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[17] was not one of them who did not concur with me in the opinion that Thomas must be attacked immediately, and, if possible, by surprise; that such attack, if successful merely in repulsing him, would probably give us time to cross the Cumberland with artillery and wagons, by means of our boats, then being built.

Accordingly, at twelve o'clock in the night, we marched for the position of the enemy, ascertained to be some six miles away. We had scarcely taken up the line of march, when the rain began to fall, the darkness became intense, and the consequent confusion great, so that day dawned before we reached his position. The attack, as a surprise, failed; nevertheless, it was promptly made. It rained violently throughout the action, rendering all the flint-lock guns useless. The men bearing them were allowed to fall back on the reserve.

The action was progressing successfully, when the fall of General Zollicoffer was announced to me. Apprehending disastrous consequences, I hastened to the front. My apprehensions were well founded. I found the line of battle in confusion and falling back, and, after a vain effort to restore the line, yielded to necessity, and, by the interposition of the reserve, covered the shattered line and effected my retreat to camp without loss.

I reached camp late in the afternoon. Not long afterward the enemy opened fire at long range; night coming on, he ceased to fire. The few shot and shells that fell in the camp so plainly demonstrated the demoralization of the men, that I doubted, even if I had had rations, which I had not, whether the camp could have been successfully defended for twenty-four hours. There was not, and had not been for some time in the camp, rations beyond the daily need. This state of affairs was due to the exhaustion of the neighboring country, and the impracticability of the roads.

It became now my sole object to transfer the men with their arms, the cavalryhorses, and teams to the left bank of the river. This was successfully accomplished by dawn of the next day.

I attributed the loss of the battle, in a great degree, to the inferiority of our arms and the untimely fall of General Zollicoffer, who was known and highly esteemed by the men, who were almost all Tennesseeans. I think I have shown that the battle of Fishing Creek was a necessity, and that I ought not to be held responsible for that necessity. As to how I managed it, I have nothing further to say.

General Crittenden's gallantry had been too often and too conspicuously shown in battle during the war with Mexico and on the Indian frontier to admit of question, and the criticism has been directed solely to the propriety of the attack at Fishing Creek. His explanation is conclusive against any arraignment of him for the presence of the troops on the right bank of the Cumberland, or for his not immediately withdrawing them to the left bank when his position was threatened. Under these circumstances, to attack one portion of the enemy, when a junction with the other part could not be effected, was to act in accordance with one of the best-settled rules of war.

The unforeseen accident of renewed rain, with intense darkness, delayed his march beyond reasonable expectation; whereas the whole force

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