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[219] to the Tennessee River below Stevenson, the best, but much the longest, by Fayetteville and Athens, a distance of seventy miles.

The next, a very rough wagon-road from Winchester by Salem, to Larkinsville, and an exceedingly rough road by the way of Mount Top, one branch leading thence to Bellefont and the other to Stevenson.

On these latter routes little or no forage was to be found, except at the extremities of the lines, and they were also scarce of water. The one by Athens has both forage and water in abundance.

It was evident from this description of the topography, that to reach Chattanooga, or penetrate the country south of it, on the railroad,.by crossing the Tennessee below Chattanooga, was a difficult task. It was necessary to cross the Cumberland Mountains, with subsistence, ammunition, at least a limited supply of forage, and a bridge-train; to cross Sand or Raccoon Mountain s into Lookout Valley, then Lookout Mountain, and finally the lesser ranges, Missionary Ridge, if we went directly to Chattanooga; or Missionary Ridge, Pigeon Mountain, and Taylor's Ridge, if we struck the railroad at Dalton, or south of it. The valley of the Tennessee River, though several miles in breadth between the bases of the mountains, below Bridgeport, is not a broad alluvial farming country, but full of barren oak ridges, sparsely settled, and but a small part of it under cultivation.

Prelimiinary operations of the army.

The first step was to repair the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, to bring forward to Tullahoma, McMinnville, Dechard, and Winchester needful forage and subsistence, which it was impossible to transport from Murfreesboro to those points over the horrible roads which we encountered on our advance to Tullahoma. The next was to extend the repairs of the main stem to Stevenson and Bridgeport and the Tracy City Branch, so that we could place supplies in depot at those points, from which to draw after we had crossed the mountains.

Through the zeal and energy of Colonel Innis and his regiment of Michigan engineers, the main road was open to the Elk River bridge by the thirteenth of July, and the Elk River bridge and the main stem to Bridgeport by the twenty-fifth, and the branch to Tracy City by the thirteenth of August.

As soon as the main stem was finished to Stevenson, Sheridan's division was advanced, two brigades to Bridgeport and one to Stevenson, and commissary and quartermaster stores pushed forward to the latter place, with all practicable speed. These supplies began to be accumulated at this point in sufficient quantities by the eighth of August, and corps commanders were that day directed to supply their troops, as soon as possible, with rations and forage sufficient for a general movement.

The Tracy City Branch, built for bringing coal down the mountains, has such high grades and sharp curves as to require a peculiar engine. The only one we had, answering the purpose, having been broken on its way from Nashville, was not repaired until about the twelfth of August. It was deemed best, therefore, to delay the movement of the troops until that road was completely available for transporting stores to Tracy City.

The movement over the Cumberland Mountains began on the morning of the sixteenth of August, as follows:

General Crittenden's corps in three columns, General Wood from Hillsboro by Pelham to Thurman, in Sequatchie Valley.

General Palmer from Manchester by the most practicable route to Dunlop.

General Van Cleve with two brigades from McMinnville, the third being left in garrison there, by the most practicable route to Pikeville, the head of Sequatchie Valley.

Colonel Minty's cavalry to move, on the left, by Sparta, to drive back Debrel's cavalry toward Kingston, where the enemy's mounted troops, under Forrest, were concentrated, and then, covering the left flank of Van Cleve's column, to proceed to Pikeville.

The Fourteenth army corps, Major-General George H. Thomas commanding, moved as follows:

General Reynolds from University by way of Battle Creek, to take post, concealed, near its mouth.

General Brannan to follow him.

General Negley to go by Tantallon and halt on Crow Creek, between Anderson and Stevenson.

General Baird to follow him, and camp near Anderson.

The Twentieth corps, Major-General A. McD. McCook commanding, moved as follows:

General Johnson by Salem and Larkin's Ford to Bellefont.

General Davis by Mount Top and Crow Creek to near Stevenson.

The three brigades of cavalry by Fayetteville and Athens, to cover the line of the Tennessee from Whitesbury up.

On his arrival in Sequatchie Valley, General Crittenden was to send a brigade of infantry to reconnoitre the Tennessee, near Harrison's Landing, and take post at Poe's Cross-Roads. Minty was to reconnoitre from Washington down, and take post at Smith's Cross-Roads, and Wilder's brigade of mounted infantry was to reconnoitre from Harrison's Landing to Chattanooga, and be supported by a brigade of infantry which General Crittenden was to send from Thurman to the foot of the eastern slope of Walden's Ridge, in front of Chattanooga.

These movements were completed by the evening of the twentieth of August. Hazen's brigade made the reconnoissance on Harrison's Landing, and reported the enemy throwing up works there, and took post at Poe's Cross-Roads on the twenty-first. Wagner with his brigade supported Wilder in his reconnoissance on Chattanooga,


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