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[396] such a gift of fortune, would instantly have recalled his orders, and concentrated McCook's and Thomas's corps in Lookout Valley upon Crittenden's, now quickly entering Chattanooga. Rosecrans — as if in pursuit of an enemy whom he had already beaten and had only to disperse — persisted in his extended flank movement, and was now about to offer to Bragg the supreme opportunity which comes to most Generals only in their dreams — an opportunity which well used would richly repay the loss of fifty Chattanoogas — an opportunity to crush one detached corps with the concentrated mass of an army. At that moment Bragg may well have rejoiced at the happy inspiration which had made him despise the mere possession of Chattanooga as a cheap thing in comparison with an army gathered close and compact, well in hand, ready to spring.

In peaceable possession of Chattanooga on the 9th of September, Rosecrans pushed Crittenden's corps forward on the 9th and 10th in the direction of Ringgold, on the railroad to Dalton. Every mile of this march increased the distance between his left wing and centre.

At the same time — during the 9th--two divisions of the centre corps (Thomas's) crossed Lookout Mountain into McLemore's Cove, a narrow valley shut in on the east by Pigeon Mountain. The road from Chattanooga along which Bragg had retreated, runs for twenty miles along the eastern base of this Pigeon ridge. It was practicable to pass from this road into McLemore's Cove through two gaps in Pigeon Mountain, or around its northern extremity. If you stand where Bragg's army stood, near Lafayette, and face due north, you may roughly represent the configuration of the mountains by the extended forefinger and thumb of the left hand, the other fingers being clenched. The wrist, hand and forefinger will rudely represent the main chain of Lookout, the thumb the diverging range of Pigeon Mountain, the space between thumb and forefinger McLemore's Cove. Now, on the evening of the 9th September Crittenden was at Rossville, four miles southeast of the northernmost point of Lookout — the forefinger's tip; Thomas was crossing at about its middle point, and McCook was far away to the south at a point represented by the wrist. Bragg's army was stretched along the eastern base of Pigeon Mountain, occupying its gaps. Surely, if ever an army was caught in flagrante delicto, caught in its sin, this was now the position of the Federal army. You can judge of the magnitude of its peril when you learn that it took four days of hard marching to effect its concentration after Rosencrans awoke to his situation. It was about fifteen miles from Crittenden's position to Thomas's advance, and the Confederate right was almost interposed between

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