But it seems clear now that, after getting up supplies of ammunition, Thomas
about half past 5 o'clock gave the order for the retirement of Reynolds
's division through a gap in Missionary ridge
in its rear.
Corresponding orders were given to all the other Federal divisions.
About the same moment orders from General Bragg
were reaching the troops on the Confederate
right for a third attack.
farther to the left and just opposite Reynolds
was preparing to move forward under orders from Longstreet
's division on the extreme Confederate right, beginning the assault a little ahead of the rest, rapidly reached the Lafayette
road for the second time that day, and there had the luck to receive the parting stroke of a sullen, unconquerable giant.
Overwhelmed by batteries cunningly placed for the protection of this flank, Liddell
was suddenly charged by the whole of Reynolds
's division, directed by Thomas
himself, as it left its position, upon these daring intruders.
was obliged to retire; but just then a mighty yell rent the skies, and the whole Confederate line, following the lead of L. E. Polk
's brigade, which first fought its way into the enemy's works, rushed with fierce joy to the last attack.
Night had now fallen, and the enemy, being in retreat or the act to move, gladly welcomed its protecting curtain.
With haste and some disorder they rushed through the woods to the gaps in their rear.
But the Confederate
onset was so sudden that many Federal regiments were captured, and many more would have been overtaken but for a necessity which very quickly arrested pursuit.
's wing had wheeled to the right, so that at the close of the battle the two wings of the Confederate army stood at right angles to each other.
The troops of the Confederate
right had not advanced far before they found themselves almost face to face with their own friends, and in the darkness there was great danger of a destructive interchange of fire.
A quick halt was therefore ordered, and the Federal
army made good its escape through the mountain gaps to rally by-unfrequented paths at Rossville
The struggle was ended.
Twenty-seven thousand men1
lay dead or wounded on this field of carnage.