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[374] forces upon his left, as Thomas had requested him to do, and placing himself so as to command the road to Sparta, the only one by which Bragg could reach Kentucky, he desired to take a position which would cover his centre, and he selected Altamount; but this village, situated in the barren and mountainous region, was almost inaccessible, and afforded none of the resources necessary to an army. Thomas, who arrived there on the 25th, was obliged to leave it for want of provisions, and returned to Mac-Minnville, which he had very imprudently been directed to abandon. McCook replaced him at Altamount on the 29th, to be soon compelled, in turn, to draw near his depots; the other divisions, stationed en echelon along the line of railway and the road which passes through Hillsboroa, Tracy and Battle Creek, faced to the north. The Federals were thus waiting for the enemy, who was turning his back upon them on his way to invade Tennessee through the open gap before him. Meanwhile, Forrest, with four regiments numbering fifteen hundred or two thousand horse, made a demonstration against their lines to mask this movement, and the wooded, uneven nature of that region enabled him to pass almost unperceived between their divisions. On the 29th a detachment of his brigade, which had struck the Mac-Minnville railroad between that point and Manchester, tried in vain to capture a Federal post stationed in a stockade. The next day, Forrest, seeing that his adversaries were preparing to surround him on all sides, bethought himself of retreat, and tried to get away by turning suddenly to northward. He intended to pass between MacMinnville and Murfreesborough, in order to join Bragg on the Cumberland; but a brigade of infantry, consisting of three regiments and two sections of artillery, under Colonel Fyffe, who had been sent in pursuit, overtook him by a forced march at a junction situated in the centre of a large clearing. On seeing these troops, the Confederates believed them to be a convoy of the enemy, an easy prey, which they prepared to capture, when they were received by volleys of musketry and grape. In the twinkling of an eye they dispersed and fled in every direction, leaving a large number of killed and wounded behind them. This reverse paralyzed for some time the movements of Forrest.

Morgan, on his side, describing a complete circle, re-entered

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