our ability to hold it, and every disposition was made for that purpose. During this time they had made several attempts on our extreme right, and had been handsomely repulsed with very heavy loss by Major-General Cleburne's command, under the immediate direction of Lieutenant-General Hardee. By the road across the ridge at Rossville, far to our left, a route was open to our rear. Major-General Breckinridge, commanding on the left, had occupied this with two regiments and a battery. It being reported to me that a force of the enemy had moved in that direction, the general was ordered to have it reconnoitered, and to make every disposition necessary to secure his flank, which he proceeded to do.
About 3.30 p. m. the immense force in the front of our left and center advanced in three lines, preceded by heavy skirmishers. Our batteries opened with fine effect, and much confusion was produced before they reached musket range.
In a short time the roar of musketry became very heavy, and it was soon apparent that the enemy had been repulsed in my immediate front. While riding along the crest congratulating the troops, intelligence reached me that our line was broken on my right and the enemy had crowned the ridge. Assistance was promptly dispatched to that point, under Brigadier-General Bate, who had so successfully maintained the ground in my front, and I proceeded to the rear of the broken line to rally our retiring troops and return them to the crest to drive the enemy back. General Bate found the disaster so great that his small force could not repair it.
About this time I learned that our extreme left had also given way, and that my position was almost surrounded. Bate was immediately directed to form a second line in the rear, where, by the efforts of my staff, a nucleus of stragglers had been formed upon which to rally. Lieutenant-General Hardee, leaving Major-General Cleburne in command on the extreme right, moved toward the left when he heard the heavy firing in that direction. He reached the right of Anderson's division just in time to find it had nearly all fallen back, commencing on its left, where the enemy had first crowned the ridge. By a prompt and judicious movement he threw a portion of Cheatham's division directly across the ridge facing the enemy, who was now moving a strong force immediately on his left flank. By a decided stand here the enemy was entirely checked, and that portion of our force to the right remained intact.
All to the left, however, except a portion of Bate's division, was entirely routed and in rapid flight, nearly all the artillery having been shamefully abandoned by its infantry support. Every effort which could be made by myself and staff and by many other mounted officers availed but little. A panic which I had never before witnessed seemed to have seized upon officers and men, and each seemed to be struggling for his personal safety, regardless of his duty or his character. In this distressing and alarming state of affairs, General Bate was ordered to hold his position, covering the road for the retreat of Breckinridge's command, and orders were immediately sent to Generals Hardee and Breckinridge to retire their forces upon the depot at Chickamauga.
Fortunately, it was now near nightfall, and the country and roads in our rear were fully known to us, but equally unknown to the enemy. The routed left made its way back in great disorder, effectually covered, however, by Bate's small command, which had a sharp conflict with the enemy's advance, driving it back. After