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[273]

On the way to Chickamauga To the Elk River Bridge (near Decherd, Tennessee) the enterprising army photographer who was recording Rosecrans' advance had followed the Army of the Cumberland in July, 1863. The two distinct maneuvers that led to Chickamauga fully sustained the reputation of Rosecrans as one of the greatest strategic generals of the war. The first movement was executed in nine days, during which time the troops struggled with their heavy trains along roads little better than bogs. Torrential rains, such as Tennessee had rarely known before, fell incessantly; the artillery had to be dragged through the mire by hand. Despite such difficulties, Rosecrans succeeded in flanking Bragg, compelling him to retreat from his strong position at Tullahoma. South of that place, on the Nashville & Chattanooga Railroad, this bridge was made the objective of Wilder's mounted infantry, which swept around in Bragg's rear, striking the railroad at Decherd, destroying the commissary depot and cutting the rail connection with Chattanooga. A detachment pushed forward to the bridge, but it was too strongly guarded to be destroyed. The Confederates burnt it in their retreat to Chattanooga, but was rebuilt by Rosecrans; it was completed by the Federal engineers on July 13th.

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