previous next
[413] and directed Wood to close on Reynolds. Now Brannan's division was on Reynolds's right and Wood was aligned on Brannan's right. Wood so interpreted this order as to put his division immediately in motion by the left flank in rear of Brannan, thus leaving a great gap in the Federal line, which Davis vainly attempted to fill with his reserve brigade. Just at this auspicious moment burst the storm which Longstreet had been carefully preparing. Stewart's, Hood's, Kershaw's, Johnson's, and Hindman's divisions dashed impetuously forward, supported by Preston. The Federal right was quickly turned, the right centre was pierced, Wood's division was struck in flank as it moved from position, Negley's two brigades were caught in the air in their march to the left, Brannan was struck in flank, large parts of Sheridan's and Vancleve's divisions moving to the left were swept as before a whirlwind, and several thousand prisoners, forty guns and numerous wagon trains were abandoned to the Confederates.

Never was an attack more brilliantly successful. The Federals had fought gallantly, but to no purpose. Many had fallen refusing to be driven from their ground, and among these heroic dead was the gifted Lytle, who commanded one of Sheridan's brigades. Many a sympathetic voice in either camp murmured his dirge that night in his own brilliant lines:

I am dying, Egypt, dying,
Ebbs the crimson life-tide fast.

Thus, for a moment, genius consecrated by a soldier's death caused the hearts of friend and foe in those angry hosts to beat with a common pulse. But in vain had Lytle and other gallant men poured out their life's blood; the fierce Confederate onset swept forward, and could not be staid. Sheridan's and Davis's divisions and most of Vancleve's and Negley's were driven from the field, forced by a circuitous road across Missionary Ridge to Rossville and practically annihilated for the rest of the day. The General of the army, Rosecrans, and two of his corps commanders, McCook and Crittenden, were hurried along with the torrent, and never stopped till they reached Chattanooga. They did not appear again on that field. Since Frederick's wonderful ride of forty miles from Mollwitz, leaving old Schwerin to win the battle the king had given up for lost, there has been no such sudden eclipse of a General-in-Chief. But a hero worthy to be named with the Prussian marshal remained to gather up the fragments of the Federal battleat that supreme crisis George Thomas saved the Federal army. That he did not lose heart, that he resolved to stand on such strong ground

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: