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[378] as Lee and Pope three weeks previous, each almost turning his back upon his true base of operations. Buell had cause to fear a similar disaster to that which the Federals had experienced at Manassas.

Leaving one division with Breckenridge on the frontier of Tennessee to check any aggressive movement on the part of the Nashville garrison, Bragg had marched in two columns, Hardee's corps taking the left, through Cave City, Polk's bearing more to the right; and on the 14th his vanguard had reached the borders of Green River. This important tributary of the Ohio runs nearly from east to west, forming an obstacle upon which Bragg, once master of the northern bank, could long hold his enemy, coming from the south. The railroad crossed this water-course at Munfordsville; on the left or south bank of the river the crossing was defended by a block-house to the west, and a small fortification, called Fort Craig, to the east, of the railway. These two works, which were connected by a long breastwork, only mounted four guns in position. The Federal garrison, commanded by Colonel Wilders, consisted of two batteries of field-artillery, about two thousand men belonging to the depots of five or six different regiments, and a company of regular infantry. Two brigades, under General Chalmers, formed the advance of Hardee's corps, which was marching at the head of the Confederate army. They arrived in front of the Federal entrenchments on the evening of the 13th, which they vigorously attacked at early dawn the next day. Fort Craig, recently constructed in the centre of a wood, was surrounded by large abatis. A fierce fight was engaged among the fallen trees; the Federals were soon driven back into their works, but the assailants could not dislodge them, and finally retired after having sustained considerable losses. Encouraged by this success, the small garrison resolved to continue the defence of the positions confided to its honor. On the 15th it received a reinforcement of five hundred men from Louisville and another on the morning of the 16th, which swelled its numbers to nearly four thousand men. But the apparent immobility of the Confederates, which had drawn these new victims into the trap, concealed a manoeuvre destined to render their safety impossible.

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