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[242] and burned the bridge at the Chickamauga River.

From Crawfish Springs it had been a race, both armies marching by the flank. The movement of Rosecrans's whole line on the night of the eighteenth, until the right rested where the left had been, was supposed to have put him again in front of the enemy, and for the present saved his line of operations. Of the several enterprises the enemy might undertake, the most probable was that he would concentrate as far to his right as possible, if he fought; for the Federal left was in a much weaker position than the right, and an attack here afforded the tempting prospect of securing Rosecrans's line. To allow the enemy to bring across the river a portion of his force to attack, and then, with the obstruction in their rear, preventing alike a good retreat and a prompt reenforcement, to fall violently upon and overwhelm them by striking on front and flank, was an operation of rich promise, but requiring great vigilance and correct judgment in determining the moment for assuming the offensive.

Of course it is not pretended that this plan was in view during the confused night march of the eighteenth, and the still more confused movements of the nineteenth.

Until late in the morning of the nineteenth, every thing was quiet on the rebel side. At length the brigade from General Thomas's left was sent forward to the ford mentioned as being in front of that point. This force encountered a rebel brigade, drove it from its position, and reached the river. Almost immediately, however, it was in turn attacked and driven back.

Whatever force the enemy may have crossed previous to this time, he now maintained the fight much in advance of the river, and brought his forces into action so rapidly that all attempts to drive him back upon the river were futile, and no advantage of ground lay with either side. Thomas's left divisions (Brannan's, Baird's, and Johnson's) were found insufficient to force the enemy, and Crittenden's left division (Palmer's) was ordered to the ground to strike the enemy's left flank. Palmer went to the left of Thomas's right division, (Reynolds's — not then engaged,) but came full in the face of the enemy, not on his flank. Soon after Reynolds became engaged, but still the Federal right did not outflank the abundant foe. Van Cleve, commanding Crittenden's next division, was sent in, and his leading brigade (Beatty's) formed within half musketshot of a rebel force preparing to flank the Federal right, ran over and captured, almost without fighting, a rebel battery, but was immediately hurled violently back. The last division at hand (Wood's, of Crittenden's corps, which formed the right of the line) was then thrown in to find the flank of that rebel line which had grown so alarmingly that it now covered the whole front of the Federal army. The fine position at the Mills, the cover of the right flank, was abandoned by this movement, but subsequently temporarily reoccupied by one of McCook's brigades, (Lytle's.) Wood sent in his brigades as ordered, but almost upon the ground where they went into line, they were nearly enveloped on the instant by the swarming enemy, and could of course accomplish nothing. It was even necessary to send to this point, as they came up, McCook's two divisions, Davis's and Sheridan's. This force sufficed to hold the ground only, and the attempt to strike the enemy's left flank was of course at an end — the whole Federal force being now engaged with his front. The enemy had made his battle, suffering nothing from the disadvantage of having to cross the river almost within rifle-shot of the Federal lines, had maintained a superiority in force, and fought upon equal ground. Late in the afternoon, coming heavily upon Reynolds and Van Cleve, he drove them furiously back, and penetrated the line. Palmer's brigades, attempting to assist Reynolds, were sent back with him. Nearly the whole force was in confusion, and the enemy bearing strongly down upop the broken flank to his right, had like to have swept in reverse the entire Federal line left of the break, when twenty pieces of artillery, hastily posted by General Hazen, and rapidly served with canister, brought him to a stand, and he withdrew from the interval. After dusk an energetic attack, maintained with some promise of persistency, upon Johnson's division, but successfully resisted, closed the battle for the day. Had the enemy, after penetrating Reynolds's line, followed with proper force the movement stopped by the artillery, he would have had probably little to do on the twentieth, to make his victory decisive.

There had been gallant fighting on both sides, and both had suffered severely. Little artillery had been lost, but the Federals had made the gain, three guns. What advantage generally had been gained, however, was with the rebels. They had successfully overcome the obstacle of the river in their front on Sunday morning forcing the Federal line from it at every point, until it lay in a country almost destitute of water. Not enough could be had for the men's coffee, and what was obtained was from springs several miles distant. During the day Negley's division had been withdrawn from Owen's Ford, and in the afternoon Lytle's brigade, which had reoccupied Gordon's Mills after Wood was withdrawn, was recalled, so that the whole army was in the line. There was, indeed, little need of detachments now, for there was left nothing south of Rossville to hold, except the plain country, which the enemy shared. The force and position of both armies had, it was safe to assume, been well developed, and with this knowledge the night was before the hostile commanders for tactical dispositions, if it was decided to fight on the morrow. On the Federal side there was less reason for retreat than in the morning; all uncertainty as to the rebel position had vanished, and it only remained to look to his movements during the night. Gordon's Mills having been abandoned, there was but one great strategic point to claim attention — the pass at Rossville, on the Chattanooga road. With this in possession

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