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[444] ridge, facing the enemy, who was now moving a strong force immediately on his left flank. By a decided stand here, the enemy was entirely checked, and that portion of our force to the right remained intact. All to the left, however, except a portion of Bate's division, was entirely routed, and in rapid flight; nearly all the artillery having been shamefully abandoned by its infantry support. Every effort which could be made by myself and staff, and by many other mounted officers, availed but little. A panic, which I had never before witnessed, seemed to have seized upon officers and men, and each seemed to be struggling for his personal safety, regardless of his duty or his character. In this distressing and alarming state of affairs, Gen. Bate was ordered to hold his position, covering the road for the retreat of Breckinridge's command; and orders were immediately sent to Gens. Hardee and Breckinridge to retire their forces upon the depot at Chickamauga. Fortunately, it was now near nightfall, and the country and roads in our rear were fully known to us, but equally unknown to the enemy. The routed left made its way back in great disorder, effectually covered, however, by Bate's small command, which had a sharp conflict with the enemy's advance, driving it back. After night, all being quiet, Bate retired in good order, the enemy attempting no pursuit. Lt.-Gen. Hardee's command, under his judicious management, retired in good order and unmolested.

As soon as all the troops had crossed, the bridges over the Chickamauga were destroyed, to impede the enemy, though the stream was fordable in several places.

No satisfactory excuse can possibly be given for the shameful conduct of our troops on the left, in allowing their line to be penetrated. The position was one which ought to have been held by a line of skirmishers against any assaulting column; and, wherever resistance was made, the enemy fled in disorder, after suffering heavy loss. Those who reached the ridge, did so in a condition of exhaustion from tile great physical exertion in climbing, which rendered them powerless; and the slightest effort would have destroyed them.

Having secured much of our artillery, they soon availed themselves of our panic, and, turning our guns upon us, enfiladed our lines, both right and left, rendering them entirely untenable. Had all parts of the line been maintained with equal gallantry and persistence, no enemy could ever have dislodged us; and but one possible reason presents itself to my mind in explanation of this bad conduct in veteran troops, who had never before failed in any duty assigned them, however difficult and hazardous. They had for two days confronted the enemy, marshaling his immense forces in plain view, and exhibiting to their sight such a superiority in numbers, as may have intimidated weak minds and untried soldiers. But our veterans had so often encountered similar hosts, when the strength of position was against us, and with perfect success, that not a doubt crossed my mind. As yet, I am not fully informed as to the commands which first fled and brought this great disaster and disgrace upon our arms. Investigation will bring out the truth, however; and full justice shall be done to the good and the bad.

After arriving at Chickamauga, and informing myself of the full condition of affairs, it was decided to put the army in motion for a point farther removed from a powerful and victorious army, that we might have some little time to replenish and recuperate for another struggle. The enemy made pursuit as far as Ringgold; but was so handsomely checked by Maj.-Gen. Cleburne and Brig.-Gen. Gist, in command of their respective divisions, that he gave us but little annoyance.

Our losses are not yet ascertained; but in killed and wounded it is known to have been very small. In prisoners and stragglers, I fear it is much larger.

The chief of artillery reports the loss of forty (40) pieces.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Braxton Bragg, General Commanding.

He is not usually accounted a good workman who disparages his tools; and the soldiers thus discredited by Bragg were mainly those who fought so bravely, skillfully, tenaciously, successfully, at the Chickamauga, barely two moths before. They were probably reduced by the casualties of that bloody contest, by Longstreet's withdrawal, and otherwise, to 40,000; while Grant must have had here not less than 70,000, nearly all of whom were brought into action. This disparity of numbers, together with the fact that the movements on our side appear to have been judiciously planned, skillfully combined, and virgorously made, explain the result more naturally than does Bragg's assertion,

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