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[369] I had in position endangered. I immediately gave directions for the protection of the left, and passed quickly to the position to which I was assigned, by an order received per Captain Gaw, of General Thomas's staff. On the way I met General Brannan, who urgently requested a regiment. I ordered to his support my largest regiment, the Twenty-first Ohio, armed with revolving (five-chambered) muskets. I found affairs in front assuming an alarming condition. The enemy was pushing heavy columns through the gap in our line, caused by General Wood's hasty abandonment of his position. Remaining portions of the line swung back like a gate before the wind. The troops from the right, who rested back against the ridge in echelon, pushed forward with intrepidity to recover the lost ground, but were taken in flank, and crumbled into flying fragments. My situation was desperate. My effective batteries were fast exhausting their ammunition. I had sent, on the first view, two aids to General Rosecrans, to describe my situation, and ask immediate reenforcements. At the same time I ordered up the remainder of the Third brigade, which was not then engaged. Lieutenant Moody returned through a shower of bullets, expressing surprise at finding me still on the ridge, and reported General Rosecrans's reply: “Tell Negley it is too late; I cannot help him.” The regiment of stragglers on my left had vanished; those upon my right were disappearing in the dense woods, their speed redoubled by the farreaching shells; and the exultant yells of the enemy, whose closely planted batteries and long lines of musketry were sweeping the ridge with an appalling fire, were ringing in my ears. Yet the batteries of Schultz, Marshall, and one of Parrott guns, were heroically hurling death into the enemy's ranks, at such short-range, that the smoke from the guns of both contending hosts mingled together.

Contemplate my position, if it is possible to do so here, removed from the scene of action. No human eye could penetrate the dark woods to the left, where General Thomas, with the flower of the army, was struggling against the inspirited enemy. To seek succor from that quarter was hopeless. None could be expected from General Brannan, as he had just applied for and received assistance from me. Tidings of defeat came from the right; the enemy was gliding up the ravine to the left, and almost seizing the guns in action. All was now agonizing doubt and irremediable confusion. It was now, in my judgment, time to retire. To continue an unequal contest, could only add more graves to the battle-field, and give more trophies to the enemy. A proper realization of the situation, and a just regard for the lives and materiel of war intrusted to my care, urged the speedy withdrawal of my few troops and considerable artillery. The latter was moved to the second ridge, at which point a portion of the Third brigade had just arrived. The ground was unfavorable — a dense forest covered the movements of the enemy, who manifested an intention of cutting off our retreat along the only passable route, the Dry Valley road. The artillery was becoming more scattered each moment, trying to escape the falling shells. It now became a question for me to decide, whether I should remain with my isolated command, and save it all if possible, or endeavor to reach the left with my infantry only, leaving the ambulances, filled with wounded, the stragglers, and the artillery, to inevitable capture. I was ignorant of the condition of the troops upon my left, who might, for aught I knew to the contrary, be in full retreat upon the La Fayette and Rossville road. Indications, and the general impression, were that such was the fact; and, indeed, it would have been the case had not the approaching column (unknown to me) of General Granger's corps prevented. My decision was to remain with my special command, until relieved by the same (or higher) authority which had assigned me to it. I withdrew until I reached McFarland's house, in the first open ground on the natural line of communication with Rossville, where I halted, induced to do so by the fact that it was the termination of a long and narrow defile, which could be held by a small force against the enemy, who were reported to be advancing. It is a reasonable presumption that a knowledge on the part of the enemy, of the assembling of our scattered forces at McFarland's farm, checked his further pursuit.

I now learned, for the first time, from a cavalryman, that General Thomas was holding the enemy in check upon the left, and as it would require time to organize the troops and clear the gap, I turned over the command to General Davis, and hastened back to find General Thomas, if possible, and report for orders. Meeting General Sheridan entering the defile from the west side, with a considerable body of troops, I suggested the propriety of moving what I thought was his division, to the support of General Thomas. He replied that it was his intention to proceed to Rossville. I passed on, and soon met the enemy, who prevented my further advance. I then returned to McFarland's, and held consultation with Generals Sheridan and Davis, and officers of General Rosecrans's staff. It was unanimously agreed, that General Davis should remain and hold the Gap; General Sheridan to pass through Rossville, toward General Thomas's left; while I should proceed to Rossville, with the debris of the army, organize the scattered troops, and be prepared to support either column. About this time, a despatch arrived from Captain Hill, of General Rosecrans's staff, stating that Forrest's cavalry was on the Ringgold and Rossville road, in General Thomas's rear. In view of this new danger, I marched expeditiously to Rossville, and prepared to hold it. This entire movement was only an anticipation of the order received from General Rosecrans, then at Chattanooga, sent by telegraph at seven P. M.

The great advantage of this effective organization and disposition of troops, who otherwise

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