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[244] Bragg, with Cleburne, Cheatham, Stewart, Walker, Bushrod Johnson, Hindman, Law, Preston, Breckinridge and Forrest as division commanders. It was to be a battle of the Titans.

Rosecrans hung his fine army as a massive iron gate across the valley leading into Chattanooga. Thomas, whose pathway had always been lighted with the star of victory, was on the left, Crittenden in the center and McCook on the right.

Bragg placed his right wing under Polk, with D. H. Hill second in command, while Longstreeet commanded the left wing. The battle opened along the whole line on the 19th, and the Confederates were successful along their entire front, except on the Federal left, where Thomas seemed to have his wing of this great iron gate anchored in the everlasting rocks. Cleburne threw his division against him only to recoil. Cheatham and Breckinridge hurled their veterans on his breastworks only to retire with great loss. The iron gate was ajar on the right, on the center, but its left was as solid as the grand mountains overhanging it.

The second day the battle opened furiously. The divisions of Walker, Preston, Cheatham and Cleburne foamed themselves away on Thomas, but he stood like a rock. Longstreet, commanding Bragg's left wing, massing his divisions, making his right division the pivot, wheeled his entire wing to the right against McCook and Crittenden. This was a conflict of giants. McCook's splendid corps is soon ground to powder. A Confederate division wedges itself in between Crittenden and his command, and strikes it in the rear, and it vanishes and falls back, part of it in the rear of Thomas and part of it on the nearest road to Chattanooga. Rosecrans leaves the field and sends word to Thomas to do the best he can to save himself. McCook and Crittenden follow Rosecrans to Chattanooga looking for their lost commands.

The Federal right and center are now massed as a support to Thomas. Longstreet presses open the iron gate tills it hangs on only one hinge, and that hinge was Thomas. Thomas' corps was now girdled with a line of victorious bayonets, while

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered,

till at last, overwhelmed and beaten, he sullenly retires, fighting as he goes, till he is safe behind the hills of Chattanooga.

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