retreat, and even better able to cross the Harpeth
in the night and destroy the bridges.
But this would have been difficult, if not impossible, to prevent on the 15th, on account of the great extent and nature of the movements necessarily required to open the battle on that day. I now recall very distinctly the desire manifested by General Thomas
that those initial operations might, if possible, be expedited.
As we sat together on horseback just in rear of Wood
's right and of Smith
's left, on ground overlooking nearly the entire field, the general would frequently reach for my glasses, which he had occasionally used before and said were the only field-glasses he had ever found of much use to him, and try to peer through the misty atmosphere far over the woods and fields where his infantry and cavalry were advancing against the enemy's left.
After thus looking long and earnestly, he would return the glasses to me, with what seemed to be a sign of irritation or impatience, for he uttered very few words in that long time, until late in the afternoon, when, after using my field-glasses for the last time, he said to me, with the energy which battle alone could arouse in his strong nature: ‘Smith
has not reached far enough to the right.
Put in your troops!’
Occasionally, when a shell struck and exploded near where we were, causing his horse to make a slight start, and only a slight one,—for the nature of the horse was much the same as that of the rider,—the only change visible in the face or form of that stout-hearted soldier was a slight motion of the bridle-hand to check the horse.
My own beautiful gray charger, ‘Frank Blair
,’ though naturally more nervous than the other, had become by that time hardly less fearless.
But I doubt if my great senior ever noticed that day what effect the explosion of a shell produced on either the gray horse or his rider.
He had on his shoulders the responsibilities