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[423] the rebels as it was damaging to us; and it actually became a question with many of our milltary men as to whether we could, without very serious dancer, continue to hold East-Tennessee at all. My own opinion, based upon that of men in whose judgment I am accustomed to repose much confidence. was, that with any reasonable degree of good management, our hold upon East-Tennessee was perfectly secure. Nevertheless, Longstreet held, in refererence to our forces there, a menacing position. We did not know exactly how great his strength was. We did know that he might at any time be reenforced either from Johnston's army or Lee's; and it became us to watch him with the utmost vigilance, and, if possible, prevent these reenforcements from reaching him. Any force from Lee's army could join him in spite of us; but in reference to detachments from Johnston, we could do one of two things: either we could, by threatening Dalton, prevent them from being sent out at all, or we could intercept them on their way. To effect, if necessary, the latter object, certain dispositions of troops were made, of which I shall not now speak.

Of course these dispositions had reference to other and almost as important objects as the one I have mentioned; but these, also, I have not now occasion to mention.

Suffice it to say, that with our troops thus disposed, neither Johnston could send reenforcements to Longstreet, nor could Longstreet rejoin Johnston, without meeting tremendous opposition, and running terrible risks of destruction. Only by traversing almost impassable routes through the vast mountain regions of West North-Carolina and North-Georgia, or by making an immense circuit by railroads running far to the east, could they avoid coming in contact with our vigilant and well-prepared forces.

But Sherman was penetrating to the centre of the Gulf-State region. The fifteen thousand troops under Bishop Polk were confessedly unable to check his progress; if the rebel army of the Mississippi were not reenforced, and that right speedily, Sherman would unquestionably soon reach his destination, whether that were Mobile, Montgomery, Selma, or Rome. If, on the other hand, Johnston were allowed to send any considerable portion of his army to the Bishop's assistance, Sherman might be overwhelmed or his march seriously retarded. This would interfere with the general plan for the conduct of the spring campaign, and must at all hazards be prevented.

No other means of effecting this prevention offered itself, except a direct movement from Chattanooga toward Dalton, menacing the enemy at the latter place.

But this movement might possiby develop the fact that the enemy had already so seriously weakened his force at Dalton, that he could offer no effectual resistance to a strong column moving upon him there. In that case, of course, we should have no objection to taking possession of Dalton itself, and continuing to hold it or not, as might suit our further convenience or necessities.

To briefly recapitulate: the objects of the movement commenced on the twenty-second instant were, first, to prevent the enemy at Dalton from sending reenforcements to Longstreet; second, to prevent him from sending the same to Bishop Polk; third, to ascertain his strength at Dalton, and if he had already been seriously weakened, to take possession of that town.

The morning of February twenty-second was not a bright one at Chattanooga. There were no clouds, but a dense pall of smoke had settled down upon the earth, obscuring Lookout, snatching Mission Ridge from our eyes, and at first hiding even the sun. When that luminary at last became visible, it looked more like a huge bloody disk than a globe of fire.

Under this canopy of smoke could be heard the rattle of a hundred drums, announcing the fact that the long-expected, oft-delayed movement had at last commenced, and that large portions of the Fourteenth army corps were upon the march. They were not now moving toward East-Tennessee, as intended ten days before, but, in accordance with the later plan I have sketched were directing their steps toward Tunnel Hill and Dalton.

Near the old battle-field of Chickamauga, the column passed the commands of Generals Morgan and Daniel McCook, which were preparing to follow.

The infantry was preceded by a detachment of the Thirty-ninth Indiana, (Eighth cavalry,) two hundred strong, commanded by Colonel T. J. Harrison. Colonel Palmer, with one hundred and fifty of the Fifteenth Pennsylvania cavalry, (Anderson Troop,) and Colonel Boone, with three hundred of the Twenty-eighth Kentucky, moved upon the right flank.

Colonel Harrison pushed forward through Parker's Gap in Taylor's Ridge, a pass to the left of Ringgold Gap, and outflanking a party of rebel cavalry, drove them back toward Ringgold Gap, hoping they would there be intercepted by our infantry. Unfortunately, however, the latter were not up, and the rebels managed to escape.

It was three P. M. when myself and companion left Chattanooga and started to overtake our forces. Riding leisurely along, we soon found that night was approaching; but were in nowise alarmed at the prospect, for the idea of passing quietly through a Georgia forest, amid the silence and darkness of the night, had its charms for us, especially as we had never been over this ground before. The scene is one of utter desolation. No farmer appears preparing his fields to receive the grain. Dreary pine forests alternate with small patches of cleared land, the latter utterly destitute of fences. Three fourths of the houses are deserted; and from the few that are left, you can see peeping out only some dirty-looking women and children. The whole region is being rapidly depopulated. Before sundown we must have met at least a dozen wagons drawn by blind and bony horses, broken-down mules, shadowy

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