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Doc. 95.-reconnoissance to Dalton, Ga.

A national account.

three miles beyond Ringgold, Ga., February 23.
It will be long before the Fourteenth army corps will forget the period of anxious expectation which commenced on Saturday, the thirteenth day of February, and only ended on Sunday, the twenty-first of the same month. During all the intervening time, the troops composing the Fourteenth corps, and those of Stanley's division, at least, of the Fourth corps, were held in constant readiness to move, and once or twice actually loaded up their wagons for the purpose of marching. But as often as they got ready, that often the order was countermanded, and the movement postponed, until the morning of the twenty-second.

The general object of this movement may be stated in a few words. It had a two-fold, and, in a certain eventuality, a three-fold design.

The aspect of things in East-Tennessee had been somewhat threatening, from the time we made our unfortunate advance upon, and precipitate retreat from, the town of Dandridge. The bad management and almost disgraceful result of that operation was as encouraging to [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 [424] oxen, and fleshless cows, and filled with sorrow-stricken specimens of Georgian humanity, all flying from the doomed land, and intending to make their way to the free and peaceful North.

It was fully ten o'clock P. M., when we descried our camp-fires shining red in the distance, through the thick smoke and fog. It was not difficult to find friends, and we partook, for the night, of hospitality springing from generous hearts and dealt out with liberal hands. My only misfortune was, that during the night my horse became loose, and straying off to the vicinity of some teamster's quarters, had his halter stolen, and was brought back in the morning minus that most useful, and, in the wilderness, irreplaceable article. I consoled myself, however, with the reflection that, after all, it was much better to lose a halter than a horse.

The sun rose bright and beautiful on the morning of the twenty-third, and we were soon on our way galloping toward Ringgold, around which town the troops had encamped.

Here another scene of desolation met our eyes; for on the day following Hooker's terrible fight at Taylor's Ridge, the greater portion of this town had been burned by our troops. Nearly all the good buildings were used as store-houses and offices by the rebel army, and every one of these was set on fire. A mass of ruins in the centre, a hundred uninhabited houses scattered around — such is now the town of Ringgold. In our rides through it, we did not see three houses which were not deserted.

Ascending half-way to the summit of Taylor's Ridge, we could see numerous marks of the fierce conflict which had taken place; amongst others the graves of a score of soldiers buried side by side along the slope. My companion announced his intention of presenting the public with a howl over the rebel store-houses which had been burned in the town below; I could not but feel that if I had tears to shed, it should be for our poor dead heroes buried here.

It was perhaps nine o'clock when the beating of drums announced that the troops were in motion, and a column of cavalry came filing down the road. It was Colonel Harrison at the head of his Thirty-ninth Indiana boys. He was going to push forward through Ringgold Gap, in Taylor's Ridge, supported by the infantry at proper distance. General Carlin's brigade, and the Nineteenth Illinois, of General King's brigade, were prepared to support the cavalry. General R. W. Johnson, to whose division these troops belonged, himself accompanied them. Your correspondent accompanied Colonel Harrison with the cavalry.

Passing by a house which stood near the mouth of the gap, and was now occupied by General King as his headquarters, we again saw proofs of the desperate nature of that conflict in which our own valiant Seventh Ohio suffered so severely. The house itself, the fences surrounding it, and the trees in the yard were fairly honeycombed with bullets; and in addition, an out-house which stood near was riddled and torn with grape.

The rebels made no resistance to our passage through the gap, although they had held the further mouth the night before, and had captured Lieutenant Ayres, of the Nineteenth infantry, who was examining the ground for the purpose of posting pickets.

Winding along its banks for a time, we finally crossed the East-Chickamagua, a clearer and more lively stream than its namesake in the west, which will always excite a shudder in the heart and limbs of him who remembers the awful tragedy once enacted near it. Both these streams unite to form the South-Chickamagua, which flows into the Tennessee a few miles above Chattanooga.

As we advanced into the open ground on the other side of the creek, small squads of cavalry were sent galloping in all directions, to protect our flanks, and feel for the still silent enemy. In full sight of the junction, between the Tunnel Hill and Red Hill roads, Colonel Harrison drew up his men in line of battle, and waited the approach of the infantry. No sooner were the latter seen, than the horsemen again advanced; and passing by an ancient, dilapidated stone church, whose dark and gloomy walls seemed to be in mourning for its lost worshippers, we wheeled to the right, and took the direct road for Tunnel Hill.

A few dropping shots now revealed the presence of the enemy. At once our skirmishers were deployed, and the line steadily advanced, driving the enemy, whose purpose it seemed to be merely to annoy rather than fight. It was at once amusing and interesting to see, every few minutes, a small squad of them break from their cover as our boys advanced, and go galloping away, followed in almost every instance by a half-dozen bullets. Colonel Harrison's men were armed with the deadly Spencer rifle, a weapon which the rebels could not be induced to examine at short-range.

At length, at a distance of five miles from Ringgold, a low, wooded eminence, over which ran the road, afforded the rebels an opportunity to make a stand. But they did not remain long. A portion of the Thirty-ninth, dismounting, moved forward under so severe a fire, that I could only wonder how so few were hurt by it. But they steadily advanced, again driving the enemy, and occupying the wooded eminence, which they continued to hold until two P. M., the rebels occupying a position about a mile further toward Tunnel Hill, and exhibiting a serious intention of making a fight. Colonel Harrison would have moved upon him immediately, had he not considered it best to wait for Colonel Boone, of the Twenty-eighth Kentucky, who had been sent off to the right, and was moving along another road which runs through Wood's Gap in Taylor's Ridge.

The delay appeared to encourage the enemy; and it soon became evident that he had collected [425] for a stand the whole of the First Tennessee cavalry, whose camp was now plainly in sight. The open ground, across which the rebels had been driven, narrowed as it approached their present position, until at last its dimensions were reduced to those of a single small field. Across this they had constructed a barricade of rails, and had posted behind it a considerable force of dismounted cavalry. On some higher ground to the rear of that, they showed a small body of horsemen, who went galloping back and forth, and seemed to be, each moment, on the point of retreating. The design was obvious. They wished us to go dashing after these mounted men; and, when we were near enough, the force behind the rail barricade would, with a volley or two, sweep us away.

But Colonel Harrison was not to be caught in any such trap. “We shall have to fight a little,” he quietly remarked, after closely examining the rail barricade with his glass; and waited for the infantry. General Carlin's brigade came up shortly after; the skirmishers of the Ninety-fourth Ohio and Tenth Wisconsin boldly advanced over the open space; the Thirty-ninth, assisted by the Eighty-eighth Indiana and Nineteenth Illinois, moved in line upon the rebel right, through the woods. The display of force was too formidable; the bullets fired by our skirmishers began to clink against the rail barricade; the rebels could endure the thing no longer; and after delivering a couple of volleys, at so long-range, so scatteringly, and with such insufficient effect, that our boys answered them only with shouts of derision, they jumped upon their horses and ran off as before. Company K, of the Thirty-ninth Indiana, Lieutenant Jacob Mitchell commanding, had stolen around upon the left flank of the rebels unobserved. As soon as the latter manifested a disposition to break, company K charged down upon them, precipitated their flight, and pursued them with shout and spur, to the great amusement of the infantry, who set up a perfect yell of delight.

All that Colonel Harrison had of his gallant Thirty-ninth now broke into a gallop and started off to take part in the pursuit. The town of Tunnel Hill was in sight, with Tunnel Hill Ridge just rising beyond. Pursuers and pursued put their horses to the very top of their speed, and dust and leaves and dirt and sticks and gravel were sent flying in all directions through the air by the heels of the frantic steeds. As our boys dashed on toward the town, a whole regiment of rebel cavalry--First Tennessee and part of another, Second Kentucky--were seen filing out of it, along a road which ran over the ridge toward Dalton. It was a novel sight to see Colonel Harrison's forty or fifty men pursuing, taunting, challenging, and firing at this body of four or five hundred rebels. Each of our men fought upon his own hook, and each displayed a reckless daring which I have never seen surpassed. It must be said, too, that the rebels took the whole thing very coolly after they had all got together, and rode out of the town as leisurely as if no parade; making a singular and ludicrous contrast with the frightened and precipitate manner in which a portion of them had entered it.

No sooner had their cavalry disappeared, than they opened upon us with four pieces of artillery placed along the slope of the ridge. This of course compelled our little cavalry squad to call a halt; and the rebels turned their attention to Colonel Boone, who was coming up on the right, throwing a number of shells at him, but doing no damage. Colonel Boone speedily rejoined Colonel Harrison near Tunnel Hill.

General Carlin's brigade advanced into the town about nightfall, the rebel artillery meanwhile ceasing to play.

Your correspondent believes that himself and Lieutenant Shaw, of General Palmer's staff, were the first persons to enter the town of Tunnel Hill. There were houses sufficient for a population of four or five hundred; but for some time it seemed as if there was really not a living soul in it, except myself and the Lieutenant. Presently, however, a few women and children began to peep out at us here and there, and we ascertained that about nine families still remained in the place. Some of these were literally upon the verge of starvation, and declared that for months they had not had a mouthful to eat, except a scanty pittance of meal and pork dealt out by the rebel commissaries. All seemed pleased with our arrival; all had fearful tales to tell of the rapacity and brutality of the rebel soldiers; and all protested, in an earnest, simple way, that carried conviction with it, their entire innocence of ever having done any thing, by word or deed, to bring on or encourage the rebellion.

The enemy still held Tunnel Hill Ridge; and just at dark, as myself and another gentleman were conversing with one of the citizens, the rebel videttes took occasion to hurl at us a half-dozen bullets. This we took as a gentle hint to retire, and riding through the town rejoined our forces, just as General Johnson, who did not think it prudent to remain there all night with a single brigade, was giving orders to fall back to the main body of our forces, encamped about three miles from Ringgold.

Tunnel Hill, Ga., February 26.
It was somewhat late on Wednesday morning before our column again got in motion; but when it did move, it was with strength which augured well for its success, whatever it might undertake.

Our cavalry, about seven hundred strong, all the detachments now operating together under command of Colonel Harrison, took the advance, immediately supported by General King's brigade. Other portions of General Johnson's, Davis's, and Baird's divisions, followed. It was a gallant array, and there was a spirit of buoyant enthusiasm amongst the troops, as they talked of their close proximity to the enemy, and wondered if there would be a battle.

The rebels did not seem inclined to dispute the [426] ground over which we had marched the previous day, and there were very few shots fired by either side. At half-past 11 A. M., we were again in the immediate vicinity of Tunnel Hill.

Just where you emerge from the woods and enter the open ground around the town, is a house which belongs to, and is inhabited by a member of the numerous and honorable tribe of John Smiths. Here the cavalry halted, there being unmistakable signs that the rebels had been reenforced upon the Tunnel Hill Ridge, and meant to hold the position. A line of log breastworks, begun some time ago, but completed on Tuesday night, could be seen extending all along the crest. Artillery could also be plainly perceived at two different points.

It was half-past 12 before we were ready to move forward, and then our cavalry marched in column along the road, into the open ground, directly toward the point whence the rebel artillery had been fired the day before. Myself and Lieutenant Shaw were riding near the van of the force, and were remarking upon the great advantage which our movement in column would give the enemy, provided they opened upon us with their cannon. They would be enabled to assail us with a raking fire, which could scarcely fail to do us much damage.

On the slope of the ridge, and near the road, which, running over it, leads on to Dalton, is a white frame-house. Behind this the rebels had, during the night, concealed a battery; and just as our column had all passed into the open ground, they ran their cannon out from behind the house, and blazed away at us with vigor and a will. The first shell fell into soft ground, a dozen feet from where I was at the moment. Either it was a fuse-shell and burst when in near proximity to the earth, or it was percussion, and the ground was not soft enough to prevent its explosion. At any rate, it exploded and threw the dirt, with numerous fragments of itself, in every direction around it. A liberal sprinkling of the former sufficed for my share.

The dirt and mud had scarce ceased to fall, when a second shell struck the ground, about twenty feet beyond the first. Bursting, one half of it flew into atoms, slighty wounding several persons. The other half, in one solid mass, struck a very young man, a member of the Twenty-eighth Kentucky, squarely in the stomach, tearing out his bowels. His horse, also wounded, dashed away toward the rear. A hundred yards from the spot where the shell exploded, the hapless rider fell off, stone-dead. A few feet further, and his horse also lay stretched upon the earth.

I did not note the effect of any other individual shell, for, as word was given to the horsemen to seek shelter, I was not slow in obeying the order, and by a rapid and masterly movement soon found myself beneath the friendly shelter of some woods upon our right. Our cavalry stood firm until the order to retire was given. Then they left in good earnest; so that when I turned and looked out from the woods where I had taken refuge upon the open ground, not a man was to be seen. Yes, there was one man. As soon as Colonel Harrison had given orders to his men to retire, he himself descended from his horse, and stood there in full view of the enemy until the storm was over.

For full fifteen minutes the rebels kept up a furious fire, throwing their missiles clear back to John Smith's house, and even disturbing for a moment the equanimity of our infantry. One of the shells burst so near General Whipple, Chief of Staff to General Thomas, that all who saw it wondered how he escaped with life. Not even his clothes, however, were touched.

Would you picture to your mind a view of this somewhat singular battle-field? Imagine yourself, then, at John Smith's house, and looking south. The road passing it runs nearly north and south. Going south a quarter of a mile, you reach the railroad; here the common road turns squarely to the left, and by following a furlong further, you enter the town of Tunnel Hill. To the right of Smith's house is a wooded range, intersected by ravines, behind which Colonel Hambright's brigade was posted, after our cavalry had sought shelter from the rebel artillery. Carlin was in the centre of our line, along the road. Off to the left is a tolerably high range, subsiding about three hundred yards from the road, Between this and Tunnel Hill Ridge, General Crufts's division (Stanley's) was advancing. Looking across some open fields to the south-east, you behold the town. Occupying entire space between south and east, extends Tunnel Hill Range, held by the enemy. One high round peak, lying south-south-east, runs up most ambitiously toward the clouds; the remainder of the range is comparatively low. The rebel battery which had already worked us mischief, was just below the high peak. Around the town the cleared ground is undulating. The high eminences of Rocky Face can be seen at various places, rising up behind Tunnel Hill Ridge.

Such is a picture of what has already been the scene of a combat, and may yet witness a great battle.

While Colonel Hambright was putting his brigade into such a position as to threaten the ene my's left, General Morgan, commanding brigade in General Davis's division, had been sent over to our left to connect with General Crufts's men, and, climbing Tunnel Hill Ridge, where it is quite low, and there was no force of the enemy to oppose, to move along the summit, until he could assail the rebel works upon their right flank.

In the mean time, two pieces of Hotchkiss's battery opened upon the rebel battery from the hill upon the right of the road. An animated duel continued for some time. The rebels threw missiles with much precision. Captain Hotchkiss planted his shells where they would have been very effective, had they not for some unknown reason mostly failed to explode.

Captain Harris moved two guns of his battery (Nineteenth Indiana) over into the fields upon the left, and fired a few effective shots.

Between the two, the rebel battery had too [427] much of it, and withdrew at about half-past 3 P. M., just as General Morgan's men were seen marching along the summit of the ridge, toward the rebel works. Seeing themselves thus outflanked by General Morgan upon their right, and seriously threatened by Colonel Hambright upon the left, the rebels abandoned their position and fled precipitately, without firing a gun from the time Morgan first appeared. Thus, with but trifling loss, this strong and important position fell into our hands.

Not a moment was lost in following up the enemy, General Morgan taking the advance, and Colonel McCook, with his splendid brigade, belonging to the same division, following closely behind.

We were now traversing country over which Union troops had never trod before; and consequently we found the citizens in the most appalling state of confusion and dismay, expecting all and singly to have their throats cut immediately upon our arrival. The men had fled to the hills, and the women and children, as soon as the head of our column appeared, uttered piercing shrieks as if they were on the point of being murdered, or falling down upon their knees begged piteously for their lives. When they found they were in no danger whatever from our soldiers, their surprise and joy exceeded, if possible, their previous fear.

A little before five o'clock our forces came to an awful gorge cleft in an inaccessible and lofty range of mountains, called Rocky Face. On the left side of this gorge ran the railroad; on the right the common road, with a monstrous pine-covered rock rising between. Never had I beheld so formidable a position for defence; and my experience was in this respect the same as that of every officer in the army. Reaching out into the gorge from the perfectly impassable mountains on either side, spur after spur could be seen, rising one above the other as you looked toward Dalton, and forming a series of fortifications as perfect in design as the hand of men ever traced, while vastly superior in magnitude to aught that he ever constructed.

From the first of these spurs upon the right, the enemy poured forth a volley of musketry. Our brave boys, rushing forward, carried the spur; but from a higher one beyond, six pieces of artillery commenced hurling death among them, and they were compelled to withdraw.

The enemy continued a fierce artillery fire until night, when General Morgan's brigade moving into the left of the gorge, and Colonel Daniel McCook's into the right, they held the mouth of it until morning.

As I rode back toward the town, the heavens were lighted up with the lurid fires of Cleburne's old camp, (upon the east side of Tunnel Hill Range,) which our troops had set on fire. In the town I learned that General Wheeler himself was in command of the rebel cavalry which had all along been opposing us.

Simultaneously with the advance of the column from Chattanooga, General Crufts moved down from the vicinity of Cleveland, joined afterward by Matthias's brigade, of the Fifteenth army corps, commanded at present by Colonel Dickerman, of the One Hundred and Third Illinois.

Colonel Long, with some seven hundred cavalry, preceded General Crufts. This column skirmished as successfully with the enemy as the other, and on the twenty-third, Colonel Long penetrated to within four miles of Dalton.

Another sunny, warm, pleasant, smoky morning dawned upon us on the twenty-fifth, and all portions of our forces being prepared to act in concert, it was determined to make a bold move, which might test whether or not the enemy's strong position on the Tunnel Hill road could not be turned.

Accordingly, General Baird took up the line of march very early in the morning, and crossing Tunnel Hill, joined General Crufts in the valley between the range and Rocky Face. Passing through a gap in Rocky Face, about three miles beyond Tunnel Hill Ridge, the entire force passed along the Cleveland road toward Dalton, the enemy opposing them only by feeble skirmishing, and everywhere flying before them.

It soon became evident, however, that they had passed beyond another range still further to the east than Rocky Face, and that a force of the enemy occupying the valley between the two might easily pass to the rear and cut off their retreat. To prevent this, they retired along the line of their march until they had reached the head of Rocky Face Valley, down which they marched in order of battle, General Baird upon the right and General Crufts upon the left. The rebels gave way as before, until they reached a point where the Cleveland road, running toward Dalton, descends into this valley. Just across this road and on the left side of the valley, was a high point in the bounding ridge, and this the enemy manifested a disposition to hold at hazard of a fight. Colonel Grose's brigade advancing along the slope of the ridge, immediately prepared to carry the hill. The enemy's outposts were driven in with rapidity, and the gallant brigade, moving steadily forward with loud cheers, and never once wavering under the fierce fire kept up by the rebels, hurled the latter from the hill in confusion, and planted the Stars and Stripes upon the summit.

This was about half-past 11 A. M. Captain Simonson, Chief of Artillery on General Crufts's staff, ran his old battery, the Fifth Indiana, to the top of the hill, and treated the rebels to constant doses of shot and shell the remainder of the day. Very heavy skirmishing was kept up until one P. M. by the opposing infantry, but no advance was attempted upon either side.

Myself and the gentleman whom I accompanied during the greater portion of this trip, had remained on the west side of Rocky Face, until assured, by one who knew, that the principal fight of the day was certain to take place upon the other side. A change of base was immediately determined upon. We struck across Tunnel Hill Range in the direction indicated by the [428] sound of Crufts's and Baird's cannon, and after a by no means pleasant ride of a couple of hours, amongst rocks and hills, and valleys and ravines, scowled at by the natives from whom we could learn not a word concerning the whereabouts of our troops, and in imminent danger of being picked up by some straggling squad of rebel cavalry, we at length had the unspeakable satisfaction of getting upon General Baird's trail; and riding on a mile or two further, found that, almost unknown to ourselves, we had turned the formidable barrier of Rocky Face, which now appeared upon our right.

Every step we took, the sounds of conflict became more and more distinct, until at last we caught sight of our troops stretched across the valley, the advance line skirmishing briskly with the enemy. The order of battle I have named, was still preserved. Of Baird's division, Van Derveer's brigade was on the left, Turchin's upon the right.

It was one o'clock when we arrived upon this part of the field, and scarcely had we reached our lines, when it became evident that a severe struggle was just on the point of taking place.

In truth, the position the rebels held in this valley, was almost as strong as that upon the road from Tunnel Hill. The valley was wider than the gorge, but the natural fortifications were of a similar nature, and only required to be held by a somewhat stronger force. The passage into Dalton along this valley, would evidently be accomplished only by copious effusion of blood.

A hill near the centre of the valley seemed to form the key to the position. To the right of this was another, the possession of which would enable us to operate with great advantage against the other. Just as I rode up, General Palmer announced his intention of attempting to carry this latter point.

The task of taking the hill was assigned to General Turchin, than whom a better, braver man can scarcely be found in our army. He had only a portion of his brigade with him, but he had such regiments as the Eleventh, Eighty-ninth, Ninety-second Ohio, and the Eighty-second Indiana, and with these he was sure to win, if success, under the circumstances, were possible, for these regiments scarce ever fail, and when they do, it is with undiminished honor.

A heavy strip of timber runs along the lower portion of the east slope of Rocky Face. Through this Turchin and his men steadily advanced, the General in the front ranks, drawing repeatedly upon his own person the fire of the rebel skirmishers. Forming his line of battle along the slope of the mountain, just opposite to and facing the hill which he was to carry, he gave the order to advance. Immediately the whole valley resounded with a terrible roar of musketry, and the enemy's cannon, replied to by our own Fourth regular battery, added to the awful din. The rebels were swept away from the foot of the hill. Half-way up they endeavored to make a stand, but our boys, charging forward with loud shouts, drove them across the summit.

The victory seemed gained, and the brigade rushed to the top of the hill to secure what it had won. But the enemy had rallied half-way down, supported by a fresh force outnumbering Turchin's two to one. No sooner had our boys reached the summit than a withering storm of bullets swept up the hill. Bravely they replied for a time, making many a rebel bite the dust. But the galling fire could not long be borne. It would be madness to charge down the hill into the midst of twice or thrice their numbers. Hence, they withdrew slowly and reluctantly to their former position along the slope of Rocky Face. The rebels did not attempt to follow, but contented themselves with repossessing the hill.

This was the bloodiest, as it might be called the closing, conflict of this interesting campaign. A brisk cannonade and a fierce and determined skirmishing were kept up until nightfall; but no advance was made upon either side. All the remainder of the afternoon the two armies stood confronting each other, so close together that the skirmishers of either could fire entirely over the rear-lines of the other. A number of incidents, at once singular and interesting, fell under my own observation, but I shall only mention this one.

General Palmer was standing near our skirmishers, when a bullet, fired by one of the opposing rebels, passed through both the skirts of his coat and both legs of his pants, without even grazing the skin! Probably there is not a similar case on record.

When night came on, a spectacle met our eyes, at once brilliant, beautiful, and sublime. During the course of the conflict, the leaves, rendered inflammable by several weeks' dry weather, had taken fire; and now long lines of the devouring element could be seen everywhere running up and down the mountains, twisting and writhing and hissing like monstrous serpents of living fire. The fine twigs and cones, of which vast quantities lay upon the ground, added to the hugeness of the conflagration; in some places the progress of our withdrawing troops was seriously impeded by the smoke and heat; and at ten P. M., it really seemed, to a spectator gazing from Tunnel Hill, as if the whole State of Georgia was on fire, and tier eternal mountains were melting beneath the flames.

It was after night when the troops began to retire; and ere they closed their eyes in slumber that night, they were on the west side of the Tunnel Hill range.

About three in the afternoon, General Davis, who with Morgan's and McCook's brigades, supported by General Johnson's command, was holding the mouth of the gorge on the Tunnel Hill road, began to advance slowly and feel the enemy. The latter manifested the utmost sensitiveness, and raking the gorge with his cannon, inflicted upon General Morgan considerable loss. After night, this force retired to Tunnel Hill, which we continue to hold.

Thus ended this highly important expedition. It has again, if that were needed, demonstrated [429] the fighting qualities of our own troops. It has familiarized us with a section of country, comparatively unknown before. It has shown the tremendous strength of the enemy's position at Dalton. It has for ever set at rest the silly stories of Johnston's army having gone to Mobile and other points; and, above all, it has prevented that army, or any considerable part of it, from being so sent away.

It was well ascertained that Cleburne's division did not start away until the evening of the twenty-first, and at least one brigade of it had returned by the twenty-fifth. Stevenson's, Stuart's, Loring's divisions, one brigade of Cleburne's, one of another division, whose commander could not be ascertained, and Wheeler's cavalry, were all known to have been in the fight of Thursday. Although this correspondent would be very glad to have Joe Johnston evacuate Dalton, he cannot but feel somewhat proud of this triumphant vindication of the statement he made weeks ago, and has since had occasion several times to repeat, concerning the presence and strength of the rebel army at Dalton.

The expedition could not well fail of being an entire success, as it was managed throughout with wisdom, prudence, and skill. I venture to say that however high General Palmer may have stood in the estimation of his corps, he has risen still higher since the commencement of this expedition.

General Whipple seemed everywhere present, and I am assured by those who ought best to know, that his advice throughout the whole affair was most timely and valuable.

Generals Johnson and Davis discharged the duties imposed upon them with a cheerfulness and self-sacrificing alacrity which did much to keep up the efficiency and morale of their men.

General Crufts and Baird both sustained their reputation as soldiers, and the latter especially seemed to understand how to impart vigor and spirit to his troops.

It remains for all these generals to be tested upon a severe field, but here, at least, they did well. Our losses will not exceed two hundred killed, wounded, and missing. The enemy's will not fall below five hundred.

Y. S.

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