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[365] divisions, and to these were added “all the cavalry” --a formidable force truly. With it the right should have been made secure, and for the employment of this force, by all men who have not studied the battle, I am held responsible. How much I had actually present to engage, will be shown in a little while.

General Thomas had his own four divisions, and to strengthen him, Johnson's, of McCook's, by far the strongest, and Palmer's,of Crittenden's, the strongest of that corps, had been sent the day before, and fought upon the left throughout the day.

Crittenden's remaining divisions were to be in reserve, and ready to “support either Thomas or McCook.” I had in line two brigades of Sheridan's, with Laibolt's brigade in reserve to support that line, and two brigades of Davis's to the left and rear of Sheridan. The other brigade of Davis had been left to hold Steven's Gap, and support the cavalry when the army advanced from Pond Spring. Colonel Wilder's brigade of mounted infantry extended Sheridan's right, but the rest of the cavalry was not available, the General commanding it, from a misconception of General Rosecrans's orders, having declined to obey the orders given by me.

After daylight the unmistakable tokens of battle manifested themselves on the left; the calls for assistance begin, and the commands to reenforce follow promptly.

Just as the fog begins to lift, Negley is ordered out of line, and moves to the left. The reserve is at once called upon, and General Crittenden sends in Wood's division to supply the place left vacant.

All is yet quiet on the right; the demands of the left are pressing, and General Van Cleve is ordered to march to Thomas, and afterward Wood's division leaves the line and takes the same direction. Whether this order was correctly construed or not, it is unnecessary to discuss. The consequences to General McCook's troops are the same. The part of a division is suddenly withdrawn from the line, without any information to him except that given by General Wood, in an accidental meeting at the moment the movement commenced.

“It was done at the double-quick,” thus giving General McCook no time to close his troops properly and “fill the vacant space.” [General Rosecrans's testimony.] There was not only no time to fill the space, but I had no troops to fill it with, unless a small brigade could cover division intervals.

Just as I was forming on General Wood's right, I was told by Colonel Buell that.he was leaving for the left, and that the other brigades had already moved. [General Davis's testimony.]

At ten o'clock the attack had not begun upon the right, but the left being heavily pressed; and a few moments later the resolution was taken that every thing must be hazarded for the position on the left, and the reserve having been employed, the right was called upon.

At ten minutes after ten o'clock this order was given.

headquarters Department Cumberland, in the field, September 20, 1863--10.10 A. M.
Major-General McCook, Commanding Twentieth Army Corps:
General Thomas is being heavily pressed on the left. The General Commanding directs you to make immediate disposition to withdraw the right, so as to spare as much force as possible to reenforce Thomas. The left must be held at all hazards, even if the right is drawn wholly back to the present left. Select a good position back this way, and be ready to send reenforcements to Thomas at a moment's warning.

J. A. Garfield, Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.

At thirty (30) minutes after ten, the order for preparation is followed by the command of execution:

headquarters Department Cumberland, in the field, September 20, 1863--10.30 A. M.
Major-General McCook, Commanding Twentieth Army Corps:
The General Commanding directs you to send two brigades of General Sheridan's division at once and with all possible despatch to support General Thomas, and send the Third brigade as soon as the lines can be drawn in sufficiently. March them as rapidly as you can without exhausting the men. Report in person to these headquarters as soon as your orders are given in regard to Sheridan's movement. Have you any news from Colonel Post?

J. A. Garfield, Brigadier-General and Chief of Staff.

At a few minutes before eleven these orders were received almost simultaneously, “not six minutes interval,” and the fate of the right was sealed.

Well might the General, who was “calm and confident” at his lines in the morning, become “anxious, when he saw the dust rising through the woods to his front,” at the moment he received an order to break his line and march to the flank.

The attack on the right came at thirty minutes after eleven o'clock--not later, if any reliance is to be placed as to time on the battle-field, upon testimony of soldiers engaged. There seems to be, on this point, the concurrence of all witnesses.

Where are the troops who occupied the ground in the morning?

Negley was gone. Wood, who filled his place, had followed him, and Van Cleve was also marching. The two brigades of Sheridan's, which are in line on the right, are now taken out in obedience to this order, and are marching through the dense woods close in the rear of tile line of battle toward that same left, which is swallowing the army.

What is there to resist the coming attack?

Two weak brigades of Davis's — the remnants of the bloody fight of yesterday, one thousand three hundred strong, and the brigade of Laibolt, less in number than Davis's two.


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September 20th, 1863 AD (2)
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