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[591] Wills's Valley, and cut off McCook's retreat to Bridgeport; thence moved along the Cumberland range into the rear of Burnside, and disposed of him.

This campaign, which was so obvious to parties engaged in the general movements, and which was so feasible, would have gone far toward ending the war, and have added fresh lustre to our arms. But it was not perceived and acted upon by the mind directing the army. It is true that a force was thrown forward into McLemore's Cove, but the movement was inadequate, and by no means equal to the magnitude or the consequences suspended on its success. Various causes have been assigned for its failure; but among the best informed, it is set down to the score of the limited scale on which it was planned.

The movement upon Thomas, in McLemore's Cove, having failed, he having effected his escape up the mountain, the whole of the troops of Bragg were withdrawn to Lafayette. On their withdrawal, Rosecrans, who, by this time, had discovered Bragg's whereabouts, recalled McCook into Will's Valley, and ordered him to follow Thomas, who was again put in motion over the mountain into the cove. The two corps were thus concentrated on the east side of Lookout Mountain, in thirty-six hours after Bragg left it. In the mean time, Crittenden, who reached Chattanooga, and, finding no enemy there, did not stop to occupy and fortify it, but, strong in the general feeling of the Northern army, that the confederates were thoroughly demoralized, and would not fight, moved on toward Ringgold, to cut off Buckner, who was understood to be moving to the support of Bragg. On reaching the point on the Georgia Railroad at which Buckner crossed, he discovered he was too late, and turned toward Lafayette to follow him. He moved up the Chickamauga on its east side, in the direction of Lafayette, and was confronted by the cavalry under Generals Pegram and Armstrong. After skirmishes with them, in which there were some brilliant dashes on the part of our cavalry, the latter retired slowly before the enemy, falling back toward Lafayette. To meet this movement, General Bragg ordered a force of two divisions under Lieutenant-General Polk, to move to the front. These divisions, Cheatham's and Walker's, were put in motion, and were in line of battle before daylight, covering the three roads on which the enemy's three divisions were marching. Hindman came up after daylight, and Buckner was thrown forward as a supporting force to guard Polk's left against Thomas and McCook, in the cove. Crittenden finding himself confronted, declined battle, and retired during the night, falling back on the Chickamauga, which he crossed at Lee and Gordon's Mills. This placed the whole of Rosecrans's three corps on the east side of the Chickamauga and in easy supporting distance.

Now was presented once more a magnificent opportunity for the confederate General. There was no longer a doubt as to the position of the forces of the enemy. His whole army, with the exception of Granger, was before him. It was distributed from the head of McLemore's Cove, along and down the west side of the Chickamauga Valley, as far as Lee and Gordon's Mills, Chickamauga Creek separating it from the army of the confederates. A strong demonstration on the creek was all that was necessary to cover the proper movement. That movement was to march his whole army rapidly by the right flank, down as low as Reed's bridge and the contiguous fords, and at that point to throw it across the creek and valley, forming it at right angles to the Lafayette and Chattanooga road, and so covering the exit from the valley in the direction of Chattanooga. This movement would have been met by that of the Virginia troops landing from the railroad at Ringgold, and would have effectually blocked the Yankee army up in McLemore's Cove, cut it off from Chattanooga, and placed it at the mercy of the confederates. But the point was not seen. It was beyond the limited range of the usual strategic combinations of the confederate chief, and while he ordered a demonstration on the enemy's lines at Gordon's Mills, he failed to grasp the whole of the situation. Instead of throwing his whole army in a body across the Chickamauga and far down, he moved it by divisions and crossed it at several fords and bridges north of Gordon's Mills, up to which he ordered the Virginia troops which had crossed many miles below, and near to which he attempted to concentrate about half of his army. This was on Saturday, the nineteenth.

While he was engaged in discussing the precise position of the enemy, the latter relieved his embarrassment by an attack on Major-General Walker's corps. This attack was made with great vigor, and was sustained by the gallant men who compose that division in a style in keeping with their former reputation for the highest soldierly qualities. The attack was made simultaneously on front and flank by a part of Thomas's corps and Palmer's division of Crittenden's corps. In meeting the attack, the brigades of Walthall and Govan, under the command of Brigadier-General Liddell, commanding division, eminently distinguished themselves. The division of Major-General Cheatham was moved to the support of Walker, and was taken into the fight most opportunely; for while the greatly superior force by which Walker was attacked was not only held in check, but driven, at the outset — Walker running over several of the enemy's batteries-yet the strong reenforcements that came up caused Walker to hail Cheatham's approach as a seasonable relief. This veteran division, under its well-tried and skilful leader, threw itself upon the enemy's line, with its usual weight and force, capturing many of the enemy's guns, and driving him back, until he was met by heavy reenforcements. The enemy here crowded his troops down upon his left, and the fight became one of great desperation, being sustained by the enemy with the whole of Thomas's corps. The strength of his force being great enough to


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