men, behind a rude but efficient breastwork of logs and rails. I am particular in describing this position, because the enemy's movements made for the purpose of avoiding it were the immediate cause of bringing on the battle of Saturday. This state of things continued until one o'clock, when Van Cleve moved from his place in line, and took position upon Wood's left, while Palmer, marching by the left flank, came into communication with Wood's right. This made an immense opening between General Crittenden's corps and the left wing of General Thomas, which was eventually filled by another general shifting from south to north. Meantime the sound of a brisk cannonade in the direction of Ringgold indicated either that our mounted troops or General Granger's corps were engaged with the enemy. From half-past 1 to three, couriers came dashing past, now from Minty and now from Wilder, bearing despatches to Wood, or Crittenden, or Rosecrans, the general tenor of which was, that they were fighting the enemy briskly, and, although meeting with some losses, were firmly holding their ground. In fact, there were to-day three separate affairs, each one of which is of sufficient importance to engage for a moment the attention of the historian. By marching on the east side of the Tennessee, from Bridgeport immediately to the rear and left of General Crittenden, General Gordon Granger, with the reserve corps, had reached a position a few miles south of Chattanooga. On Friday morning he sent General Steadman with two of his brigades, Colonel Dan McCook's and Colonel John G. Mitchell's, to beat up the enemy's quarters in the vicinity of Reid's Bridge over the Chickamauga, and discover his intentions in that direction. The movement was successful. Colonel McCook claims to have first encountered Longstreet's men; and the fact that he brought in some twenty-five prisoners from McNary's brigade of Hood's division, is pretty solid evidence that his claim is well founded. Advancing toward Ringgold, the two brigades, after some skirmishing, were about to engage a much larger force of rebels, when a peremptory order arrived for them to fall back immediately to their old position. On Thursday, Minty and Wilder were at Reid's Bridge, but on Friday morning Wilder moved to Anderson's Bridge, higher up the creek. During the day the latter closely watched the enemy's movements, and observed a troop of rebel cavalry come through Napier's Gap, in Pigeon Mountain, and move toward General Wood's position at Gordon's Mill. At the same time a strong column came over, directly in front of Wilder, and another column, boldly advancing on the Ringgold road, threatened. Minty. Both attacked simultaneously. Wilder succeeded in repulsing his opponents, but Minty's flank being turned by the rebels, he was considerably distressed, until the more fortunate Wilder sent two regiments and a section of artillery to his assistance. With the help of these he maintained his ground; but the same movement by which the rebels had succeeded in turning Minty's right flank enabled them to get upon Wilder's left and in his rear. Under these disadvantageous circumstances, the latter was compelled to renew the fight; but, although severely pressed, he succeeded in holding the bridge until near dark. Then fresh forces of the enemy coming up and his own men being entirely exhausted, Wilder began to fall back. The rebels perceiving this, made a determined effort to cut him off. He slowly retired, resisting at every step, until he arrived to within a mile and a half of Gordon's Mill, where the Forty-fourth Indiana and Fifty-ninth Ohio coming to his assistance, he was enabled to check the rebels and encamp for the night. During the night, his own pickets and those of the enemy actually grasped each other's guns in the darkness, and several times engaged in fierce struggles for their possession! Before daylight Wilder was ordered to move to the La Fayette road, and take position there, which he did, throwing up for his protection a breastwork of rails. All night long on Friday night the movement of Thomas's corps continued. Crittenden's was already in the position it was intended to hold the next day, so that Thomas passed it by and placed his divisions upon the left of the line. General Negley being in position at Owens's Ford, higher up the valley, for the purpose of preventing the enemy from coming into the breach which Thomas's movements would leave in our line, General Johnson's division, of McCook's corps, reported to General Thomas, and marched with him to take position upon the left of Crittenden. Generals Davis and Sheridan were in the mean time moving as rapidly as possible toward the left, so as to connect with the right of Crittenden, and thus complete the line, which would be much shorter than it was the day before. For the first half of the night during which the march I am referring to took place, every thing was comfortable enough, but near midnight it turned freezingly cold, and as it was necessary, after passing General Crittenden, for us to feel our way with caution, long wearisome halts took place, during which skirmishers scoured the woods immediately upon our front and right flank. The boys who were not skirmishing becoming very cold during these halts, began to kindle fires at every stopping-place to warm themselves. At first they made these fires of logs of wood and rails taken from the neighboring fences, but afterward they ceeased to trouble themselves about removing the rails, and set fire to the fences themselves wherever they chanced to stop. In the course of an hour a line of fires stretching all along the La Fayette road illuminated the clouds above, and showed the silent columns of General Thomas gliding by like an army of spectres! At last the weary march came to an end; the
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.