them combined, had or could put us in possession of Rocky Face Ridge, the impregnable rampart upon and behind which the rebels lay, and which we must either penetrate or turn ere we could ever hope to see Dalton. Boldly and abruptly the ridge rises out of the valley, covered to its summit with a thick growth of pines, and traversed by innumerable ravines. Two-thirds of the way up the individual seeking to ascend is met by a stupendous cliff, rising perpendicularly to a height ranging from twenty to sixty feet, according to locality. Could we hope to storm this ridge? A line of skirmishers could defend it against a host. Could we hope to pass through Buzzard Roost Gap, lined as it was with rifle-pits and cannon? Annihilation awaited the force that should attempt it. Could Schofield proceed down the valley, along the east side of the ridge, and effect an entrance into Dalton in that way? By so doing he would cut himself off from support by the rest of the army, and probably be crushed by the enemy massing his forces against him. Besides, before going far upon his way, he would find another gorge almost as easily defensible as that of Buzzard Roost. All this we had discovered last February, when Palmer, under the direction of Thomas, reconnoitred that stronghold of the enemy; but it is sometimes well to learn a lesson a second time. Four days we lay at the foot of Rocky Face, engaged in almost incessant skirmishing with the enemy's sharpshooters, effecting little or nothing toward the accomplishment of our object, and losing about eight hundred men. But a blow was about being struck in another direction. Twelve or fifteen miles south of Buzzard Roost is a long oblique cut in Chattanooga Mountain, called Snake Creek Gap, from a small stream which, running through the cut in a south-east direction, finds its way into the Oostenaula below Resacca. Thither McPherson, with parts of the Fifteenth and Sixteenth corps, wended his way, after passing through Ship Gap in Taylor's Ridge, and marching by the town of Villanow. It was on Monday, the ninth of May, when he reached the western entrance of Snake Creek Gap, and prepared to wrest it from the enemy. Singularly enough, it had been left both unfortified and unguarded by the rebels; a brigade which was hurried forward to dispute McPherson's passage, came too late; and ere the day was closed, that General found himself in full possession of this important pass, with scarcely the firing of a gun. On Tuesday, the tenth, General Dodge, with two divisions of the Sixteenth corps, closely supported by General Logan, with the Fifteenth, moved from the month of the gap, passed the Sugar Valley Post Office, drove in some small bodies of rebel skirmishers, and actually advanced to the range of hills which, in this direction, overlook Resacca. There were the enemy's formidable lines of works in open view; not so strong, indeed, as they were afterwards made, but formidable nevertheless even at that time. Had General Dodge thought best to do so, or had General McPherson deemed it prudent, we might then have occupied these works; for they were defended by only a couple of the army's brigades. The reason we did not then take possession of Resacca, is probably because it was not at that time determined by the commanding General to make his principal attack upon the enemy's left wing. A portion of Hooker's corps went down to the gap on the eleventh, and passed through. On the morning of the twelfth, the Four-teenth corps, General Palmer, began its march for the same locality, Geary's division, of Hooker's corps, preceded; Schofield's corps and Newton's division, of Howard's, followed. Stanley relieved Davis at the mouth of Buzzard Roost Gap, and Wood shifted down toward the right to support Stanley, ready to carry these two divisions into Dalton as soon as the attack upon the rebel left should compel them to withdraw from Buzzard Roost. As long as the great movement toward Snake Creek Gap was going on, it was Howard's business to keep up as much noise as possible at Buzzard's Roost, in order to deceive the enemy as to what was taking place, and make him believe as long as possible that the assault was to be made directly in front. Accordingly, long after we had left Buzzard Roost, on the morning of the twelfth, we could hear Howard's cannon pounding away lively as ever. All along the road to Snake Creek Gap I found the country deserted, as usual, when our army first passes through ; and the members of the only family I saw in the entire fifteen miles' ride to Snake Creek Gap, gave me in answer to my question, “Where are the people gone?” the invariable answer “Down below!” meaning, of course, further South. The head of this family was a villainous looking fellow, with rebel, rebel, depicted in unmistakable lineaments all over his countenance. It is very silly for any of the people to run away from their homes on the approach of the Union army, but I could not avoid thinking that this fellow remained behind from pure impudence. “I don't see,” said he to me, “what all you folks are going to do down thar. I reckon if all that have passed here in the last two days are thar now, they must be piled on top of one another!” “I reckon,” said I, a little nettled, “that when they get ready they'll go through the Gap to the other side.” “If they do they'll get hurt I” was his cool rejoinder, and I could not prevent a smile as I found myself unable to add anything more. I passed on through the famous gap, which is some four or five miles in length, and found the idea of the rebel citizen almost realized. Infantry, cavalry, and artillery covered the earth wherever the eye was directed; the gap throughout its whole extent literally swarming with living men. It called forcibly to my mind the mighty hosts of which we read in ancient history, sacred and profane. As I passed on,
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Table of Contents:
Doc . 16 . operations in Tennessee .
Doc . 19 . the siege of Suffolk, Virginia .
Doc . 36 . General Rousseau 's expedition.
Doc . 59 . battles of Spottsylvania , Va: battle of Sunday , May 8 , 1864 .
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