day's delay in the concentration of the army, instead of attempting to come down on the east side of Lookout. The movement of the army from the Tennessee River seems to have proceeded upon the supposition that the enemy was unable to make a stand against a single corps, and without a suspicion that he was only retiring to meet his reenforcements, as proved to be the case. It was a matter of remark at the time, that the abundant supplies left at various points, and the neglect to destroy bridges or obstruct roads, indicated the enemy's confidence in his ability to repossess the country quickly. When the battle commenced on Saturday, the nineteenth, there was probably no great disparity of numbers in the two armies. But one of Longstreet's divisions (Hood's) was present, and but three brigades of that. Statements of prisoners, and previous information of the rebel organization, fail to give more than thirty-four brigades; and this, at the fair allowance of one thousand five hundred to a brigade, would make the rebel strength between fifty thousand and fifty-five thousand, exclusive of cavalry. General Rosecrans had very nearly the same number of men in his army. This, it will be remembered, is the estimate for the Saturday's battle; the enemy had reenforcements on the march, including the Georgia militia, some part of Longstreet's corps, and others, which arrived before the close of Sunday's fight. Rosecrans got into that fight only the two brigades of Steedman's division, in addition to what he had on Saturday. Probably it will be found necessary to look farther than the assertion of “overwhelming numbers,” for an explanation of the disaster to the Union arms. At all events, it is certain that seven divisions, after losing heavily on Saturday, were able, with all the disadvantages of a divided line and open position, and after the disastrous retreat of four divisions, with the loss of twenty pieces of artillery, ammunition, etc., to hold the battle-ground against the entire Southern army during Sunday afternoon, and then at night retreat, not at all as if they felt themselves whipped by the enemy. To indicate, in this connection, the spirit of the rebels, it may be stated that in an attempt to feel the Federal position on Missionary Ridge, on the afternoon of the twenty-first, although they vigorously engaged and drove back the skirmishers, they could not be made to follow far enough to discover the Federal line, despite the liberal curses of their officers within hearing of the Federals. Finally, credit for saving the army from the most disastrous defeat, if not practical annihilation, is due to no corps alone, not to any General exclusively; but more than to any other cause to the sturdy fighting qualities of the army, which, properly controlled, was able to have whipped “the whole Southern Confederacy,” if (as has been asserted) that was the force in front of it on September nineteenth and twentieth, 1863. Since the battle, the General commanding the army, two corps commanders, McCook and Crittenden, and two division commanders, Negley and Van Cleve, have been relieved from their commands.
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.