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[164] which a number of wagons were loaded, sounded along the valley road, not unlike the firing of artillery in action. General Rosecrans expressed the opinion that the Confederates were bombarding his depot of supplies at Bridgeport.

General Rosecrans, in his official report, admitted the loss of five hundred wagons, so that there must have been from one to two thousand mules destroyed. While the wagons were still burning, and before those of us who had gone to the extreme limit of the train could return to the main column, Colonel McCook, in command of the Federal cavalry, arrived on the scene and formed his line of battle between us and our main column.

The capture and destruction of this immense train was one of the greatest achievements of General Wheeler's cavalry, and I was proud of the fact that the Fourth Alabama, unaided, did the fighting which took it. Its loss was keenly felt by the Federals, for it added to the precarious situation of the army in Chattanooga, and reduced rations to a cracker a day per man for several days in succession. General Wheeler reported:

The number of wagons was variously estimated from eight hundred to fifteen hundred. . . . The quartermaster in charge of the train stated that there were eight hundred six-mule wagons, besides a great number of sutler's wagons. The train was guarded by a brigade of cavalry in front and a brigade of cavalry in rear, and on the flank, where we attacked, were stationed two regiments of infantry.

General Rosecrans in a despatch to General Burnside dated October 5, 1863, said, “Your failure to close your troops down to our left has cost five hundred wagons loaded with essentials, the post of McMinnville, and heaven only knows where the mischief will end.” From my own observation, I believe that five hundred would not be very far from correct. We missed about thirty wagons which had turned off in a narrow and little-used road-way, and were already partly toward Walden's Ridge.

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