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[590] August, or some five or six days after the surprise of Chattanooga, Burnside's advance into East-Tennessee was announced by the presence of his cavalry in the vicinity of Knoxville, and Major-General Buckner received orders to evacuate Knoxville, and occupy Loudon. In consequence of a demonstration, it is said, by a portion of Rosecrans's army at Blythe's Ferry, on the Tennessee River, opposite the mouth of the Hiawassee, he was ordered to fall back from Loudon to Charleston, and soon after to the vicinity of Chattanooga. Pending these movements above, which were to give East-Tennessee to the Federals, not only for occupation, but for cooperation with Rosecrans in his designs upon Chattanooga and the Army of Tennessee, Rosecrans was not idle below. On Tuesday morning, September the first, citizens living near Caperton's Ferry reported that the enemy was crossing the Tennessee. River in force at that point, (Caperton's Ferry;) that on Saturday, the twenty-ninth of August, three days before, a Federal cavalry force had forded the river at some shallows above to the south side, had proceeded down the river to Caperton's, and in conjunction with another force, appearing contemporaneously on the opposite shore, had thrown a pontoon bridge across the river; and that the enemy commenced immediately to cross in force, and had been crossing for three days, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and were moving across Sand Mountain, in the direction of Wills's Valley and Trenton. This story, regarded at army headquarters as incredible, was soon after confirmed by reports of the occupation of Trenton by the enemy's cavalry, and its advance up the Wills's Valley railroad, in the direction of Chattanooga, as far as Wauhatchie, within seven miles, as a covering force to the advance of its infantry columns on Trenton.

In order to understand this movement of Rosecrans, and subsequent operations, a topographical coup d'oeil is necessary.

Chattanooga is situated on the Tennessee River, at the mouth of the Chattanooga Valley — a valley following the course of the Chattanooga Creek, and formed by Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge. East of Mission Ridge, and running parallel with it, is another valley — Chickamauga Valley-following the course of Chickamauga Creek, which, with the Chattanooga Creek, discharges its waters into the Tennessee River — the first above, and the last below the town of Chattanooga, and has with it a common source in McLemore's Cove — the common head of both valleys, and formed by Lookout Mountain on the west, and Pigeon Mountain to the east. Wills's Valley is a narrow valley lying to the west of Chattanooga, formed by Lookout Mountain and Sand Mountain, and traversed by a railroad, which takes its name from the valley, and which, branching from the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, where the latter crosses the valley, has its present terminus at Trenton, and future at Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The distance of Bridgeport from Chattanooga is twenty-eight miles, of Caperton's Ferry about forty, and of Trenton something over twenty. Ringgold is eighteen miles from Chattanooga on the Georgia State road, and Dalton some forty, at the point where the Georgia State road connects with the East-Tennessee Railroad. Rome is sixty-five miles south-west of Chattanooga, on the Coosa River, at the point of confluence of the Etawah and Estanalsh. The wagon-road from Chattanooga to Rome, known as the Lafayette Road, crosses Mission Ridge into Chickamauga Valley at Rossville, and, proceeding in a south-westerly direction, crosses Chickamauga Creek, eleven miles from Chattanooga, at Lee and Gordon's Mills, and, passing to the east of Pigeon Mountain, goes through Lafayette, distant some twenty-two miles from Chattanooga, and Summerville within twenty-five miles of Rome. From Caperton's Ferry there is a road leading over Sand Mountain into Wills's Valley at Trenton, and from Trenton to Lafayette and Dalton, over Lookout Mountain, through Coopers's and Stevens's Gaps, into McLemore's Cove, and over Pigeon Mountain by Plug Gap. The road from Trenton, following Wills's Valley, exposed, by easy communications, Rome, and, through it, Western Georgia and Eastern Alabama, with easy access to the important central positions, Atlanta and Selma.

The General Commanding, believing a flanking movement to be the purpose of the enemy in his movement on the left, ordered Lieutenant-General Hill, on Monday, September seventh, to move with his corps toward Lafayette, and General Polk to Lee and Gordon's Mills, and Major-General Buckner, with the Army of East-Tennessee, and Major-General Walker, with his division from the Army of Mississippi, to concentrate at Lafayette, and Brigadier-General Pegram to cover the railroad with his cavalry. These dispositions having been made of the confederate forces, Major-General Crittenden, commanding the left wing of Rosecrans's army, which had not moved with the right and centre, but had been left in the Sequatchie Valley, crossed the Tennessee River at the mouth of Battle Creek, and moved upon Chattanooga. Major-General McCook, commanding the right wing, was thrown forward to threaten Rome, and the corps of Major-General Thomas was put in motion over Lookout Mountain, in the direction of Lafayette.

It will be perceived, from this distribution of the forces of both armies, that Rosecrans exposed himself in the hands of an adversary of capacity and vigor to the hazard of quick and certain destruction. The centre corps, under Thomas, being in McLemore's Cove, immediately opposite Lafayette, at and near which General Bragg had all his forces concentrated, was completely at the mercy of the latter. It was only necessary that General Bragg should fall upon it with such a mass as would have crushed it; then turn down Chattanooga Valley, thrown himself between the town and Crittenden, and crushed him; then passed back between Lookout Mountain and the Tennessee River into

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