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The opportunity to blockade the wagon traffic was not at once understood by the Confederates, and it was Oct. 11 before it was fully enforced. After that date wagons were often eight days in bringing a load from Stevenson, and reduced rations were issued to the Federals. Wheeler's cavalry in a raid had destroyed most of the transportation of the 14th corps, but was itself nearly destroyed by the opportunity of plundering the wagons. Couriers reported that ‘from Bridgeport to the foot of the mountains the mud is up to the horses' bellies.’ On the 6th Rosecrans reported ‘the possession of the river is a sine qua non to the holding of Chattanooga.’ Reconnoissances and preparations were made, and on the night of the 27th a flotilla of pontoons, carrying about 1500 men under Hazen, was floated down and landed at Brown's Ferry. On the north side a force was marched by land to meet them, and a pontoon bridge was built. By morning a brigade with artillery was established and fortifying itself in a strong position on the southern bank. Before Bragg could concentrate enough to attack them, Hooker appeared, coming from Bridgeport, with the 11th and 12th corps of the Army of the Potomac. These had been hurried out to reenforce Rosecrans, when the Federals realized that Longstreet had reenforced Bragg.

This, of course, put an end to the contemplated attack, but, with very questionable judgment, Bragg ordered a night attack upon a portion of Geary's division of the 12th corps (about 1500 strong with four guns), which had encamped at a point called Wauhatchie. This was about three miles from Brown's Ferry, where Hooker, with the remainder of his force, had united with the force under Hazen.

The battle of Wauhatchie

Night attacks are specially valuable against troops who have been defeated and are retreating. They are of little value under any other circumstances. The war, too, had now reached a stage where men had become impossible to replace in the Confederate ranks. Nothing could be more injudicious than to sacrifice them, even for a success, which would have no effect upon the campaign.

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