courage and heroic intrepidity of our officers and soldiers.
, in his official report, tersely and sensibly says:
The darkness of the night, and the density of the forest, rendered further movements uncertain and dangerous; and the army bivouacked on the ground it had so gallantly won.
This is enough for those who consider that human endurance has limits, and that men who have been marching their hardest and fighting their very best for two or three days, with scarcely a pause, need rest.
But it is not so clear that he should not have followed up his advantage next day, by an attack in force on Thomas
and so much of our army as still confronted him around Rossville
, barring his way to Chattanooga
could not have had over 25,000 men left; Bragg
must have had thousands more, flushed with victory, and in good part confident of their ability to improve it by routing what remained of our army and chasing it into and through Chattanooga
says that Forrest
climbed a tree, just as the fighting closed; and, seeing our army in full retreat, urged a general advance; and that Longstreet
to interpose his cavalry between Rossville
; but Bragg
countermanded the order.
The fact officially stated by him, that he had lost two-fifths
of his army in the terrible struggle thus terminated, suffices to justify his moving cautiously and surely.
Our losses on the Chickamauga
were officially stated as follows:
|Infantry and artillery||1,6441||9,2622||4,945||15,851|
|Cavalry, in various combats and skirmishes||500|
Total 16,351; which it is perfectly safe to increase, by stragglers and imperfect reports, to 20,000 from the hour of crossing the Tennessee
till our army was concentrated in front of Chattanooga
claims to have captured and brought off 2,003 prisoners, and admits a loss of 7,500, including 2,500 of his wounded; also 36 guns, 20 caissons, and 8,450 small arms.
admits a total loss on his part of 18,000 men,3
of whom 16,000 must have been killed and wounded; and claims to have captured over 8,000 prisoners (including wounded), 51 guns, and 15,000 small-arms.
These statements are not necessarily incompatible.
All the arms dropped by killed, wounded, or flying soldiers — no matter of which army — were of course gathered up by those who held the field, and counted among their spoils; and, while the victor counts all the guns he has taken, his worsted foe subtracts his captures from his losses, and returns only the net loss.
And, as our men fought mainly on the defensive, often on ridges or behind rude breastworks, and lost very few in their retreat, it is probable that our killed and wounded were the fewer, as these antagonist reports would indicate.