網頁圖片
PDF
[ocr errors]

our movement commenced, it began to storm, and continued to rain for seventeen successive days, swelling the mountain rills to torrents, and gullying the roads so badly that one division was three days in marching 21 miles, though unopposed and making the utmost exertions. Our army moved on three main roads: the 14th corps, Gen. Thomas, in the center, toward Manchester; the 21st, Gen. Crittenden, on our left, toward McMinnville; the 20th, Gen. A. D. McCook, directly on Shelbyville; Gen. Gordon Granger's reserve division supporting both the 14th and 20th. Crittenden’s movement was to be made last, with one brigade of cavalry under Turchin; all the rest, under Stanley, was thrown out on our right. Every movement directed, though impeded and somewhat delayed by the nearly impassable state of the roads, was successfully made. Liberty gap, in McCook's front, was carried by a vigorous advance of Johnson's division; while IIoover's gap, in Thomas's front, was surprised by Wilder's mounted brigade of Reynolds's division, and held against heavy odds till Reynolds could bring up his entire division and secure it. On the 27th, T&osecrans had his headquarters in Manchester, with Thomas's corps around him; Sheridan, with the right division of McCook's corps, arriving next morning, and the rest of that corps during the 29th. The enemy, deceived and overpowered, had been forced back, with little more than smart, persistent skirmishing, to Fairfield. Manchester itself had been surprised by Wilder on the morning of that day.

*June 23, 2 P. M.

Granger had started” from Triune, on our extreme right, moving by Rover and Middleton, pushing back the enemy, by lively skirmishes at either place, to Christiana, on the road from Murfreesboro’ to Shelbyville, where he was joined by Stanley; advancing” thence on Guy's gap, covering Shelbyville, which was at first firmly held by the enemy; but, after two hours' skirmishing, they suddenly fell back, as though they had been covering a retreat. Granger at once directed Stanley to advance his cavalry and clear the gap, which was quickly done; the Rebels making all speed for seven miles to their rifle-pits, barely three miles north of Shelbyville, where two well-posted guns checked the pursuit. But Granger, now satisfied that the enemy must be evacuating, ordered a fresh cavalry charge, before which the foe again gave way, and were chased to within a short mile of the town, where three guns were planted so as to sweep all the approaches, formidably backed by infantry. It was now 6 P.M., and, Granger having his infantry well up, Stanley again charged, and in half an hour Shelbyville was ours, with three excellent brass guns, more than 500 prisoners, 3,000 sacks of corn, &c., &c. Wheeler escaped by swimming Duck river; but the 1st Confederate cavalry, which had formed to stop our charge to enable him to do so, were mainly killed or taken.

Our army now rested a little, while reconnoissances were made to ascertain the position of the enemy, and Wilder was sent to strike the railroad in Bragg's rear near Decherd, burn Elk river bridge, and do whatever

[ocr errors]

other execution he might. He failed in this—the bridge being too strongly held—but damaged the railroad a little, and thoroughly alarmed the enemy; so that, on a renewal of Rosecrans’s maneuvers to flank Tullahoma as he had flanked Shelbyville, Bragg decamped,” and three divisions of our infantry entered it at noon next day. Gens. Sheridan, Thomas, and Turchin, severally struck the Rebel rearguard on Elk river the day after; but found that stream so swollen by the incessant rains as to be scarcely fordable. When they did cross,” the enemy had wholly disappeared, and were beyond the reach of present pursuit. Thus, in nine days, Rosecrans had, without a serious engagement, cleared Middle Tennessee of the Rebel army, at a cost of barely 560 men; disabling at least as many, and taking 1,634 prisoners, 3 guns, and much other spoil. And only the celerity of Bragg's flight, with the lack of suspicion on our side that he would abandon the State and his strong positions without a struggle, saved him from still greater disasters. Bragg, having obtained a fair start, by running while Tosecrans was intent on fighting, and having the use of a railroad whereon to transport his heavy guns and supplies, destroying it behind him, easily made good his flight over the Cumberland mountains and the Tennessee; crossing the latter at and near Bridgeport, where he destroyed the railroad bridge behind him. Rosecrans was expected at Washington to follow him up sharply: but how could he His army must live; and it could by no

means subsist on what was left it by Bragg's devouring host in that rugged, sterile region; while the wagoning of food, much more of forage, over the steep, often waterless mountains that abound there, was utterly impracticable. While, therefore, his light troops followed the flying enemy to the river, and his advanced posts stretched from Stevenson on the right to Pelham on the left, the General kept his main body behind the Cumberland mountains, on a line from Winchester to McMinnville, while his engineers repaired the railroad down to Stevenson; when the East Tennessee road was in like manner repaired thence to Bridgeport,” and Sheridan's division of McCook's corps thrown forward to hold it. Even by the help of such a railroad line, Rosecrans felt that forage could not be had in that rugged, wooded, scantily grassed region, until the Indian corn was far enough matured to afford it. At length, having already accumulated considerable supplies at Stevenson, our army moved on:" Thomas's corps following the general direction of the railroad to Stevenson and thence to Bridgeport; McCook's corps moving on its right, with Stanley’s cavalry thrown far out on that flank; while Crittenden’s corps, on our left, advanced in three columns, under Wood, Wan Cleve, and Palmer, from Manchester and McMinn- | ville, across the Sequatchie valley at different points, moved directly on Chattanooga, the remaining Rebel stronghold in Tennessee, the key of East Tennessee and of all practicable northern approaches to Georgia. These movements were so thoroughly prepared and judiciously

*Night of June 30. * July 3.

* July 25. * Aug. 16.

[graphic]

BRAG G AB AND on s ch ATTANoo GA. 411

timed that but four or five days were employed in their execution, despite the ruggedness of the country —the Sequatchie valley cleaving the heart of the Cumberland mountains for 50 miles, and of course doubling the labor of crossing them—and Chattanooga was wakened" by shells thrown across the river from the eminences north of it by Wilder's mounted brigade, simultaneously with Van Cleve’s division emerging from the mountains at Poe's crossing, considerably to our left; while Thomas's corps and part of McCook's prepared to pass the Tennessee at several points below. The Tennessee is here a very considerable river, with its sources 200 miles distant, while the mountains that closely imprison it increase the difficulties of approach and passage. Dut some pontoons were at hand; while other material was quietly collected at points concealed from hostile observation; and a few days sufficed for the construction of bridges by Sheridan at Bridgeport, Reynolds at Shell Mound, some 10 or 15 miles above, and by McCook at Caperton's ferry, opposite Stevenson, below; while Gen. Prannan prepared to cross on rafts at Battle creek, between Bridgeport and Shell Mound. The passage was commenced” by McCook, and completed “at all points within ten days: the several corps pushing forward, across high, steep mountains, to concentrate at Trenton, Georgia, in the valley of Lookout creek, which runs north-easterly into the Tennessee just below Chattanooga. But it was not the plan to approach that stronghold in force down this

narrow valley, but only with a brigade of Crittenden's corps, which should climb thence, by a path known as the Nickajack trace, the lofty ridge known as Lookout mountain, looking down, from a fashionable resort known as Summertown, into the streets of Chattanooga; while Thomas, with his corps, supported by McCook, should push boldly forward, through Frick's or Stevens's gap, across Mission ridge, into the far broader valley known as McLamore's cove, which is traversed by the CHICKAMAUGA creek to the Tennessee just above Chattanooga. Bragg was in a quandary. Chattanooga was strong, and he could hold it against an assault by Rosecrans's larger army; but what use in this, and how long could he defy starvation, if that army, having crossed the river below him, should cut his communications and establish itself across the railroad in his rear ! To abandon Chattanooga was to provoke clamor; but to divide his forces, or allow them to be cooped up here, was to court destruction. IIe did what Johnston tried, when too late, to have done with regard to Wicksburg—he relinquished Chattanooga and saved his army; retiring” southward into Georgia, and posting his divisions along the highway from Gordon's mill to Lafayette, facing Pigeon mountain, through whose passes our army was expected to emerge from McLamore's cove. Rosecrans was evidently misled— though he does not fairly admit it— into believing the enemy absorbingly intent on escaping to Rome. Crittenden, having taken "peaceful possession of Chattanooga, was directed to leave one brigade as a garrison, and, bringing all his corps across the Tennessee, pursue the enemy up the East Chickamauga creek and railroad to Ringgold and Dalton; while Thomas, backed by McCook, emerging from McLamore's cove through Dug gap of Pigeon mountain, should swoop down on Lafayette, driving or smashing all before him. Rosecrans was too fast entirely. Bragg was not fleeing to Rome, and had no idea of going thither at present. On the contrary, he was silently concentrating around Lafayette the most numerous and effective army which had ever yet upheld the Rebel standard westward of the Alleghanies. To render it such, Buckner had been summoned from Knoxville, abandoning East Tennessee to Burnside without a struggle; Johnson had been drawn upon for a strong division under Walker on one hand—matters being now quiescent in and about Mississippi—while Lee, having satisfied himself that Richmond was in no danger from Meade, had dispatched Longstreet's heavy corps of veterans from the Rapidan; and every thing in the shape of militia, &c., that could be gleaned from Georgia, had been set to guarding bridges, dépôts, &c., so as to send every good soldier to the front. Tosecrans estimates Bragg's entire force, when he had thus been strengthened, at 92,000— an enormous excess over ours—and there is no reasonable doubt that he had at length more men under his

* Aug. 21. * Aug. 29. * Sept. 8. * Sept. 7–S. * Sept. 9.

[graphic]

command than composed the army which was blindly, eagerly rushing upon him, as if intent on a deer-hunt rather than a life-and-death struggle with a wary and formidable foe. Crittenden advanced” to Ringgold, throwing forward Wilder's mounted men to Tunnel hill, where they had a heavy skirmish, while Hazen, with Crittenden’s rear division, closed up on the advance; but, by this time, Negley’s division, of Thomas's corps, advancing to Dug gap,” had found it decidedly held by the enemy, who could not be persuaded to leave. Baird's division came up next morning; but both together were far too light, and wisely fell back, after a smart skirmish, retreating down the cove. And now Crittenden, justly alarmed for his communications, made” a rapid flank march to Gordon's mill—Wilder, covering his rear, having to fight smartly at Sill's tan-yard by the way; while McCook, having completely flanked Bragg's position by a southward advance nearly to Alpine, far on Bragg's left, became satisfied that the Rebel army was not retreating, and that he was in very deep water: so he commenced,” by order, a very rapid movement to connect with Thomas, away on his left. In doing this, he was carried down into Lookout valley, thence up the mountain and down again; so that he only closed up to Thomas on the 17th. Bragg had sprung his trap too soon.” Had he permitted Thomas

* Sept. 11. “Sept. 10. “Sept.12. "Sept. 13.

* Pollard sees the matter in a different light; and his view seems worth considering. He says:

“During the 9th, it was ascertained that a column of the enemy had crossed Lookout mountain into the cove, by the way of Stevens's and Cooper's gaps. Thrown off his guard by our rapid movement, apparently in retreat, when in

reality we had concentrated opposite his center, and deceived by information from deserters and others sent into his lines, the enemy pressed on his columns to intercept us, and thus exposed himself in detail. “A splendid opportunity was now presented to Bragg. The detached force in McLamore's cove was Thomas's corps. Being immediately opposite Lafayette, at and near which Gen. Bragg to force his way through Dug gap, with barely a decent show of resistance, he might have crushed this first and our other corps in rapid succession; or he might, disregarding Thomas, have hurled his whole army upon Crittenden at Ringgold, crushed him, and then interposed between Thomas and Chattanooga. But when Negley and Baird were forced back from Dug gap, the game was too plain. Instead of a keen chase after a flying enemy, it was at once comprehended by our Generals that they must concentrate and fight for their lives. Lafayette lies some 25 miles south by east of Chattanooga, on the main highway leading thence into Georgia, behind Pigeon mountain, in a valley whence Pea Vine creek flows northward into the Chickamauga. Eight or ten miles north of Lafayette, the highway aforesaid passes through a

[ocr errors]

gap in Pigeon mountain into McLamore's cove, crossing the West Chickamauga at Gordon's mill. As Bragg was well aware that Thomas was in the upper part of that cove or valley, he moved down this road by his right, with intent to flank the left of our army—or so much of it as he might find in the cove—meaning thus to interpose between it and Chattanooga, and, if possible, between Thomas's corps and Crittenden's. But Crittenden, as we have seen, had seasonably taken the alarm, and moved hastily across from Ringgold to the Chickamauga; while McCook, zigzagging down and up Mission ridge, had likewise made his way into the cove, and was in position, with most of our army, along the Lafayette and Chattanooga road, from above Gordon's mill on our right a full third of the distance to Rossville, a small hamlet situated in a gap of

had all his forces concentrated, it was completely
at the meroy of the latter. It was only neces.
sary that Gen. Bragg should fall upon it with
such a mass as would have crushed it; then
turned down Chattanooga valley, thrown him-
self in between tho town and Crittenden, and
crushed him; then passed back between Look-
out mountain and the Tennessee river into
Wills's valley, and cut off McCook's retreat to
Bridgeport: thence moved along the Cumber-
land range into the rear of Burnside, and disposed

of him.
“No time was to be lost in taking advantage
of a blunder of the enemy, into which he had
fallen in his stupid conceit that the Confederates
were retreating. Instant orders were given to
Maj.-Gen. Hindman to prepare his division to
move against Thomas; and he was informed that
another division from Lt.-Gen. I, II, IIill's cond-
mand, at Lafayette, would move up to him and
cooperate in the attack.
• Gen. Hill received his orders on the night of
the 9th. He replied that he could not undertake
the movement; that the orders were impractica-
ble; that Cleburne, who commanded one of his
divisions, was sick; and that both the gaps, Dug
and Catlett's, through which they were required
to move, were impassable, having been blocked
by felled timber.
“Early the next morning, Hindman was
promptly in position to execute his part of the
critical movement. Disappointed at Hill's resu-
sal to move, Gen. Bragg, with desperate haste,

dispatched an order to Maj.-Gen. Buckner to
move from his present position at Anderson,
and execute, without delay, the orders issued to
Hill.
“It was not until the afternoon of the 10th,
that Buckner joined Hindman; the two com-
mands being united near Davis's cross-roads in
the cove. The enemy was stillin flagrant error:
moving his three columns with an apparent dis-
position to form a junction at or near Lafayette.
To strike in detail these isolated commands, and
to fall upon Thomas, who had got the enemy's

i center into McLamore's cove, such rapidity was

necessary as to surprise the enemy before he
discovered his mistake.
“Lt.-Gen. Polk was ordered to Anderson's,
to cover Hindman's rear; who, at midnight of
the 10th, again received orders at all hazards to
crush the enemy's center, and cut his way through
to Lafayette. The indomitable Cleburne, despite
the obstructions in the road, had moved up to
Dug gap; was in position at daylight, and only
waited the sound of Hindman's guns to move on
the enemy's flank and rear.
“Courier after courier sped from Dug gap to
urge Hindman on. But it was too lot. The ene-
my had discovered the mistake that had well-
nigh proved his ruin. He had, taking advantage

of our delay, retreated to the mountain passes;

and so the movement upon Thomas, which promised such brilliant results, was lost by an audchronism by which the best-laid military schemes are so frequently defeated.”

« 上一頁繼續 »