troops to be engaged should move, but directed I should lose no time in making it. I understood this remark to mean that I should lose no time in making it, taking in advance all proper precautions to insure its success, and I declare most unhesitatingly that this was exactly what occurred in regard to the making of the reconnaissance, the hour it started, &c. Instate most emphatically that not a moment was lost in starting the troops, having a due regard to insuring the success of the reconnaissance and the safety of the troops engaged in it.
General Crittenden appears to think I questioned his military judgment in ordering the reconnaissance. I do not see how he has arrived at this conclusion, and do not think there is anything in my communication to warrant it. The truth is, I had informed Colonel Harker last night that I should send his brigade out to-day to make a forced reconnaissance. I made but one remark in my communication about the reconnaissance, and that to the effect that in obedience to orders I would make the reconnaissance, though I had left the enemy pretty strongly yesterday. It seemed from the order being given that it was not understood that I had pretty effectually attended to the duty of feeling the enemy already, and that if this fact had been more fully understood, the order probably would not have been given. But I desired to get more full information of the enemy's position, and intended to take measures to get it at the earliest possible moment compatible with the safety of my command.
In regard to what General Crittenden terms my "falling back" on the Trenton road, I will remark that the term "falling back" is utterly erroneous, and in no fair or military sense is applicable to, descriptive of, the movement I made. I simply shifted my position to the rear, not more than 2 miles at the most (and some of my staff officers estimate the distance at 1 mile), to gain a position in which a small force can better resist an attack from a much larger force; the result of the reconnaissance of to-day proves conclusively that, by the change, I have not by any means impaired the efficiency of my command for examining and threatening the enemy's position; the truth is, the change, considering my small and isolated force in the immediate presence of a most preponderating and overwhelming force of the enemy, has greatly increased my capability of carrying out the purpose for which my command was sent hither.
The change was rendered, in my judgment, imperatively necessary by the following reasons: The position immediately at the junction of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad with the Trenton and Chattanooga Railroad is utterly untenable by a small force liable to be attacked by a superior force; the position my be assailed with ease in front, on both flanks, and in rear at the same time. If my small command had been attacked there, its line of retreat would have been completely cut off, and one of two results must have necessarily obtained; either my command would have been utterly destroyed or captured. I was not disposed to allow either of the results to obtain if I could prevent it.
During the afternoon I became satisfied that one division (Cheatham's) was encamped on the spur of Lookout Mountain, supported by another (Withers') immediately in its rear. Also that there was a large force encamped on the summit or table of Lookout Mountain immediately overlooking my camp; the enemy's signal flags, in operation, were seen during the afternoon, and when darkness closed in, his signal lights were seen in active communication. Such a well-