Further from the battle of the Chickamauga.[from our Own Correspondent.]
In front of Chattanooga, Tenn.,
September 25th, 1863.
Near McDaniel's House,
Sept. 19, 1863--9 A. M.
Geo. H. Thomas,
Major-Gen'l Jr. Commanding.
This was Saturday morning. The counter attack upon the front and flank of our flanking column was made with vigor soon after it had crossed the river, and in accordance with the plan suggested by Gen. Thomas, and if not entirely successful, it was sufficiently so to disarrange our plans and delay our movements. The inquiry may arise in the mind of the reader why Gen. Bragg did not postpone the attack until all his reinforcements could get up? It is said — but with what truth I can not determine — that he acted under the belief that only three Federal corps had advanced up the valley of the Chickamauga, and that the remainder of Rosecrans's army was still on the north side of the Tennessee, near Chattanooga, and that Burnside had not yet formed a junction with the main body. It such was his belief he was deceived, except as to Burnside, as Gen. Lee was at Gettysburg when he supposed, on the morning of the 2d of July, that the whole of Meade's forces had not then arrived. And yet it must be admitted that Gen. Bragg acted wisely in giving battle when and where he did. Delay was full of danger; it might bring heavier reinforcements to his antagonist than any he could count upon. Moreover, Rosecrans was not on his guard, and did not look for an attack from an enemy who he supposed would be only too glad to effect his escape. At one time he was wary and active, combining the cunning of the fox with the sudden energy of the panther springing upon its prey; but he had become intoxicated by success, and had grown proud and confident and incautious. Gen. Bragg did well, therefore, to strike his boastful foe as soon as he did. His blow was given with skill and crushing effect. If it had only been followed up with other rapid blows upon the arrival of his remaining reinforcements possibly still more gratifying results might have been accomplished. But this is not certain, and let us not be too fast to find fault. As it is, let us see what were he fruits of our victory. In the first place, we captured 7,000 well prisoners; these will go far towards equalizing our losses at Vicksburg and Port Hudson. In the next, we took 40 stands of colors, 38 guns (of which Longstreet's command brought off 27,) 25,000 small arms, 150 wagons, and several thousand cartridge boxes, and knapsacks with their contents. This is a good showing--one that speaks for itself — and will pass for a great victory in any country. But this is not all; indeed, it is the least part of the glorious result. By a single battle we succeeded in expelling the invader from the soil of Georgia, the teeming Egypt of the Confederacy, at a time of much solicitude in the public mind, and under circumstances which seemed propitious to the successful advance of the enemy into the very heart and stronghold of the country. Our success can only be measured by what our grief and loss would have been if the enemy had reached Atlanta and overrun the State. I have endeavored heretofore to pay due homage to the skill and gallantry by which this great victory was achieved. Officers and men alike did their duty, and to each and all is due, next to the Giver of all victory, the deep gratitude of an imperiled people. But the truth of history, as well as simple justice, requires it to be stated here, that no one officer, or body of men of the same number, could have contributed more to the triumph of the Confederate arms than did Gen. Longstreet and the brave veterans who followed him from Virginia. They had travelled from the Rappahannock, in crowded cars, upon open platforms and upon the tops of the cars, in the rain, in the dust and in the sun, and with but little food or sleep. They had passed by their own homes without stopping to embrace the loved ones there — homes which some of them had not seen since the commencement of the war; and had rushed to the scene of action without rest or transportation, halting only long enough to clear their eyes of the dust of travel and replenish their cartridge boxes. The officers were without horses, and the men without wagons to transport their supplies. There was not time to furnish either; the battle was about to be joined. Arrived in front of the foe, these veterans were placed in the van, and led in every attack by the left wing, where our success was most signal, and where the day was really won. All honor, then, to the modest chieftain and his invincible command. Their praises are freely proclaimed by the Army of Tennessee, between whom and themselves there can be only a generous rivalry in heroic action and patient endurance. Passing from the battle to the present situation there are some important changes to report since the date of my last letter.--We have wrested Lookout Mountain from the enemy, and now command the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad below Chattanooga, the only channel, except his wagon trains, by which he can receive supplies from the rear. His position, however, is impregnable to assault in front. His forces occupy a bend in the Tennessee, which is spanned by two wide substantial pontoon bridges. His flanks are well protected — the right by Chattanooga creek, a deep stream with steep banks, and the left by a curve in the river above, while his front is defended by outer and inner lines of entrenchments, and a series of redoubts and earthworks which crown every bill within the circuit of his fortifications and command every approach to the town. To attack the enemy in such a position were worse than madness. Many of these works have been prepared or otherwise strengthened since the battle. But does Rosecrans intend to hold Chattanooga? A reconnaissance was undertaken last night at half-past 10 o'clock, when his pickets and scouts were chased back to the fortifications, but he was found to be in strong force and not yet evacuating the place. To-day, however, our signal men on Lookout Mountain report that his wagons have been taken across the river and parked, and that long lines of infantry, cavalry, and artillery, accompanied by forage wagons loaded with hay, could be seen moving over the bridges and across the mountains to the north. Whether this is a ruse, intending to countermarch at night, or the beginning of the final evacuation of the town, it is impossible yet to decide. Prisoners and citizens who have escaped out of their lines report that the whole army is moving toward Murfreesboro'. It may be a part of the plan of Rosecrans to leave a sufficient force behind to hold Chattanooga while he moves the main body of the army to some other point. I have written and telegraphed you regularly since my arrival here. Sallust.