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[363] dark and bloody struggle has ensued, in which, on every occasion, we have fought against superior numbers, victory wavering first on one side and then on the other. Notwithstanding the disasters of the Kentucky campaign, we retrieved a portion of Middle Tennessee and North-Alabama. The battle of Murfreesboro, in which we won a brilliant victory on the thirty-first of December last, afterward proved but a drawn battle, and on the night of second January following, we retreated to Tullahoma. Several months elapsed after this terrible conflict. We advanced to Wartrace and Shelbyville, were again ready to give the enemy battle, when a large portion of General Bragg's forces were withdrawn to Mississippi for the rescue of Vicksburgh. Nothing was accomplished by the move. General Bragg was left in a critical position as a mere army of observation, opposed to an overwhelming army in his front, which for months he held at bay. The enemy at last succeeded in surprising our forces at Liberty and Hoover's Gaps by a flank movement, and General Bragg, most prudently, to save his army, fell back, on the twenty-seventh of June last, to Chattanooga. The enemy followed at leisure to the banks of the Tennessee.

About the first of September, it was known that Burnside's forces were approaching Knoxville, threatening our right, when it was deemed expedient to evacuate that point, and concentrate General Buckner's forces with those of General Bragg. This movement was being effected, when it became apparent that Rosecrans was crossing his army at Bridgeport, having previously shelled Chattanooga by a small force in front. The threatening position of the enemy on our left now made it beyond doubt that he intended a flank movement toward Rome, and no time was to be lost in cutting him off. To save the State of Georgia, Chattanooga had to be abandoned, and, knowing the superiority of the enemy's numbers, General Bragg could not afford to leave behind a sufficient garrison to defend the place. At this time, it must be understood, General Bragg had no knowledge that General Longstreet's corps was on its way from Virginia to reenforce him. Our troops evacuated Chattanooga on the seventh of September, and after a severe march through the dust, which was ankle deep, and exposed to the burning rays of the sun, they reached the vicinity of Lafayette, Georgia, on the ninth. The enemy's cavalry, under General Wilder, had already reached Alpine, and driven back Pegram's cavalry, and it was reported that a large body of the enemy was in the direction of McLemore's Cove.

Breckinridge's division, composed of Adams's, Helm's, and Stovall's brigades, guarded the various roads leading into Lafayette from the southward. On the morning of the thirteenth, our scouts reported a large force of the enemy advancing on our position from the direction of Alpine, twenty-five miles south-west of Lafayette. Adams's brigade was immediately thrown across the road to oppose the threatened advance, Stovall forming on the left of Adams, with his artillery, commanding a wide extent of open ground in our front. At mid-day, a squadron of our cavalry came dashing through our lines of skirmishers, followed by the “Lightning brigade” of Wilder. Our infantry and artillery immediately opened with buck, ball, and canister, and sent them to the right about with many an empty saddle.

In the mean time a large force of Thomas's corps was moving up McLemore's Cove, sup posed to be Negley's and another division. Cheatham's division was moved rapidly forward to Lafayette in front, a portion of Hill's corps occupied Catlett's Gap, in Pigeon Mountain, (which is a spur of Lookout, about fifteen miles from Chattanooga,) flanking the enemy on his right, while General Hindman was ordered to attack the enemy immediately in the Cove. For some reason, attributed to the nature of the ground, the attack was not made, and the enemy escaped.

To understand the advance of Rosecrans's army, it would seem that Thomas's and McCook's corps, with Stanley's division of cavalry, commanded by Mitchell, crossed the Tennessee at Bridgeport, marching over Sand Mountain into Will's Valley, and from thence down McLemore's Cove in the direction of Lafayette. Crittenden's corps had crossed above Chattanooga at Harrison's, and was moved in the direction of Ringgold. A portion of Park's corps, of Burnside's army, and a brigade of his cavalry, came down from Knoxville to Loudon and Cleveland.

On the morning of the fourteenth, it was reported that the enemy had abandoned his position in the vicinity of Alpine, and that he was moving up McLemore's Cove in the direction of Chattanooga. General Cheatham's division was ordered to proceed toward Crawfish Springs, about half-way between Lafayette and Chattanooga, to reconnoitre the enemy, which he did, and returned on Tuesday, the fifteenth.

A council of war was then held at Lafayette, Georgia, on that day, and it was resolved to advance toward Chattanooga and attack the enemy wherever he could be found. On the sixteenth, General Bragg issued a spirited address to his troops, and preliminary orders directing the troops to be held in readiness to march that night. These orders were subsequently countermanded, and renewed at seven A. M. on the seventeenth, and Buckner's corps accordingly marched north from Lafayette at nine A. M. on that day, and encamped on Pea Vine Creek, ten miles from Lafayette; Walker camping a mile further on, and Polk's corps camping at Rock Spring. General Bragg made his headquarters at Leet's Tanyard, near Walker County, on Pea Vine Creek.

The following order defined the movement:


headquarters army of Tennessee, Leet's Tanyard, September 18, 1863.
I. Major-General W. H. T. Walker's division will move to Alexander's Bridge, or Byram's Ford, and there cross the Chickamauga.

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