The wounded of the Second Division were removed to a temporary hospital immediately in their rear, and those of the First and Third to the vicinity of Crawfish Spring, on the right and rear of our line of battle. At this point were occupied a large brick building, with a number of outhouses, for hospital purposes, and to these were added such hospital tents as were in our possession.
In addition to the wounded of the Twentieth Corps a large portion of those from the Fourteenth were brought here, it being the nearest point at which they could obtain water.
By 8 o'clock in the evening every place of shelter was full, and a large number were yet unprovided for. The night was extremely cold for the season, yet those compelled to remain out were rendered comparatively comfortable by large fires and such bedding as we could command. An abundance of nourishment, in the form of beef soup, coffee, &c., was provided for all, and their wounds were dressed as rapidly as was possible under the circumstances.
Our wounded at the Second Division hospital were well cared for during the night, but soon after the battle was renewed, on the morning of the 20th, our forces on the left were compelled to fall back, and it became evident that the hospital would fall into the hands of the enemy. Dr. Schussler, acting medical director of the division, immediately ordered all his available ambulances to be filled with such cases as were transportable, and sent in the direction of chattanooga. Those who were able to do so walked to a place of temporary safety, while about 40 of the more severely wounded fell into the hands of the enemy.
About 1 o'clock of the same day, our right having given way, the enemy placed themselves between us and our hospitals at Crawfish Spring.
General Mitchell with a large cavalry force was guarding the spring, but it was evident that he would be compelled to abandon the position. I was on the left at the time and cut off by the enemy from our hospitals on the right. Surgeons Waterman and Griffiths, however, made their arrangements as judiciously and as rapidly as possible for leaving, and Colonel Boyd, our corps quartermaster, being present, with commendable promptness collected a large number of empty wagons, which, having been partly filled with straw, were, with the available ambulances, loaded with wounded and conducted across Missionary Hills to the Lookout Valley road, and thence to Chattanooga.
About 250 men were left in hospitals occupied by the First and Third Divisions, but many of them were from the Fourteenth Corps.
Our forces, after giving way on the right and center, fell back in confusion for some distance; but they were finally rallied, and the reserve, under General Granger, coming up about that time, the enemy were again held in check, and severe fighting continued until dark. The First and Third Divisions, however, of the Twentieth Corps were not again engaged. The Second Division was engaged during the evening, and such of the wounded as we had the means of removing were sent to Rossville, 4 miles in the rear, and from thence to Chattanooga the next morning.
During the night our forces fell back on Rossville, thus leaving the entire field, and with it our dead and the greater part of the more severely wounded, in the hands of the enemy.
The field on which occurred the greater part of the fighting is slightly rolling and covered with timber.