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[246] mountain, and each of the three corps being during its movements completely isolated. To effect a concentration at Chattanooga by the Lookout Valley the left corps would have marched six miles, (or into Chattanooga;) the centre corps twenty miles, and the right corps forty miles; but the two former would have effected a junction in twenty-four hours instead of five days, as at Chickamauga, and the right corps, marching down the valley instead of over the mountains, might have accomplished its forty miles in two days instead of eight. The several corps, too, pending their march down Lookout Valley, would have been safe from attack in detail, for the reason that neither could be attacked over Lookout Mountain.



General Steedman's division.


Its operations on the Twentieth.

in the field, opposite Chattanooga, September 30, 1863.
Among the many divisions of the army of the Cumberland which acquitted themselves nobly in the battles of the nineteenth and twentieth, the First division of the reserve corps, commanded by Brigadier-General James B. Steedman, deserves some mention.

On the eighteenth the First brigade of the division, commanded by Brigadier-General W. C. Whittaker, was sent from Rossville to the Little Chickamauga, on the road to Ringgold. Here, after sundown, a brief skirmish was had with the enemy, in which neither party suffered any considerable loss.

On the afternoon of the nineteenth, the tide of battle, which had been running heavily on our right during the day, reached this brigade, and an engagement of some fierceness was had with the enemy. The position held by the brigade was on the extreme left of our lines, and the. key to Rosecrans's line of retreat. The position was much coveted by the enemy, and they made repeated assaults to obtain it, but were handsomely repulsed, and suffered quite severely, especially from our artillery.

During the night of the nineteenth, the Second brigade, commanded by Colonel J. M. Mitchell, of the One Hundred and Thirteenth Ohio, was sent to the aid of Whittaker; also, Colonel Dan McCook's brigade, of the Second division of the reserve, and the Twenty-second Michigan and Eighty-ninth Ohio, which two regiments were attached to Whittaker's command.

During the forenoon of the twentieth, these forces, under the command of General Steedman, held their position, at that point, in line of battle, awaiting a more formidable effort, which it was supposed the enemy would make to turn our left. But no assault was made, for the enemy had withdrawn his troops from that point, to mass them against Thomas.

While waiting there, pursuant to orders from General Rosecrans, the troops listened with anxious impatience to the heavy cannonading and sharp musketry which resounded along the line on the right, and which, approaching nearer and nearer, begat fearful suspicions that it was not Rose. crans, but the enemy, who were driving the opposing forces. Our suspense was broken, and our fears confirmed when, about noon, urgent orders were received to hasten to the relief of Thomas, who was in great danger.

The troops did not then know in how critical a condition the army of the Cumberland was compelled to meet, unassisted, the flower of three large armies which the rebels had assembled, intending to overwhelm it. They did not then know that, while they were hastening to turn the tide of battle, if possible, portions of Crittenden's and McCook's corps were retiring from the field. But they did know the time had come when the reserve must be tested, and the question determined whether or no it were worthy of its honorable position in the great army of the Cumberland.

Steedman's division, followed by McCook's brigade, was speedily put in motion, and the columns moved forward at a rapid pace, sometimes breaking into a double-quick. The sun shone hot, and the dust in the narrow road rose in dense, suffocating clouds; but all thought of heat and dust and fatigue was lost in the eager anxiety to relieve our brave comrades who were in peril. After thus marching some three miles, the head of the column reached a portion of the battle-field from which our forces had retired, and which the enemy occupied with his mounted infantry. Formed hastily in line of battle, Whittaker's brigade advanced upon them. They did not await our approach, but gave up the ground, retreating in a direction, which had we followed, would have diverted us from the main purpose. In passing over this portion of the field, the dead and dying of both armies were seen in considerable numbers, and some rebels, separated from their commands, were encountered on the right, and taken prisoners by the Ninety-sixth Illinois.

Soon a point was reached, directly opposite to, and about three fourths of a mile distant from General Thomas, and the whole division turned square to the right. Here they were formed into close columns by regiments, with division front; and, with a line of skirmishers thrown forward, and along the left flank, the division resumed its march. It was through an extensive stretch of meadow land, overgrown with weeds almost breast high, that our course lay. Heavy batteries of the enemy's artillery were posted in the woods on our left, and as we advanced through the meadow, to form a junction with Thomas, they opened upon us a fearful fire. But few troops in the division had ever seen more of war than is encountered in brisk skirmishing, and none had ever been under such a fire. But Whittaker, with his staff, and Colonel Mitchell and staff, rode steadily in front of their brigades, and their troops, although the shells and shot fell fast and thick around and among them, wavered not in their march, but kept right on, leaving many of their comrades dead and wounded on the field. At that moment, the spectacle, to one not inured to all the pageantry of war, was intensely grand. The brigade and


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