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[282] spent the night in throwing up breastworks on the brow of Snodgrass Hill, as it was anticipated that the Confederates would concentrate their attack upon his position.

Hostilities began with a general movement of the Confederate right wing in an attempt to flank the Union left. General Bragg had ordered Polk to begin the attack at daybreak, but it was nearly ten o'clock in the morning before Breckinridge's division, supported by General Cleburne, advanced upon Thomas' entrenchments. Fighting desperately, the Confederates did not falter under the heavy fire of the Federals, and it seemed as if the latter must be driven from their position. Rosecrans, in response to urgent requests for reenforcements, despatched troops again and again to the aid of Thomas, and the assault was finally repulsed. Cleburne's division was driven back with heavy loss, and Breckinridge, unable to retain any advantage, was forced to defend his right, which was being seriously menaced. The battle at this point had been desperately waged, both sides exhibiting marked courage and determination. As on the previous day, the Confederates had been the aggressors, but the Federal troops had resisted all attempts to invade their breastworks.

However, the fortunes of battle were soon to incline to the side of the Southern army. Bragg sent Stewart's division forward, and it pressed Reynolds' and Brannan's men back to their entrenchments. Rosecrans sent Wood word to close up on Reynolds. Through some misunderstanding in giving or interpreting this order, General Wood withdrew his division from its position on the right of Brannan. By this movement a large opening was left almost in the center of the battle-line. Johnson's, Hindman's, and Kershaw's divisions rushed into the gap and fell upon the Union right and center with an impetus that was irresistible. The Confederate general, Bushrod Johnson, has given us an unforgetable picture of the thrilling event: “The resolute and impetuous charge, the rush of our heavy columns sweeping out from the shadow and gloom of the forest ”

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Wood (2)
George H. Thomas (2)
William S. Rosecrans (2)
John F. Reynolds (2)
Bushrod Johnson (2)
Patrick Cleburne (2)
John C. Breckinridge (2)
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Braxton Bragg (2)
Stewart (1)
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T. C. Hindman (1)
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