At this moment reliable information reached me that a force of the enemy's cavalry was moving from our right to our rear, and a column of infantry on our front and left.
Finding it impossible to organize any of the passing troops, and unable to communicate with General Thomas, and being informed by a staff officer that Generals Rosecrans, McCook, and Crittenden had left the field, I deemed it vitally important to secure the safety of the artillery, which appeared to be threatened with immediate capture by a large force of the enemy which was pressing forward on my front and right.
I immediately took the Seventy-eighth Pennsylvania Volunteers and marched to the mouth of the gap, 2 miles from Rossville, the first open ground where the troops could be collected and reorganized.
I found Colonel Parkhurst here, with the Ninth Michigan Volunteers, energetically checking the stragglers. He informed me that General Crittenden had passed some hours before, and had ordered him, with all the troops, to fall back to Chattanooga. This I stated to him was inexpedient; that the troops must be immediately reorganized and prepared to march to the front.
In this purpose I was ably assisted by Colonel Ducat, Colonel McKibbin, and Captain Joe Hill, of General Rosecrans' staff; Colonel Parkhurst, of General Thomas' staff; Lieutenant Elkin and Lieutenant Morris, of General Baird's staff, and Lieutenant Wilson, of General Sheridan's staff, members of my own staff, with other officers whose names I cannot now recall.
As soon as I had cleared the gap of the artillery and transportation, which extended back some distance and in great confusion, and formed the scattered troops into battalions, I learned that General Sheridan was close at hand with some 1,500 men.
I rode forward and respectfully suggested to General Sheridan to move to the support of General Thomas, stating that I would join him with all the troops I had collected. He stated his object was to march to Rossville.
I then rode forward to communicate with General Thomas. Found the enemy's cavalry in possession of the road between us, preventing my farther passage.
I then returned and held a consultation with Generals Davis, Sheridan, and Colonel Ducat.
It was determined as advisable to proceed to Rossville, to prevent the enemy from obtaining possession of the cross-roads, and from there General Sheridan would move to the support of General Thomas, via La Fayette road.
The column reached Rossville at dark, and the scattered troops were organized as rapidly as possible. Provisions and ammunition, of which the troops were destitute, were telegraphed for and received from Chattanooga.
At this moment I learned that General Granger had gone to the assistance of General Thomas, that he was safe, and that the troops were retiring to Rossville; also that General Sheridan had halted 3 miles from Rossville.
I therefore continued the organization and preparation of the troops, to hold our position against a force of the enemy who were reported to be advancing from the direction of Ringgold.
Before the disposition of the force was completed General Thomas with a portion of his command, arrived.