Ridge, his right communicating with General Thomas, where he remained until General McCook had effected a junction with General Thomas.
Minty, with his cavalry, reconnoitered the enemy on the 15th and reported him in force at Dalton, Ringgold, and Leet's, and Rock Springs Church. The head of General McCook's column being reported near the same day, General Crittenden was ordered to return to his old position at Gordon's Mills, his line resting along the Chickamauga via Crawfish Spring.
Thus, on the evening of the 17th, the troops were substantially within supporting distance. Orders were given at once to move the whole line northeastwardly down the Chickamauga, with a view to covering the La Fayette road toward Chattanooga, and facing the most practicable route to the enemy's front.
The position of our troops and the narrowness of the roads retarded our movements. During the day while they were in progress, our cavalry, under Colonel Minty, was attacked on the left in the vicinity of Reed's Bridge, and Wilder's mounted infantry were attacked by infantry and driven into the la Fayette road.
It became apparent that the enemy was massing heavily on our left, crossing Reed's and Alexander's Bridges in force while he had threatened Gordon's Mills.
Orders were therefore promptly given to General Thomas to relieve General Crittenden's corps, posting one division near Crawfish Spring, and to move with the remainder of his corps by the Widow Glenn's house to the Rossville and La Fayette road, his left extending obliquely across it near Kelly's house.
General Crittenden was ordered to proceed with Van Cleve's and Palmer's division, to drive the enemy form the Rossville road and form on the left of General Wood, then at Gordon's Mills.
General McCook's corps was to close up on General Thomas, occupy the position at Crawfish Spring, and protect General Crittenden's right, while holding his corps mainly in reserve.
The main cavalry force was ordered to close in on General McCook's right, watch the crossing of the Chickamauga, and act under his orders.
The movement for the concentration of the corps more compactly toward Crawfish Spring was begun on the morning of the 18th, under orders to conduct it very secretly, and was executed so slowly that McCook's corps only reached Pond Spring at dark, and bivouacked, resting on their arms during the night. Crittenden's corps reached its position on the Rossville road near midnight.
Evidence accumulated during the day of the 18th the enemy was moving to our left. Minty's cavalry and Wilder's mounted brigade encountered the enemy's cavalry at Reed's and Alexander's Bridges, and toward evening were driven into the Rossville road. At the same time the enemy had been demonstrating for 3 miles up the Chickamauga. Heavy clouds of dust had been observed 3 or 4 miles beyond the Chickamauga, sweeping to the northeast.
In view of all these facts, the necessity became apparent that General Thomas must use all possible dispatch in moving his corps to the position assigned it. He was therefore directed to proceed with all dispatch, and General McCook to close up to Crawfish Spring as soon as Thomas' columns was out of the way. Thomas pushed forward uninterruptedly during the night, and at daylight the head of his column had reached Kelly's house on the La Fayette road, where