergrowth, the fog, and the smoke, Cheatham's skirmishers did not discover the change of position for some time, and when reported it was too late to rectify the error. The lack of interest which General Bragg took in the formation of his general line of battle was thus a misfortune to the entire army, and particularly to the right wing, because it was made to cover more ground than was necessary, and in so doing was obliged to extend itself unduly. If General Bragg had located his wings himself, he would have released Cheatham from his position, and in so doing have given a double formation to his right wing throughout; but he left this —as he did most of the affairs of the battle—to his wing commanders, who did the best they could under the circumstances in which he had placed them.

The formation of Longstreefs line from left to right was as follows: Hindman's division was placed on the extreme left; Wheeler's cavalry on the flank. Hood's corps was next to Hindman's, and Stewart's division was on the right. Each division had two brigades in front and one in reserve. Preston's division was placed in reserve on the left, resting on tlie river.

Longstreet's preponderance of force, and the relative shortness of the intei-val to be covered, enabled him to form in his center a heavj'^ column of attack, consisting of Johnson's, Law's, and Kershaw's commands, constituting Hood's corps, the whole forming a column of eight brigades, arranged in four lines. The formation of the left wing was completed about 10.30, an hour subsequent to the attack of the right wing.

During the evening of the 19th General Rosecrans as-

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sembled his corps commanders and gave them orders for the following day.

General Thomas, with his flank covered by cavalry, was to hold the position to which he had been driven, about three hundred yards east of the State road, his command to form in three lines, placing Baird's division on the extreme left; next to Baird's, successively, on the right, the divisions of Johnson, Palmer, and Reynolds. Brannan's division was to be posted in reserve to the right and rear of Reynolds.

Negley's division was to take post on the right of Reynolds J next on the right was McCook, with the divisions of Davis and Sheridan. Wilder's mounted infantry and the cavalry covered the right.

Crittenden, with his remaining two divisions. Van Cleve's and Wood's, was to take position in the rear of Thomas's and McCook's corps, so as to be able to support either.

These commands, as soon as posted, commenced to erect temporary breastworks. It was understood that the left of the line was to be held at all hazards, as the safety of the army depended upon it.

The total force * brought into action on the 20th was as follows:

I This statement of the forces brought into action by Greneral Bragg on the 20th is based upon the original returns of the Army of Tennessee, among his papers now in New Orleans, La., in the possession of his heirs. (See Proceedings of United ConfederateVeterans, Surgeon-General Joseph Jones, Paper No. II, 1892.) In the statement of Surgeon-General Jones, the division of Bushrod Johnson is evidently omitted from the total of the left wing; this total is therefore made up to correspond with General Longstreet's statement for that day. (''Official Records, War of Rebellion," vol. XXX, pt. ii, p. 291.)

The statement of the forces brought into action Sept 20 by General Bose-crans is based upon the returns of the Army of the Cumberland, Sept. 20, 1863, making the deductions authorized by General Henry M. Cist [Army of the Cumberland, Campaigns of the Civil War (Scribner), 1882, p. 228.]

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General Bragg. General Roseorans.

Infantry and artillery, Infantry and artillery, 46,000

Right wing 20,240 Cavalry 9,000

Left wing 22,879

Cavalry (divided about

equally between the

wings) 7,500

Total 50,619 Total 55,000

Number of pieces of artil- Number of pieces of artillery, 150. lery, 192.

As the two lines of battle now stood, Geneitd TChomas, with Baird's, Johnston's, Palmer's, and a part of Reynolds's division, each division in three lines, was opposed to General Hill with the divisions of Cleburne, Breckinridge, and Walker.

The remainder of Reynolds's division, with Brannan's en echelon, was in front of Stewart's and Cheatham's divisions.

Negley's division, with Wood's and Van Clove's in reserve, under Crittenden, was in front of Hood's corps.

The divisions of Da\is and Sheridan, under McCook, w^ith Wilder's brigade of mounted infantry, were in front of Hindman's division.

About the. time the action began, Negley's division was withdrawn from its position, and moved to the rear of Thomas's corps, as a support to the left; Wood's division moving forward and taking Negley's place in the line between Reynolds's and Davis's divisions. The Federal line during the night had succeeded in covering itself throughout with temporary breastworks.

It wiQ be noted, from the disposition made of the enemy's forces on their left, that there were opposed to the forces under Polk four divisions in three lines, with Brannan's and Negley's divisions as a support; beside

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these, a division of Granger's corps, some 5000 strong, was on the flank, four miles away, threatening the Confederate right. In addition, every corps commander understood that the left of the line was to be held at all hazards. The bearing of aU this upon General Polk's suggestion when he received his orders from General Bragg the night before is too obvious for even comment.


Intending that Cheatham should take part in the advance, Walker had been posted so that he might be used as a support to this division or Cleburne's as occasion demanded; but, learning of the relation held by Cheatham to the left wing. General Polk, about nine o'clock, moved Walker in rear of Cleburne. While executing this movement. General HUl reported that it would be necessary to protect Breckinridge against a counter-flank attack that was threatened by Granger. Polk accordingly directed Walker to continue his march to Breckinridge's relief. Between 9.30 and 10 o'clock Hill's corps, preceded by a heavy line of skirmishers, advanced to the attack.

As the lino neared the enemy, Deshler's and a large part of Wood's brigades of Cleburne's division overlapped Stewart's division in its rear, and therefore could not take part in the assault. Lucius Polk's brigade, and Lowry's regiment of Wood's brigade, struck the works squarely in front, but were too weak to force them. Unable to advance farther, and determined not to retreat, Polk* ordered the' commands to lie down and hold their position, which was about a hundred and seventy-

1 Son of William Polk, CoL William Polk's second son.

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Ave yards from the enemy's works. Helm's brigade, of Breckinridge's division, struck the left flank of the works. After two desperate and unavailing efforts to carry them, it was compelled to retire, but not until its leader had sealed his devotion to his cause with his life.

Stovall's and Adams's brigades — the remaining brigades of Breckinridge's divisicm — passed clear of tlie works to the State road in the rear, and, under General Breckinridge's direction, bore down on the left flank and rear of the enemy.

While Breckinridge was advancing to the execution of this movement, Walker's command, increased by the arrival of Gist's brigade, came up. It arrived as Helm was finally repulsed, and while Breckinridge was moving forward upon the enemy's rear, on the State road. Polk now gave General Hill the opportunity of his life,—he ordered him to take Walker's command and attack the enemy in his front, saying to him that he would entrust the operations there to him, while he saw to Cleburne and Cheatham. Walker, in his report, gives a graphic account of the manner in which Hill failed of his opportunity. By disrupting the command, sending it in detail, he failed not only to properly support Breckinridge, but secured the speedy defeat of botli commands. Had he moved it eii masse and at once into the interval left by the repulse of Helm, it is easy to believe the enemy's left might have been turned. It is important that any one studying this part of the battle should determine the time of Walker's arrival upon that part of the field, because upon that depends, to a great extent, the value of the opportunity. Upon this point Walker is very explicit : " He [Hill] ordered General Gist's brigade immediately into the fight in rear of Breckinridge, a part of whose division had fallen back, and the whole of which

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* _•;_

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was hard pressed."^ HilPs report also makes it clear "^ that Walker came up while Breckinridge was moving to the flank attaek,^ in ample time to have aided him had he been moved forward intact, to his left. Walker's command had been divided into two small divisions, one under Gist, the other under Liddell. Gist moved foi-ward into the interval and assaulted the left of the works held by Baird. Meanwhile Breckinridge, changing direction at the State road, had reached a point well to the rear of the enemy's left; here he was met by the reinforcements, which the attack of the right wing was drawing from the enemy's right, and was diiven back. Retiring in good order, he fell back to the position of his remaining brigade (Helm's). The detour which he was compelled to make in this retreat exposed Gist to the combined fire of the enemy's left, against which he gallantly contended for half an hour before retiring. While Gist was thus engaged. General Hill directed Govan's brigade, of Walker's command,^ to move to the State road and support him by an attack upon the enemy's rear. The forces which had been hurried to this part of the field to meet Breckinridge's attac^k now fell upon Govan, and, turning his left, compelled him in turn to withdraw. This completed the repulse of the right wing. During these movements upon his right General Polk had occupied himself in arranging for Cleburne's support. Jackson's brigade, of Cheatham's division, was

1 " Official Records, War of Rebellion," vol. zzz, pt. ii, p. 241.

2 Ilid., p. 142; and also General Gist's report, p. 245.

3 General Hill, on page 144 of his official report, says that Walker's corps made a second attack that morning on the State road. This is an error, as is shown by the reports of Walker, and Walker's division and brigade commanders, to none of which General Hill had access at the time his report was written. The attack of which General Hill speaks is that of Goran's brigade here described.

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detached to Cleburne's right, and the remainder of the division was directed to take position in his rear. Cleburne meanwhile had extricated his left brigade from its position behind Stewart, and, retiring his line a short distance, was re-forming it. About noon General Polk returned to the right, and finding one of Walker's brigades (Walthal's) unoccupied, directed it to move forward and connect with Jackson's brigade on the right.^

Cleburne having suffered materially in the repulse, the gallant General Deshler being among the killed, Polk now ordered Cheatham to replace him. While executing this movement, a message from General Hill was received, stating that his right was again threatened by Granger's corps. This force of the enemy, as has been said, was holding a position some four miles to the Confederate right when the action began. At 11 a.m. it started to the support of Thomas's corps, and, although retarded by Forrest, moved vigorously forward.

Peeling the importance of protecting his right against this counter-flank movement of the enemy, Polk ordered Cleburne to hold his position, and directed Cheatham to move to the right with his division, to meet the movement of Granger; but Granger, making a detour to the west of the State road, moved to the rear of Thomas's line, leaving a brigade to observe the Confederate right.

It was now about 2 p.m. Granger having ceased threatening his flank, Polk readjusted his line from left to right, preparatory to another assault. The enemy's works being visible through the open woods in front of Cleburne, that oflBcer was directed to mass his artillery and open fire on the enemy, introductory to the advance. Promptly moving his guns to within two hundred yards 1 ** Official Becordfl, War of Bebelllon/' vol. zzx, pi. U, p. 274.

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of the enemy's lines, a destructive fire was opened on them., This was about 3 P.M.

About an hour after the advance of the right wing, General Longstreet had completed the arrangement of his line, and stood prepared to take up the contest as it reached him from the right; but the repulse of the right deranged the plan of battle. Owing to the advanced position of the enemy's left, Cleburne could move no farther forward than on a line with Stewart's, division, tlie right of the left wing; and as the orders were for the divisions on the left to move only in connection with the divisions next on the right, Stewart did not move j consequently, the remainder of the left wing remained passive.

Perceiving the right wing unable to advance. Long-street sought permission to move directly upon the enemy in his front. The commanding general, however, had already seen the necessity of the movement, and, accordingly, orders to that effect had been sent directly to the division commanders.

Stewart, with a portion of Wood's brigade of Cleburne's division, was tlie first to advance, but, encountering a terrific front-and-flauk fire from Reynolds, whose line was here retired to the rear and right, he was driven back, after gallant efforts to force the position.

Hood's corps, next on the left, was more fortunate. Hill's assault in the morning had so impressed Thomas, he called repeatedly upon Rosecrans for aid. Negley's division had already been taken from the right and sent to him. Van Cleve's division was ordered to follow. Sheridan was ordered to go with two brigades, and was executing the order when Hindman's division compelled him to confront it. There remained, to oppose the forces under Longstreet, a part of Reynolds's, Wood's,

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Davis's, and Sheridan's divisions in front, with Van elevens and a part of Brannan's in reserve, and Wilder's brigade of mounted infantry.

With a view to making his line compact, General Rosecrans had directed Wood to close to the left on Reynolds, McCook being ordered to follow the movement. Wood, misunderstanding the onler, withdrew from the line, and passed to the rear of Brannan, whose force was m echelon to the right and rear of Reynolds's di\ision. This movement of Wood's left a gap of a division front on the Federal right. Before it could be closed. Hood's quadruple line had swept in. The rear of Wood's division and the right of Bi'annan's were driven in confusion to the right; Davis was tlirust in like disorder to the left, exposing Sheridan upon his right. Hindman attacked Sheridan and Wilder in front, and, after suffering tlie repulse of his left brigade, succeeded, with the aid of one from Preston, in driving the enemy before him. The entire Federal right was routed; one of Van Cleve's brigades was captured entire. Sheridan's division, two brigades of Davis's division, and General Rosecrans disappeared from the field.

The triumph achieved by Hood's command was marred by the sericms wounding of this daring commander. He had to suffer the amputation of a leg upon the field.

The command of the Federal army, now shorn of six brigjules, devolved upon General Thomas. The remnant of its right wing quickly formed at right angles to the State road, extending well off to the west. The troops took position on a ridge under cover of the forest in the following order: Brannan on the right, and two brigades of Wood's on the left; to this line General Thomas subsequently added two brigades from Negley's division and Hazen's brigade, and later Steedman's division of Gran-

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gar's corps, whose movements prior to this we have already noticed. At a still later period General Thomas tried to fill the gap in this line, which stiU remained at the State road, by retiring Reynolds's right, but it was not sufficient. Consequently an interval upon Reynolds's » right remained open. Had this been discovered, and had the attacks which were directed against Brannan, Wood, and Steedman been directed instead against this point, the Federal line would have been quickly pierced.

General Longstreet's divisions, having cleared their front, now changed their direction to the right, and moved upon the enemy in their new position. Preston was moved up, and took position upon the State road. Buckner massed several batteries upon this road, and opened a fire upon the angle of the enemy's line.

As already noted, Cleburne had opened his batteries upon the center of the enemy's left, and the entire line under Polk was ready to renew the assault.

In making his disposition for the afternoon attack, Polk found that Hill was very much opposed to executing it as ordered, and showed a singular unwillingness to act. Polk's orders were that Cleburne, keeping up his cannonade, should threaten the enemy in his front, and that Hill, taking Walker, Breckinridge, and Cheatham— now massed on the extreme right—should assail the enemy's left on the State road. The order to advance was given to Hill at 3.30, and had to be twice repeated^ before he moved. While waiting for Hill, Captain Carnes of the artillery, whose })attery had been demolished in the battle of the day before, and who was acting for the day on Polk's staff, reported that the enemy acted as if their am-

1 Hill says that bis delay was due to the difficulty experienced in getting Jackson's brigade to move into its position; but this was not an essential to his movements.

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munition was running low. Polk sent him at once to Lucius Polk with the order to attack. Polk's brigade, supported by Jackson on the right, dashed at the works, and after a most gallant effort they seized the line that ' had opposed such stubborn resistance to Helm and Gist earlier in the day. All the troops now advanced (5 P.M.), but the battle of the right wing was practically ended. Preparatory to a retreat, Thomas was withdrawing Reynolds to post him eti erheloti to his left. Intending at nightfall to retire successively Johnston, Palmer, and Baird to a new line, they had been ordered to hold themselves in readiness for the movement. The assault of Polk's and Jackson's brigades, supported by Hill's advance, anticipated this movement, and converted it into a most " precipitate retreat."

Reynolds, however, weU in hand, turned upon the exultant Confederates, and, striking a final blow at Walker, disappeared with his companions. It was the * last flare of that fierce flame which for two days had burned so fiercely along that line.

I cannot do better than quote Cames's graphic account of Polk's assault:

Riding by the side of General Lucius Polk, I witnessed the splendid charge of the veterans of his brigade up the ridge held by Thomas. I never witnessed a more enthusiastic and intrepid charge, and it carried everything before it. What seemed to be a heavy skirmish-hne behind logs was quickly destroyed and forced back on a front line of log breastworks, and such was the impetuosity of the attack that our men rushed up to and over these works, driving the troops there, in utter confusion, back on the main line. Here General L. E. Polk said to me: '' Go back and tell the old general that we have passed two lines of breastworks; that we have got them on the jump, and I am sure of carrying the main line." At the top of my horse's speed I rode to where General

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Leonidas Polk waited in a small glade, near Breckinridge's left. As I was seen approaching, Breckinridge, Cheatham, and other commanders present, drew up on horseback around General Polk, who, inmiediately on receiving my report, said to those officers: " Push your commands forward, gentlemen, and assault them vigorously along the whole line."

Away went generals and staff at full speed, and when the order to advance reached our troops, who were expecting it, the stirring Confederate yell arose and swelled to a full chorus along the whole line as our men rushed to the charge.

The following statement from Games agrees so perfectly with my own observation, that it is reproduced:

I have read accounts of this fight from the Federal Side, and some from Confederate officers who were with our left wing, in which it was stated that Thomas withdrew his forces about dark. In our front they withdrew before the charge of our troops over the breastworks, and the quantity of small-arms and accoutrements scattered in all directions — limber-chests, caissons, and pieces of artillery abandoned where they had been jammed in between trees and saplings in rapid flight — bore conclusive testimony to the character of their withdrawal-

The fight upon the left wing had been renewed with increasing fury about 3.30. Stewart, who had met the fate of Cleburne in the morning assault, now held position along with Cleburne, the two forming the pivots upon which the wings of the Confederate army were turning toward each other. Longstreet, holding Preston in reserve, carried on the battle with Hood's corps and Hindman's division. Brannan, Wood, and Granger, aided by such regiments as Thomas could spare from his left,—his two wings being now almost back to back,— fought for every inch of ground. Although without field-works, their position upon the side of Missionary Ridge afforded a protection which was utilized to the

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fullest extent. Hindman was repulsed, and Johnson, now commanding Hood's corps, shared a like fate. About five o'clock Preston was advanced to their relief, and the battle along that line was renewed; but the enemy still held their position successfully. It was soon to end, however. Polk's line, sweeping up over the State road, crushed the Federal left, and, catching its right in flank and rear, the resistance in front of Longstreet melted away, and with the fall of night disappeared. Never will the writer forget the "rebel yeU " which proclaimed this triumph j for, rising higher and higher, and echoing and re-echoing from wing to wing, it told to friend and foe that victory that night rested with the Confederacy.

It probably never happened before that a great battle was fought to its bloody conclusion with the commanders of each side away from the field of confiict. But the Federals were in the hands of the indomitable Thomas, and the Confederates were imder their two heroic wing-commanders.!

The immediate results were 8000 prisoners, 36 pieces of artillery, 15,000 stand of small-arms, 25 stand of colors and guidons, numbers of wagons and ambulances, and quantities of ammunition, hospital stores, etc.

General PoDc established his headquarters in the enemy's works at the State road, and sent out scouts to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy. The scouts returned and reported that there was no enemy in front.

He then sent Colonel Spence, of his staflF, to General Bragg, to report the situation of the right wing, and to say that the enemy had been driven from every position in his front and was now in full retreat.

Colonel Spence made the report accordingly, and at

1 LientenanlrGeneral HiU, '' Battles and Leaders of the Civil War.""

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the request of the commanding general General Polk went to army headquarters, which he reached some time after midnight. As to what occurred at this interview, we give the statement of Colonel W. D. Gale, General Polk's aide-de-camp:

I have a most vivid recollection of what occmred so far as I had an opportunity to see and hear. About eleven or twelve at night, on the last day of the battle, I rode with General Polk from his bivouac among the dead and dying, in Thomas's entrenched line, to General Bragg's headquarters. General Bragg had gone to bed, but got up to listen to his report of the day's work of his forces. General Polk urged upon him the fact that the enemy was routed and flying precipitately from the field, and that then was the opportunity to finish the work by the capture or destruction of his army by prompt pursuit, before he had time to reorganize and throw up defenses at Chattanooga. General Bragg could not be induced to look at it in that light, and refused to believe that he had won a victory.

Barely has there been a battle in which troops were so little mixed up, and in which organization was so little disturbed. Polk's wing was ready to march or fight at dawn in the morning, — with thinned ranks, it is true, but with buoyant and exultant spirits.

Similar statements are applicable to the left wing under Longstreet, who doubtless expected prompt orders to pursue, for in his official report he says:

As it was almost dark, I ordered my line to remain as it was: ammunition-boxes to be refilled, stragglers to be collected, and everything in readiness for the pursuit in the morning.

After the interview with General Bragg, Polk returned to his quarters in the hope that he might receive orders, in common with the left wing, to push forward at dawn*

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An order, at length, was sent; it was for Cheatham's di\asion to reconnoiter ground already scouted over, and for details to gather spoils and bury the dead.

While General Polk was waiting on his line for further orders, he received the following note from Forrest in the front:

On the Road, 9 a.m., September 21,1863. General: We are in a mile of RossviUe. Have been on the point of Missionary Ridge. Can see Chattanooga and everything around it. The enemy^s trains are leaving, going around the point of Lookout Mountain. The prisoners captured report the pontoons thrown across for the pmrpose of retreating. I thiak they are evacuating as hard as they can go. They are cutting timber down to obstruct our passing. I think we ought to press forward as rapidly as possible. (Please forward to General Bragg.) Respectfully, etc.,

N. B. Forrest, Brigftdter-Generdl. To Lieutenant-Gbneral Polk.

The note was promptly forwarded to General Bragg, but the rare and high occasion, reached only by such generous and splendid sacrifice, was gradually sinking into the slough of lost opportunities.

From the battlefield General Polk wrote Mrs. Polk :

September 21,1863. I write a hurried line only to say that by the mercy of God I am unhurt in the operations of the last two days, and so are our son and son-in-law. The work has been very heavy, but we have driven them both days before us. We have fought all of Rosecrans' army, especially yesterday. We have just heard, at 9 a.m., that he has retreated to Chattanooga. We shall pursue. The Lord has been very gracious and merciful to us, and has blessed us; for which I feel, an^l hope we all feci, truly gratefuL May His blessing still rest upon us.

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On the afternoon of the 2l8t the order to advance was given j it was not, however, to Chattanooga, but to occupy the high ground of Missionary Bidge overlooking the town.

The commanding general now invested the town: the right wing, under Polk, resting on the Tennessee River above the town; the left, under Longstreet, resting on the river below the town, at Lookout Mountain.

Three days had now elapsed since Bosecrans entered Chattanooga with his fleeing and confused army. He was strongly intrenched, and, grateful for the breathing-time allowed to him, stood at bay.

It is difficult to understand the apathy shown by General Bragg upon the afternoon and evening of the closing day of the battle. He did not show himself upon General Polk's line after the repulse of the morning, and, beyond sending orders to attack, gave General Polk no indication that he was specially concerned with what was going on upon the right. An explanation may possibly be found in a letter from Longstreet to Hill, written in July, 1884.

It is my opinion that Bragg thought at 3 p.m. that the battle was lost, though he did not say so positively. I asked him at that time to reinforce me with a few troops that had not been so severely engaged as mine, and to allow me to go down the Dry Valley Road, so as to Interpose behind Thomas and cut off his retreat to Chattanooga, at the same time pursuing the troops that I had beaten back from my front. His reply, as well as I can remember, was that he had no troops except my own that bad any fight left in them, and that I should remain in the position In which I then was. After telling me this, be left me, saying: ^* General, if anything happens, communicate with me at Reed^s Bridge." In reading Bragg's report, I was struck with his remark that the morning after the battle *^he found the ever-vigilant General Liddell feeling his way to

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find the enemy.^ Inasmuch as every one in his army was supposedfto know on the night of the battle that we had won a complete victory, it seemed to me quite ludicrous that an officer should be commended for his vigilance the next morning in looking for the enemy in his immediate presence. I know that I was then laying a plan by which we might overhaul the enemy at Chattanooga or between that point and Nashville. It did not occur to me on the night of the 20th to send Bragg word of our complete success. I thought that the loud huzzas that spread over the field just at dark were a sufficient assurance and notice to any one witliin five miles of US.1

A week after the battle, General Polk wrote the following letter to his wife, in which he pays a fitting tribute to his over-faithf111 friend and aide-de-camp, Lieutenant W. B. Richmond, who was killed in the battle of the 20th:

Sunday, on the top of Missionary Ridge, In front of Chattanooga, Sept. 27,18(53. 3fy beloved mfe: This day a week ago we fought the battle of Chickamaugfa, and it was a great success. We should have made more out of it. The enclosed copies of letters will show why we have not. Still it was a great triumph of arms. I wrote you a note from the battlefield, which I hope you got. I said all of us were safe, but, soon after, we found poor Richmond's body, my dear and faithful and attached young friend. We lost sight of him during the day, and found his body next morning lying within sixty yards of my camp, near the enemy's breastworks. He was one of the purest young men I ever knew, and possessed in an eminent degree some of the highest of human qualifications. I mourn for bim as for a child. He was shot through the head, and was killed dead from his saddle. I shall ever cherish his memory most fondly I am now looking down from the top of Missionary Ridge into Chattanooga and into the enemy's camp. I do not think we will attack him, but will learn his plans. But we are very

1 " Battles and Leaders of the Civil War," vol. Ui, p. 669.

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tired of the delay. The troops are in fine spirits; our losses have been large, but not out of proportion to those of our adversary. He suffered very severely.

All my staff escaped injury except poor Richmond. Sayers, ray Irish engineer, was captured. We shall make a forward movement in a few days, I think, without doubt, and we are quite confident as to the future.

We look to God for His blessing.

The forward movement, however, was never made. An investment was attempted, which was soon broken by the reinforcements sent forward t-o Rosecrans' relief. Thus ended the Chickamauga campaign.

The student of the militaiy operations of the Civil War will find abundant material from which to draw valuable deductions; but in none of it will he find more useful lessons than can be discovered by the study of that which bears upon the problems presented in the campaigns and battles of this army. It is not within the' province of this work to enter upon so extensive a subject, but it is a part of it to present facts which are involved therein.

There is no factor of war of more importance than the spirit of any army in the midst of battle j and nothing reveals this better than the percentage of its loss in killed and wounded. In honoring this army we now present a statement of this loss in the four battles which it fought in the seventeen months ending with the battle of Chickamauga. It is unfortunate that these tables have not been made to cover the. cavalry of the army. The omission was compelled, however, because of the difficulty experienced in gatheriiig adequate data. This is not essential to our purpose, however, as that is fuUy reached with the infantry and artillery, the tables covering both fully.

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5 .

Shiloh. h m ^ a ^ S

Polk's Corps 9,136 385 1,053 19 .27

Bragg's Corps ... 13,589 563 2,441 634 .25

Hardee's Corps .. 6,789 404 1,936 141 .34

Breckinridge's C. 6,439 386 1,682 165 .32

Total 35,953 1,728 8,012 959 .29


Hardee's Corps, > ^^^ ^^^ 2,635 251 .20

Cheatham's Diy'n ^

Total 16,000 510 2,635 251 .20


Polk's Corps 14,118 621 3,662 135 .31

Hardee's Corps .. 14,069 495 3,056 583 .29

McCown'sDiv'n.. 4,414 94 762 106 .21

Jackson's Brigade 874 41 262 — .34

Total 33,475 1^ 7,742 "^ .29


'''fehtWing iSlo! 20:240} ^^ 6,566 1,344 .32

"^Tel^'ng &^%\ \ 1^1 M33 ^ .^

ToTALi... {jJJjJ^'JlS 2,012 12,999 2,084 .32

Recapitulating the percentage of loss in killed and wounded in these several battles, and stating it in nu-merical order, we have: Penyville, 20; Shiloh, 29; Mur-

1 The percentage for Chickamauga Is esUmated upon the total force engaged in the battle; the loss sustained on the 19th was about neutralized by troops belonging to Longstreet's corps and Walker's division, which arriyed during the night of the 19th.

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freesboro, 29; Chickamauga, 32. This record of bravery and endurance is rendered more valuable by comparing it with that furnished by the Army of Northern Virginia in the greatest of its battles, Gettysburg.

General Lee fought the battle of Gettysburg with 62,000 men of all arms, and lost 2592 killed, 12,709 wounded, and 5150 missing, making a total of 20,451, with a percentage of loss in killed and wounded, exclusive of cavalry, of about 25. Estimated upon the same basis, the Federal loss at Shiloh was 27, at Gettysburg about 22, and at Chickamauga 26J.

Additional interest may now be given these statements of losses b}' placing them beside those presented by other armies in some of the decisive battles of the world. We are able to do this by producing the following extract from an address made by Lieutenant-General Wheeler before a joint gathering of Confederate veterans and the Army of the Cumberlaaid, at Chattanooga, in 1881.

Waterloo was one of the most desperate and bloody fields chronicled in European history, and yet WeUington's casualties were less than 12 per cent., his losses being 2432 kiUed and 9528 wounded out of 90,000 men. At the great battle of Wagram, Napoleon lost but about 5 per cent. At Wttrz-burg the French lost but 3i per cent., and yet the army gave up the field and retreated to the Rhine. At Baoour, Marshal 8axe lost but 2i per cent. At Zurich Massena lost but 8 per cent. At Lagriz Frederick lost but 6| per cent. At Mal-plaquet Marlborough lost but 10 per cent., and at BamiUies the same intrepid commander lost but 6 per cent. At Contras Henry of Navanre was reported as cut to pieces, yet his loss was less than 10 i)er cent. At Lodi Napoleon lost 1\ per cent. At Vahni Frederick lost but 3 per cent., and at the great battles of Marengo and Austerhtz, sanguinary as they were, Napoleon lost an average of less than 14i per cent. At Magenta and Solferino^ in 1859, the average loss of both armies

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was less than 9 per cent. At Edn^gratz, in 1866, it was 6 per cent. At Worth, Speoheran. Mars la Tour, Gravelotte, and Sedan, in 1870, the average loss was 12 per cent. At Linden General Moreau lost but 4 per cent., and the Archduke John lost but 7 per cent, in killed and wounded.

Thirty-two per cent, of killed and wounded must? then, be accepted as an index of the spirit with which the Army of Tennessee performed the duty devolved upon it at Ghickamauga. How far its commanding general met the duties which devolved upon him as it« leader may be gathered from what has been said in this narrative, and from the letters we now present.

Headquarters, near Chattanooga, September 26,1863. Hon. J. A. Sbddon, Secretary of War,

Sir: May I take the liberty to advise you of our condition and our wants f On the 20th instant, after a very severe battle, we gained a complete and glorious victory — the most complete victory of the war, except, perhaps, the first Manassas-On the morning of the 21st, General Bragg asked my opinion as to our best course. I suggested at once to strike at Burn-side, and, if he made his escape, to march upon Rosecrans' communications in rear of Nashville. Ho seemed to adopt the suggestion, and gave the order to march at four o^dock in the afternoon. The right wing of the army marched some 8 or 10 miles, my command following next day at daylight. I was halted at the crossing of the Ghickamauga, and on the night of the 22d the army was ordered to march for Chattanooga, thus giving the enemy two days and a half to strengthen the fortifications here already prepared for him by ourselves. Here we have remained under instructions that the enemy shall not be assaulted. To express my convictions in a few words, our chief has done but one thing that he ought to have done since I joined his army,—that was to order the attack upon the 20th. AH other things that he has done

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he ought not to have done. I am conyineed that nothing but the hand of God can save us or help vlb as long as we have our present commander.

Now to our wants. Can't you send us General Leet The army in Vii^nia can operate defensively, while our operations here should be offensive—until we have recovered Tennessee, at all events. We need some such great mind as General Lee^s (nothing more) to accomplish this. You will be surprised to learn that this army has neither organization nor mobility, and I have doubts if its commander can give it to them. In an ordinary war I could serve without complaint under any one whom the government might place in authority; but we have too much at stake in this to remain quiet under such distressing circumstances. Our most precious blood is now flowing in streams from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains, and may yet be exhausted before we have succeeded. Then goes honor, treasure, and independence. When I came here I hoped to find our commander willing and anxious to do all things that would aid us in our great cause, and ready to receive what aid he could get from his subordinates. It seems that I was greatly mistaken. It seems that he cannot adopt and adhere to any plan or course, whether of his own or of some one else. I desire to impress upon your mind that there is no exaggeration in these statements, — on the contrary, I have failed to express my convictions to the fullest extent. All that I can add without making this letter exceedingly long is to pray you to help us, and speedily.

I remain, with the greatest respect, your most obedient

' J. LoNGSTRBBT, Lieutenant-Oencral.

Headquabtbrs, Polk's Corps, In the Field before Chattanooga, September 27,1863. General [R. E.] Lee,

Care of the Secretary of War, Bidimondy Va. My dear General: General Longstreet informs me he has written you on the subject of coming to our help in the West. AUow me to unite with him in an earnest appeal to you to

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give us the benefit of your skill and judgment and experience at this most important crisis. We have gained a signal victory, under God's blessing, over our enemy, but I greatly fear we are about to lose the fruits of *it for the want of the neoessary capacity to reap them. I speak advisedly, and after a very familiar acquaintance with the mind and <iharacter of the officer commanding this army, when I say we must have a change before any permanent success can be had in this region. The eyes of all would look to you, could you come; Longstreet thinks you can without serious detriment to the interests of the Army of Virginia, leaving it in the hands of one of your well-trained lieutenants. If both armies were driven back to the Mississippi, and Tennessee, not to say Kentucky, freed, and we on Grant's line of communications and in connection with the Trans-Mississippi Army, we might, by moving south, make short work of the army of the latter.

May I not then, general, again beg you to give this matter your respectful and serious attention, and see whether, as a question of duty to our suffering command, it be not proper for you to come over and help us t

I have the honor to be, general, very truly yours,

L. Polk, LieutenafU-General Commanding,

Camp BAPPAHAimocK, October 26,1863. General L. Polk.

My dear General: I received your letter of the 27th ultimo the day I was about to make a move upon General Meade to prevent his further reinforcing General Rosecrans. I have been unable to reply before now. I have rejoiced exceedingly at your great victory, and heartUy wished that the advantages gained could be pursued and confirmed. I am indebted, I know, entirely to your kind feelings for the proposition made to me. I wish I could be of any service in the West, but I do not feel that I could do much anywhere. In addition to other infirmities, I have been for more than a month a great sufferer from rheumatism in my back, so that I can hardly get about. I hope the President has been able to rectify all difficulties in your army, and that Rosecrans will at last be obliged to aban-

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don his position. I trust that you ao-e again with your command, and that a merciful God will continue His blessings to US and shield us from any danger. That He may have you and your brave army under His care is my earnest prayer. I am, general, with great respect, your obedient servant,

R. E. Lee.

The answer which the government gave to these appeals is shown in a letter from General Bragg's chief-of-staff to General Joseph E. Johnston; and, as it also reveals a corroboration by the mass of General Bragg's general officers of the opinions concerning his incapacity w^hich.were disregarded, its essential parts are reproduced here.

Missionary Ridge, October 13,1863. General J. E. Johnston, Commanding, etc.

My dear Joe: Mr. Davis arrived on Friday, and goes to-day— it is said by his staff — on a visit to you. He has decided to retain Bragg, though he must have been fully satisfied of his unpopularity, and the decided opposition of the mass of the generals.1 I think Longstreet has done more injury to the general than all the others put together. You may understand how much influence with his troops a remark from a man of his standing would have,—to the effect that Bragg was not on the field, and Lee would have been. Pemberton consulted me about staying here in command of a corps. I told him that there was not a division in this army that would be willing to receive him; that I was sorry to be obliged to tell him so unpleasant a truth, but so it was. He told me Bragg wanted him to stay. I told him that Bragg ought to understand the temper of his army better than I did, but that we did not always agree npon the point. He goes away, however. I am in a strait. I think I ought to go, and at the same time I feel that, if I left now, I would be looked upon as

1 Mr. Davis called together the leading officers of the army, and asked of them their opinion of General Bragg's cajyacity as commander. The opinions were adverse.

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tiying to add to the disconteut. I am, — for the first time, I think, m my life, — after serious reflection, unable to make up my mind as to the right, though I do not presume to say the conclusion was always wise.

Hill will be relieved: who will take Polk's and his place is yet imknown. I would not be surprised if was promoted, and thus the discontent of the Army of Tennessee increfused. . . .

Fairness now demands that the reader should be referred to General Bragg's official report^ of the battle of Chickamauga. It will be seen that he in no way held himself chargeable for any of the errors committed in the campaign or the battle. Othere were responsible, the chief delinquent being, as there expressed, General Polk. At a subsequent period General Bragg modified his views concerning Polk's responsibility, as will appear in an extract fn)m a letter which will be presented later. But he gave prompt expression to his feeling after the battle, as we will now relate.

On September 22 General Polk received an official note from General Bragg, disking for reasons for the delay in the attack on the morning of the 20th. Engrossed with the movement upon Missionary Ridge and the establishing of his wing of the army in position before Chattanooga, he did not reply at once. So on the 25th a reminder was sent, asking for a speedy reply. On the 30th he sent the following letter:

Hkadquartkes, Polk's Corps, Army of Tennessee, Missionary Ridge, September 28,1863. Lieutenant-Colonel George William Brent,

A ssistant A djutant- GenercU, Colonel: In reply to your communication I would respectfully submit to the commanding general the following state-

1 " Official Records, War of Rebellion/' vol. xxx, pt. 11, pp. 26^37.

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ment explanatory of the failure to make an attack upon the enemy as ordered at daylight on the 20th:

After leaving army headquarters on the night of the 19th, where I received a verbal order to attack the enemy at daylight, I rode immediately to my headquarters beyond Alexander's Bridge, where I arrived at 11 P.M. On the way, accompanied by General Breckinridge, I met with a staff-officer of Lieutenant-General Hill, to whom I communicated my orders, and from whom I learned that General Hill's headquarters were at Thedf ord's Ford. I asked him to say to General Hill that my headquarters were beyond and near to Alexander's Bridge, and that I desired to see him there. On arriving at my headquarters I issued orders, dated 11.30 [o'clock], to Lieutenant-General Hill and Major-General Cheatham, to attack the enemy simultaneously at daylight, General Walker's division being held in reserve. I also posted two couriers at the bridge to keep up fires and inform persons where my headquarters were. My orders were sent by couriers to the headquarters of the respective generals—General Hill's to Thedford's Ford. The couriers to Generals Cheatham and Walker returned promptly. The courier sent to General Hill, after searching for the general through the night, returned about daylight, saying that he could not find him. General Hill did not make his appearance at my headquarters. Hearing nothing of the attack, and not knowing where to find General Hill, I sent staff-officers in haste directly to Generals Breckinridge and Cleburne, with information that General Hill could not be found, and with orders to make the attack at once, and rode myself to the front. Shortly afterward I received, in reply to these orders, a communication from General Hill stating that his di\dsions were getting their rations and would not be ready to move for an hour or more, and also reporting that Breckinridge's wagons had been lost between Thedford's Ford and the battlefield. On reaching General Hill's line, I saw General Cleburne, of General Hill's corps, and asked if he had received my order to attack. He said he had received it in the presence of General Hill. I found also that General Hill had delayed his attack in consequence of a

' Lieutenant-Colonel Archer Anderson, General Hiirs Chief of Staff.

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misapprehension on bis part as to the relation between his line and that of General Cheatham, he supposing that Cheat-ham^s line was formed, as he said, on his left at nearly a right angle to his own. In this he was mistaken. The relation of the lines was such as is indicated in the accompanying diagram. General Hill mistook the line of one of Cheatham's reserve brigade (Jackson's) for that of his front line. The order to attack was then repeated and executed. Respectfully, colonel, your obedient servant,

L. Polk, Lieutenant-General Commanding.


Lieut Gen'l Hill.

Cleburne. Breckinriogc. Walker

At the same time General Polk enclosed a copy of this letter to General Hill, and wrote him as follows:

Headquarters, Missionary Ridoe, September 30, 1863. Lieutenant-General D. H. Hill.

General: You will remember, in a conversation held with you some days ago, I handed you an order from army headquarters directing me to furnish an explanation of my failure to attack the enemy at daylight on the morning of the 20th. You will remember, also, that in that conversation I discussed with you the reasons which had caused that failure. Those reasons, as I understood them, I embodied in an answer to the above order, and transmitted them as my reply to the commanding general. A copy of that communication I think it proper to furnish you. Yon will find it herewith enclosed.

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So far as I remember there was but one point of difference between us as to statements contained in that communication. That was as to the relation of your line to that of General Cheatham. There is one other point to which you called my attention^ and on which it may be proper to remark: it is that in which I stated that on meeting your staff-officer In the road on the night of the 19th I communicated to him my orders. You replied: "If you communicated them to him, they were not communicated by him to me." On this point I have to say my recollection of the conversation with him was that I had orders to attack at daylight; that I wished you to post General Breckinridge as a supporting force to General Cleburne, and that I wished to see you at my headquarters beyond Alexander's Bridge, where I would have couriers posted to direct you. He said: " In regard to the posting of the troops you had expressed a wish to place Breckinridge on Cleburne's right." I replied: "Then tell General HiU he may post his troops as he pleases." In reply to my question where your headquarters would be, he said they would be at Thedford's Ford.

Referring you to my communication of yesterday's date, I remain, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

L. Polk, lAeutenant'General.

The reply which General Bragg made to Polk was an order suspending him from command and directing him to proceed to Atlanta.

On February 8, 1873, General Bragg wrote a letter to a friend,^ in wliich he replied very fully to certain questions asked him concerning the campaign and battle of Chickamauga, and battle of Missionary Ridge. We have already quoted from this letter, in a footnote on page 251, and have referred to it as indicating a modification of General Bragg's conclusions expressed in his

1 Letter to Major E. T. Sykes, of Oolambus, Miss., in the Library of the Southern Historical Association, Richmond, Va. See Appendix B, chapter vii.

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official report concerning General Polk's responsibility for the delay of the 20th. We now present such parts of it, not already given, as relate to Polk, it being proper that they should be read in connection with the two letters just given.

It was nine o^clock before I got him (Polk) into position, and about ten before the attack was made,— five precious fumra, in which our independence might have been won. As soon as time would allow. General Polk was called on for an ex-planatioti. The order given him the night before in the presence of several generals was plain, exphcit, and emphatic, and before he left me he was asked if he fully understood the order, and replied in the affirmative. His explanation in writing was entirely unsatisfactory, as it placed the respon-sibiUty on a subordinate, Lieutenant-General Hill, when he (General Polk) was himself absent from the field, and had not even attempted to execute his orders nor informed me of their having been disobeyed. Breckinridge and Cheatham say in their reports [that] Polk told them during the night he had orders to attack at daybreak. I have the correspondence, but cannot now place my hands on it. . . .

As to General D. H. Hill's critical, captious, and dictatorial manner, etc. This manner of Hill's and his general deportment, united to the fact (which came to my knowledge after Polk's suspension from command) that Polk did order two of his division commanders in writing, soon after sunrise, to attack, and that Hill, being present in person, countermanded the order, without notifying either Polk or myself, induced me to ask his suspension from command, and he was removed by the President before the battle of Missionary Ridge. Up had, however, greatly demoralized the troops he commanded, and sacrificed thousands at Chickamauga.

It was no secret at the time that General Polk's attitude in simply stating the facts of the delay for which he was suspended was a disappointment to the com-

» SeR Appondix B

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manding general. It was expected that he would take some action against General Hill; but for obvious reasons he entertained no such intention, preferring to accept the issue as General Bragg made it, and leave it there. General Bragg was therefore obliged to act for himself, and this he did by relieving General Hill from his command, October 15. The following letter is not without interest in this connection.^

Charlotte, N. C, October 26, 1863.

General: I reached home on the 24th and expect to remain until I hear from Richmond. I met Gen'l Polk at Atlanta, who professed much friendship and kindness. I regret that I spoke unkindly of him in regard to the coalition Bragg proposed. I am satisfied that Polk is too much of a man to make a compromise. The plan was to make me responsible to Polk's supposed delinquency and give Pemberton the Corps. Polk's manliness and P's sense of propriety defeated the scheme. Bragg's great object was to please the President and at the same time account to the country for his failure. It pained me inexpressibly to part from the Corps and to be absent from the stirring incidents of the campaign. But it is all right. I hope that you may remain permanently in charge of the Corps. It is reported that Rosencranz has been relieved and Grant placed in charge. If so, you will have heavy odds against you as Grant will unite his army to that of R. surely. Johnston will be brought up to command at Chattanooga. It can't be possible that the destiny of the South will still be committed to Bragg.

Will always be glad to hear from you. I write now, not merely out of friendship, but to ask that you will forget what I said about the coalition. Please mention the matter to General Cleburne and tell him that I am now convinced that Gen'l Polk never became a part to it and that Pemberton also declined, when he found the Division Conunanders adverse to him.

1 Historical Magazine, February, 1872, page 119, Morrisania, N. Y.

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As has already been said, General Polk was relieved from his command (September 29), and in accordance with instructions proceeded to Atlanta to await further orders.

The view which he took of General Bragg's action toward him, and the manner in which he bore himself, is shown in the following extracts from letters to his family.

Atlanta, Ga., October 3, 1863.

My dear Wife: You may be surprised to hear from me at this place. ... It is a part of that long-cherished purpose to avenge himself on me for the relief and support I have given him in the past, and the jealousy which has been generated in the mind of the commanding general. He has attempted this, as you know, twice before, but has been foiled.* He will succeed no better in this instance. I think my way very clear before me, and I beg you to be assured that I am entirely quiet and undisturbed by this demonstration. There is but one opinion as to the injustice of the measure among my own corps, and, as I learn, among a large part of the army. General Hill said to me: '^I take the blame of the omission to attack," and General Walker, who was also in my conmiand, says it is ridiculous to suspend me for the omission of Hill. Buckner told me it was absurd and impotent; so that I hope, my dear, you will feel no solicitude on the subject. . . . The truth is, General Bragg has made a failure, notwithstanding the success of the battle, and he wants a scapegoat. But the flimsi-ness of the accusation is transparent to all.

Atlanta, October 10, 1863. My dear Daughter: ... I hope that you will not be uneasy about my situation. I have done my duty, and I have no fears as to the result of any investigation or inquiry that may

^ The first attempt was immediately before the Kentucky campaign. Bragg relieved Polk of his command and ordered him to duty at Jackson, Miss.,*as president of a court of inquiry. See also p. 94« vol. ii.

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be instituted. I had no idea I had so many friends as I find springing up ever3rwhere since the act of i)ersecution has been attempted. The feeling in the army upon the subject is all I could desire; my brother officers feel as I desire they should.

The poor man who is the author of this trouble is, I am informed, as much to be pitied, or more, than the object of his ill-feeling. I certainly feel a lofty contempt for his puny effort to inflict injury upon a man who has dry-nursed him for the whole period of his connection with him, and has kept him from ruinmg the cause of the country by the sacrifice of its armies.

The President passed through here night before last. He stopped here during the night, and sent for me to come and see him. He said he had heard of General Bragg's action, which he thought a great blunder, which he deeply regretted, and he wanted to hear my version of the matter before seemg General Bragg. I gave it to him plainly and simply. He repeated that he thought it very unfortunate in every way for the country and the cause, and that he did not see the necessity for the action.

He has gone to the front, and told me that he would see me on his return.

I feel absolutely independent in the whole affair, and am perfectly satisfied with my ability to take care of myself.

I never was in better health, and am also, as my friends say, in marvelously fine spirits.

In compliance with the requirements of his action against General Polk, General Bragg preferred the necessary charges, but the government dismissed them. The only reply, therefore, which General Polk had opportunity to make to this action is contained in the letter dated Atlanta, October 6, 1863, given in the Appendix to this chapter. He was never in position to prepare an official report of the campaign and battle of Chicka-

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mauga, because he could not get the reports of his subordinates,—^all of them, excepting General Hill's, being sent direct to army headquarters. The letter announcing the dismissal both of the charges and of his application for a court of inquiry, is now given.

Atlanta, October 29. Lieutenant-General Polk, AUanla, Ga,

General: After an examination into the causes and circumstances attending your being relieved of your command with the army commanded by General Bragg, I have arrived at the conclusion that there is nothing attending them to justify a court-martial or a court of inquiry, and I therefore dismiss the application. Your assignment to a new field of duty alike important and difficult is the best evidence of my appreciation of your past services and expectations of your future career.

I am very truly and respectfully yours,

Jefferson Davis.

Before writing this note, Mr. Davis had offered to replace General Polk in his position with General Bragg's army, saying that Bragg would consent. But Polk thought every reason demanded that he should not return. In fact, he was tired holding a position in which for his own protection he was compelled not only to watch the common enemy, but be ever on the alert against the jealous hostility of his own commander.* All of this he explained to Mr. Davis, who then sent him to replace General Hardee, at Enterprise, Miss;, Hardee taking Polk's position in the Army of Tennessee.

As a part of the history of this period, it is necessary to refer again to the action of President Davis in the matter of retaining General Bragg in command of the

»•• Official Records, War of Rebellion/' vol. xvi, pt. i, p. 1101. Polk to Hardee.

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Army of Tennessee. As has been seen in General Mac-kali's letter, it was plain that the general officers of the army preferred a change of commanders, few of them having confidence in General Bragg's ability to command an army. The question of a successor was evidently the one of greater perplexity to Mr. Davis. He therefore decided to face what he considered the lesser, and retained General Bragg in command, thus providing additional humiliation for this officer, in that his retention in command insured the disgrace and disaster of Missionary Ridge.

For let it be noted that this army, which two months before, at hickamauga, had faced a loss in killed and wounded of nearly one naan in every three, at Missionary Ridge practically abandoned its lines, to avoid being entrapped in a position from which it doubted the ability of its commander to extricate it,—the insignificant sum, in killed and wounded, of 2265 expressing the degree of its resistance on this field.*

No doubt, had General Bragg been left free by the President to follow his own inclination, he would have voluntarily surrendered the command before this disaster. As early as January of this year, at the time of his unfortunate correspondence with his generals after the battle of Murfreesboro. in anticipation of being superseded by General Kirby Smith, he had written General Johnston: "Whenever and wherever I am in the way of a better man, let me be put aside. I only ask to serve the cause where I can do it most good, even should it be in the ranks." His attitude toward the general government was well expressed in a letter to Mr. Davis of November 24,1862, where he said, "The

^ The combined loss at the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge was 2443* killed and wounded. See General Bragg's papers.

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government may rest assured that whatever is subject to my control will be divided to the last pound in promotion of the whole cause."

This attitude, in marked contrast to that of some other generals, naturally commended him to the government, which, viewing its own relations with General Bragg, saw little more than insubordination in the request for a different commander. And it must also be said that, in spite of General Bragg's conspicuous failure as commander of an army in the field, and his evident inability to accept and face the ill results of his own oflScial acts, yet in all matters touching his private duty to the cause of the South he was unselfishness itself. No man loved it better, no man gave it more devoted service, none laid his all upon its altar more ungrudgingly, and no one would have laid down his life for it more cheerfully.

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Atlanta, October 6,1863. His Excellency, President Davis.

My dear Sir: I wrote you on the 27th ult., renewing the expression of my opinion of the incapacity of General Bragg for the responsible office of conunander-in-chief of the Army of Tennessee, and asking that he should be replaced by General Lee or some other. It is proper to add that that letter was written after a meeting, by appointment, of Lieu-tenant-Generals Longstreet and Hill and myself, to consider what should be done in view of the palpable weakness and mismanagement manifested in the conduct of the military operations of this army.

It was agreed that I should address you, sir; and General Longstreet, the Secretary of War, on the other subject.

Three letters were written and forwarded, and, I need not add, after mature deliberation General Hill concurred in the necessity of the measure. As you may not have received these letters before leaving Richmond, I have deemed it proper to bring them to your notice.

Two days subsequent to my writing this letter to you, I received an order from General Bragg suspending me from my command and ordering me to this place. This order was based on alleged disobedience in not attacking the enemy at daylight on Sunday, the 20th. My explanation of that failure was furnished in a note, of which the accompanying is a copy. In this paper it wiU be perceived, first, that I directed a staff-officer of General Hill to say to the general I desired to see him at my headquarters, that he might receive his orders as to the operations of the following day; second, that the necessary orders were issued from my headquarters at


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11.30 P.M. to General Hill and to Generals Cheatham and Walker, and dispatched by couriers. Cheatham and Walker received their orders. Hill could not be found by any courier, nor did Hill make his way to my headquarters.

These facts with others, you wiU observe, were embodied and presented to the commanding general in reply to a request for a written explanation of the ftdlure. They were pronounced unsatisfactory, and the order for my suspension issued.

For the delay charged I cannot feel myself responsible, and it should be observed, by whomsoever caused, it did not occasion any failure in our success in the battle, for the enemy was clearly beaten at all points along my line and fairly driven from the field.

It will no doubt be affirmed that had the attack been made at daylight the enemy would have been overwhelmed, Chattanooga taken, etc., etc., and that all subsequent delays and miscarriages are to be set down to that account. To make this affirmation good it must be shown that at the close of the battle that night such a condition of things was developed as to make pursuit impossible, and that it was equally hopeless next morning.

This will not be pretended, inasmuch as the troops at the close of the fight were in the very highest spirits, ready for any service, and the moon, by whose guidance the enemy fled from the field, was as bright to guide us in pursuit as the enemy in flight. Besides, if the commander-in-chief, under a delusion he took no pains to dispel, thought the troops were fatigued, and chose to put off pursuit until the morning, why did he not attempt it then f Was it because he had made the discovery that the enemy had made his retreat into Chattanooga in good order, and there he was secure behind ample fortifications t Not at all, for he had no reason to believe that any material additions had been made to the work we had begun and left unfinished. And as to the order in which they entered into the town. General Forrest, who pressed them, in a dispatch from Missionary Ridge, dated between 8 and 9 A.H., Monday, and sent through me to the commanding gen-

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eral, informed him that the approaches to Chattanooga were covered with troops, wagons, and herds of cattle in great confusion, and urged him to press forward, saying that every hour would be wortn to him a thousand men.

No, sir! General Bragg did not kuow what had happened. He let down as usual, and allowed the fruits of the great but sanguinary victory to pass from him by the most criminal incapacity; for there are positions in which '' weakness is wickedness."

By that victory, and its heavy expenditure of the life-blood of the Confederacy, we bought and paid for the whole of the State of Tennessee to the Missossippi River, at the very least; and all that was wanted was to have gone forward and taken possession of it. It was but a repetition of our old story in the battles of the West, and the army and the country feel that they have a right to ask for a thorough investigation of the cause of such repeated and grievous failures, that the responsibility may be fixed where it properly belongs.

As to my own case, my experience in this army has taught me to expect such a movement at any time for the last two years* I am not, therefore, taken by surprise. I have respectfully asked of the Secretary of War a court of inquiry at the earliest moment.

I remain, respectfully, your obedient servant,

L. Polk, Lieutenant-General,

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We present here the most extraordinary document we have encountered in the story of this army. The preceding chapter presents extracts from it (pages 251 and 252, 281 and 282) which relate to General Polk, and perhaps it is as far as I should go in this book. This would be so but for the following announcement which appeared upon the front, outside, cover of the Confederate Veterariy the official organ of the Confederate Veterans, June, 1913.

" The Veteran is in possession of a letter from General Bragg that may never be published, which would reverse much of the critical sentiment against him. It would make one of the saddest chapters in the four years of tragedies. No man can read it without feeling that injustice has been done General Bragg, and he would be less critical of President Davis in having him as counselor at Richmond after Gen. Joseph E. Johnston succeeded him as Commander of the Army of Tennessee.

" The story cannot be told without reflecting upon subordinate officers whose men were ardently devoted to them. General Bragg states of one that his 'disobedience of orders enabled the enemy under Hooker to pass Lookout Mountain and join Grant in Chattanooga.' ... He also charges the officer with treason, and adds: 'Thus I jdelded to the President's policy and sent instead of , my choice, to

capture .' The letter was written to one of his officers,

and devoted friend, in 1878."


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As soon as I read this announcement, I wrote the editor and urged that he make public this letter. Familiar with it, I felt that such an announcement made the publication of the entire letter imperative. But he hesitated. The kindly heart of this staunch Confederate could not bring itself to inflict the pain which he felt it carried. Dying before he could gain his own consent to grant my request, I sought permission to publish from Major Sykes, to whom the letter had been written in answer to enquiries he had made. He gave it promptly and courteously.

This letter is the final word of the gifted and devoted soldier of the Confederacy who was entrusted for eighteen months with the captaincy of its second army. He held the unswerving support of his government, but steadily lost the confidence of his army. Time and time again it strove to give him victory, only to learn that when at last they gave it to him complete, he found no better use for it than to make it the beginning of their own and his own defeat and humiliation at Missionary Ridge. As one reads the letter he may find revealed between the lines some of the real causes for misfortunes which finally crushed both army and commander. The incident in which Clebum figures illustrates one of them. An inability to accept and face the ill results of his own official acts. His system required sacrificial offerings for failures. His conceptions always outran his preparations and when failure came he condemned in the light of his conceptions, never in the light of his own failures, to make adequate provision for the fulfillment of those conceptions. Hence the many half statements in his official reports. Clebum's insistence upon written orders from General Bragg's messenger was but to secure protection against the sacrificial altar in case of disaster. Success, however, freed him from both.

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It is interesting to note how General Bragg in his letter misses the point in Cleburn's request. No one doubted that General Bragg's entire heart was given to his cause, but it was doubted that he had a mind fitted to his tasks, or a heart stout enough to withstand the pressure of his duties,*

(A True copy.)

Mobile, 8th February, 73. Major E. T. Sykbs

Columbus, Miss.

My dear Sir: I received yours of the 25th ult. and not only comply with your request cheerfuUy but thank you for the opportunity.

It is due to the gallant army of which you were a member, that its history should not be left entirely to the ignorant and the prejudiced; and I rejoice to see so worthy a soldier a representative young man, who cannot be suspected of partiality, coming to the task. It will afford me pleasure to aid you, not only with facts within ray knowledge, but with documentary evidence, of which I have a large quantity, preserved from the general wreck.

I reply to your questions.

Ist. "Did not Genl. Polk delay moving on the morning of the second day at Chickamauga an hour or more after the appointed time, although the order for his movement was issued the night previous, thereby jeopardizing your plans, and for that reason was subsequently placed in arrest?"

This question is best answered by my official report and I send you by this day's mail a written copy which I must beg you to preserve and return, as it is invaluable to me. In addition to what is there said, I can now add that the Staff officer sent to Genl. Polk, Maj. Lee A. A. Genl., to urge his compliance with orders of the previous night reported to me that he found him at a Farm House three miles from the line

* For original see files " South "; " Historical Magazine/' Richmond. Va.

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of his troops, about one hour after sunrise, sitting on the gallery reading a newspaper and waiting, as he (the Genl.) said, for his breakfast. It was nine o'clock before I got him into position, and about ten before the attack was made. Five jrrecwus hours—m which our independence might have been won. As soon as time would allow, Genl. Polk was called on for an explanation. The order given him the night before in the presence of several Generals was plain and emphatic and before he left me he was asked if he fully understood the order and replied in the affirmative. His explanation in writing was entirely unsatisfactory, as it placed the responsibility on a subordinate—Lieut. Genl. Hill—when he (Genl. Polk) was himself absent from the field and had not even attempted to execute his orders, nor informed me of their having been disobeyed. Breckenridge and Cheatham say in their reports, Polk told them during the night he had orders to attack at daylight—I have the correspondence, but cannot now lay my hands on it.

2d. Question, as to Hindman and McLemore's Cove. My report gives a full answer to this question, but not a complete history of the whole affair, as it was too bad to put before the country. Genl. Hill having failed in a querrulous, insubordinate spirit, to send Clebum's Division to join Hindman, on the pretext that Cleburn was sick, I ordered Buckner with his Division to the duty, and went myself to Hill's Hd. Qrs., riding half the night. There I found Clebum, who expressed surprise that Hill should have reported him sick and he moved with his Division next morning.

After Buckner joined Hindman, it will be seen, the latter became doubtful and dilatory and finally asked a change of orders. This produced loss of valuable time and common sense teaches the importance in every moment of striking at a divided enemy. I was so greatly vexed that my deportment towards Gen. Hill and Maj. Nocquet during the conference was observed by my Staff and intimation given me of some harshness. Every effort failed, however, and the correspondence and late letters, from Patton Anderson, as noble and true a

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Google ^

soldier and gentleman as any age can boast, and Genl. W. T. Martin, will show the cause.

3d Question. As to Genl. D. H. Hill's critical, captious and dictatorial manner, &c., &c.

This manner of Hill, and his general deportment united to the fact, which came to my knowledge after PoWs suspension from command. That Polk did order two of his Division Commanders, in writing soon after sunrise to attack, and that Hill, being present in person countermanded the order, without notif3ring either Polk or myself, induced me to ask his suspension from command. And he was removed by the President before the Battle of Missionary Ridge. He had, however, greatly demoralized the troops he commanded, and sacrificed thousands at Chickamauga.

See Report of Maj. Genl. W. H. T. Walker.

I have always believed our disasters at Missionary Ridge was due immediately to misconduct of a Brigade of Buckner's troops from East Tennessee, commanded by Brig. Genl. Alex W. Reynolds, which first gave way and could not be rallied. But the other Troops would have saved the day and repaired the small disaster but for the effect which had been produced by the treasonable act of Longstreet, Hill and Buckner in sacrificing the army in their effort to degrade and remove me for personal ends. Had I known at the time Polk and Hindman were suspended, of the conduct of Hill, especially of his suspending Polk's orders to attack at Chickamauga, and of Buckner's influencing Hindman to disobey me in McLemore's Cove, and of his mutinous conduct in getting up meetings in the army to ask my removal, I certainly should have arrested both of them. Still, I am satisfied no good could have resulted. Our country was not prepared to sustain a military commander who acted on military principles, and no man could do his duty and sustain himself against the combined power of imbeciles, traitors, rogues and intriguing politicians.

Longstreet's disobedience of orders enabled the enemy under Hooker from Virginia, to pass Lookout Mountain, and join Grant in Chattanooga. That was the first step in our disaster,

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after the army had been practically purged. Thus I 3rielded my convictions to the President's policy and sent Longstreet instead of Breckenridge (my choice) to capture Bumside at Knoxville. This could have been done long before Sherman reached Grant with his twenty-five (25,000) thousand men, by due diligence. And my information was perfect and daily. Had it been done, and those Fifteen (15,000) Thousand troops been returned and in place at Missionary Ridge, Grant would not have attacked us, and if he had, would certainly have been defeated unless aided by Treason, Indeed he miist have re-crossed the mountains, for his troops could not be fed, and his animals were already starved. He could not move twenty (20) pieces of artillery. No man* was ever under greater obligations to a traitor;* no Traitor has ever been more faithfully rewarded.

In writing you thus fully and freely I rely on you to use my facts only, not my conunents—^they are private and could not be made public—It would do more harm than good, and I should again have to meet a howl of parasites ''who crook the pregnant hinges of the knee, that thrift may follow fawning." It would be said these are some of Bragg's prejudices. I acknowledge myself prejudiced. I always was prejudiced against every species of dishonest knavery and treacherous selfishness.

In our retreat from Missionary Ridge the enemy could make but feeble pursuit, for want of artillery horses (Grant's report). At the mountain Gorge, near Ringgold, I believed he could be successfully repulsed, and the army quietly withdrawn. Genl. Clebum, one of the best and truest officers in our cause, was placed at that point in command of the rear-guard. Late at night, hours after all the army was at rest, my information being all in, I called for a reliable, confidential Staff officer, and gave him verbal directions to ride immediately to Clebum, about three (3) miles in my rear, at this mountain gorge, and give him my positive orders to hold his position up to a named hour the next daj/j and, if attacked, to defend the pass at every ^ Grant. * Longstreet.

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hazzard. The message was delivered at Clebum's Camp fire. He heard it with surprise and expressed his apprehension that it would result in the loss of his command, as his information differed from mine, and he believed the enemy would turn his position and cut him off.

But said he, true soldier as he was, I always obey orders, and only ask as protection in case of disaster, that you put the order in writing. This was done as soon as material could be found, and the staff officer returned and reported the result of his mission. He had not reached me, however, before the attack in fronts as I expected, was made. Clebum gallantly met it, defeated the enemy under Hooker, drove him back, and then quietly followed the army without further molestation— mark the difference in conduct and results. A good soldier, by obedience, without substituting his own crude notions, defeats the enemy and saves an army from disaster. And mark the credit he gets for it. The Confederate Congress passed a vote of thanks to the gallant Clebum and his command for saving Bragg's Army. Not to this day has it ever been known that he did it in obedience to orders and against his judgment— which does not detract from, but add to his fame. Capt. Saml. A. Harris, A. A. Genl., of Montgomery, Ala., was the officer who delivered the order. He is now an Episcopal Clergyman with the largest congregation in New Orleans, and has recently repeated the whole matter to me as distinctly as if it had occurred yesterday.

I would add much more, but should exhaust your patience. Whiskey was a great element in our disasters. In the battle of Murfreesboro, Cheatham was so drunk on the field all the first day, that a staff officer had to hold him on his horse. After the army reached TuUahoma, I directed Genl. Polk, his Corps Commander, to notify him that I knew of his conduct, and only overlooked it in consideration of other meritorious services—Polk reported to me that he had done so, that Cheatham acknowledged the charge, expressed deep contrition, and pledged himself never to repeat the offense. Imagine my surprise at reading Genl. Polk's report of that battle some

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weeks after, to find that he commended Cheatham's conduct on that field above all others in his corps.

At Missionary Ridge, Breckenridge, as gallant and true a man as ever lived, was overcome in the same way, whilst in the active command of a corps, and was really unfit for duty, one of the many causes of our disaster. At night he came into my office, a little depot hut at Chickamauga station, where I sat up all night giving orders, soon sank down on the floor, dead drunk, and was so in the morning. I sent for the commander of the Rear Guard, Brig. Genl. Gist, of S. C, and told him not to leave Genl. B—and if necessary, to put him in a wagon and haul him off. But under no circumstances to allow him to give an order. At Dalton I relieved Genl. B of his command and he acknowledged the justice of it, but said it was the deepest mortification of his life. In France or Germany either of the men I have named, would have been shot in six hours. With us they pass for great heroes.

I enclose you some papers for reference, and regret that you are not with me, as a mine of worth would be opened to you, which I cannot light up, though I often explore it in the dark recess of my closet.

Could some young man, like yourself, spare the time, a valuable book could be made up in a few months, and I should delight to aid in the labor.

I am delighted to hear my friend Sale is doing well. He was the most reliable and valuable staff oflScer I had, and is remembered with affection and gratitude, and I hope my young soldiers in Mississippi will cherish his boy, whose fate it is— it may be his misfortune—to bear my name.

I shall ever be pleased to hear from you, and hope you will not fail to recall me to Col. & Mrs. Sale, and the bright boy when you see them. And if you ever meet your noble Chief, Walthall, give my love.

In the midst of other business, rather than keep you waiting longer, I conclude to send this without waiting to copy. Please continue to send me the paper, as your numbers appear. Very truly your friend,

Braxton Braqq.

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Note as to McLemore's Cove. The enemy consisted of one Division & one Brigade of Thomas' Corps, about 8000 men. Hindman's force was composed of his own & Buckner's Divisions, 10,922 men, and Martin's Cavahy, about 500. Besides a force of two Divisions, Clebum's & Walker's—at least 8000 more, immediately on the enemy's front with orders to attack as soon as Hindman's Guns were heard on the flank & rear.

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November to April, 1864.

Qenenl Qrant assiimes command at Chattanooga.— Lookout Mountain, Missionaiy Ridge, and Enoxyille.— Defeat of General Longstreet -^Retirement of General Bragg.— General PoIk*8 new command.-(General Johnston appointed to the Army of Tennessee.—Polk assigned to Johnston's old department.—His vigorous administration. —EiTort to correct misunderstanding between Johnston and the President-Grant's plans.—Sherman's movements.—Polk's plan.—Sooy Smith's advance and defeat—Failure of the campaign—Sherman's report—General Lee's comments.—Rei>air of railroads damaged.— General Polk's suggestions to the government for the spring cam* paign.— Cleburne's proposal to free and arm the negroes.— Bfrs. Polk'9 reminiscences.

Events succeeded one another rapidly after General Polk's departure from the Army of Tennessee. The Federal army at Chattanooga had been placed under General Grant, the battles of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge had been fought and lost by General Bragg, and General Longstreet, detached to operate against Burnside at Knoxville, had been defeated. He had retired in the direction of Virginia, while General Bragg, halting the remnant of his army at Dalton, relinquished the command.

It will be recalled that at the time Mr. Davis was investigating at Tullahoma the state of feeling existing in the Army of Tennessee toward General Bragg,— General Johnston being in temporary command,—Polk wrote the President a letter, urging him to make General


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Johnston's appointment permanent. He there said that the highest interests of the Confederacy would be consulted by transferring Bragg to a higher field, " where his special talent — that of organization and discipline — could find a more ample scope." He suggested that he be assigned to the duties of inspector-general of the armies of the Confederacy, and continued:

"As his specialty is that which the office of inspector-general covers, his resources and capacity would be felt throughout the army j the whole family of idlers, drones, and shirks of high and low degree, far and near, would feel his searching hand, and be made to take their places and do their duty."

We do not pretend to say that this suggestion influenced the appointment which General Bragg subsequently received j but not long after he had of his own accord relinquished the command of his army, Mr. Davis assigned him to duty at Richmond, in a position somewhat analogous to that held by General HaJleck in the Federal army.

The end of the Civil War was too near at hand for General Bragg to accomplish very much, but, judging from the benefits re(»eived by the Federal armies from General Halleck's administration, General Bragg^s great abilities in the same direction would have accomplished quite as mu(^h for the Confedenite armies, could he have undertaken the task at the same time.

General Polk reached Enterprise November 13, and entered upon his new duty of organizing the remnants of General Pemberton^s army. Wliile thus occupied he wrote tlie following letter to Mr. Davis, which, as will ))e seen, was for the purpose of securing for the Army of Tennessee the leadership which he had persistently sought from the close of the Kentucky campaign.

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Enterprise, December 8,1863. His Excellency, President Davis.

My dear Sir: I perceive General Bragg has been relieved from the command of the Army of Tennessee; I perceive also, through the public press, that speculation is very busy as to who will probably succeed him. Rumor has it also that General Hardee has had the command offered to him, and that he has declined it. You will allow me, Mr. President, in the frankness of the intercourse which has characterized our long acquaintance, to say that, notwithstanding the difficulties you have in your own mind in regard to the man, and those that exist in mine, I think General Joe Johnston is the person to whom you should offer that command. As I have said this to you on several occasions before, both in writing and verbally, when my own position could not be affected by it in any wise, so I may repeat it now without the risk of seeming indelicacy. Indeed, it would not necessarily follow that General Johnston's appointment to the command of that or any other army would devolve the command he now holds on me, as the government might place this department, upon the relief of General Johnston, under any other officer as well as upon myself.

I am moved to make this suggestion to you again, sir, because I think I understand the feeling of the army better than one who had not served with it, and because I also understand the feeling of the country on the same subject. You will allow me then to say that I think, high as your duty to yourself and the responsibilities of your station are, yet where there is so general a desire on the part of the army and the country, as there is to have General Johnston placed in that command, a part of your duty seems to your friends to be to yield to this general desire, that those whose all is staked upon the issue may have something to say as to the hands in which it shall be saved or lost. I think your friends and history would justify you in this, and that magnanimity, perhaps, may require it at your hand.

I remain vcrj' truly your friend,

L. Polk, Lieutenant-Creneral.

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About the middle of December the quiet at Enterprise was broken by a telegram from Richmond announcing that General Joseph E. Johnston had been assigned to the command of the Army of Tennessee, and that General Polk was assigned to the department of Alabama, Mississippi, and east Louisiana, made vacant by the assignment of General Johnston. Soon afterward, General Polk went to Brandon, to confer with General Johnston in relation to department matters, and to take charge of the command.

General Polk promptly applied himself to the task of acquiring a tliorough knowledge of the department. Em^h day seemed to develop more and more the magnitude of the imdertaking. The field assigned to him was not only of vast extent, but it was infested, in many neighborhoods, with spies, deserters, absentees without leave, and others liable to conscription. It had been stripped of provisions to a great degree, to supply the demand of the troops around Richmond, and the force at his command was whoUy unequal to the task of defending the field entrusted to him. The vigor of his administration, however, was soon felt in the army and among the citizens. The deserters, absentees, and conscripts referred to were banded togetlier in certain counties, in open defiance of authority. In many instances they had not hesitated to plunder commissary trains and army stores, after taking the lives of the guards protecting them. These had not only to be dealt with, but many of the men who had been paroled by General Grant upon the surrender of Vicksburg conscientiously believed they could not even be assembled in camp untU exchanged, and had joined in resisting the government.

Under this state of affairs General Polk solicited and

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obtained from the Department of War the permission to issue a proclamation of amnesty, conditioned upon the return of these various classes to their respective posts of duty within a limited time. The proclamation was sent to every county, and published in all the newspapers of the department. But acts of violence became even more frequent, and (Jeneral Polk awaited, with impatience, the expiration of the time allowed by the proclamation, in order to take steps against them.

It was known in some quai'ters that a misunderstanding existed between President Davis and General Joseph E. Johnston, to which General Polk, in pursuance of his desire to bring these two together, and to establish that cordial cooperation which was so vital to the cause which they represented, doubtless alluded toward the close of his letter to the President given above.

The following letter was now written by General Polk to a prominent officer of General Johnston's staff. Its patriotic views and peacemaking character alike are worthy of him.

Mebidian, January 3. Colonel Harvie.

My dear Sir: The pressure on my time has been so heavy since you left, I have not had an earlier opportunity to comply with your request to write you concerning the matter of which you spoke on the eve of your departure. I need not say I regard it of the highest consequence to the future success of our cause, that there should be a good understanding and a cordial feeling of confidence between the President and his generals commanding our armies. I believe it is generally known that, owing to some cause, such an understanding has not existed between the President and General Johnston: whether the fault has been that of the President or the general, I know not, nor is it material to inquire. It seems to me that at a time like this, when a cordial support should be given the generals by the President, it is desirable

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that both parties should rise to a point that is high above all that is merely personal, and bary the past in a united and oordial devotion to the future. I think, too, that after the very general expression of desire on the part of the army and people that the general should be placed in command, and the satisfaction expressed at its consummation, he might well afford to take such a step as would bring about the state of feeling of which I spoke. It seems to me that the general might, without at all lowering the tone of a manly independence, address a letter to some friend, also a friend of the President, and I dare say there are many such in whose discretion and judgment he could confide, alluding to the fact that in the past, owing to whatever cause, it was known that a cordial feeling did not exist between the President and himself, and, without entering into details, say that for himself it was a subject of regret, and add that so far as he may have been at fault, if at all, in view of the public interest, he did regret it, and was prepared to waive all that was past in the desire to coni^t the public good. I have no doubt that such an overture would be received by the President in the best spirit, and that it would have the effect to ensure such an understanding as would be satisfactory to their friends and eminently conducive to the success of our military operations.

These are the views to which I alluded on the eve of your leaving me, and which I thought the friends of the general might with propriety submit for his consideration. The movement may involve, perhaps, some sacrifice of feeling; but for such a cause, and for such support as a good understanding between the parties named here will insure, I cannot but think the sacrifice might well be tendered as an instance of becoming magnanimity.

I remain, colonel, respectfully, your obedient servant,

L. Polk, lAeutenant-Generdl.

This letter was the complement of the one written to Mr. Davis, and General Polk hoped that it might lead to a reconciliation, but history shows that its purpose was not fulfilled in the manner hoped for.

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Early in December, finding the roads too bad for operations along the Tennessee line, General Grant turned his attention to that part of the field embraced in General Polk's command. He proposed to Mr. Lincoln that, fixing everything securely at Chattanooga and in East Tennessee, he should be permitted to organize a campaign against Mobile, to be conducted by Sherman or McPherson, for the purpose of securing Mobile as a base from which to move a column upon Montgomery and Atlanta, with a view to cutting off Mississippi and Alabama from the Confederacy, as he had already done the States lying west of the Mississippi River. After some correspondence, permission was granted, January 10, for the movement " either against Mobile or any other place south of our present lines that you may think it advisable to attack." It was conditioned, however, upon the security of Tennessee, which was to be provided for at Knoxville and Chattanooga by adequate provision against Longstreet and Johnston, and in West Tennessee by driving out the Confederate cavalry operating there under Lee and Forrest. Relying upon the natural obstacles which paralyzed his own action upon that line to retard his opponents. Grant determined to stand on the defensive at Knoxville and Chattanooga, and sent his chief of cavalry. General Sooy Smith, into West Tennessee, to accomplish the purpose of the instructions of his government thei*e. General Sherman was then directed to gather from the garrisons along the Mississippi River a sufficient force, and make a movement from the river eastward. He had, of course, a large discretion, but what was expected of him is revealed in General Grant's letter to General Thomas, January 19, instructing him to cooperate with Sherman by a movement fi'om Chattanooga upon General Johnston at Dalton.