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[492] Vicksburg; also to General Schofield, in Missouri, and Pope, in command of the Northwestern Department, to hasten forward to the Tennessee line every available man in their departments, and the commanding officers in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, were ordered to make every possible exertion to secure General Rosecrans's line of communication. And learning that Longstreet had been ordered to Bragg, Meade was ordered to attack General Lee, at least to threaten him, so as to prevent him from sending off any more troops. In the meanwhile Thomas's corps,1 while in the act of passing one of the gaps leading from McLemore's Cove, enclosed between Lookout and Pigeon Mountains to Alpine's, in Broomtown valley, where lay McCook's corps, he was suddenly confronted by a portion of our forces under General Hindman,2 which compelled his hasty retreat. This sudden show of strength excited uneasiness and doubt in the mind of Rosecrans. He could not decide whether it evinced a purpose to give battle, or a movement to secure a safe retreat.3 But he gave the benefit of the doubt to the former contingency, and commenced a backward movement, with orders to close on the center, and Crittenden, at Gordon's mills, to be put in good defensive position.4

1 One division of one brigade of Thomas's corps, about 8,000 men. (General Bragg's letter to me dated February 8th, 1873.)

2 Hindman's force was composed of his own and Rucker's, 10,922 men, and Martin's cavalry, about 500, besides a force of two divisions—Cleburne's and Walker's—at least 8,000 more, immediately in the enemy's front, with orders to attack as soon as Hindman's guns were heard on the flank and rear. (General Bragg's letter, February 8th.)

3 It was not a retreat, but a movement by Bragg to meet the enemy in front whenever he should emerge from the mountain gorges. He put his army in position from Lee & Gordon's mills to Lafayette, on the road leading south from Chattanooga and fronting the east slope of Lookout Mountain. (General Bragg's report, page 4.)

4 See General Bragg's letter to me of February 8th, also letters of Generals Patton, Anderson, and W. T. Martin, furnished to me by General Bragg, and on file.

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