mountain, both very strong positions, which were left open by General Bragg
, but without any apparent object.
The enemy took position near Dug Gap, and as soon as they had done so, D. H. Hill
was ordered to guard the passage in Pigeon mountain
, while General Polk
was summoned to make active operations against the Federals
in McLemore's Cove.
Thus the two armies faced each other on September 10th, but no collision occurred.
made disposition for battle, and Cleburne
's battle-scarred heroes deployed into line ready to spring forth with their habitual eclat
, but before the order was given, word reached Hill
from headquarters to suspend the movement.
It is believed by those acquainted with the conditions that a most favorable opportunity was lost at this time.
As an evidence of this, the Federals
began a hurried retrogade march.
As soon as General Hill
reported this fact, he was ordered to advance, which he did with great spirit, but the Federals
declined battle, and night being at hand, under favor of darkness, fell back to the hills in front of Steven's Gap, and escaped that destruction which a skilled general like Hill
, with his impetuous soldiers, could have wrought.
This was one of the lost opportunities of the war.
assembled his corps near Winston's Gap, in Lookout mountain
, some forty miles distant. Meantime Thomas
began to move eastward to intercept General Bragg
, whom Rosecrans
believed to be in full retreat.
Previous to these events a third corps of Rosecrans
' army, under Crittenden
, had crossed the Tennessee
, and at the mouth of Battle creek
, and was moving by way of Ringgold
Let us consider the situation at this time.
' army was widely separated.
could only reach Thomas
by a march of thirty-five miles, while Crittenden
was separated from both, as he moved down the east side of Missionary ridge
. General Bragg
had concentrated his whole force near Lafayette
, and it was impossible, therefore, for McCook
to reach Thomas
by the road mentioned.
There was but one opportunity open, and that was to march back into Wills' Valley
and northward, some fifty miles through most difficult mountain roads and passes.
It was fortunate, indeed, for the Federal
commander that General Bragg
did not take in the