The battle at Lookout Mountain
[from our own correspondent.]
has made an important move upon the military chess-board to-day, and one that is likely to exert an important influence upon military operations in this quarter.
At an early hour this morning, when the fog had lifted from the Valley
below, it was discovered that the Federal
commander was massing a heavy force on his left and opposite to our right.
As the morning advanced this force grew denser and larger, until it covered all the slopes this side of Cemetery Fort, which is near the river above, and the last work the enemy has on his left.
At 12 M. these masses deployed into two lines of battle, with heavy reserves.--This movement completed, the guns of the fort opened at 2 P. M., when the heavy lines of the Federal
advanced rapidly against our pickets, and drove them in after a sharp resistance on their part.
By 3 o'clock the enemy had gained Indian Hill
, an eminence which stands about midway between Cemetery Fort and Missionary Ridge
, being between his left wing and our right.
He advanced upon no other part of the lines, and rested after gaining possession of the hill.
In the meantime Major Robertson
brought up a few guns of his reserve artillery, and with other batteries posted on Missionary Ridge
to the right, opened upon the enemy — with what effect is not known.
We only know that he maintained his new position, notwithstanding our fire.
No report has been received of our casualties beyond a surmise in official quarters, that they will reach from one to two hundred in killed and wounded.
Only our pickets were engaged, the enemy not coming within range of our line of battle.
When this movement was going on it was observed that the enemy threw a considerable column up the river further to our right, as if he intended to overlap our line and compel us to stretch it out to a length that would render it very long and very weak.
Can it be that he means to threaten our depot of supplies at Chickamauga station
, and at the same time to draw us away from Lookout Mountain
The idea that Grant
desires to advance his lines in order to get more room and a further supply of firewood, as has been suggested, will not hear the test of reason.
A movement on so large and imposing a scale looks to ulterior objects, and is intended to initiate operations upon a broad and comprehensive scale.
The first result of such a movement will be to compel Gen. Bragg
to weaken his forces on Lookout Mountain
(his left) to reinforce his right, which is comparatively weak.
Indeed, orders to this effect have already been given, and are now being executed.
It will never do to let the enemy turn our right and get possession of our depot at Chickamauga
, therefore, must choose between Lookout and Chickamauga
The demonstration to-day was intended, doubtless, to force him to make his election between the two.
If he decide to hold Chickamauga
then he must yield the mountain, and throw his army between the enemy's encroaching left wing and the railroad.
If he give the preference to Lookout then the railroad and his depot of supplies must go.
The natural effect of the affair to-day as has already been intimated, will be to force Gen. Bragg
to weaken his left in order to strengthen his right wing, now threatened by a formidable and largely superior force.
This, I doubt not, was one of the objects of the demonstration.
I look, therefore, for an assault upon Lookout to-morrow, when it will be less able to resist an attack than it was to-day.
Our artillery on the mountain will be of no assistance after the enemy shall have reached the foot of the mountain, it being impossible to depress the guns sufficiently.
The importance of the mountain ceased with the loss of Lookout Valley
The possession of the valley reduces the wagon transportation of the enemy to two or three miles at farthest, and gives him the use of the river besides.
The voluntary abandonment of the mountain, therefore, should occasion no regret, since its longer retention is not only of slight importance, but will be attended with much difficulty on account of the great length of our line.