The Army of Tennessee fell back and went into winter quarters at Dalton, Georgia, forty miles distant from Chattanooga, and where the Georgia State road connects with the East Tennessee railroad.1 Soon after, General Bragg, appreciating his relations to
Extract from a letter of General Bragg to the writer, dated February 8th, 1873:
‘In our retreat from Missionary Ridge, the enemy could make but a feeble pursuit, for want of artillery horses (Grant's report). At the mountain gorge near Ringgold, I believed he could be successfully repulsed, and the army quickly withdrawn.
General Cleburn, one of the best and truest soldiers in our cause, was placed at that point in command of the rear guard.
Late at night, hours after all the army was at rest, my information being all in, I called for a reliable confidential staff officer, and gave him verbal directions to ride immediately to Cleburn, about three (3) miles in my rear, at this mountain gorge, and give him my positive orders to hold his position up to a named hour the next day, and if attacked, to defend the pass at every hazard.
The message was delivered at Cleburn's camp fire.
He heard it with surprise and expressed his apprehension that it would result in the loss of his command, as his information differed from mine, and he believed the enemy would turn his position and cut him off. “But,” said he, true soldier as he was, “I always obey orders, and only ask as a protection, in case of disaster, that you put the order in writing.”
This was done as soon as materials could be found, and the staff officer returned and reported the result of his mission.
He had not reached me, however, before the attack, in front, as I expected, was made.
Cleburn gallantly met it, defeated the enemy under Hooker, drove him back, and then quietly followed the army without further molestation.
Mark the difference in conduct and results.
A good soldier, by obedience, without substituting his own crude notions, defeats the enemy and saves an army from disaster.
And mark the credit he gets for it. The Confederate Congress passed a vote of thanks to the gallant Cleburn and his command for saving Bragg's army.
Not to this day has it ever been known that he did it in obedience to orders and against his judgment, which does not detract from, but adds to his fame.
Captain Samuel A. Harris, Assistant Adjutant-General, of Montgomery, Alabama, was the officer who delivered the order.
He is now an Episcopal clergyman, with the largest congregation in New Orleans, and has recently repeated the whole matter to me as distinctly as if it had occurred yesterday.’
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