These movements were promptly begun on the eighth and ninth of September. The reconnoissance of General Crittenden on the ninth developed the fact that the enemy had evacuated Chattanooga the day and night previous, and his advance took peaceable possession at one o'clock P. M. His whole corps with its train passed around the point of Lookout Mountain on the tenth, and encamped for the night at Rossville, five miles south of Chattanooga. During these operations Gen. Thomas pushed his corps over the mountains at the designated points, each division consuming two days in the passage. The weight of evidence, gathered from all sources, was that Bragg was moving on Rome, and that his movement commenced on the sixth of September. General Crittenden was, therefore, directed to hold Chattanooga with one brigade, calling all the forces on the north side of the Tennessee across, and to follow the enemy's retreat vigorously, anticipating that the main body had retired by Ringgold and Dalton. Additional information, obtained during the afternoon and evening of the tenth of September, rendered it certain that his main body had retired by the La Fayette road, but, uncertain whether he had gone far, General Crittenden was ordered at one o'clock A. M., on the eleventh, to proceed to the front and report, directing his command to advance only as far as Ringgold, and order a reconnoissance to Gordon's Mill. His report and further evidence satisfied me that the main body of the rebel army was in the vicinity of La Fayette. General Crittenden was, therefore, ordered to move his corps with all possible despatch from Ringgold to Gordon's Mill, and communicate with General Thomas, who had by that time reached the foot of Lookout Mountain. General Crittenden occupied Ringgold during the eleventh, pushing Wilder's mounted infantry as far as Tunnel Hill, skirmishing heavily with the enemy's cavalry. Hazen joined him near Ringgold on the eleventh, and the whole corps moved rapidly and successfully across to Gordon's Mill on the twelfth. Wilder, following and covering the movement, had a severe fight at Lett's tan-yard. During the same day, the Fourth United States cavalry was ordered to move up the Dry Valley road, to discover if the enemy was in the proximity of that road on Crittenden's right, and open communication with Thomas's command, which, passing over the mountain, was debouching from Stevens's and Cooper's Gaps, and moving on La Fayette through Dry Gap of the Pigeon Mountain. On the tenth, Negley's division advanced to within a mile of Dug Gap, which he found heavily obstructed, and Baird's division came up to his support on the morning of the eleventh. Negley became satisfied that the enemy was advancing upon him in heavy force, and perceiving that if he accepted battle in that position he would probably be cut off, he fell back, after a sharp skirmish in which General Baird's division participated, skilfully covering and securing their trains, to a strong position in front of Stevens's Gap. On the twelfth, Reynolds and Brannan, under orders to move promptly, closed up to the support of these two advanced divisions. During the same day General McCook had reached the vicinity of Alpine, and, with infantry and cavalry, had reconnoitred the Broomtown Valley to Summerville, and ascertained that the enemy had not retreated on Rome, but was concentrating at La Fayette. Thus it was ascertained that the enemy was concentrating all his forces, both infantry and cavalry, behind the Pigeon Mountain, in the vicinity of La Fayette, while the corps of this army were at Gordon's Mill, Bailey's Cross-Roads, at the foot of Stevens's Gap, and at Alpine, a distance of forty miles from flank to flank, by the nearest practicable roads, and fifty-seven miles by the route subsequently taken by the Twentieth army corps. It had already been ascertained that the main body of Johnston's army had joined Bragg, and an accumulation of evidence showed that the troops from Virginia had reached Atlanta on the first of the month, and that reinforcements were expected soon to arrive from that quarter. It was, therefore, a matter of life and death to effect the
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