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[400] the ground from which the troops moved was not eighty miles distant from General Halleck's lofty perch of observation at Washington. Yet for many days the movement seems to have been absolutely hidden from the Federal authorities. It was likewise a secret well kept by the few entrusted with it inside the Confederate lines. General Bragg may have known it at an early moment. If he did, he concealed it carefully from his corps commanders until the troops from Virginia were about to appear on his flank.

Many great movements by rail occurred in the course of the war, but this movement of Longstreet's seems to surpass them all in intense and dramatic interest, in hardiness, in secresy, in success. There was the great distance to be traversed by circuitous and worn-out railways--900 miles; there were the two Confederate armies at the extremities of this long line, each confronting a superior force. The idea that troops of the one could be detached to take part in the operations of the other in the same campaign was a new and hardy conception. But more impressive still was the magnanimity of your great commander. He had recently returned foiled, but not beaten, from the heights of Gettysburg; he bad been obliged to abandon his campaign of invasion and retreat into Virginia. The enemy had followed triumphant though respectful, and as the Federal army now outnumbered its adversary by many thousands, it was to be expected that it would soon resume a vigorous offensive.

But Lee, weighing all the hazard, accepted it, and, standing calm, majestic, self sacrificing, stripped himself to succor a distant ally.

Now see, as Caesar said, how great a thing is firmness of mind in war. Lee's bold countenance imposed on Meade for many days, and by the time the Federal General had penetrated the secret and was gathering himself for a great stroke, Longstreet's guns had been heard at Chickamauga and the sudden wreck of Rosecrans's campaign, vibrating from the Mississippi to the Atlantic, paralyzed Meade's uplifted arm.

But we must turn our minds again to that corner of northwestern Georgia, where a great conflict is approaching. It was not till the night of the 17th of September that General Bragg roused himself to give the energetic orders which were to bring on a general battle. But during the four days preceding Rosecrans had drawn in his distant wings, and the battle now to be fought must be fought with the whole of the Federal army.

What was the strength of the two armies at this time? From an examination of the original returns in the War Department, I reckon in

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