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Chapter 39:

Operations in the West now claim attention. General Bragg, soon after taking command, as has been previously stated, advanced from Tupelo and occupied Chattanooga. Meantime General E. K. Smith with his force held Knoxville, in east Tennessee. Subsequently, in August, he moved toward Kentucky, and entered that State through Big Creek Gap, some twenty miles south of Cumberland Gap. After several small and successful affairs, he reached Richmond in the afternoon of August 30th. Here a force of the enemy had been collected to check his progress, but it was speedily routed, with the loss of some hundred killed and several thousand made prisoners, and a large number of small arms, artillery, and wagons were captured. Lexington was next occupied; thence he advanced to Frankfort; moving forward toward the Ohio River, a great alarm was created in Cincinnati, then so little prepared for defense that, had his campaign been an independent one, he probably could and would have crossed the Ohio and captured that city. His division was but the advance of General Bragg's, and his duty to cooperate with it was a sufficient reason for not attempting so important a movement.

General Bragg marched from Chattanooga on September 5th, and without serious opposition entered Kentucky by the eastern route, thus passing to the rear of General Buell in middle Tennessee. Becoming concerned for his line of communication with Nashville and Louisville, and especially for the safety of the latter city, Buell collected all his force and retreated rapidly to Louisville. This was a brilliant piece of strategy on the part of General Bragg, by which he manoeuvered the foe [324] out of a large and to us important territory. By it north Alabama and middle Tennessee were relieved from the presence of the enemy, without necessitating a single engagement.

General Buell in his retreat followed the line of the railroad from Nashville to Louisville. General Bragg moved more to the eastward, so as to unite with the forces under General E. K. Smith, which was subsequently effected when the army was withdrawing from Kentucky.

On September 18th General Bragg issued an address to the citizens of Kentucky. Some recruits joined him, and an immense amount of supplies was obtained, which he continued to send to the rear until he withdrew from the state. The enemy, having received reenforcements, as soon as our army began to retire, moved out and pressed so heavily on its rear, under Major General Hardee, that he halted and checked them near Perryville. General Bragg then determined there to give battle.

Concentrating three of the divisions of his old command, then under Major General Polk, he directed him to attack on the morning of October 8th. The two armies were formed on opposite sides of the town. The action opened at 12:30 P. M., between the skirmishers and artillery on both sides. Finding the enemy indisposed to advance, General Bragg ordered him to be assailed vigorously. The engagement became general soon after, and was continued furiously until dark. Although greatly outnumbered, our troops did not hesitate to engage at any odds, and, though the battle raged with varying fortune, our men eventually carried every position, and drove the Federals about two miles. The intervention of night terminated the action. Our force captured fifteen pieces of artillery, killed one and wounded two brigadier generals and a very large number of inferior officers and men, estimated at no less than four thousand, and captured four hundred prisoners. Our loss was twentyfive hundred killed, wounded, and missing.

Ascertaining that the enemy was heavily reenforced during the night, General Bragg on the next morning withdrew his troops to Harrodsburg. General Smith arrived the next day with most of his forces, and the whole were then withdrawn to Bryantsville, the foe following slowly but not closely. General Bragg finally took position at Murfreesboro, and the hostile forces concentrated at Nashville, General Buell having been superseded by General Rosecrans.

Meantime, on November 30th, General Morgan with thirteen hundred men made an attack on a brigade of the enemy at Hartsville. It was found strongly posted on a hill in line of battle. Our line was formed under fire, and the advance was made with great steadiness. [325] The enemy was driven from his position, through his camps, losing a battery of Parrott guns, and finally hemmed in on the river bank, where he surrendered. The contest was severe, and lasted an hour and a half. The prisoners numbered twenty-one hundred.

Late in the month of December General Rosecrans commenced his advance from Nashville upon the position of General Bragg at Murfreesburg. His movement began on December 26th by various routes, but such was the activity of our cavalry as to delay him four days in reaching the battlefield, a distance of twenty-six miles. On the 29th General Wheeler with his cavalry brigade gained the rear of Rosecrans's army, and destroyed several hundreds of wagons loaded with supplies and baggage. After clearing the road, he made the circuit of the enemy and joined our left. Their strength, as we have ascertained, was 65,000 men. The number of fighting men we had on the field on December 31st was 35,000, of which 30,000 were infantry and artillery.

Our line was formed about two miles from Murfreesboro, and stretched transversely across Stone River, which was fordable from the Lebanon pike on the right to the Franklin road on the left. As

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