Between the eastern base of this range and the line of the Chattanooga and Atlanta or Georgia State Railorad are a series of narrow valleys separated by smaller ranges of hills or low mountains, running eastward toward the railroad.
The first of these ranges is Missionary Ridge, separating the waters of Chickamauga from Chattanooga Creek.
A higher range with fewer gaps, on the southeast side of the Chickamauga, is Pigeon Mountain, branching from Lookout, near Dougherty's Gap, some 40 miles south from Chattanooga. It extends in a northerly direction, bearing eastward until it is lost in the general level of the country, near the line of the Chattanooga and La Fayette road.
East of these two ranges and of the Chickamauga,starting from Ooltewah and passing by Ringgold to the west of Dalton, is Taylor's Ridge, a rough, rocky range, traversable by wagon roads only through gaps, generally several miles apart.
Missionary Ridge passes about 3 miles east of Chattanooga, ending near the Tennessee at the mouth of the Chickamauga. Taylor's Ridge separates the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad from the Chattanooga and Atlanta Railroad.
The junction of these roads is at Dalton, in a valley east Taylor's Ridge and west of the rough mountain region, in which are the sources of the Coosa River. This valley, only about 9 or 10 miles wide, is the natural southern gateway into East Tennessee, while the other valleys just mentioned terminate northwardly on the Tennessee to the west of it, and extend in a southwesterly direction the crossing of the Atlanta road to Rome and thence to Gadsden, is southwest.
From the position of our army at McMinnville, Tullahoma, Decherd, and Winchester, to reach Chattanooga, crossing the Tennessee above it, it was necessary either to pass north of the Sequatchie Valley, by Pikeville or Kingston, by Dunlap or Therman and Walden's Ridge, by the routes passing through these places, a distance from 65 to 70 miles, over a country destitute of forage, poorly supplied with water, by narrow and difficult wagon roads.
The main Cumberland range could also have been passed, on an inferior road, by Pelham and Tracy City to Therman.
The most southerly route on which to move troops and transportation to the Tennessee, above Chattanooga, was by Cowan, University, Battle Creek, and Jasper or by Tantallon, Anderson, Stevenson, Bridgeport, and the mouth of Battle Creek, to same point, and thence by Therman or Dunlap and Poe's Tavern, across Walden's Ridge. The University road, though difficult, was the best of these two,that by Cowan, Tantalon, and Stevenson being very rough between Cowan and Anderson and much longer.
There were also three roads across the mountains to the Tennessee River below Stevenson, the best but much the longest by Fayetteville and Athens, a distance of 70 miles.
The next, a very rough wagon road from Winchester, by Salem, to Larkinsville, and an exceedingly rough road by the way of Mount Top, one branch leading thence to Bellefonte and the other to Stevenson.
On these latter routes little or no forage was to be found except at
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