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[367] sufficient force to dispute its possession. He was well aware that if the war was again transferred to that State, Tennessee, situated farther south, would be wrested from the Federals without striking a blow.

The position of Buell's army favored the execution of this plan. His right was at Huntsville; his centre, posted en echelon along the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, beyond Decherd, was watching the crossings of the Tennessee and the mouth of the Sequatchie at Jasper; the left extended as far as MacMinnville. Thinking that this last position was the most important, the Federal general-in-chief had entrusted its defence to his best lieutenant, Thomas, the conqueror of Mill Springs. But while the right and centre were covered by the course of the Tennessee, which separated them from the enemy, the left was entirely unprotected (en l'air). Between MacMinnville and the river extends a range of mountains difficult of access, consisting of vast plateaux, without water, and intersected by deep valleys lying parallel to the Tennessee, the most important being that of the Sequatchie. Unable to occupy this inhospitable mass of rocks, the Federals had pitched their camps along the western slopes, where they could easily obtain supplies, and, fearing to extend their lines too much, had only prolonged them north of MacMinnville by a few trifling detachments of cavalry.

In order to deceive them as to the real movements of the army which was to attack them, the Richmond government determined to menace them simultaneously at various points far remote from each other. Humphrey Marshall in West Virginia and Van Dorn in Mississippi, who were separated from each other by more than nine hundred kilometres in an air-line, were simultaneously ordered, one to support the invasion of Kirby Smith, the other to harass Grant around Memphis and Corinth, so as to oblige him to shut himself up in these two places. On the 21st of August, Bragg's army crossed the Tennessee, above Chattanooga, near Harrison—an operation which occupied considerable time, as he was not provided with a sufficient quantity of bridge equipage, and was obliged to convey all his troops from one bank to the other, by means of a few small steamers and some boats which he had collected from all parts. But the mass of mountains

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