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[230] assault upon Lookout Mountain, which was to come off to-day.

Sherman was up. Pontoon-boats, one hundred and ten in number, had been safely lodged in the North-Chickamauga; twenty more were concealed in a ravine near Caldwell's Ford, just below the mouth of the South-Chickamauga; numerous wagon-loads of lumber for bridging were in the same vicinity. The Fifteenth army corps, Major-General Frank Blair commanding, was well massed behind the hills; the division of Jeff. C. Davis, of the Fourteenth corps, was prepared to support it, and all things were in readiness for crossing the river.

It was two o'clock on the morning of the twenty-fourth of November, when the fleet of boats carrying a brigade of Morgan L. Smith's division, pushed carefully out of the Chickamauga, and dropped quietly down the Tennessee. So perfectly was the thing managed, so exquisite were the arrangements for silence and secrecy, that even our own pickets along the bank of the river did not know when the boats passed. Before daylight they had reached their destination; and the soldiers, jumping on shore, formed as soon as possible, and, advancing rapidly, captured the rebel pickets, who were sleeping unconsciously by their fires.

No sooner was this accomplished, than our boys, who had landed, fell to intrenching themselves with the industry of beavers, while the boats began to take over other troops, and workmen carried vigorously forward the building of the pontoon-bridge.

Just after daylight, I was over to the left of our line, upon the north side of the river, to witness the crossing. As I passed along the river, behind Stringer's Ridge, I saw that the tents of Sherman's men were nearly all deserted, only a few invalids, sutlers' clerks, and teamsters being left in the camps. Passing on, I finally came to a point where, from the road descending the ridge, you can catch a glimpse of some open ground in the vicinity of Caldwell's Ford. Here a spectacle of surpassing beauty met my eyes.

Two score of boats were plying back and forth across the somewhat swollen river, each one carrying, from the northern to the southern shore, from a dozen to twenty soldiers. The splendid pontoon-bridge already stretched halfway across, and the pioneers were just commencing work upon its southern end. Fifty-six pieces of artillery, some brass and glittering, some iron and sombre, were ranged along the shore and upon the sides of the hills, to protect the crossing; while ten thousand soldiers, constituting a splendid army, with music, banners, horses, and equipments, were massed upon the level ground by the river, ready and anxious to go over. While I was gazing at those already there, the fine brigade commanded by General John Beatty marched in column across the ridge, and entered the plain below. About the same time, Colonel Daniel McCook's and General Morgan's brigades could be seen advancing to the rendezvous down the river, from the Chickamauga, near which they had been stationed, to protect the pontoon fleet while it lay in that creek. The whole scene was calculated to impress the beholder with a sense of beauty and power, and make him feel that, this time at least, the Union army would be irresistible. General Sherman himself superintended the landing, as he did all the subsequent operations of his troops.

A quarter of a mile down the river from Caldwell's Ford, rises a high hill, the highest in that vicinity; and on the summit of this, was one of our signal-stations. By a series of tacks, now this way, now that, I urged my horse half-way up, fastened him there, and climbed on foot to the top. All the region around Chattanooga was visible from this eminence, and looking from it, one might get some idea of the immensity, the grandeur, the complication, and, at the same time, the simplicity, of the operations going on below. Those operations had for their theatre the whole country, from Wauhatchie, in Lookout valley, to the mouth of the North-Chickamauga, a distance of twelve miles! And one mastermind, with subordinates at once able and intelligent, was overseeing and directing the whole.

While I was on this hill, it began to rain gently; a thick mist overspread Lookout, rolled in immense columns up the river. and gradually filled the entire basin of Chattanooga. The last object upon which my sight rested was Sherman's men still advancing toward the north end of Mission Ridge, without interruption, and extending their lines gradually to the right, until at last they came into communication with the left wing of General Howard's corps. The last sounds I heard were the crash of musketry and thunder of artillery in the direction of Lookout Mountain, which told that General Hooker had assailed the position from which the enemy had so long insolently menaced our army. As I descended the hill, I could scarcely repress an emotion of terror as the sound of battle toward the right became more and more awful and continuous, until it seemed as if some tremendous torrent had sapped the foundations of Lookout, and the mountain itself was crumbling into ruin. Our soldiers were storming Lookout.

Let me trace the facts connected with Hooker's great exploit, as briefly and succinctly as possible.

When General Hooker, with Howard's corps, Osterhaus's division, and a part of Hugh Ewing's, crossed the river by the pontoon-bridges opposite Chattanooga, on Sunday evening, it was in pursuance of the bold design to mass his forces upon our right, carry the rebel line of rifle-pits between Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge, sever the enemy on Lookout Mountain from all support, and then, advancing boldly up one side of the mountain, while Geary scaled the other, plant the Stars and Stripes triumphantly upon its summit.

General Howard's corps was sent to our left, as I have described.

It was half-past 7 in the morning when Geary's division, (part of the Twelfth corps,)

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