's position was such as to enable him to know not only the movements of the troops preceding the battle of Sunday, but to bring from the field the very last news that could be gathered there.
In Saturday's fight, he was on the left or left centre.
That night the greater portions of McCook
's and Crittenden
's corps moved past him to strengthen Thomas
extreme left, leaving him on the extreme right.
Between his brigade and Thomas
, in the centre, instead of two corps, as represented by the Herald
writer, there were but two divisions, Sheridan
's and Jeff C. Davis
, of these corps.
Here the line was necessarily very weak, and the rebels failing in the desperate attack upon Thomas
, and in a fierce but not persistent dash upon the right, took the opportunity of some movement in the centre to strike there.
They massed a column six or eight deep against our thin line and broke through it, scattering the divisions more by main strength and pressure than by their fire, into the hills and hollows of Mission Ridge
behind them, where the nature of the ground made it difficult to keep them together or rally them.
This was the only real reverse of the day. It embraced but two divisions, as already stated, and of these, Sheridan
, who, Wilder
says, did all that human daring and coolness could, rallied a considerable number, and returned to the fight.
Not many were killed or captured, as the rebels were prevented from using their advantage by a deadly flanking fire thrown into them by Wilder
's seven-shooting rifles and artillery as they passed him in pursuit.
He says they did not go a halfmile beyond his line, and soon fell back.
After this he held his ground five hours without molestation
. How Thomas
held the left, or rather the main body of the army, is known to every body.
On both flanks the rebels were stopped and beaten back.
In the centre they broke up two divisions, but with a less fatal result than might have been expected.
This is the sum of the matter.
On Sunday night Wilder
distributed his brigade so as to protect the roads from the right to Chattanooga
, and on Monday joined the main body in good order and good spirits, entirely unconscious of any defeat.
came in on Monday at his own pleasure, with more than two thirds of the whole army, and any thing but a defeat to report, as the most dispiriting accounts show.
Our line was held, except at the right of the centre, till we chose to leave it, as Rosecrans
would have done before the fight, if the rebels had let him. They fought to break him up before he could get back to the impregnable position at Chattanooga
, and only succeeded in breaking up two divisions.
came in he gathered up and brought with him a very large amount of stores and material, supposed by those in Chattanooga
, and of course by the Herald
writer, to have been lost.
Among these were two guns, one hundred ambulances, sixty beef cattle, and a large number of ammunition wagons and caissons.
Similar recoveries were doubtless made by other portions of the army, but the correspondent had hurried off .to publish his description of the fight, and knew nothing of this rather important variation of the state of facts behind him. Our loss in prisoners, in both days, the Colonel
says, will not exceed two thousand five hundred, including the wounded.
In artillery, it will be less than Colonel Barnett
supposed, as guns were recovered and brought in, of which he could know nothing when he gave his estimate to the correspondent.
We captured about two thousand prisoners, of whom Wilder
brought one thousand five hundred and thirty with him to Stevenson
The distance of the battle-field from Chattanooga
has not been fully understood, and the supposition that Rosecrans
was driven back twenty or thirty miles has added a gloomy shade even to the most cheering aspect of the fight; but the distance was small, our extreme right, which was farthest away on Sunday, being less than twelve miles off, and the left, after falling back to Mission Ridge
, being hardly more than half of it.
On Monday, immediately after the return from the field, Wilder
was sent off up the Tennessee
to guard fords and passes for Burnside
's benefit, and took with him despatches from Rosecrans
with full news of the “situation.”
These despatches were safely delivered, as the courier taking them got back just as Wilder
This assures the country that Burnside
will not be caught unprepared.
When the courier reached him he was moving toward Chattanooga
, at what point or with what strength it would probably be improper to state, but we may state that by this time he is past all danger of being intercepted by the rebels, and has force enough to make good all Rosecrans
has lost, and something over.
At Stevenson Wilder
heard a rumor that Grierson
's cavalry from the Mississippi
were within ten miles, and that Sherman
's whole corps was within two days march, coming up from Decatur, Alabama
, but the rumors were undoubtedly false, as Grierson
was in Springfield, Illinois
, on Friday, and Sherman
could not have got to the point stated, from the Big Black, in the time that has elapsed since the battle, and we know that he had not started before.
Among the incidents of the battle of Saturday, Colonel Wilder
described the frightful slaughter of Longstreet
's men at the time they were driven back by our left wing.
This celebrated corps, as desperate soldiers as ever lived, attacking two divisions, Van Cleve
's and Davis
's, to the right, and a little in front of Wilder
, separated them and pushed on through the open space yelping — the rebel shout is a yelp, instead of a civilized hurrah — and confident of victory.
A portion of them had to cross a small field, behind which, in the bordering woods, Wilder
lay, and through which ran a ditch five or six feet deep to carry off the water of an adjacent stream or swamp.
As the rebels entered this field, in heavy masses fully exposed, the mounted infantry, with their seven-shooting rifles, kept up a continuous blast of fire upon them, while Lilly
, with his Indiana battery, hurled through them double-shotted canister from his ten-pounder rifles, at less than three hundred yards. The effect was awful.
Every shot seemed to tell.
The head of the column, as it was pushed on by those behind, appeared to melt away or sink into the earth, for, though continually moving, it got no nearer.
It broke at last, and fell back in great disorder.
It was rallied and came on again, and with desperate resolution pushed through the solid fire to the ditch.
Here all who could get in took shelter.
whirled two of his guns and poured right down the whole length of the ditch his horrible double canister.
Hardly a man got out of it alive.
“At this point,” said Wilder
, (who has been seasoned to slaughter by being two hundred times under fire,) “it actually seemed a pity to kill men so. They fell in heaps, and I had it in my heart to order the firing to cease to end the awful sight.”
But the merciless seven-shooters and canister would not stop, and again the boasted flower of Lee
's army was crushed into a disorderly mob, and driven off. When the firing ceased one could have walked for two hundred yards down that ditch on dead rebels without touching, the ground.
Of course Colonel Wilder
doesn't claim that his brigade defeated Longstreet
His statement refers only to that portion of the corps which entered the field in his front.
He thinks that not less than two thousand rebels were killed and wounded in this field.
It was probably the most disastrous fire of the two days fight on either side.
On Sunday, Colonel Edward A. King
, of the Sixtyeighth Indiana
, then commanding a brigade, was killed by a rebel sharp-shooter concealed in a tree.
The shot struck him, in the forehead, killing him instantly.
, reported killed, was not hurt.
In a skirmish of Wilder
's brigade with Forrest
, a few miles from Dalton
, three days before the battle, Forrest
was so badly wounded that he was unable to take his command during the battle.
General Joe Johnston
's brigade, and narrowly escaped being captured.
The same day Lee
, and other rebel generals, were in Dalton
in consultation.--Indianapolis Journal