with two regiments and two mountain howitzers from Colonel Wilder's brigade, reported to me. I directed Colonel Miller to take possession of the ford, and again advanced and drove the rebel skirmish line over the ridge and back on their line of battle in the valley, where a force was now visible which I estimated at 7,000 men. The rebel line advanced and I was steadily driven back across the ridge.
My only means of crossing the creek was Reed's Bridge, a narrow, frail structure, which was planked with loose boards and
fence-rails, and a bad ford about 300 yards higher up. I masked my artillery behind some shrubs near the ford, leaving one battalion of the Fourth Regulars to support it, and ordered the remainder of that regiment to cross the bridge, holding the Seventh Pennsylvania and Fourth Michigan in line to cover the movement. Before the first squadron right shoulder shift, and moving at the double-quick as steadily as if at drill, came through the gap not 500 yards from the bridge. The artillery opening on them from an unexpected quarter evidently took them by surprise and immediately checked their advance, causing them to again deploy. The Fourth Michigan followed the Fourth Regulars and the Seventh Pennsylvania the Fourth Michigan,one squadron of the Fourth Regulars, under Lieutenant Davis, most gallantly covering the passage of the Seventh.
One squadron of the Fourth Michigan, under Lieutenant Simpson, one picket on the Harrison road, was cut off by the rapid advance of the rebels. They made a gallant resistance and eventually swam the creek without the loss of a man.
The artillery crossed the road in safety, and I placed them in position to dispute the passage of the bridge, from which Lieutenant Davis' men had thrown part of the planking. Here I was soon hotly engaged, and was holding the rebels in check, when I received a note from the officer in charge of my wagon train, which I had sent back to Gordon's Mills, stating that-
Colonel Wilder has fallen back from Alexander's Bridge to Gordon's Mills and the enemy are crossing at all points in force.
I sent an order to Colonel Miller to join me without delay, and on his arrived I fell back to Gordon's Mills, skirmishing with the enemy, who followed me closely.
With 973 men, the First Brigade had disputed the advance of 7,000 rebels from 7 o'clock in the morning until 5 in the evening, and at the end of that time had fallen back only 5 miles.
On arriving at Gordon's Mills my men were dismounted, and, together with Colonel Wilder's brigade and a brigade from General Van Cleve's division, repulsed a heavy attack at about 8 p.m.
We lay in position all night, and were without fires, although the night was bitterly cold. At break of day Major-General Palmer's division relieved us. I then moved to the rear and procured forage for the horses and rations for the men, who had been entirely without since early the previous morning.
September 19.-Moved along the rear to the left, to protect the trains going into Chattanooga, and camped near Rossville for the night.
September 20.-Under orders from Major-General Granger, I proceeded to the ford at Missionary Mills, and sent strong patrols to Chickamauga Station and Graysville without meeting the enemy.