Lookout Mountain Valley, and then followed down the valley northward to the junction of the two railways. As I moved down the valley the enemy's signal stations on the crest of Lookout Mountain were in full and perfect view, evidently watching my advance, and rapidly communicating the result of their observations to the rear. At the junction of the railway my command was about two to two and a half miles from the enemy's advanced works; but the outposts and pickets were much nearer each other, in fact, in hearing distance. As I was well aware that the enemy had been able to learn from his signal stations with very close approximate correctness the strength of my command, and hence would be most likely disposed to take advantage of my inferiority of force and attempt to crush me by a sudden blow, I immediately made the best possible disposition to foil him in such an attempt. In making these dispositions I soon became convinced of the utter untenableness of the position at the junction of the railway for an inferior force to receive an attack from a superior one. The position is entirely open, capable of being assailed simultaneously in front, on both flanks, and in rear. I was well satisfied I was in the immediate proximity of a very large force of the enemy, (which could be still further swelled in a very short time.) This information I had gained satisfactorily during my advance; and it was strengthened and corroborated during the afternoon and evening of the sixth. At two o'clock P. M. I communicated to the Corps commander my position seven miles from Chattanooga, (being at the junction of the railway,) informed him of my immediate proximity to the enemy, and attempted to describe briefly the objects which debarred my farther progress to Chattanooga. At four P. M. I communicated to him the result of further observations, and some facts omitted in my note of two P. M. In my note of two P. M. I suggested that he should move part of the force immediately with him, to cover my rear from a reverse attack. This he declined to do, on the ground of a want of authority, and indicated that in case I should be attacked by a superior force I would have to fall back on him, also indicating that if I should have to retreat, I had better do so by the Trenton road. I had already opened communication with him by that road. Not intending to retreat except as a matter of direct necessity and last extremity, and as the evidence continued to increase during the evening that I would be attacked in heavy force early next morning, I determined to shift my command a mile and a half to the rear, to a very strong and highly defensible position, in which I was satisfied I could maintain myself against almost any odds for a long time, and if finally overpowered, could draw off my command to the rear. From this position I could maintain my communication by the Trenton road with the force immediately with the Corps commander. The movement was commenced at ten o'clock P. M., the sixth, and made with perfect success, though my pickets were at the time in hearing of the enemy's pickets. My command was thus safely extricated from immediate imminent danger. I learned satisfactorily, during the afternoon of the sixth, that the spur of Lookout Mountain was held by Chatham's division, supported immediately in rear of Hindman's (late Withers's) division, being the whole of Lieutenant-General Polk's Corps. My two small brigades confronted this force. About eight A. M. in the morning of the seventh, I received a copy of a communication addressed by the commanding General to the Corps commander, saying that he thought it would be safe (judging from some indications he had obtained of the movements of the enemy) to threaten the enemy on the spur of Lookout Mountain with a part of my force. This communication the corps commander appears to have construed into an order to make a reconnoissance in force, and accordingly ordered that I should make such a reconnoissance without loss of time. I accordingly commenced at once to make my preparations for making the reconnoissance, and actually made it at the earliest possible moment compatible with the safety of the command and the assurance of the success of the reconnoissance itself. As the results of the reconnoissance have hitherto been reported, I will not now recapitulate them. After taking the necessary precautions for insuring the safety, as far as possible, of the command to be engaged in the reconnoissance, and the assurance of the success of the reconnoissance, I committed the conduct of it to that gallant and accomplished officer, Colonel Harker, commanding the Third brigade of my division. I instructed him to proceed with the utmost circumspection, but to force his command as near to the enemy's position as he might deem prudent. This point I was of course compelled to submit to his judgment. It affords me the greatest satisfaction to record, in a permanent, official manner, that Colonel Harker conducted the reconnoissance in exact conformity with my wishes and instructions. Securing well his flanks and rear from being assailed without timely notice, he drove his solid line to within some thousand yards of the enemy's batteries, (and his line of skirmishers to within some six hundred yards,) when twelve guns opened on him, and then drew off his command, with the loss of but one man. I know no parallel in military history to this reconnoissance. My command being much jaded and worn by the labors of the several preceding days, I allowed it to rest during the eighth. But I was on the alert to gain information of the movements and designs of the enemy. Near nightfall I obtained some information which led me to suspect the enemy was evacuating Chattanooga, but the individuals who gave it were by no means positive. With a view to verifying this information, I addressed a note to the Corps commander, informing him that I had observed some mysterious indications on the part of the enemy, of which I proposed to compel a development by a reconnoissance in force early next morning. During the night I received a reply to my note, saying the Corps commander could not approve the making the reconnoissance on account of some indications of a general movement of the army, but that he would refer my note to the commanding
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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