and then the Nashville turnpike
; interposing between our army and its supply-trains, whenever they should have flanked our right and gained our rear.
According to Rosecrans
's plan, McCook
, however strongly assailed, was to hold his position for three hours, receding — if attacked in over-whelming force — very slowly, and fighting desperately; which he had undertaken to do. But there was a serious mistake in the calculation.
Before 7 A. M., Hardee
's corps burst from the thickets in McCook
's front and on his right; Cleburne
's four brigades charging vehemently its extreme right, Cheatham
's and McCown
's divisions striking it more directly in front, hurling back our skirmishers at once on our lines, and crumbling these into a fleeing mob within a few minutes.
Of the two brigade commanders in Johnson
's division, holding our extreme right, Gen. Kirk
was severely wounded at the first fire; while Gen. Willich
had his horse killed and was himself captured.
So sudden and unexpected was the attack, that a portion of our battery horses had been unhitched from the guns and sent off to drink, a few minutes before.
The guns, of course, were lost.
attempted to reform in the woods behind his first position; but his right was too thoroughly routed, and was chased rapidly back toward our center.
A large part of this (Johnson
's) division was gathered up as prisoners by the Rebel
cavalry; the rest was of little account during the remainder of the fight.
's remaining divisions, under Jeff. C. Davis
, had repulsed several resolute attacks on their front, when the disappearance of Johnson
's division enabled the Rebels
to come in on their flank, compelling them also to give ground; and, though repeated efforts were made by Davis
and his subordinates to bring their men again up to the work, their fighting did not amount to much thereafter.
's division fought longer and better; but of his brigade commanders, Gen. J. W. Sill
was killed early in the day, while leading a successful charge, and Cols. Roberts
at later periods — each falling dead at the head of his brigade, while charging or being charged.
This division fought well throughout; but was pushed back neatly or quite to the Nashville turnpike
, with tho loss of Houghtaling
's and a section of Bush
By 11 A. M., the day was apparently lost.
's corps — a full third of our army — was practically demolished, and the Rebel
cavalry in our rear working its wicked will upon our supply trains and stragglers.
Nearly half the ground held by our army at daylight had been won by the triumphant enemy, who had now several batteries in position, playing upon our center, where Negley
's division of Thomas
's corps was desperately engaged, with its ammunition nearly expended, its artillery horses disabled, and a heavy Rebel column pushing in between it and what was left of McCook
's corps, with intent to surround and capture it. This compelled Negley
to recoil ; when Gen. Rousseau
, pushing up his reserve division to the front, sent Maj. Ring
's battalion of regulars to Negley
The regulars made a most gallant and effective