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Chapter 11:

General Bragg was unfortunately detained a week or ten days longer than he had expected when General Smith made his advance, by the non-arrival of his trains and the difficulty of crossing to the north side of the Tennessee. On the 28th his line of march northward was, however, taken up. The Cumberland mountains, after traversing the State of Tennessee in a southwest direction as an elevated plateau twenty miles or more in breadth, is bifurcated at Pikeville, about fifty miles north of Chattanooga, by the Sequatchie river, a small stream with a narrow but fertile valley walled in by the two ranges thus formed, the eastern one known as Walden's ridge, although its proper name is Wallen's ridge. The passage over the latter into the Sequatchie valley was tedious and difficult, but was safely effected, and on the 1st of September General Bragg was with his advance at Pikeville, the head of the valley.

General Buell having been contemplating his invasion of East Tennessee across this valley by way of McMinnville, General Bragg had considered as one of the alternatives of his campaign the feasibility of advancing by the same route directly upon Nashville, or the necessity [128] of engaging Buell in the event he should threaten him on his left flank. But finding that he was not in force nearer than McMinnville, he covered his flank well by cavalry under Wheeler and Forrest, and making strong demonstrations with it toward McMinnville, threw his army forward rapidly to Sparta, at the western base of the Cumberland, about thirty miles northwest of Pikeville. Effecting this movement before his purpose was discovered, he thus flanked McMinnville and was in position to threaten Buell's flank at Nashville or his communication northward. At one time he contemplated the feasibility of marching directly northward for Lexington and Cincinnati to effect a junction with Gen. E. Kirby Smith, of whose victory at Richmond he had received intelligence on the 5th day of September. Various reasons, however, decided him against this route. Much of the way was rugged, the country poor and scant of supplies, and owing to a severe drouth ill supplied with water. To these objections was added the urgent desire of the Tennesseeans, whose governor and leading men accompanied him, that he would secure possession of Nashville by a direct advance upon that place or by maneuvering Buell out of it. Adopting the latter plan he moved from Sparta on the 7th, by the very route indicated in his letter to General Breckinridge August 27th, in the direction of Glasgow, Ky., his right wing crossing the Tennessee at Gainesboro and the left wing at Carthage; and marching upon converging lines, arrived at Glasgow with the former on the 12th and the latter on the 13th.

General Bragg remained at Glasgow until the afternoon of the 15th to rest his troops and replenish subsistence and forage supply, as he had started from Chattanooga with but ten days rations, which had been depleted before leaving Sparta. He had on his arrival at Glasgow occupied Cave City with the brigades of Generals J. R. Chalmers and J. K. Duncan, thus cutting the railroad between Bowling Green and Louisville. General Buell [129] had in the meantime advanced to Bowling Green, 30 miles nearly due west from Glasgow, with six divisions. It was at no time the intention of General Bragg to attack Buell at Bowling Green, as he well knew the strength of that position, and the questions of supply and a base would not have admitted of a siege. His purpose was to move to a junction with Kirby Smith in the direction of Lexington via Lebanon, when he was diverted by an unforeseen occurrence.

General Chalmers, but eleven miles from Munfordville, of his own motion conceived the idea of capturing that position, which was reported to have only a small garrison. But upon attacking it with his own and Duncan's brigades, he found it had been strongly reinforced, and the works being fully manned and served with eight or ten pieces of artillery, he was repulsed with heavy loss on the 14th. Thereupon General Bragg, in order to retrieve the prestige lost by this untoward event, as well as to deprive the enemy of this formidable stronghold, moved out from Glasgow on the afternoon of the 15th, General Hardee's corps to Cave City, and General Polk's upon the Bear Wallow road, which crosses the Green river some distance above Munfordville and is the most direct road toward Lexington. On the morning of the 16th he advanced Hardee's corps to the vicinity of Munfordville and made demonstrations for attack. In the afternoon General Polk's corps appeared on the north side of the river and took such position with his artillery as gave him command of the enemy's works from the rear. General Bragg having been apprised at nightfall of Polk's being in position, summoned the fort by flag to surrender, and after some parley Col. J. T. Wilder came under flag to his headquarters and being satisfied that resistance was useless, articles of capitulation were signed. Under the terms his com mand was marched out from the works at 8 o'clock on the morning of the 17th, and with due form Colonel Wilder [130] delivered his sword to Gen. S. B. Buckner, who had been delegated to receive it, as this was his native county; and the troops grounded arms near Rowlett's Station, in presence of the Confederate army drawn up in line along the road for the ceremony. They were then marched to the rear, escorted in the direction of Cave City, and paroled. The captured garrison numbered about four thousand, with ten pieces of artillery and a proportionate quantity of ammunition, horses, mules and military stores.1

After an inspection of the captured works, which were on the south side of Green river, General Bragg established his headquarters in Munfordville, on the north side, and issued the following proclamation (copied from the original in possession of the writer):

General orders no. 6.

Headquarters Army of the Mississippi, Munfordville, Ky., September 17, 1862.
I. The general commanding congratulates his army on the crowning success of their extraordinary campaign which this day has witnessed.

He is most happy and proud to acknowledge his indebtedness to his gallant troops for their patient submission under the privations of an arduous march, and the fortitude with which they have endured its hardships. They have overcome all obstacles without a murmur, even when in the prosecution of seemingly unnecessary labor, and have well sustained by their conduct the unsullied reputation of the army of the Mississippi. With such confidence and support as have been so far exhibited, nearly all things become possible.

The capture of this position with its garrison of 4,000 men, with all their artillery, arms, munitions and stores, without the loss of a man, crowns and completes the separate campaign of this army. We have in conjunction with the army of Kentucky redeemed Tennessee and Kentucky, [131] but our labors are not over. A powerful foe is assembling in our front and we must prepare to strike him a sudden and decisive blow. A short time only can therefore be given for repose when we must resume our march to still more brilliant victories.

II. To-morrow, the 18th of September, having been specially set aside by our President as a day of thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God for the manifold blessings recently vouchsafed to us and to our cause, the general commanding earnestly recommends to this army to devote the day of rest allotted to them to the observance of this sacred duty. Acknowledging our dependence at all times upon a Merciful Providence, it is meet that we should not only render thanks for the general success of our cause and of this campaign, but should particularly manifest our gratitude for a bloodless victory instead of a success purchased with the destruction of life and property.

Braxton Bragg, General Commanding.


1 For an account of this episode and the battle which preceded it, see Rebellion Records, Vol. XVI, part I. page 1081; Bragg's report, pp. 971, 973; Chalmers' report; and from 961 to 971 inclusive for reports of Colonels Wilder and Dunham and correspondence pending the surrender.

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