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[208] where, by the efforts of my staff, a nucleus of stragglers had been formed upon which to rally.

Lieutenant-General Hardee, leaving Major-General Cleburne in command of the extreme right, moved toward the left when he heard the heavy firing in that direction. He reached the right of Anderson's division just in time to find it had nearly all fallen back, commencing on its right, where the enemy had first crowned the ridge. By a prompt and judicious movement, he threw a portion of Cheatham's division directly across the ridge, facing the enemy who was moving a strong force immediately on his left flank. By a decided stand here, the enemy was entirely checked, and that portion of our force to the right remained intact. All to the left, however, except a portion of Bate's division, was entirely routed, and in rapid flight, nearly all the artillery haying been shamefully abandoned by its infantry support. Every effort which could be made by myself and staff, and by many other mounted officers, availed but little.

A panic, which I never before witnessed, seemed to have seized upon officers and men, and each seemed to be struggling for his personal safety, regardless of his duty or his character. In this distressing and alarming state of affairs, General Bate was ordered to hold his position, covering the road for the retreat of Breckinridge's command, and orders were immediately sent to Generals Hardee and Breckinridge to retire their forces upon the depot at Chickamauga. Fortunately it was now near nightfall, and the country and roads in our rear were fully known to us, but equally unknown to the enemy. The routed left made its way back in great disorder, effectually covered, however, by Bate's small command, which had a sharp conflict with the enemy's advance, driving it back. After night, all being quiet, Bate retired in good order, the enemy attempting no pursuit. Lieutenant-General Hardee's command, under his judicious management, retired in good order and unmolested.

As soon as all the troops had crossed, the bridges over the Chickamauga were destroyed, to impede the enemy, though the stream was fordable in several places.

No satisfactory excuse can possibly be given for the shameful conduct of our troops, on the left, in allowing their line to be penetrated. The position was one which ought to have been held by a line of skirmishers against any assaulting column; and, wherever resistance was made, the enemy fled in disorder, after suffering heavy loss. Those who reached the ridge did so in a condition of exhaustion,



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W. B. Bate (8)
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