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[398] still separated from Thomas's by some eleven or twelve miles; Thomas's corps being still nearly four days march removed from McCook's. He therefore ordered Lieutenant-General Polk to attack Crittenden vigorously at daybreak on the 13th, intending to support him with Buckner's and Walker's corps. So earnest was he in the purpose to strike that he sent Polk four orders of the same tenor and the most urgent character during the evening. General Polk made no attack on the 13th. Thus another great opportunity was lost.

These failures to secure the execution of his designs seem to have paralyzed the Confederate commander during the next four days, for it was not until the night of the 17th that Bragg issued another order for a movement against the enemy. And yet these were four days of critical peril for the Federal army.

It was only at midnight of the 12th that McCook on their extreme right received the order to close upon Thomas. It was only on the 17th, after four days hard marching, that his junction with Thomas was effected. During these four days McCook's corps was as completely annulled as if it had been in Virginia, and during a part of this time there was a wide interval separating Crittenden and Thomas. The Confederate army was perfectly in hand. What chances did those four days not offer to an enterprising commander! But General Bragg's spirit seems to have been damped by the miscarriages I have described. Rosecrans was, on the other hand, completely aroused. He saw now, as he himself says, that it was a matter of life and death to concentrate his army. During those four days the Federal army marched as men march upon issues of life and death; but the Confederates lay in their camps in idle vacancy. Had some cloud of conflicting rumors settled down upon the Confederate commander's vision, obscuring his perception of the situation of the enemy? Nothing of the sort. All the contemporary evidence shows that the wide dispersion of the Federal forces was perfectly understood at the Confederate Headquarters. Was there lack of resolution to fight? How can this be supposed of that grim and determined soldier who afterwards put forth those repeated and persistent orders which a few days later brought on the tremendous collision of the whole of the two armies? It is true that reinforcements were now about to arrive, but General Bragg well knew they would not counterbalance McCook's corps. The inaction of those four days is not to be explained. They were days of discouragement and uneasiness for the Confederate army. The Confederate soldier, naturally intelligent, had then come to know something of war. The retirement from Chattanooga had been accepted

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