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[239] the enemy in possession of a portion of the heights, the men hastily concluded that the day was gone, and that they had best save themselves.

Just at this time the alarm was increased by an artillery battery, which rushed down the hill to the river for a fresh supply of ammunition; the men, however, supposed they were flying from the field, and that all was lost. Nearly the whole left wing eventually became involved and gave way, a portion of it retiring under orders, but the greater part in unmitigated rout.

General Bragg did all he could to rally the fugitives and re-form the broken line. He exposed himself in the most unguarded manner, and at one time it looked as if he certainly would be killed. His staff-officers were also conspicuous in their efforts to restore our line. They and their chief were the last to leave the ridge.

The day was lost. Hardee still maintained his ground; but no success of the right wing could restore the left to its original position. All men — even the bravest — are subject to error and confusion; but to-day, some of the confederates did not fight with their accustomed courage. Possibly the contrast between the heavy masses of the Federals, as they rolled across the valley and up the mountain ridge, and their own long and attenuated line, was not of a character to encourage them.

Our casualties are small — very small — too small, indeed, to be recorded along with so complete and humiliating a defeat. Included among our losses are some of our best guns — perhaps as many as thirty or forty. The infantry supports, in some instances, fled so precipitately that there was no time left to remove the guns. There were but few roads down the mountain by which they could retreat, and this occasioned further loss. All the artillery behaved well. The men in Cobb's battery stood their ground after their supports had fled, and though they lost their guns, they fought them to the last; and when they could use them no longer, on account of the steepness of the descent, they hurled hand-grenades at the foe as he crawled up the mountain beneath the muzzles of the guns.

The enemy's loss must have exceeded ours ten to one. Our dead and some of the wounded were left on the field.

But it is late and bitter cold, and I must close. We cross the Chickamauga to-night, and then proceed to Dalton. I write under the greatest possible disadvantages.


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