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Bragg, had won an unmistakable victory; yet all its fruits were reaped on the battle-field. When he advanced in force,1 and appeared before Chattanooga, not even the fiercest fire-eater in his camp was anxious to storm those intrenchments, behind which Rosecrans stood ready to repeat the fearful lesson he gave Price and Van Dorn, at Corinth. The victor had the field and the dead (hundreds of whom he inhumanly left to rot unburied) ; but his defeated antagonist had secured the great strategic object of his campaign,2 and was abundantly able to retain and defend it.

Chattanooga being unattainable, Bragg was urged to anticipate a gigantic, fatal folly in moving by his left across the Tennessee and advancing on Nashville. He answered, like a soldier and man of sense, that half his army consisted of reenforcements that had joined him just before the recent struggle, without a wagon or an artillery-horse, and that a third of the artillery horses he had were lost on the field. Then, a formidable river was to be crossed, without pontoons, at a season when any day might see it swelled, amid those steep mountains, out of all possibility of fording. He might have added that, with a great army on his flank, and in a country where — its railroads being destroyed — the difficulties of an offensive were at best appalling, to have attempted such a movement would have insured his ruin; and rashness was not his weak point.

Bragg could not carry the coveted stronghold by storm ; he could not flank it; but he might starve our army out of it. Holding the left bank of the Tennessee for miles below, he commanded not only the railroads connecting that city with the North and West, and with Middle Tennessee, but the navigation of the river, with the roads crowded against its banks by the steep mountains which on both sides overshadow it. East Tennessee affording insufficient forage and little or no food, our supplies must, for the present, be wagoned across the countless mountain ridges separating it from Middle Tennessee, traversed only by roads of inconceivable badness; and, for a time, our troops were on short allowance, while many thousands of our horses were starved, or worked to death in wagoning over supplies.

Gen. Rosecrans, while thus cooped up in Chattanooga, received3 an unheralded order relieving him from command, which he at once obeyed; leaving for the North next day — just a year having elapsed since he left Corinth — the theater of his then recent victory — to find himself assigned to command this department.

Deeming it best for the service that he should depart before it was known to the soldiers that he was superseded, he bade adieu to his comrades in the following order:

1 Wednesday, Sept. 23.

2 Pollard very fairly says:

Chickamauga had conferred a brilliant glory upon our arms, but little else. Rosecrans still held the prize of Chattanooga, and with it the possession of East Tennessee. Two-thirds of our niter-beds were in that region, and a large proportion of the coal which supplied our founderies. It abounded in the necessaries of life. It was one of the strongest countries in the world, so full of lofty mountains. that it had been called, not unaptly, the Switzerland of America. As the possession of Switzerland opened the door to the invasion of Italy, Germany, and France, so the possession of East Tennessee gave easy access to Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.

3 Oct. 19.

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