War of the Rebellion: Serial 050 Page 0686 KY.,SW.VA.,TENN.,MISS.,N.ALA.,AND N.GA. Chapter XLII.

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and the gap through which the La Fayette road, via Couch's, passes, my right became endangered by any force of the enemy that might be on the latter road. I therefore took a commanding position on an eminence near the ridge, and reconnoitered the ground to my right and front. A short distance from the latter position, and about 2 1/2 miles from Gordon's Mills, I learned from a citizen that a brigade of infantry had encamped there the night previous, but had left some time in the night or nearly in the morning. This information was at once sent to the general commanding the department and also to General Wood, commanding the division.

I inferred from the information I now had that there was no infantry force of the enemy on the road I was reconnoitering north of now about 11 miles from Chattanooga, and was not aware that any troops had been ordered to my support up to that time. A dense column of dust appeared on my right. I moved a portion of my force in that direction, which, being perceived by the enemy, he retreated in haste. I then pushed on toward Gordon's Mills, which I reached about 4.30 p.m., the enemy resisting more stubbornly as I approached the crossing of the Chickamauga. Taking up a strong position near the mills, and throwing a strong cordon of outposts and pickets completely around my command, I allowed my men to rest and make coffee. I again reported to department and division headquarters, intimating my intention of returning to Rossville about 6 p.m., unless I should receive orders to the contrary. I learned that Generals Bragg, Polk, and Hill had been in the vicinity of Gordon's Mills until a late hour the evening previous, and that the great bulk had left some time during the night of the 10th, excepting the cavalry, which had harassed my front and flanks for a distance of 8 miles. The enemy simply retired as I advanced, and, after taking up my position near the mills, his cavalry could be seen in the skirt of timber on my front, about one-half mile distant, watching my movements, and apparently endeavoring to learn my strength.

About 6 p.m. I received a dispatch from General Wood stating that he would join me that night, which decided me to remain in my position and await his arrival. I sent a request to have Colonel Opdycke ordered up with the balance of my command. General Wood arrived with Buell's brigade about 10 p.m., Colonel Opdycke about 1 a.m. on the 11th.

A short time before nightfall heavy cannonading was heard southwest of me, I presumed in the direction of Stevens' Gap. I at once reported the circumstances to the general commanding the department. I believe it to have been most fortunate that I was re-enforced during the night,as I cannot doubt that the enemy was in considerable force very near me. At least one brigade (Wright's) encamped at Crawfish Spring, 1 1/2 miles from my right, that same night. My isolated condition was, therefore, a precarious one.

I have great reason to believe that my very broad front of skirmishers (I had sixteen companies deployed a part of the time), and the frequent changing of my position from right to left, had a happy effect in deceiving the enemy in regard to my numbers. I have learned since that my force was estimated to be very large. I found that the impression upon the citizens was that most of the enemy's infantry and artillery were below or to the southeast of Pigeon