naturally following the shortest route, I moved through the woods.
My two batteries, Estep's and Bradley's, could not follow their brigades through the woods, and consequently were compelled to make a short detour to the left to get into the open fields on the slope of the ridge, intending to move thence parallel to their brigades. But they were caught in this movement by the rapidly advancing columns of the enemy. Estep's guns were captured (in the neighborhood as I understand of infantry on the right, which might have supported him if it had stood), while Bradley's battery, more fortunate, succeeded in getting over the ridge and drew off toward Rossville with the tide of fugitives setting strongly in that direction.
For further details in regard to the movements of these batteries at this stage of the action, I must refer to the reports of Captains Bradley and Estep.
I will only remark that while their movements did not occur under my immediate observation, but took place beyond the reach of my infantry support, I am fully satisfied from all I have learned that neither Captains Bradley nor Estep can be censured for what occurred. When I discovered the enemy in force in the valley south of my command, I at once divined his intention, and appreciated the terrible hazard to our army and the necessity for prompt action. His object was clear.
Having turned our right and separated a portion of our forces from the main body, he was seeking the rear of our solid line of battle, to attack it in reverse, hoping thus to cut our communication with Chattanooga and capture and destroy the bulk of our army. I had with me at the time but one brigade (Harker's) and a portion of Buell's. I immediately formed a line across the valley facing southward, determined, if possible, to check the advance of the enemy. He was in full and plain view in the open fields, and it was evident his force far outnumbered mine. But I felt that this was no time for comparing numbers. The enemy, at all hazards, must be checked. I was without the support of artillery and knew I had to depend alone on the musket. I formed of me was the open fields across which the enemy was advancing. It was a matter of great importance to get possession of the fence which bounded this field on the northern side. My line was some 150 or 200 yards from the fence on the north of it, while the enemy's lines were perhaps as much as 350 yards south of it. In person I ordered the One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio, Colonel Opdycke commanding, to advance and seize the fence. There was a momentary hesitation in the regiment to go forward. Its gallant colonel immediately rode in front of the center of his regiment, and taking off his hat, called on his men to advance. His regiment gallantry responded by a prompt advance,as men ever will under the inspiration of such leadership. The regiment quickly lined the fence whence a sharp fire was opened on the enemy. Soon the Sixty-fourth Ohio, Colonel McIlvain commanding, followed and formed along the fence on the left of the One hundred and twenty-fifth Ohio.
This bold and rapid offensive movement seemed to take the enemy by surprise and disconcert his movements, for his hitherto advancing lines halted. The other regiments, Sixty-fifth Ohio and Third Kentucky (Major Brown commanding the former and Colonel Dunlap the latter), of Harker's brigade, with the Fifty-eighth Indiana,