General. Confidently believing the commanding General would approve my proposition to make the reconnoissance, I held my command in readiness for the movement. In the mean time General Wagner, having with him the Second brigade of my division, had received information on the northern side of the river that the enemy was evacuating Chattanooga. The information having been communicated to the commanding General of the army, an order was despatched to me to move my command to Chattanooga, prepared for a vigorous pursuit of the enemy. This agreeable order was joyfully obeyed, and in a very few minutes my command was in rapid motion. Between my late camp in Lookout Mountain Valley and the spur of the mountain my command was overtaken by the Ninety-second Illinois mounted infantry, commanded by Colonel Adkins, who informed me he had been ordered to press forward to Chattanooga with all haste, to secure any property the enemy might have left behind, and to discover something of his lines of retreat. I allowed his regiment to pass my command; but on the spur of the mountain I overtook the regiment, halted, when the Colonel informed me that the enemy's skirmishers outflanked his, and his further progress was debarred. I immediately threw forward the Twenty-sixth Ohio, Lieutenant-Colonel Young commanding, to the right and higher up the mountain side than the skirmishers of Colonel Adkins extended, and rapidly drove the enemy's skirmishers from the mountain side. No further opposition was encountered in occupying Chattanooga, and the Ninety-second Illinois pushed rapidly into the town, followed by my First and Third brigades. The Second brigade crossed from the north side of the river during the afternoon and evening of the ninth. The colors of the Ninety-seventh Ohio, of the Second brigade of my division, were the first planted on the works of Chattanooga, having been brought across the river by a few men in a small boat early in the morning. Thus was this great strategic position, the long-sought goal, gained to us, and occupied by our troops! Placing myself as soon as possible after the occupation in communication with most intelligent and reliable citizens, I learned that a portion of the enemy's troops had retreated by the Cove road, and that the remainder, with the baggage and the material of war, had retreated by the Rossville and Lafayette road, I was informed further that Buckner's command, which had been posted at Tyner's Station, on the railway, had retreated by Johnson, to Ringgold; but I subsequently learned that he did not go so far eastward as Ringgold, but passed through Greysville, and thence to Lafayette. The bulk of these facts I reported to the commander of the Corps immediately on his arrival, and by him I am informed they were communicated to the commanding General. My division remained in Chattanooga until the morning of the tenth. I then received an order to detail one brigade to occupy the town, and move with the other two in pursuit of the enemy by the Rossville and Ringgold Road. The Second brigade was detailed to remain in Chattanooga. At ten A. M. of the tenth, I led the First and Third brigades out of Chattanooga, to commence the pursuit of the enemy. At two P. M. of that day I advised the Corps commander of the reported presence of a considerable force on my right flank, and at half past 7 P. M. I further advised him that I had taken a “contraband” during the late afternoon, who reported the bulk of the rebel army, with General Bragg in person, at Gordon's Mill, on the Chickamauga, where it is crossed by the Rossville and Lafayette road. I was incredulous of the story, and so expressed myself; but if true, it was so important it should be known, that I deemed it my duty to report his narrative. It is due to the humble person who furnished me this invaluable information to record that subsequent developments proved his report to be singularly accurate and correct. Based on my note of half past 7 P. M. of the tenth, a communication was sent me by the commanding General to send a brigade by the way of Rossville, to make a reconnoissance in the direction of Gordon's Mill, with a view to verifying the truth of the “contraband's” report. The order was received at early daylight of the morning of the eleventh. Colonel Harker's brigade was immediately sent to execute this service. About the time Harker's brigade was moving, the Corps commander arrived at my camp. I was directed by him to move forward with my remaining brigade two miles on the Ringgold road, and there to await further orders. The order was obeyed. At half past 3 P. M., while awaiting further instructions, I received an order from the commanding General to move across the country, by the shortest and most expeditious route, to the Rossville and Lafayette road, to support Colonel Harker. Near the same hour I received a note from Colonel Harker, informing me that he had been driving the enemy all day, and had arrived within three miles of Gordon's Mill. I immediately sent him an order to press forward to the mill, and informing him that I would make a junction there with him during the evening. The junction was made, and fortunately, for Harker had been driving his little brigade all day against a vastly superior force, the rear guard of the enemy's great army. A full report of this brilliant and dangerous reconnoissance has been already made, and it is not now necessary that I should say more than that it was superbly made. When I arrived at Gordon's Mill, at half past 8 P. M., of the eleventh, the enemy's camp fires could be distinctly seen on the other side of the creek. Their light reflected over a wide section of the horizon, and extending upward on the heavens, told that the foe was present in considerable force. It was my intention to continue the pursuit early next morning, the twelfth, but till eiget o'clock A. M. the atmosphere was so loaded with haze, fog, and smoke, that it was difficult to see a hundred yards in advance. While I was waiting for the atmosphere to become sufficiently clear to continue the pursuit I received an order to remain at Gordon's Mill until the Corps commander arrived there with
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Doc . 62 .-Hoisting the Black flag — official correspondence and reports.
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