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[377] army was being massed with difficulty between Nashville and Murfreesborough.

Bragg had under his command many of the soldiers and officers who had evacuated Bowling Green with Sidney Johnston six months before, who had participated in the bloody battle of Shiloh and defended Corinth, and who, in short, after an extremely long march through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, were returning to Kentucky full of ardor and confidence. This confidence was well founded: thanks to the combinations of their chief and the slow movements of their adversary, they found themselves placed between the latter and his base of operations. Henceforth Kirby Smith, protected by them, had nothing more to fear. The railroad which connected Nashville with the great cities of the North was at their mercy; the free States on the right bank of the Ohio were menaced, and Buell would be compelled to attack the Confederates whenever they might please to make a stand against him in order to ensure his retreat.

Leaving to General Thomas the care of organizing the defence of Nashville, Buell, on hearing of the arrival of the enemy at Carthage, had proceeded as far as Lebanon in the direction of that city. Bragg, however, still pushed forward without waiting for him. On the 12th of September the first detachments of Confederate infantry reached Glasgow, while their cavalry was destroying the track of the Nashville and Louisville Railroad between Franklin and Bowling Green. Buell followed them at a distance, feeling his way. On that day he had not gone beyond the frontier of Kentucky near Mitchellville; and still fearing an attack upon Nashville, he sent back one of the divisions of his army to Thomas. On the following day every doubt was dispelled. An intercepted despatch had informed him, it is said, what might, for that matter, have been easily guessed—that Bragg was marching upon Louisville. The Federals had but little chance of winning the race of which that city was the prize. Thomas was summoned in great haste with the first division. Leaving two at Nashville, he started on the 15th. On the 18th the whole of Buell's army was concentrated at Bowling Green. Bragg, however, had turned these six days to good account, and the two adversaries found themselves nearly in the same situation

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