from his immediate front. Instructions were promptly given to push our whole line of skirmishers to the front, and I moved to the left and extended these orders. All the cavalry at hand, including my personal guard, were ordered to the front.
Members of my staff, in passing through the lines of our left wing with their escort, were warned of danger and told that they were entering on the neutral ground between us and the enemy. But this proved to be an error, and our cavalry soon came upon the enemy's rear guard where the main road passes through Missionary Ridge. He had availed himself of the night to withdraw from our front, and his main body was already in position within his lines at Chattanooga.
Any immediate pursuit by our infantry and artillery would have been fruitless, as it was not deemed practicable with our weak and exhausted force to assail the enemy, now more than double our numbers, behind his intrenchments. Though we had defeated him and driven him from the field with heavy loss in men, arms, and artillery, it had only been done by heavy sacrifices, in repeated, persistent, and most gallant assaults upon superior numbers strongly posted and protected.
The conduct of our troops was excellent throughout the prolonged contest. Often repulsed where success seemed impossible, they never failed to rally and return to the charge until the last combined and determined effort, in which the spirit of every man seemed to conspire for success, was crowned with the reward due to such gallantry in a just cause.
Our loss was in proportion to the prolonged and obstinate struggle. Two-fifths of our gallant troops had fallen, and the number of general and staff officers stricken down will best show how these troops were led.
Major-General Hood, the model soldier and inspiring leader, fell after contributing largely to our success, and has suffered the irreparable loss of a leg. That his valuable life should be spared to us is, however, a source for thankfulness and gratitude.
Major-General Hindman, highly distinguished for gallantry and good conduct, received a severe contusion, but persisted in keeping the saddle until he witnessed the success in which his command largely participated.
Brigadier Generals B. H. Helm, Preston Smith, and James Deshler died upon the field in the heroic discharge of duty. They were true patriots and gallant soldiers, and worthy of the high reputation they enjoyed.
Brigadier-Generals Adams, Gregg, and McNair fell severely wounded while gallantly leading their commands in the thickest of the fight. It is gratifying to know they are convalescing and will be again found at the post of duty and danger.
Judging from appearances on the field, the enemy's losses must have exceeded our own largely, but we have no means of correctly estimating them. We captured over 8,000 prisoners, 51 pieces of artillery, 15,000 stand of small-arms, and quantities of ammunition, with wagons, ambulances, and teams, medicines, hospital stores, &c., in large quantities.
The accompanying maps* (1,2,3, and 4) based on accurate surveys, will afford the necessary information for the correct under-