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[415] Longstreet himself did not come up till next morning.1

Our army, now concentrated, was about 55,000 strong--seven divisions, under Wood, Van Cleve, Palmer, J. J. Reynolds, Johnson (R. W.), Baird, and Brannan, forming our main line — perhaps 30,000 strong, ranging from right to left from Gordon's mill northward; the residue posted on the right and in reserve, as has already been stated. Bragg's general plan of battle was the same as at Stone river, save that he now attempted to turn and crush our left as he then did our right. The Virginians, under B. Johnson, were on his extreme right, already across the creek, and were to flank and turn our left; while Walker was to cross at Alexander's (burned) bridge, just above, supported by Buckner (recently arrived with eight brigades from East Tennessee) ; the whole advancing, upon and crushing our left by a left-wheel movement, while Polk was to press our front at Gordon's mill, fighting his way straight across, if possible; if not, then to veer to the right and cross at Tedford's or Dalton's ford, lower down ; while Hill (D. H.) should cover his left flank, and assail in flank any force that should attempt to move down from the isolated divisions on our right to the support of our front and left. Wheeler's cavalry was assigned the easy task of holding the gaps in Pigeon mountain, covering the Rebel left and rear, and gathering up all stragglers from the front. From favorable points on Pigeon mountain, Bragg's scouts — in fact, whole brigades of his men — had looked down on our army as it moved generally northward in the act of concentration, noting its positions and the strength of each corps and division — theirs being all the time concealed from us. The advantage thus secured was a very great one, and explains, otherwise than by superior generalship, the fact that their troops were so disposed for and handled in action as to be more effective in proportion to their numbers than ours were. And thus, when night fell,2 two-thirds of Bragg's army was across the creek, holding firmly all the fords they cared for, save those directly at Gordon's mill, and had inflicted quite as much damage as they had suffered. True, the stream was often, if not generally, fordable; but its banks were in good part steep and rocky ; so that, had they been skilfully defended and firmly held, they could not have been carried without heavy loss.

Polk was in chief command on the Rebel right, as was Hood on the left; and the former was proceeding3 to execute Bragg's order aforesaid for a general flanking movement; but Thomas, who held our left, confronting him, chose to strike first. He had only reached at daylight that morning the new position assigned him by Rosecrans, facing Reid's and Alexander's bridges or fords, when Col. Dan. McCook, commanding a brigade of the reserve corps, reported that he had been holding the front here during the night, and had discovered a Rebel brigade this side of the Chickamauga, apparently isolated, and which he thought might be cut off, as he (McCook) had destroyed Reid's bridge directly behind it. Hereupon, Thomas ordered Brannan

1 Sept. 19.

2 Friday, Sept. 18.

3 Sept. 19.

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