War of the Rebellion: Serial 034 Page 0624 Chapter XXXV. KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA.

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JULY 1, 1863.

Lieutenant-General POLK:

MY DEAR GENERAL: I have answered unhesitatingly, "Let us fight at the mountain." This decision will render unnecessary the meeting which I sought to-night; we can talk about the matter to-morrow. My mind is in part relieved by the decision, which I have no doubt will be made, to fight at the mountain. If asked, under the circumstances named in my letter, whether we ought to fight or retreat, my mind inclines now to the latter course.

Truly, yours,

W. J. HARDEE.

And this from army headquarters:

DECHERD, July 1, 1863.

General POLK:

The general commanding request you to send your engineer troops at once to repair the road leading over the mountain as far as University Place.

Yours, respectfully,

H. W. WALTER,

Assistant Adjutant-General.

During the day the general and staff rode over to Decherd, the headquarters of General Bragg, and returned to Allisona at 5 p. m.

Thursday, July 2, at 3 a. m., the general received the following order:

ORDERS.] JULY 2, 1863-1.30 a. m.

I. Polk's corps will move to Cowan; Hardee's corps on the road to Brakefield Point. The movement will commence at daylight this morning. Hardee will send a brigade to Brakefield Point, and halt the main body at the junction of his route of march with the road leading from Decherd to Brakefield Point until the communications between Cowan and Brakefield Point are examined.

II. The reserve under Buckner will precede Polk's corps to Cowan.

III. Wheeler's corps will observe the Elk, dispute the passage if attempted, cover the rear of the army until the corps are in position, then move to enemy's right, and harass his march. He will send troops to destroy the road leading from Winchester and Stevenson, and defend the railway against any attempt on the part of the enemy.

By command of General Bragg:

W. W. MACKALL,

Chief of Staff.

The three generals will keep each other and the general-in-chief fully informed from time to time of their progress and dispositions.

W. W. MACKALL,

Chief of Staff.

The necessary orders were issued, the command put in motion, both the railroad and dirt road bridges having been destroyed across Elk River, and the following sent to General Bragg:

JULY 2, [1863]-5.20 a. m.

General BRAGG, Decherd:

GENERAL: Orders received. My columns in motion for Cowan on different roads. A quide for General Buckner furnished; also for a third route. Will my troops marching by way of Decherd come in contact with those of General Hardee? Answer. The field guns of which I spoke have not yet been taken away by the rail train. Please say if the train is to be expected. Railroad and dirt road bridges both destroyed at Allisona.

L. POLK,

Lieutenant-General.

Shortly after the troops started, orders were received to move the corps to Decherd. The head of the column was overtaken at Winchester, and turned to the left toward Decherd. After proceeding a short distance, the original orders were renewed, and the command proceeded to Cowan, and there drew up in line of battle, covering the immense train of the corps and of the cavalry, both flanks being protected by the mountain.