and trestle bridges rapidly prepared at Caperton's Ferry, Bridgeport, mouth of Battle Creek, and Shellmound, and the army, except cavalry, safely crossed the Tennessee in face of the enemy. By the 8th of September Thomas had moved on Trenton,seizing Frick's and Stevens' Gaps on the Lookout Mountain;McCook had advanced to Valley Head and taken Winston's Gap; while Crittenden had crossed to Wauhatchie, communicating on the right with Thomas, and threatening Chattanooga by the pass over the point of Lookout Mountain.
The first mountain barrier south of the Tennessee being successfully passed, General Rosecrans decided to threaten the enemy's communication with his right, while his center and left seized the gaps and commanding points of the mountains in front. General Crittenden's reconnaissance on the 9th developed the fact that the enemy had evacuated Chattanooga on the day and night previous.
While General Crittenden's corps took peaceable possession of Chattanooga, the objective point of the campaign, General Rosecrans, with the remainder of his army,pressed forward through the difficult passes of the Lookout and Missionary Mountains, apparently directing his march upon La Fayette and Rome.
On ascertaining these facts,and that General Burnside was in possession of all East Tennessee above Chattanooga, and hearing that Lee was being rapidly re-enforced on the Rapidan, it seemed probable that the enemy had determined to concentrate his forces for the defense of Richmond, or a new invasion of the North. The slight resistance made by him in East Tennessee, and his abandonment, without defense, of so important a position as Chattanooga, gave plausibility to the reports of spies and deserters from Lee's army of re-enforcements arriving there from Bragg.
Fearing that General Rosecrans' army might be drawn too far into the mountains of Georgia, where it could not be supplied, and might be attacked before re-enforcements could reach it from Burnside, I sent him, on the 11th, the following telegram:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, D. C., September 11, 1863-1.35 p.m.
General Burnside telegraphs from Cumberland Gap that he holds all East Tennessee above Loudon, and also the gaps of the North Carolina mountains. A cavalry force is moving toward Athens to connect with you.
After holding the mountain passes on the west, and Dalton, or some other point on the railroad, to prevent the return of Bragg's army, it will be decided whether your army shall move farther south into Georgia and Alabama.
It is reported here by deserters that a part of Bragg's army is
re-enforcing Lee. It is important that the truth of this should be ascertained as early as possible.
H. W. HALLECK,
On the same day the following telegram was sent to General Burnside:
HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, D. C., September 11, 1863-2 p.m.
I congratulate you on your successes.
Hold the gaps of the North Carolina mountains, the line of the Holston River, or some point, if there be one, to prevent access from Virginia, and connect with General Rosecrans, at least with your cavalry.*
*For paragraph, here omitted, see p.149.