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[280] had crossed the Chickamauga. The two mighty armies were now face to face, and none could doubt that the impending struggle would be attended by frightful loss to both sides.

It was Bragg's intention to send Polk, commanding the right wing, in a flanking movement against the Federal left under Thomas, and thus intervene between it and Chattanooga. The first encounter, at 10 o'clock in the morning of the 19th, resulted in a Confederate repulse, but fresh divisions were constantly pushed forward under the deadly fire of the Federal artillery. The Federals were gradually forced back by the incessant charge of the Confederates; but assailed and assailant fought with such great courage and determination that any decided advantage was withheld from either. Meanwhile, the Federal right was hard pressed by Hood, commanding Longstreet's corps, and a desperate battle ensued along the entire line. It seemed, however, more like a struggle between separate divisions than the clash of two great armies. When night descended the Federals had been forced back from the creek, but the result had been indecisive.

Disaster to the Union army had been averted by the use of powerful artillery when the infantry seemed unable to withstand the onslaught. Rosecrans had assumed the defensive, and his troops had so far receded as to enable the Confederates to form their lines on all the territory fought over on that day. During the night preparations were made in both camps for a renewal of the battle on the following morning, which was Sunday. A fresh disposition of the troops was made by both leaders. Near midnight General Longstreet arrived on the field, and was at once placed in command of the Confederate left, Polk retaining the right. Not all of Longstreet's troops arrived in time for the battle, but Bragg's force has been estimated at fifty-one to seventy-one thousand strong.

Thomas was given command of the Union left, with McCook at his right, while Crittenden's forces occupied the center, but to the rear of both Thomas and McCook. Thomas had

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George H. Thomas (4)
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