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[388] confronting a lowering mass of war which Rosecrans was preparing to. hurl upon him. Rosecrans's army now numbered about 80,000 men. Bragg's had recently been weakened by the detachment to Mississippi of nearly twelve thousand troops, and was no longer fit to cope in the open country of Middle Tennessee with that adversary, whose progress it had so sternly checked six months before on the bloody field of Murfreesboroa. Accordingly, when in the last week of June Rosecrans made a general forward movement threatening the Confederate right flank, Bragg, by rapid marches, passed the Cumberland mountains and took post at Chattanooga — a position marked out by nature, and by the junction of great lines of railway, as an objective point for any army seeking to pass from Tennessee to the Atlantic coast. But Rosecrans was not yet ready to follow his enemy across the mountains. He halted on a line stretching from McMinville to Winchester, waiting to repair his railways, waiting especially for the corn to grow and for the movement of Burnside's army, then gathering to march on Knoxville, as a cover to Roescrans's left flank.

Bragg reached Chattanooga on the 7th of July, and it was not until the 29th of August that Rosecrans began the passage of the Tennessee river at Bridgeport, twenty-eight miles below, and three other points.

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