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[192] Hooker's command at Bridgeport, preparatory to securing the river and main wagon-road between that place and Brown's Ferry, immediately below Lookout Mountain. The next morning, after my arrival at Chattanooga, in company with Thomas and Brigadier-General W. F. Smith, Chief-Engineer, I made a reconnaissance of Brown's Ferry and the bills on the south side of the river and at the mouth of Lookout valley. After the reconnoissance, the plan agreed upon was for Hooker to cross at Bridgeport to the south side of the river, with all the force that could be spared from the railroad, and move on the main wagonroad by way of Whitesides to Wauhatchie in Lookout valley. Major-General J. M. Palmer was to proceed by the only practicable route north of the river, from his position opposite Chattanooga to a point on the north bank of the Tennessee River, and opposite Whitesides, then to cross to the south side to hold the road passed over by Hooker.

In the mean time, and before the enemy could be apprised of our intention, a force under the direction of Brigadier-General W. F. Smith, Chief-Engineer, was to be thrown across the river, at or near Brown's Ferry, to seize the range of hills at the mouth of Lookout valley, covering the Brown's Ferry road, and orders were given accordingly.

It was known that the enemy held the north end of Lookout valley with a brigade of troops, and the road leading around the foot of the mountain from their main camp in Chattanooga valley to Lookout valley. Holding these advantages, he would have had little difficulty in concentrating a sufficient force to have defeated or driven him back. To remedy this, the seizure of the range of hills at the mouth of Lookout valley, and covering the Brown's Ferry road, was deemed of the highest importance. This, by the use of pontoon-bridges at Chattanooga and Brown's Ferry, would secure to us, by the north bank of the river across Moccasin Point, a shorter line by which to reenforce our troops in Lookout valley than the narrow and tortuous road around the foot of Lookout Mountain afforded the enemy for reenforcing his.

The force detailed for this expedition consisted of four thousand men, under command of General Smith, Chief-Engineer, one thousand eight hundred of which, under Brigadier-General W. B. Hazen, in sixty pontoon boats, containing thirty armed men each, floated quietly from Chattanooga past the enemy's pickets, to the foot of Lookout Mountain, on the night of the twenty-seventh of October, landed on the south side of the river at Brown's Ferry, surprised the enemy's pickets stationed there, and seized the hills covering the ferry, without the loss of a man killed, and but four or five wounded. The remainder of the forces, together with the materials for a bridge, were moved by the north bank of the river across Moccasin Point to Brown's Ferry, without attracting the attention of the enemy; and before day dawned, the whole force was ferried to the south bank of the river, and the almost inaccessible heights rising from Lookout valley, at its outlet to the river, and below the mouth of Lookout Creek, were secured.

By ten o'clock A. M., an excellent pontoon-bridge was laid across the river at Brown's Ferry, thus securing to us the end of the desired road nearest the enemy's forces, and the shorter line over which to pass troops if a battle became inevitable. Positions were taken up by our troops from which they could not have been driven except by vastly superior forces, and then only with great loss to the enemy. Our artillery was placed in such position as to completely command the roads leading from the enemy's main camp in Chattanooga valley to Lookout valley.

On the twenty-eighth, Hooker emerged into Lookout valley at Wauhatchie, by the direct road from Bridgeport by way of Whitesides to Chattanooga, with the Eleventh army corps under Major-General Howard, and Geary's division of the Twelfth army corps, and proceeded to take up positions for the defence of the road from Whitesides, over which he had marched, and also the road leading from Brown's Ferry to Kelly's Ferry, throwing the left of Howard's corps forward to Brown's Ferry.

The division that started, under command of Palmer, for Whitesides, reached its destination, and took up the position intended in the original plan of this movement. These movements, so successfully executed, secured to us two comparatively good lines by which to obtain supplies from the terminus of the railroad at Bridgeport, namely, the main wagon-road by way of Whitesides, Wauhatchie, and Brown's Ferry, distant but twenty-eight miles, and the Kelly's Ferry and Brown's Ferry road, which, by the use of the river from Bridgeport to Kelly's Ferry, reduced the distance for wagoning to but eight miles.

Up to this period, our forces at Chattanooga were practically invested, the enemy's lines extending from the Tennessee River, above Chattanooga, to the river at and below the point of Lookout Mountain, below Chattanooga, with the south bank of the river picketed to near Bridgeport, his main force being fortified in Chattanooga valley, at the foot of and on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, and a brigade in Lookout valley. True, we held possession of the country north of the river, but it was from sixty to seventy miles, over the most impracticable roads to army supplies.

The artillery horses and mules had become so reduced by starvation that they could not have been relied upon for moving any thing. An attempt at retreat must have been with men alone and with only such supplies as they could carry. A retreat would have been almost certain annihilation, for the enemy, occupying positions within gunshot of, and overlooking, our very fortifications, would unquestionably have pursued retreating forces. Already more than ten thousand animals had perished in supplying halfrations


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