THE POSITION OF THE REBELS.
Their main base of supplies was at Chattanooga, but a vastly superior cavalry force had enabled them to command all the resources of the Duck River Valley and the country southward. Tullahoma, a large entrenched camp, situated on the "Barrens," at the intersection of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad with the McMinnville branch, was their main depot. (See plan, &c.*) Its front was covered by the defiles of Duck River-a deep, narrow stream, with but few fords or bridges-and a rough, rocky range of hills which divides the "Barrens" from the lower level of Middle Tennessee.
Bragg's main army occupied a strong position north of Duck River, the infantry extending from Shelbyville to Wartrace, and their cavalry on their right to McMinnville, and on their left to Columbia and Spring Hill, where Forrest was concentrated and threatening Franklin.
The position of Bragg's infantry was covered by a range of high, rough, rocky hills, the principal routes passing southward from Murfreesborough toward Tullahoma and line of the enemy's communications.
1st. By McMinnville it is 75 miles to Tullahoma. Its length precludes it, while the intermediate by roads between that and Manchester were so difficult as to be regarded as unsuited for the movement of an army.
2nd. The Manchester pike passing these hills through Hoover's Gap and ascending to the "Barrens" through a long difficult canon called Matt's Hollow.
3rd. The Wartrace road through Liberty Gap, which passes into the one along the railroad by Bellbuckle Gap.
4th. The Shelbyville turnpike, running through Guy's Gap.
5th. The Middleton dirt road.
6th. The road by Versailles, into the Shelbyville and Triune roads, both of which avoid passes and have few defiles.
The enemy held all these passes, and his main position in front of Shelbyville was strengthened by a redan line extending from Horse Mountain, on the east, to Duck River, on the west, covered by a line of abatis. (See accompanying drawings.) Polk's corps was at Shelbyville. Hardee's headquarters was at Wartrace, and his troops held Hoover's, Liberty, and Bellbuckle Gaps. Polk's corps was generally estimated by intelligent rebels and Union men at about 18,000, infantry and artillery; Hardee's at 12,000, infantry and artillery-making a total of 30,000 of these arms, and probably 8,000 effective cavalry.
Positive information from various sources concurred to show the enemy intended to fight us in his entrenchments at Shelbyville, should we advance by that route, and that he would be in good position to retreat i beaten, and so retard our pursuit through the narrow, winding roads from that place which lead up to the "Barnes," and thus inflict severe loss without danger to their own line of retreat to the mountains toward their base. I was determined to render useless their entrenchments, and, if possible, secure their line of retreat by turning their right and moving on the railroad bridge across Elk River. This would compel a battle on our own ground or drive them on a disadvantageous line of retreat. To accomplish this it was necessary to make Bragg believe we could advance on him by the Shelbyville route, and to keep up the impression, if possible,until we had reached Manchester with the main body of the army, as this point must be reached over a single practica-
*Maps, &c., referred to in this report will appear in Atlas.