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[238] General Bragg abandoned, also, the whole of Chattanooga valley, and the trenches and breastworks running along the foot of Missionary Ridge and across the valley to the base of Lookout, and moved his troops up to the top of the ridge. It was found necessary to extend his right well up toward the Chickamauga, near its mouth, in consequence of the heavy forces which the enemy had thrown up the river in that direction. The Tennessee and Missionary Ridge approach nearer to each other as one goes up, or rather down, the valley, the width of which, at some points, does not exceed one fourth of a mile. Across this valley, now almost an open plain, varying from a fourth of a mile to two miles in width, the Federals advanced to the assault, their ranks exposed to an artillery fire from the ridge, while in the plain, and to the infantry fire when they attempted the ascent of the hill or mountain.

The only objection that can be urged against our line was its length and weakness, the latter being the result of the former, and the former the result of circumstances beyond our control, it being necessary for us to guard the passes in the ridge, and to conform to the length of the line presented by the enemy. The ridge varies in height from four to six hundred feet, and is crossed by several roads leading out from Chattanooga. The western side, next to the enemy, was steep and rugged, and, in some places, almost bare, the timber having been cut away for firewood. Our pickets occupied the breastworks below, while the infantry and artillery were distributed along the crest of the ridge from McFarlan's Gap almost to the mouth of the Chickamauga, a distance of six miles or more. In addition to the natural strength of the position, we had thrown up breastworks along the ridge wherever the ascent was easy.

The Federal army was marshalled under Grant, Thomas, Hooker, and Sherman, and did not number less than eighty-five thousand veteran troops. The confederate army, under Bragg, Hardee, and Breckinridge, did not number half so many. Longstreet's Virginia divisions, and other troops, had been sent to East-Tennessee. Had these been present, with their steady leader at the head of them, we should have won a victory quite as complete as our defeat has been. As it was, we ought to have won the day, and should have done so if our men had done as well as usual. Possibly a mistake was committed when Longstreet was sent away, and possibly it would have been better not to have accepted battle to-day, but to have retired last night. General Bragg thought, however, that there was not time, after the loss of Lookout, to get his army safely over the Chickamauga last night, and that it would be better, occupying so strong a position, to fight it out. But what could he expect from a battle where the odds were so much against him? Not only did Grant have three to one in numbers, but the geographical configuration of the ground, in manaeuvring an army, was as favorable as he could desire. Nature had provided an ample protection for his flanks and rear, and rendered his front almost impregnable. He possessed the additional advantage of being able to manoeuvre his army upon the chord of a semi-circle, while Bragg could move only upon the arc.

But let us proceed with the battle, the strangest, most singular, and unsatisfactory conflict in which our arms have been engaged.

Grant deployed his immense masses in two heavy lines of battle, and sometimes in three, supported by large reserve forces. The spectacle was magnificent as viewed from the crest of Missionary Ridge. He advanced first against our right wing, about ten o'clock, where he encountered that superb soldier, Lieutenant-General Hardee, who commanded on the right, while Major-General Breckinridge commanded on the left. Hardee's command embraced Cleburne's, Walker's, (commanded by General Gist, General Walker being absent,) Cheatham's, and Stevenson's divisions. Breckinridge's embraced his old division, commanded by Brigadier-General Lewis, Stewart's, part of Buckner's and Hindman's, commanded by Patton Anderson. The enemy's first assault upon Hardee was repulsed with great slaughter, as was his second, though made with double lines, supported with heavy reserves. The wave of battle, like the wave of the sea when it dashes against a rock-bound coast, beat and hissed, and struggled in vain; for the brave men who guarded our right were resolved never to yield one foot to the hated invaders. The odds against which they contended were fearful; for while the enemy advanced in two and even three massive lines, their own army consisted of only one long and weak line, without supports.

Yet they not only repulsed every attack, but captured seven flags, about three hundred prisoners, and remained masters of the ground until night, when they were ordered to retire, carrying off all their guns, losing no prisoners, and but a small percentage of killed and wounded. The whole command behaved well, and especially that model soldier, Major-General Cleburne, a true son of the Emerald Isle, and his heroic division. General Hardee saved the army from a disastrous rout, and added fresh laurels to his brow.

The attack on the left wing was not made until about noon. Here as on the right, the enemy was repulsed, but he was obstinate and fought with great ardor and confidence, returning to the charge again and again in the handsomest style, until one of our brigades, near the centre, said to be Reynolds's, gave way, and the Federal flag was planted on Missionary Ridge. The enemy was not slow in availing himself of the great advantages of his new position. In a few minutes he turned upon our flanks and poured into them a terrible enfilading fire, which soon threw the confederates on his right and left into confusion. Under this confusion the gap in our lines grew wider and wider and wider, and the wider it grew the faster the multitudinous foe rushed into the yawning chasm. The confusion extended until it finally assumed the form of a panic. Seeing

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