Looking at the matter practically, we and our opposing forces are so widely separated, that for Bragg to materially aid Johnston he must abandon our front substantially, and then we can move to our ultimate work with more rapidity and less waste of material on natural obstacles. If Grant is defeated, both forces will come here, and then we ought to be near our base. The same maxim that forbids, as you take it, a single army fighting two great battles at the same time — by the way a very awkward thing to do — would forbid this nation's engaging all its forces in the great West at the same time, so as to leave it without a single reserve to stem the current of possible disaster. This is, I think, sustained by high military and political considerations. We ought to fight here if we have a stronger prospect of winning a decisive battle over the opposing force, and upon this ground I shall act. I shall be careful not to risk our last reserve without strong ground to expect success.
When General Rosecrans finally determined to advance, he was permitted to select, without restriction, his own line of operations by which to reach Chattanooga, only being directed to connect his left, so far as practicable, with the army of General Burnside, and to report daily by telegraph his movements till he crossed the Tennessee River. General Burnside was also ordered to connect his right, as much as possible, with General Rosecrans's left, so that if the enemy should concentrate upon either army, the other could move to its assistance. General Rosecrans, on the twenty-fifth of June, commenced a forward movement upon the enemy, well intrenched at Tullahoma, covered in front by the defiles of Duck River, a deep, narrow stream, with few fords or bridges, and a rough, rocky range of hills, which divides the “barrens” from the lower level of Middle Tennessee. Bragg's main force occupied a strong position north of Duck River, from Shelbyville, which was fortified to Wartrace, all the gaps on the roads leading thereto being held in force. General Rosecrans determined to render useless their intrenchments, by turning on their right and moving on their communications at the railroad bridge on Elk River, thus compelling a battle on our own ground, or driving them on a disadvantageous line of retreat. By admirable combined movements he deceived the enemy by a threatened advance in force on their left at Shelbyville, while the mass of his army in reality, seized Hoover's, Liberty, and the other gaps, by hand-fighting, and moved on Manchester, thus turning the right of the enemy's defences of Duck River, and directly threatening Bragg, who was compelled to fall back to Tullahoma, hotly pursued by Granger, who had brilliantly carried Shelbyville. Dispositions were immediately made to turn Tullahoma and fall upon the enemy's rear, but Bragg abandoned to us his intrenched camp, and rapidly fell back toward Bridgeport, Alabama, pursued as far as practicable by our forces. In the words of General Rosecrans's official report: ”Thus ended a nine days campaign, which drove the enemy from two fortified positions, and gave us possession of Middle Tennessee. Conducted in one of the most extraordinary rains ever known in Tennessee at that period of the year, over a soil that became almost a quicksand, our operations were retarded thirty-six hours at Hoover's Gap, and sixty hours at and in front of Winchester, which alone prevented us from getting possession of his communications, and forcing the enemy to a very disastrous battle. These results were far more successful than was anticipated, and could only have been obtained by a surprise as to the direction and force of our movements. Our losses in these operations were eighty-five killed, four hundred and sixty-two wounded, and thirteen missing, making in all five hundred and eighty. The killed and wounded of the enemy is unknown, but we took one thousand six hundred and thirty-four prisoners, of which fifty-nine were commissioned officers. We captured, besides, six pieces of artillery, many small arms, considerable camp equipage, and large quantities of commissary and quartermaster's stores. After the expulsion of his rebel army from Middle Tennessee, Bragg retreated across the Cumberland Mountains and Tennessee River upon Chattanooga, which he fortified, and threw up defensive works at the crossings of the river as far up as Blythe's Ferry. Having put the railroad to Stevenson in condition to forward supplies, Rosecrans on the sixteenth of August commenced his advance across the Cumberland Mountains, Chattanooga and its covering ridges on the south-east being his objective point. To command and avail himself of the most important passes, the front of his movement extended from the head of Sequatchie Valley, in East-Tennessee, to Athens, Alabama, thus threatening the line of the Tennessee River from Whitesburgh to Blythe's Ferry, a distance of one hundred and fifty miles. The Tennessee River was reached on the twentieth of August, and Chattanooga shelled from the north.bank on the twenty-first. Pontoon boat, raft, and trestle bridges were rapidly prepared at Caperton's Ferry, Bridgeport, mouth of Battle Creek, and Shellmount, and the army, except cavalry, safely crossed the Tennessee in face of the enemy. By the eighth of September, Thomas had moved on Trenton, seizing Frick's and Stevens's Gaps, on the Lookout Mountain. McCook had advanced to Valley Head, and taken Winston's Gap, while Crittenden had crossed to Wauhatchie, communicating on the right with Thomas, and threatened Chattanooga by the pass over the point of Lookout Mountain. The first mountain barrier south of the Tennessee being successfully passed, General Rosecrans decided to threaten the enemy's communication