Rebecca Gordon Co., Ga., Nov. 28.
Returning to the narrative of events alluded to above, I would take the reader with me to the close of the battle of Missionary Ridge
, which was fought on Wednesday, the 25th inst., Gen. Hardee
, who commanded the right wing, had repulsed every attack of the enemy, had inflicted heavy loss upon him, and he and his men were congratulating themselves upon their complete and brilliant victory, when Gen'l H., who had passed to his left, (the centre of the army,) discovered that Reynolds
's brigade, of Hindman
's division, commanded by Gen'l Patton Anderson
, had given way and thus allowed the enemy to get a foothold upon the mountain.
Having defeated the foe in his front, he immediately ordered his left to form into line across or at right angles to the ridge, and to drive the intruders from his flank.
This order, like all others that he had given, was carried out to the letter by his brave command, thus repulsing the enemy in front on his left flank.
Had the same skill and energy been displayed at other points on the line further to the left, the Confederates
would not have been driven from Missionary Ridge
's brigade is composed of the 54th and 63d Virginia regiment, and the 58th and 60th N. C. troops, who have always done well heretofore.
And here let me add, at the risk of becoming tedious, that Stevenson
's division, composed wholly of "Vicksburg
troops," behaved with unsurpassed gallantry.
These troops are Tennessean, Alabamians, and Georgians.
's Georgia brigade never fought so well.
The fact here stated should silence forever the thoughtless tongues that have been ridiculing and maligning the heroes who fought at Vicksburg
After night set in the whole army was withdrawn to the east side of the Chickamauga
, the trains having preceded it the night before.
The roads were in a bad condition, and there were but three bridges over which the troops could retire.
But the enemy was too badly crippled to make pursuit, only a small detachment of cavalry followed on the road to Bird's Mills.
At Chickamauga Station
rations of hard bread and bacon were served out to the men from the depot, and the trains sent forward.
Some of the stores were shipped off by the railroad; the remainder was destroyed.
The army was put in motion by two o'clock at night on the road to Ringgold
, and Gen. Bragg
and Gen. Hardee
left at daylight next morning.
The road was as had as it could be, and but for the friendly light afforded by the moon on that and the preceding night the army could not have effected its escape.
Thursday, Nov. 26th.
--After a fatiguing march the army, with its long trains, arrived at Ringgold
during the afternoon and night.
The enemy had thrown forward a mixed column of mounted infantry, artillery, and cavalry, which was harassing our rear guard, under command of Gen. Gist
At one time Gen. Bragg
ordered the wagons towards the rear to be moved out of the road and parked with a view, it is said, of having them burnt rather than let them fall into the hands of our enemies.
was repeatedly pressed back against the wagons, but he managed finally, with the aid of his brave command, (Walker
's division,) to save them all. At one time the enemy got in between him and the main column, but he took a neighborhood road and thus escaped destruction.
's battery of four guns, belonging to Walker
's division, was captured.
The horses were in very had condition and unable to keep up with the column, and hence the disaster.
The greater part of the men and horses escaped.
You will be astonished to hear that the horses in the artillery service — the most important in the whole army — are the most neglected — a fact however, which quartermasters, and even artillerists, seem incapable of comprehending.
The loss of the battery occurred soon after dark and not far from Ringgold
The trains were brought out three miles this side of Ringgold
and the teams fed while the army occupied the pass just outside the town.
Three companies of the 16th South Carolina, acting as a special guard to Ferguson
's battery, were dispersed and many of the men taken prisoners.
--The trains were now put in front and directed to take a left-hand road to Dalton
, passing near Catoosa Springs
They moved at midnight, the troops at daylight, following the direction of the railroad by Tunnel Hill
, so as to cover the trains.
Roads very bad for some miles; the teams overworked, and suffering for forage and rest.
I saw a mule lie down when the harness was removed and go as soundly to sleep in two minutes as an infant, and that while hundreds of wagons and thousands of men were marching by within a few paces of where it rested.
was entrusted with the command of the rear guard to-day, Walker
's division having been relieved.
The Federal pursuing column, numbering, it is estimated, about 10,000 men of all arms, assaulted him before he reached Tunnel Hill
This column consisted of picked troops, who moved rapidly and fought gallantly; but Cleburne
succeeded in restraining them whenever he encountered them.
But they were becoming quite troublesome; so he ambuscaded them by concealing his forces, including his artillery, until the enemy got within a few paces of his guns, when they poured grape and canister into them with the most destructive effect.
The road was filled with their dead and wounded.
Our infantry then sprung forward from their covert on either side of the road, and literally mowed them down by their well directed shot.
The enemy fled in confusion, leaving 250 prisoners and three flags (the latter taken by the artillerists) in our hands, and from 1,000 to 1,500 killed and wounded in the road.
The Federals kept at a respectful distance from Pat Cleburne
after that, and were five hours marching one mile on our track.
A prisoner, taken near Ringgold
, reports that Osterhaus
, of Sherman
's corps, is in command of the pursuing column.
He says that Osterhaus
crossed the Chickamauga
on a hastily constructed bridge, and that Grant
was building a wide, substantial military bridge at Red House ford, by which to cross over his whole army, and that he intended to make a clean sweep of the Confederates
This last achievement the beaten hero of Shioh will find more difficult than he imagines.
The trains reached Dalton
in the afternoon, and were parked and the teams fed. The troops arrived soon thereafter and went into camps.
It was just at this point when my frugal meal was being prepared, and the first paragraph of this rambling letter was being invited, that an order came for the trains to move on to Resaca
The roads to this place are pretty good, though almost impassable in places.
Several wagons were lost and a good many mules killed on the way, not by the enemy, but by the great holes or gulps and quagmires in the road.
I saw no pioneer corps with the trains, the teamsters were left to take care of the wagons as best they could.
I am not certain that it would not be an eventual benefit if we should some day lose a train; perhaps the authorities would then see the necessity, recognized in all other countries, of organizing an efficient corps of engineers, including pincers, bridge and boat builders, &c.
It commenced to rain at 11 o'clock, and by day it was pouring down in torrents.
The roads already heavy enough, now became indescribably bad. It was a horrid night.
But a poor woman, the mother of ten children, her husband and oldest son in the army, gave me shelter at 1 o'clock, a fire to dry myself by, and a bed to rest upon, not forgetting a bundle of fodder for my horse.
A dozen others attracted by the cheering light seen through her window, applied for admittance, and room was found for all in that humble cabin.
God bless that good woman and shield her husband and son from the dangers of the battle field.
The light in her window was not hid under a bushel.
Alas! how the poor do shame us by their charities.
It is now three o'clock, and the army has not yet come up. The rain will probably stop the pursuit of the enemy, at least for the present, unless his well organized pioneer corps enable him to keep it up. Our future line will probably rest upon the Coosa
and its Eastern tributaries.
But in conclusion.
The battle of Missionary Ridge
was a great misfortune, not on account of the loss of men, which was inconsiderable, nor the loss of territory, which is far more serious, but chiefly on account of the loss of the moral strength and confidence of the army and the country.
Let us not, then, add to our calamity by beginning a war of abuse and condemnation against the chief of the beaten army or the head of the Government
Let us rather strive to reanimate the hopes of the people and the army, bring forward all our strength, and pray that Heaven will yet give us the final victory.
In a few days I shall prepare a review of the whole campaign in Northern Georgia
beginning with the evacuation of Chattanooga
in September, and closing with the present retreat; and, while I shall not gloss over the error of any one, I shall be able to show that Gen. Bragg
has had a most difficult task to perform; that he behaved with unsurpassed courage on the field; and that, if he has been unfortunate, he has also been devoted to the cause.