HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
La Fayette, Ga., September 12, 1863-12 o'clock at night.
GENERAL: I have your dispatch* giving me your position and the disposition of the enemy opposite to you. Your position seems to be a strong one for defense, but I hope will not be held unless the enemy attacks early. We must force him to fight at the earliest moment and before his combinations can be carried out. Your generals who advise the concentration of the larger portion of the army with you only know of Crittenden's corps being opposed to you, and did not know of the advance again of a heavy infantry force in the cove upon this place, and of another from the south, preceded by a very large cavalry force. However, to avoid all danger, I shall put Buckner in motion in the morning and run the risk here. You must not delay attack for his arrival, or another golden opportunity may be lost by the withdrawal of our game. Had you and the generals with you had the information in my possession at the date of your dispatch your conclusions might have varied. But I trust that the cavalry sent south may hold the enemy in check until you can finish the job intrusted to you. Action, prompt and decided, is all that can save us. The troops are ready to respond.
I am, general, very truly, yours,
CIRCULAR.] HDQRS. POLK'S CORPS, ARMY OF TENNESSEE,
Rock Spring Church, September 12, 1863-11.30 p. m.
Major-General Cheatham will take position on the left of the line, his left resting on the high ground on the southwest of Anderson's residence, extending thence to the right across Gordon's Mills road, so as to cover one-half of the indicated line of battle. All the rest of his troops not required for that purpose will be held in reserve.
Major-General Walker will place the left of his line so as to rest on Cheatham's right and extend thence across the Ringgold road to the extreme right of the line. So many of his troops as are not necessary to cover his front line will be held by him as his reserve.
The troops of Major-General Hindman and of any other infantry command that may be present will be held as a general reserve to be disposed of by the lieutenant-general commanding as occasion may require.
The cavalry of General Pegram will cover the right and that of General Armstrong the left of the line so formed.
The lieutenant-general commanding cannot permit the troops under his command to engage in the battle now before us without expressing to them his profound sense of the importance of the issues which hang upon the result. If we are successful the star of the Confederacy rises in the ascendant. The spirits of our friends everywhere will be cheered and our homes made happy. The through defeat of the enemy now would blast the prospects of our cruel invaders. The lieutenant-general knows that the troops he has now the honor to command have long and eagerly desired an opportunity to confront their adversaries. That opportunity is now offered them,
*See 8 p. m., p. 44.
4 R R-VOI XXX, PT II