the extremities of the lines, and they were also scarce of water. The one by Athens has both forage and water in abundance.
It is evident from this description of the topography that to reach Chattanooga, or penetrate the country south of it, on the railroad, by crossing the Tennessee below Chattanooga was a difficult task. It was necessary to cross the Cumberland Mountains, with subsistence, ammunition, at least a limited supply of forage, and a bridge train; to cross Sand or Raccoon Mountains into Lookout Valley, then Lookout Mountain, and finally the lesser ranges, Missionary Ridge, if we went directly to Chattanooga, or Missionary Ridge, Pigeon Mountain, and Taylor's Ridge, if we struck the railroad at Dalton or south of it. The Valley of the Tennessee River, though several miles in breadth between the bases of the mountains, below Bridgeport, is not a broad, alluvial farming country, but full of barren oak ridges, sparsely settled, and but a small part of it under cultivation.
OPERATIONS OF THE ARMY UNTIL IT REACHED THE TENNESSEE RIVER.
The first step was to repair the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, to bring forward to Tullahoma, McMinnvile, Decherd, and Winchester needful forage adn subsistence, which it was impossible to transport from Murfreesborough to those points over the horrible roads which we encountered on our advance to Tullahoma. The next was to extend the repairs of the main stem to Stevenson and Bridgeport, and the Tracy City branch, so that we could place supplies in depot at those points, from which to draw after we had crossed the mountains.
Through the zeal and energy of Colonel Innes and his regiment of Michigan Engineers, the main road was open to the Elk River Bridge by the 13th of July, and Elk River Bridge and the main stem to Bridgeport by the 25th, and the branch to Tracy City by the 13th of August.
As soon as the main stem was finished to Stevenson, Sheridan's division was advanced, two brigades to Bridgeport and on the Stevenson, and commissary and quartermaster stores pushed forward to the latter place with all practicable speed. These supplies began to be accumulated at this point in sufficient quantities by the 8th of August, and corps commanders were that day directed to supply their troops, as soon as possible, with rations and forage sufficient for a general movement.
The Tracy City branch, built for bringing coal down the mountains, has such high grades and sharp curves as to require a peculiar engine. The only we had answering the purpose, having been broken on its way from Nashville, was not repaired until about the 12th of August. It was deemed best, therefore, to delay the movement of the troops until that road was completely available for transporting stores to Tracy City.
THE MOVEMENT OVER THE CUMBERLAND MOUNTAINS
began on the morning of the 16th of August, as follows:
General Crittenden's corps in three columns, General Wood, from Hillsborough, by Pelham, to Therman, in Sequatchie Valley.
General Palmer, from Manchester by the most practicable route to Dunlap.