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[413] division of McCook's corps, (Johnson's,) having come up to the new line sooner than the rest, reported to Thomas for orders, and was assigned to a position upon the left, between Baird and Reynolds. Two divisions of Crittenden's corps held the centre of the line, Palmer on the right of Reynolds, and Van Cleve next to Palmer. When the battle began, Davis and Sheridan, of McCook's corps, were rapidly marching toward the left, to complete the line and take possession on the right of Van Cleve. Generally, the line took the direction of the Chickamauga, withdrawn upon the left so as to follow for a considerable distance the course of the La Fayette road, which runs directly north and south.

It was between ten and eleven when Cronton's brigade, of Brannan's division, going down to a ford over the creek, just opposite their position, encountered the enemy, who was advancing in force, and, after a gallant combat, was driven back. Reinforcements immediately coming from the remainder of Brannan's division, the rebels in turn were driven pell-mell toward the ford. Another terrible charge by a largely increased force of the enemy pushed back the whole of Brannan's division, involving General Baird, who at once became fiercely engaged. The regulars, outflanked after the withdrawal of Brannan's men, fought like tigers, but were rolled back and over Scribner's brigade — the right of which being rather too far advanced, was crumpled up, and the brigade literally surrounded, until, by unparalleled gallantry, it cut its way through. The storm, rolling from left to right, fell next upon Johnson, and almost simultaneously upon Reynolds, who both fought with desperate valor, wavering at times, but again regaining their firmness, giving back a little, but again advancing, until the troops of Brannan and Baird, rallied by their able leaders, and by the personal exertions of Thomas himself, whose courage was as conspicuous as his coolness, came up once more to the work.

Then the order was issued for the entire line to advance, and nothing in history exceeds in grandeur the charge of that powerful corps. Longstreet's men from Virginia were directly opposed to the troops of Thomas, and although they fought with stubborn determination, they could not for an instant check the slow and stately march of our battalions. In vain they rallied and re-rallied; in vain they formed double lines, which fired simultaneously; in vain they wheeled their cannon into a score of new positions. Thomas moved resistlessly on. Much of our artillery lost in the morning was re-captured. Seven pieces were taken from the enemy. They had been pushed already three quarters of a mile, and Longstreet was threatened with actual annihilation, when a new danger caused Thomas to halt.

While our left was so remorselessly driving the rebels, Polk and Hill, collecting their chosen legions, threw them with great impetuosity upon Palmer and Van Cleve, in order to effect a diversion in favor of Longstreet. An obstinate contest ensued, but the overpowering numbers of the enemy speedily broke to pieces large portions of our two divisions, especially Van Cleve's. In fact, the rout of this part of our line was becoming as complete as that of the enemy's right, when Davis, who had been marching up as rapidly as possible to intersect with Van Cleve's left, arrived upon the ground, went in most gallantly, and for a time restored in that locality the fortunes of the day. But the enemy knowing that all depended upon his effecting a diversion in favor of the defeated Longstreet, massed nearly the whole of his available force, hurled it upon Van Cleve and Davis, drove the former to the left and the latter to the right, and entered boldly the opening thus made. It was just at this juncture that Thomas's troops, whose attention had been called to the extreme danger of our centre, began to return. Reynolds immediately sent the heroic Wilder to the assistance of Davis, and the celebrated brigade of mounted infantry at first scattered the enemy in terror before them. But the persevering rebels rallying again, and charging in fresh numbers, even Wilder began to fall slowly back. General Sheridan, who had been following after Davis, now came up, and led Colonel Bradley's brigade into the fight. It held its own nobly, until the rebels, in large force, getting possession of a piece of timber near its flank, opened upon it an enfilading fire, which compelled it to give way.

But now new actors appear upon the scene. Wood and Negley, who had gallantly repelled the assaults of the enemy at Owen's Ford, (assaults intended as a feint to conceal the design of the enemy upon our left,) came up to the rescue. Their troops went to work with a will. The progress of the enemy against Davis, Van Cleve, and Sheridan was speedily checked. Reynolds, returning from the pursuit of Longstreet, assisted in rallying the broken battalions of Palmer. Thousands of our scattered troops reorganized almost of their own accord. Baird, Brannan, and Johnson resumed their places. A consuming fire swept all along our front. The rebels retired everywhere before it, and before sunset our line was in battle array upon almost precisely the ground held that morning.

Just before dusk, the enemy, as if in spite of his unsuccessful efforts, opened a heavy fire of artillery and musketry upon the same troops, and continued it until after nightfall. But it was so promptly returned that he sustained certainly as much injury as he inflicted, and about six o'clock he drew off entirely, leaving the day clearly our own.

During the night of Saturday some change was made in the disposition of our forces, and the line was so far withdrawn that it rested along a cross-road running north-east and southwest, and connecting the Rossville with the La Fayette road. By this arrangement our extreme right was made to rest on Mission Ridge, as it should probably have done in the first place. The new line that was formed was a mile shorter than that of the day before.

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Cleve (7)
L. Thomas (6)
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J. J. Reynolds (5)
William B. Palmer (4)
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