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.
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