provided cantonments, after our twelve hours of obstinate conflict with his forces, who had been beaten from them and the contiguous covert, but only by the sustained onset of all the men we could bring into action.
There are two words in this report which, if they could have been truthfully omitted, it would have been worth to us the surrender of all ‘the substantial fruits of a complete victory.’
It says: ‘Our troops moved forward, despite the determined resistance of the enemy, until after 6 P. M., when we were in possession of all his encampments between Owl and Lick Creek but one
. ’It was that ‘one’ encampment that furnished a football for all the subsequent reenforcements sent by Buell
, and gave occasion for the final withdrawal of our forces; whereas, if that had been captured, and the ‘waters of the Tennessee
’ reached, as General Johnston
designed, it was not too much to expect that Grant
's army would have surrendered; that Buell
's forces would not have crossed the Tennessee
; with a skillful commander like Johnston
to lead our troops, however, the enemy would have sought safety on the north bank of the Ohio
; that Tennessee, Kentucky
, and Missouri
would have been recovered, the northwest disaffected, and our armies filled with the men of the Southwest
, and perhaps of the Northwest
Let us turn to reports and authorities.
The author of The Life of General Albert Sidney Johnston
Of the two armies, one was now an advancing, triumphant host, with arm uplifted to give the mortal blow; the other, a broken, mangled, demoralized mob, paralyzed and waiting for the stroke.
While the other Confederate brigades, which had shared most actively in Prentiss's capture, were sending back the prisoners and forming again for a final attack, two brigades, under Chalmers and Jackson, on the extreme right, had cleared away all in front of them, and, moving down the river-bank, now came upon the last point where even a show of resistance was made.
Being two very bold and active brigadiers, they at once closed with the enemy in their front, crossing a deep ravine and difficult ground to get at him. Here Colonel Webster, of Grant's staff, had gathered all the guns he could find from batteries, whether abandoned or still coherent, and with stouthearted men, picked up at random, had prepared a resistance.
Some infantry, similarly constituted, had been got together; and Ammen's brigade, the van of Nelson's division of Buell's corps, had landed, and was pushing its way through the throng of pallid fugitives at the landing to take up the battle where it had fallen from the hands of Grant and Sherman.
It got into position in time to do its part in checking the unsupported assaults of Chalmers and Jackson.
, describing this final attack in his report, says:
It was then about four o'clock in the evening, and, after distributing ammunition, we received orders from General Bragg to drive the enemy into the river.
My brigade together with that of Brigadier-General Jackson, filed to the right and formed facing the river, and endeavored to press forward to the water's edge; but