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[92]

An important Dispatch.


From Lieutenant General N. B. Forrest. Did it determine the fate of the Confederacy.

A dispatch, says the Washington Star of Jan. 15, 1897, written by the Confederate General Forrest, dated September 21, 1863, during the movements of troops about Chattanooga, has recently been brought to light. Much importance has been attached to this document, because of the opinion attributed to General Longstreet that it contained the instructions which determined the fate of the Confederacy. The dispatch is a brief one, dictated by General Forrest under most exciting conditions, signed by him, and addressed to General Polk, who was asked to forward it to General Bragg. At the time the message was written, General Forrest, it is said, was making observations high up in a tree on Missionary Ridge. He had been sweeping the great battle-field of Chickamauga with his glasses; he believed he saw evidences of an attempt on the part of General Rosencranz and his army to escape from the trap in which the Confederates supposed they had snared him, and in which they expected to capture him and his whole army. He, then, calling down from the tree, dictated the dispatch in question to his adjutant, who wrote it upon a sheet of dingy, blue paper, with a lead pencil, using an upturned saddle stirrup as a writing desk. This dispatch announced to General Polk, General Forrest's belief that the enemy were evacuating Chattanooga, and his opinion that the Confederate army ought to press forward as rapidly as possible.

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