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[214] stand, Geary and Osterhaus — always in the right place — would pour a withering fire into their flanks, and again the race was renewed. This continued until near sunset, when those of the enemy who had not been killed or captured, gave way, and, in attempting to escape along the ridge, ran into the arms of Johnson's division of the Fourteenth corps, and were captured.

Our enemy, the prisoners stated, was Stewart's division. But few escaped. Osterhaus alone captured two thousand of them. This officer named the Fourth Iowa, Seventy-sixth Ohio, and Twenty-seventh Missouri regiments as having been especially distinguished in this engagement. Landgraber's battery of howitzers also rendered brilliant service on this field.

Here our business for the day ended, and the troops went into bivouac, with cheers and rejoicing, which were caught up by other troops in the vicinity, and carried along the ridge, until lost in the distance.

The pursuit continued — Ringgold — the enemy overtaken.

Soon after daylight, every effort was made, by reconnoissance and inquiry, to ascertain the whereabouts of the enemy; but to no purpose. The field was silent as the grave. Knowing the desperate extremities to which he must be reduced by our success, with his retreat seriously threatened by the only line left him with a hope of success, I felt satisfied the enemy must be in full retreat; and accordingly suggested to the commander of the department that my column march to Greysville, if possible, to intercept him. This was approved of, and, reenforced by Palmer's corps, all moved immediately in that direction, Palmer's corps in advance.

On arriving at the west fork of the Chickamauga River, it was found that the enemy had destroyed the bridge. To provide for this contingency, Major-General Butterfield, my Chief of Staff, had in the morning prudently requested that three pontoons, with their calks and chesses, might be despatched for my use, but as they had not come up, after a detention of several hours, a bridge was constructed for the infantry, the officers swimming their horses. It was not until after three o'clock that the regiments were able to commence crossing, leaving the artillery and ambulances to follow as soon as practicable; also a regiment of artillery as a guard, to complete the bridge, if possible, for the artillery, and also to assist in throwing over the pontoon-bridge as soon as it arrived. Partly in consequence of this delay, instructions were given for Palmer's command to continue on to Greysville, on reaching the La Fayette road, and for the balance of the command to proceed to Ringgold, (Cruft now leading,) as this would enable me to strike the railroad five or six miles to the south of where it was first intended. Palmer was to rejoin me in the morning.

Soon after dark, word was received from Palmer, through a member of his staff, that he had come up with the enemy, reported to be a battery and two or three thousand infantry. Instructions were sent him to attack them at once; and, while forming his lines to the left for that purpose, the remaining part of the column was massed, as it came up, to the right of the road, and held, awaiting the movements of Palmer. His enemy was discovered to be a battery of three pieces, with a small escort, and was the rear of the rebel army on the road from Greysville to Ringgold. Three pieces of artillery were captured, and subsequently an additional piece, with, I believe, a few prisoners. I have received no report, from this officer, of his operations while belonging to my command, although mine has been delayed six weeks in waiting. We were now fairly up with the enemy. This was at ten o'clock at night. Cruft's division advanced, and took possession of the crest of Chickamauga hills — the enemy's abandoned camp-fires still burning brightly on the side — and we all went into bivouac.

My artillery was not yet up; anal, in this connection, I desire that the especial attention of the Commander of the department may be called to that part of the report of General Osterhaus which relates to the conduct of the officers who had the pontoon-bridge in charge. I do not know the names of the officers referred to; was not furnished with a copy of their instructions, nor did they report to me. The pontoons were not brought forward to the point of crossing at all, and the calks and chess-planks only reached their destination between nine and ten o'clock P. M.--distance from Chattanooga ten miles, and the roads excellent. Then trestles had to be framed, and the bridge was not finished until six o'clock the following morning. The report of Lieutenant H. C. Wharton, of the engineers, and temporarily attached to my staff, who was left behind to hasten the completion of the bridge, is herewith transmitted.

No better commentary on this culpable negligence is needed than is furnished by the record of our operations in the vicinity of Ringgold. The town was distant five miles. At daylight the pursuit was renewed — Osterhaus in the advance, Geary following, and Cruft in the rear. Evidences of the precipitate flight of the enemy were everywhere apparent; caissons, wagons, ambulances, arms, and ammunition were abandoned in the hurry and confusion of retreat. After going about two miles, we came up with the camps he had occupied during the night, the fires still burning. A large number of prisoners were also taken before reaching the east fork of the Chickamauga River.

We found the ford, and also the bridge to the south of Ringgold, held by a body of rebel cavalry. These discharged their arms, and quickly gave way before a handful of our men, and were closely pursued into the town. I rode to the front on hearing the firing, where I found Oster haus out with his skirmishers, intensely alive to all that was passing, and pushing onward briskly. He informed me that four pieces of artillery had just left the rebel camp. weakly escorted,

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J. M. Palmer (6)
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