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[95] as hard as they can go. They are cutting timber down to obstruct our passage. I think we ought to press forward as rapidly as possible.

Respectfully, etc.,

N. B. Forrest. Brigadier-General. To Lieutenant-General L. Polk.
(Please forward to General Bragg.)

At the time this dispatch was written the Union army was not at Chattanooga, but was in line, fully prepared for battle in Rossville Gap, and upon Missionary Ridge to the right and left of this gap, with one of its three corps extending across the valley, nearly to Lookout Mountain. It was, therefore, directly in General Forrest's front, and only a mile distant. The position it occupied could not have been carried by direct assault. The army trains were not passing around the point of Lookout Mountain, but were going into Chattanooga under direct orders from General Rosencranz. No pontoon was being thrown across the river for the purpose of retreating, and, by General Rosencranz's order, the one already in position was heavily guarded to prevent any soldier leaving the city. The timber being cut, was in Rossville Gap, to strengthen that position. General Forrest himself, did “press forward,” with the result thus set forth in his official report:

On mission Ridge.

On taking possession of Mission Ridge, one mile or thereabouts from Rossville, we found the enemy fortifying the gap. Dismounted Colonel Dibbrell's regiment, under command of Captain McGinnis, and attacked them, but found the force too large to dislodge them. On the arrival of my artillery, opened on, and fought them for several hours, but could not move them.


General Forrest had two divisions, which habitually fought dismounted. While the Union army was in line at Rossville, five miles southeast of Chattanooga, General Rosencranz was in the city, sending out ammunition and provisions, and preparing to bring the army into Chattanooga, which was the objective of the campaign, and to hold it.

Hon. Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War, then at Rosencranz's headquarters in the city, under the same date as this dispatch of General Forrest—namely, September 21st—thus telegraphed Secretary Stanton:

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