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[34] on several fields had sufficed to give them just confidence in their own ability. Their experience at Corinth, Miss., had amply proven to them that a retreat is not always a disaster, for had they not afterwards turned around and threatened Cincinnati itself? ‘Who knows,’ said they, ‘but this falling back is but the presage to another advance into Kentucky, more glorious and more permanent than the first?’ And, again, their confidence in their leader, General Bragg, although not great, was still sufficient to preserve them from demoralization. They knew that he was a skillful officer, although not a great commander. They thought he was safe and careful, and therefore, although not likely to do great deeds, yet was, on the other hand, not likely to expose them to great disaster. All this they felt towards him, although he was never personally popular. His men never forgot his harshness at the outset of his career, and all his subsequent laxity of discipline could never wipe out the first impressions of his ‘tyranny.’ But their wants had in a measure been supplied. Their rations were sufficient, their clothing passable, they had not been through the extreme privations and destitutions which were the daily attendants of their subsequent campaign. So they preserved a hopeful and buoyant disposition, and can be said to have been in as high a state of efficiency as a volunteer army could, under the circumstances, arrive at.

Under such encouraging auspices did Bragg fight at Chickamauga. He had received large reinforcements from Virginia, consisting of two divisions of Longstreet scorps, and also other accessions from different portions of the country. His whole force was about seventy-five thousand men; but for some reason not over fifty-five thousand were actually engaged. Rosecrans carried into battle an army which equalled, if it did not exceed, our entire command.

From the unusual combinations on our side, it looks as if our leaders intended to verify the hopes of the men, and after completely annihilating the enemy, to advance and take permanent possession of Tennessee and Kentucky. The opportunity seemed a golden one. Rosecrans had, in his eagerness, placed himself in the snare made for him. His forces were divided, and ours for once, equal in numbers to the foe, formed one united and enthusiastic band. The battle, as has been said already, was fought with but a little over two-thirds of our entire army, and Bragg had a force of over twenty thousand fresh men, with which to complete the rout. Why he did not do so, I have not the means of determining. He charged General Polk with negligence, and the latter was relieved temporarily of his command.

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