Thus, on the evening of the seventeenth, the troops were substantially within supporting distance. Orders were given at once to move the whole line north-eastwardly down the Chickamauga, with a view to covering the La Fayette road toward Chattanooga, and facing the most practicable route to the enemy's front. The position of our troops and the narrowness of the roads retarded our movements. During the day, while they were in progress, our cavalry under Colonel Minty was attacked on the left, in the vicinity of Reed's Bridge, and Wilder's mounted infantry were attacked by infantry and driven into the La Fayette road. It became apparent that the enemy was massing heavily on our left, crossing Reed's and Alexander's Bridges in force, while he had threatened Gordon's Mill. Orders were therefore promptly given to General Thomas to relieve General Crittenden's corps, posting one division near Crawfish Spring, and to move with the remainder of his corps by the Widow Glenn's house to the Rossville and La Fayette road, his left extending obliquely across it near Kelly's house. General Crittenden was ordered to proceed with Van Cleve's and Palmer's divisions to drive the enemy from the Rossville road, and form on the left of General Woods then at Gordon's Mill. General McCook's corps was to close up on General Thomas, occupy the position at Crawfish Springs and protect General Crittenden's right while holding his corps mainly in reserve. The main cavalry force was ordered to close in on General McCook's right, watch the crossing of the Chickamauga, and act under his orders. The movement for the concentration of the corps more compactly toward Crawfish Springs was begun on the morning of the eighteenth, under orders to conduct it very secretly, and was executed so slowly that McCook's corps only reached Pond Spring at dark, and bivouacked, resting on their arms during the night. Crittenden's corps reached its position on the Rossville road near midnight. Evidence accumulated during the day of the eighteenth that the enemy was moving to our left. Minty's cavalry and Wilder's mounted brigade encountered the enemy's cavalry at Reed's and Alexander's bridges, and toward evening were driven to the Rossville road. At the same time the enemy had been demonstrating for three miles up the Chickamauga. Heavy clouds of dust had been observed three or four miles beyond the Chickamauga, sweeping to the northeast. In view of all these facts the necessity became apparent that General Thomas must use all despatch in moving his corps to the position assigned it. He was therefore directed to proceed with all despatch, and General McCook to close up to Crawfish Springs as soon as Thomas's column was out of the way. Thomas pushed forward uninterruptedly during the night, and at daylight the head of his column had reached Kelly's house on the Lafayette road, where Baird's division was posted. Brannan followed and was posted on Baird's left, covering, the roads leading to Reed's and Alexander's bridges. At this point Colonel McCook, of General Granger's command, who had made a reconnoissance to the Chickamuga the evening before, and had burned Reed's bridge, met General Thomas and reported that an isolated brigade of the enemy was this side of the Chickamauga, and the bridge being destroyed, a rapid movement in that direction might result in the capture of the force thus isolated. General Thomas ordered Brannan with two brigades to reconnoitre in that direction and attack any small force he should meet. The advance brigade, supported by the rest of the division, soon encountered a strong body of the enemy, attacked it vigorously, and drove it back more than half a mile, where a very strong column of the enemy was found, with the evident intention of turning our left and gaining possession of the La Fayette road between us and Chattanooga. This vigorous movement disconcerted the plans of the enemy to move on our left, and opened the
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