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[411] timed that but four or five days were employed in their execution, despite the ruggedness of the country — the Sequatchie valley cleaving tile heart of the Cumberland mountains for 50 miles, and of course doubling the labor of crossing them — and Chattanooga was wakened1 by shells thrown across the river from the eminences north of it by Wilder's mounted brigade, simultaneously with Van Cleve's division emerging from the mountains at Poe's crossing, considerably to our left; while Thomas's corp and part of McCook's prepared to pass the Tennessee at several points below.

The Tennessee is here a very considerable river, with its sources 200 miles distant, while the mountains that closely imprison it increase the difficulties of approach and passage. But some pontoons were at hand; while other material was quietly collected at points concealed from hostile observation ; and a few days sufficed for the construction of bridges by Sheridan at Bridgeport, Reynolds at Shell Mound, some 10 or 15 miles above, and by McCook at Caperton's ferry, opposite Stevenson, below; while Gen. Brannan prepared to cross on rafts at Battle creek, between Bridgeport and Shell Mound. The passage was commenced2 by McCook, and completed3 at all points within ten days: the several corps pushing; forward, across high, steep mountains to concentrate at Trenton, Georgia, in the valley of Lookout creek, which runs north-easterly into the Tennessee just below Chattanooga.

But it was not the plan to approach that stronghold in force down this narrow valley, but only with a brigade of Crittenden's corps, which should climb thence, by a path known as the Nickajack trace, the lofty ridge known as Lookout mountain, looking down, from a fashionable resort known as Summertown, into the streets of Chattanooga; while Thomas, with his corps, supported by McCook, should push boldly forward, through Frick's or Stevens's gap, across Mission ridge, into the far broader valley known as McLamore's cove, which is; traversed by the Chickamauga creek to the Tennessee just above Chattanooga.

Bragg was in a quandary. Chattanooga was strong, and he could hold it against an assault by Rosecrans's larger army; but what use in this, and how long could he defy starvation, if that army, having crossed the river below him, should cut his communications and establish itself across the railroad in his rear? To abandon Chattanooga was to provoke clamor; but to divide his forces, or allow them to be cooped up here, was to court destruction. He did what Johnston tried, when too late, to have done with regard to Vicksburg — he relinquished Chattanooga and saved his army ; retiring4 southward into Georgia, and posting his divisions along the highway from Gordon's mill to Lafayette, facing Pigeon mountain, through whose passes our army was expected to emerge from McLamore's cove.

Rosecrans was evidently misled — though he does not fairly admit it — into believing the enemy absorbingly intent on escaping to Rome. Crittenden, having taken5 peaceful possession of Chattanooga, was directed

1 Aug. 21.

2 Aug. 29.

3 Sept. 8.

4 Sept. 7-8.

5 Sept. 9.

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