At 5 p.m. of the same day, I sent Colonel Mitchell, with his brigade, to strengthen and support Colonel McCook, and he joined him during the night.
General Whitaker was prevented from reaching the Red House Bridge by coming in contact with a superior force of the enemy on the road leading thereto. He had a severe skirmish, losing 60 men killed and wounded, but he held his ground until the next morning, when he received re-enforcements. The enemy, however, withdrew from his immediate front before daylight.
The enemy obtained possession of Reed's Bridge on the afternoon of the 17th [18th].
At daylight on the morning of the 18th [19th], Colonel McCook sent Lieutenant-Colonel Brigham, with the Sixty-ninth Ohio Infantry, to surprise the enemy and gain possession of it. He gallantly charged across the bridge, drove the enemy from it, and, in accordance with instructions received from General Steedman, destroyed it by fire. As the enemy were gathering in force around Colonel McCook, I sent him an order, at 6 o'clock on the morning of the 19th instant, to withdraw from that position. This order was executed by 7 a.m.
I now posted Colonel McCook's brigade at the junction of the Cleveland and Ringgold roads, covering the approaches to the rear and left flank of that part of my forces which were then on the road leading to the Red House Bridge, while Colonel Mitchell's brigade was led by General Steedman to the assistance of General Whitaker. Nothing further than slight skirmishing occurred in our front during the remaining part of the day. Yet all indications led us to believe that a large force of the enemy confronted us.
The position of my forces on the morning of the 20th instant, and up to the hour of battle, was as follows: Colonel McCook's brigade was moved to a point near the McAfee Church, and was placed in such a position as to cover the Ringgold road; General Whitaker's brigade, together with Colonel Mitchell's, retained the same position that they had the evening before; and Colonel Minty, who reported to me at daylight on the morning of the 20th, with a brigade of cavalry, was posted at Missionary Mills, which positions completely covered our extreme left flank.
The enemy did not make his appearance in our immediate front during the morning, but large clouds of dust could be seen beyond our position arising from the La Fayette and Harrison roads, moving in the direction of the sound of battle.
At 10.30 a.m. I heard heavy firing, which was momentarily increasing in volume and intensity on our right, in the direction of General Thomas' position. Soon afterward, being well convinced, judging from the sound of battle, that the enemy were pushing him hard, and fearing that he would not be able to resist their combined attack, I determined to go to his assistance at once. It was now about 11 a.m. I started with General Whitaker's and Colonel Mitchell's brigades, under the immediate command of General Steedman, and left Colonel McCook's brigade at the McAfee Church in position to cover the Ringgold road.
General Thomas was at this time engaging the enemy at a point between the La Fayette and Dry Valley roads, in the vicinity of - house, about 3 1/2 miles from our place of starting. We had not proceeded more than 2 miles when the enemy made his appearance in the woods on the left of our advancing column, about three-fourths of a mile from the road.