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[371] its gallant chief, moved to its work after sunset, taking the enemy completely by surprise, driving him in great disorder for nearly a mile, and indicting a very heavy loss. Night found us masters of the ground, after a series of very obstinate contests with largely superior numbers.

From captured prisoners and others we learned with certainty that we had encountered the enemy's whole force, which had been moving day and night since they first ascertained the direction of our march. Orders had been given for the rapid march to the field of all reinforcements arriving by railroad, and three additional brigades from this source joined us early next morning. The remaining forces on our extreme left, east of the Chickamauga, had been ordered up early in the afternoon, but reached the field too late to participate in the engagement of that day. They were ordered into line on their arrival, and disposed for a renewal of the action early the next morning. Information was received from Lieutenant-General Longstreet of his arrival at Ringgold and departure for the field. Five small brigades of his corps, about five thousand effective infantry (no artillery), reached us in time to participate in the action, three of them on the nineteenth, and two more on the twentieth.

Upon the close of the engagement on the evening of the nineteenth, the proper commanders were summoned to my camp fire, and there received specific information and instructions touching the disposition of the troops, and for the operations of the next morning. The whole force was divided for the next morning into two commands and assigned to the two senior Lieutenant-Generals, Longstreet and Polk. The former to the left where all his own troops were stationed, the latter continuing his command of the right. Lieutenant-General Longstreet reached my headquarters about eleven P. M., and immediately received his instructions. After a few hours' rest at my camp fire, he moved at daylight to his line just in front of my position. Lieutenant-General Polk was ordered to assail the enemy on our extreme right at day-dawn on the twentieth, and to take up the attack in succession rapidly to the left. The left wing was to await the attack by the right, take it promptly when made, and the whole line was then to be pushed vigorously and persistently against the enemy throughout its extent. Before the dawn of day myself and staff were ready for the saddle, occupying a position immediately in rear of and accessible to all parts of the line. With increasing anxiety and disappointment I waited until after sunrise without hearing a gun, and at length dispatched a staff officer to Lieutenant-General Polk to ascertain the cause of the delay, and urge him to a prompt and speedy movement. This officer, not finding the General with his troops, and learning where he had spent the night, proceeded across Alexander's Bridge to the east side of the Chickamauga and there delivered my message. Proceeding in person to the right wing, I found the troops not even prepared for the movement. Messengers were immediately dispatched for Lieutenant-General Polk, and he shortly after joined me. My orders were renewed, and the General was urged to their prompt execution, the more important as the ear was saluted throughout the night with the sounds of the axe and falling timber, as the enemy industriously labored to strengthen his position by hastily constructed barricades and breastworks. A reconnoissance made in the front of our extreme right, during this delay, crossed the main road to Chattanooga, and proved the important fact that this greatly desired position was open to our possession.

The reasons assigned for this unfortunate delay by the wing commander appear in part in the reports of his subordinates. It is sufficient to say, they are entirely unsatisfactory. It also appears from these reports that when the action was opened on the right, about ten o'clock A. M., the troops were moved to the assault in detail and by detachments, unsupported until nearly all parts of the right wing were in turn repulsed with heavy loss. Our troops were led with the greatest gallantry, and exhibited great coolness, bravery, and heroic devotion. In no instance did they fail, when called on, to rally and return to the charge. But though invariably driving the enemy, with great slaughter, at the points assailed, they were compelled in turn to yield to the greatly superior numbers constantly brought against them. The attack on the left, promptly made as ordered, met with less resistance, much of the enemy's strength having been transferred to our right, and was successfully and vigorously followed up. About two P. M., passing along the line to our left, I found we had been checked in our progress by encountering a strong position, strengthened by works and obstinately defended. Unable to afford assistance from any other part of the field, written orders were immediately dispatched to Lieutenant-General Polk to again assault the enemy in his front with his whole force, and to persist until he should dislodge him from his position. Directing the operations on our left to be continued, I moved again to the right and soon dispatched a staff officer to General Polk, urging a prompt and vigorous execution of my written orders. About four P. M., this general assault was made and the attack was continued from right to left until the enemy gave way at different points, and, finally, about dark, yielded us his line. The contest was severe, but the impetuous charge of our troops could not be resisted when they were brought to bear in full force, even where the enemy possessed all the advantage of position and breastworks. The troops were halted by their respective commanders, when the darkness of the night and the density of the forest rendered further movements uncertain and dangerous, and the army bivouacked on the ground it had so gallantly won. Both flanks having advanced more

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