General Bragg orders you to attack and force your way through the enemy to this point at the earliest hour that you can see him in the morning. Cleburne will attack in front the moment your guns are heard.
I am, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEORGE WM. BRENT,
My construction of the above-quoted dispatch was that the general commanding considered my position a perilous one, and therefore expected me not to capture the enemy, but to prevent the capture of my own troops, forcing my way through to La Fayette, and thus saving my command and enabling him to resist the forces that seemed about to envelop him. This idea only was conveyed by the language used. Keeping it in view, I delayed issuing the order of march until the scouting parties sent toward Lookout Mountain should report, and in the hope, also, of hearing from army headquarters and from General Hill in answer to the important letters sent by Major Nocquet, or the one of 9.10 p.m. of the 10th sent by courier.
Between 4 and 5 o'clock the scouting party sent toward Davis' Cross-Roads reported a large force of the enemy still in that vicinity, and the parties sent out on the Crawfish Spring road and between it and Lookout Mountain reported no indications of an enemy.
At 5.30 o'clock the scouts sent toward Stevens' Gap returned, bringing no information, having been detained all night at a cavalry outpost and the detention not made known to me. I immediately sent another party in the same direction, instructed to report by 7 a.m., and at the same time issued the order of march, fixing that hour for starting.
At 6.30 o'clock Major Nocquet returned, reporting that General Hill expected me to make the attack and would co-operate, and that the general commanding directed him to say that I should execute my own plans and he would sustain me.
The command moved at 7. Marching, necessarily, on a single road, its progress was very slow. There were various stoppages and detentions as commonly happens under like circumstances, and much time was thereby lost. After proceeding about 2 miles skirmishing began with the cavalry in front. Afterward, the country being broken and densely wooded and the position and strength of the enemy unknown, frequent reconnaissances were necessary, consuming considerable time. In all this I endeavored, as far as practicable, to prevent needless delays, and I have no complaint to make against any officer under me, nor against any portion of the command.
While on the march the last scouting party sent toward Stevens' Gap reported that a heavy force of the enemy had been passing thence toward Davis' all the previous night and up to 6 o'clock that morning. A party sent out by General Buckner reported to the same effect, and that the enemy had continued moving in the same direction up to 9 a.m.
About 10 o'clock General Buckner's engineer corps, which had been ordered to Catlett's Gap at 7 to clear it of obstructions, reported that it would be open by 12.
At 11.10 infantry skirmishers of the enemy appeared about 2 1/2 miles from Davis', and General Buckner made his deployment, his left resting on the spurs of Pigeon Mountain, his right extending across the Cove road. Before his line was fully established the enemy was