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[403] Thomas's in McLemore's Cove, and Crittenden had moved by his right up the Chickamauga till his left rested near Lee's Mills — a strong position — the river there cutting a channel through high banks.

Rosecrans had at last concentrated his army; but a great change had come over his attitude. He had now given up all idea of an advance and stood strictly upon the defensive, satisfied if only he could maintain what he had won. On the night of the 17th he had already become apprehensive lest Bragg should interpose between his army and Chattanooga. At that moment the two armies were in this position, that the Federal left at Lee's Mills did not cover perhaps more than a third of the Confederate front, and while the Confederate left wing resting where Pigeon Mountain descends to the Chickamauga was protected by that range from attack, the Confederate right stretching down the Chickamauga on its eastern side to the northeast was nearly unopposed and free to swing around, to roll up Rosecrans's left, to seize the Lafayette highway, and, if successful, to force its way through to the valley of Chattanooga creek and thus bar all access to Chattanooga. This was the conception that presented itself to General Bragg's mind on the night of the 17th, and dictated his order of battle for the 18th. If it could have been executed on the 18th, it would no doubt have brought about a brilliant victory for the Confederate arms. But it was impossible to execute it on the 18th. The Confederate troops were too widely scattered, the distances were too great and the roads too narrow, and particularly the crossing of the Chickamauga, against even the slight opposition made by the enemy, was too delicate a movement to admit of rapid marching. It was not until the 19th that the fight planned for the morning of the 18th could actually begin, and the impartial critic, making every allowance for the accidents and vicissitudes inseparable from war, must still conclude that General Bragg did not bring to the preparation of this order that exact knowledge of the country and that minute adaptation of means to measures, which alone ensure success. During this delay of twenty-four hours Rosecrans recognized his danger and marched troops to extend his left with unremitting vigor.

Thomas, marching all through the night of the 18th, reached Kelly's house, on the Lafayette road, about day-break of the 19th with two divisions, a third following not far behind. From points near this position roads ran down eastward to the crossings of the Chickamauga at Alexander's and Reed's bridges. Thomas quickly threw his two divisions across these minor roads, but to their right lay a wide gap unfilled by any Federal troops. Walker's corps, of the Confederate army, had crossed to the

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