reported moving in force upon his left, and I ordered Anderson to that flank, that my connection with Hill's troops might be secured. Upon further information, Anderson was directed to deploy, so as to support the right of Buckner's line.
The enemy's skirmishers were now driven in and my whole line about to advance, when I received from army headquarters the following communication:
FIVE MILES ON THE ROAD FROM LA FAYETTE TO STEVENS' GAP, September 11, 1863-11 a.m.
Near Davis' Cross'Roads:
If you find the enemy in such force as to make an attack imprudent, fall back at once on La Fayette by Catlett's Gap, from which obstructions have now been removed. Send your determination at once and act as promptly.
W. W. MACKALL,
Chief of Staff.
The substance of my answer to the chief of staff, of which no copy was retained, was, that I was not yet sufficiently advised finally upon my course, but that I would act as circumstances might dictate, retiring if necessary. An hour, or thereabouts, after the receipt of this dispatch a staff officer from army headquarters came to me on behalf of General Mackall, inquiring whether or not I felt certain that I could make my way out through Catlett's Gap. I replied that there was no doubt of my ability to do so should I decide to retire, but that I had just given the order to advance. Shortly afterward I received the following dispatch:
HEADQUARTERS, Dugout Pass [Dug Gap]-half past-.
The enemy, estimated 12,000 or 15,000, is forming line in front of this place. Nothing heard of you since Captain Presstman, engineer, was with you. The general is most anxious and wishes to hear from you by couriers once an hour. A line is now established from your headquarters to ours. The enemy are advancing from Graysville to La Fayette. Dispatch is necessary to us.
W. W. MACKALL,
Chief of Staff.
This information from army headquarters, showing so large a force forming line of battle in front of Dug Gap, in addition, as I supposed, to that in my immediate front, caused me to stop the forward movement, order a more careful reconnaissance than had yet been made, and consult Generals Buckner and Anderson as to the best course to pursue. They concurred with me in the opinion that with the lights before us it would be imprudent to advance farther. The order to retire through Catlett's Gap was given, but before its execution the reports of scouts satisfied me that the enemy was retiring toward Steven's Gap. I at once ordered my line advanced as rapidly as possible, Anderson on Buckner's right, and that every effort be made to intercept the retreating column. While pursuing the enemy an officer notified me that General Hill desired to see me at the left of my line. Informing Generals Buckner and Anderson of the fact, and authorizing the former to give any orders that might seem necessary, I proceeded to the point indicated, but did not meet General Hill. Returning toward the center. I found Deshler's brigade, of Hill's corps, without special instructions, and ordered it to conform to Buckner's movements.
About dark our ineffectual pursuit of the enemy ceased, under