impatience for the coming of day that the attack might be renewed, no though of aught but victory crowning it finding expression.
General Hooker's orders, to make strong my position during the night, were vigorously carried out,and his announcement of his having opened communication with Chattanooga,and that he seriously threatened the enemy's line of retreat, was eminently cheerful.
I had made repeated efforts to get supplies of ammunition up the mountain,as the long engagements of my troops threatened to exhaust all they had and could procure. My re-enforcements of that nature were brought up in the pockets of men dispatched for that purpose . With much diligence to the task, with aid of mules, by midnight all my command was supplied with 100 rounds perman, ready for a vigorous renewal of hostilities. General Whitaker's was also furnished by me with 25,000 rounds. Also, regiments of Grose's and Carlin's commands.
Before daylight of the 25th, I gave instructions for small reconnoitering parties to gain the summit with ladders,and to be prepared to plant the colors on the top had the enemy evacuated. The colors of the Eighth Kentucky, of General Whitaker's brigade, ascended on the eastern side of the ridge, and of the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania on the western. They stood upon the summit about the same time, and the former,having the shorter route, was first unfurled to the breeze from the gigantic cliffs jutting out in their dizzy altitude from the horizon.
There upon that cloud-soaring citadel floated Cobham's colors and the symbolic flag of the division, the "White Star," with patriotic devotion and with prowess followed by its representatives upon the Potomac, Shenandoah, Rappashannock,and Rapidan, in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. The enemy had evacuated, as though probable, during the night. The enthusiasm, of which General Hooker was an eye-witness, was such as can only emanate from hearts of patriots,overflowing with gratitude for a great and signal victory, of which they had been auxiliary to the achievement.
The losses of the enemy in killed, wounded, and prisoners had been severe, but to the dismay created by the impulsively and rapid successive charges of our men is attributable the fact that our casualties are comparatively light, in comparison with the length and character of the engagements. The celerity with which our forces were hurled upon the foe led him, mostly, to indecisive delivery of fire.
The Eighth Kentucky, of General Whitaker's command, was sent to the summit to reconnoiter as far as Summertown, They were accompanied by one of my staff officers. On the top, about 100 yards form the crowing rock of the precipice, around the brow of the mountain, the enemy had a very heavy line of works facing south, which could have been held against great odds, even in disputing the crest, after escalade. They had a brigade bivouacked on the descent of the Nickajack trace, evidently posted there during the day, in expectancy of an attack from that quarter, produced by the demonstration made below.
The enemy had left their camp, equipage, arms, and stores in profusion, evidencing a hasty retreat during the night. Many stragglers lingered about their still burning fires. The spoils were taken charge of by the Eighth Kentucky, which, in conjunction with another regiment of General Whitaker's command, was left to garrison the mountain.