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that had just been disinterred. The camp was surrounded by fields of stumps and piny undergrowth. Here and there were scattered trees, hitched at some of which were mules munch. ing their dinners of wet hay.
There were two hundred and seventeen soldiers in camp. At first they had a horror of the work for which they were detailed. All the superstition of the African was roused within them at sight of the mouldering dead. They declared that the skulls moved, and started back with shrieks. An officer, to encourage them, unconcernedly took out the bones from a grave and placed them carefully in a coffin. They were induced to imitate his example. In a few hours they chatted or whistled and sang at their work; and in a few days it was common to see them perform their labor and eat their luncheons at the same time, – lay bones into the coffin with one hand, and hold with the other the hard-tack they were nibbling.
More than nine tenths of the bodies taken from Chickamauga were unknown. Some had been buried in trenches ; some singly ; some laid side by side, and covered with a little earth, perhaps not more than six inches deep, leaving feet and skull exposed; and many had not been buried at all. Throughout the woods were scattered these lonely graves. The method of finding them was simple. A hundred men were deployed in a line, a yard apart, each examining half a yard of ground on both sides of him, as they proceeded. Thus was swept a space five hundred yards in breadth. Trees were blazed or stakes set along the edge of this space, to guide the company on its return. In this manner the entire battle-field had been or was to be searched. When a grave was found, the entire line was halted until the teams came up and the body was removed. Many graves were marked with stakes, but some were to be discovered only by the raised or disturbed appearance of the ground. Those bodies which had been buried in trenches were but little decomposed; while of those buried singly in boxes not much was left but the bones and a handful of dust.
BLUNDER AT CHICKAMAUGA.
We had diverged from the Lafayette Road in order to ride along the line of battle east of it, - passing the positions occupied on Sunday, the second day, by Baird, Johnson, and Palmer's divisions, respectively. Next to Palmer was Reynolds ; then came Brannan, then Wood, then Davis, then Sheridan, on the extreme right. The line, which on Saturday ran due north and south, east of the road, - the left resting at Kelly's house and the right at Gordon's Mills, — was on Sunday curved, the right being drawn in and lying diagonally across and behind the road. In front (on the east) was Chickamauga Creek. Missionary Ridge was in the rear; on a spur of which the right rested. I recapitulate these positions, because newspaper accounts of the battle, and historical accounts based upon them, are on two or three points confused and contradictory; and because an understanding of them is important to what I am about to say.
Quitting the camp, we approached the scene of the great blunder which lost us the battle of Chickamauga. At halfpast nine in the morning the attack commenced, the Rebels hurling masses of troops with their accustomed vigor against Rosecrans's left and centre. Not a division gave way: the whole line stood firm and unmoved: all was going well; when Rosecrans sent the following imperative order to General Wood :
“ Close up as fast as possible on General Reynolds, and support him."
General Brannan's division, as you have noticed, was between Wood and Reynolds. How then could Wood close up on Reynolds without taking out his division and marching by the left flank in Brannan's rear? In military parlance, to close up may mean two quite different things. It may mean to move by the flank in order to close a gap which occurs between one body of troops and another body. Or it may mean to make a similar movement to that by which a rank of sol. diers is said to close up on the rank in front of it. To close to the right or left, is one thing; to close up on, another. To General Wood, situated as he was, the order could have no other meaning than the latter. He could not close up on General Reynolds and support him without taking a position in his rear. Yet the order seemed to him very extraordinary. To General McCook, who was present when it was received, he remarked, —
6. This is very singular! What am I to do?” For to take out his division was to make a gap in the army which might prove fatal to it.
“ The order is so positive," replied McCook, “ that you must obey it at once. Move your division out, and I will move Davis's in to fill the gap. Move quick, or you won't be out of the way before I bring in his division.”
General Wood saw no alternative but to obey the order. He would have been justified in disobeying it, only on the supposition that the commanding general was ignorant of the position of his forces. Had Rosecrans been absent from the field, such a supposition would have been reasonable, and such disobedience duty. But Rosecrans was on the field ; and he was supposed to know infinitely more than could be known to any division commander concerning the exigencies of the battle. Had Wood kept his place, and Reynolds been over. whelmed and the field lost in consequence of that act of insubordination, he would have deserved to be court-mar. tialled and shot. On the contrary, he moved his division out, and in consequence of his strict obedience to orders the field was lost. He had scarcely opened the gap between Brannan and Davis, when the Rebels rushed in and cut the army to pieces.
General Rosecrans, in his official report, sought to shift the responsibility of this fatal movement from his own shoulders to those of General Wood. This was manifestly unjust. It appears to me that the true explanation of it lies in the fact that Rosecrans, although a man of brilliant parts, had not the steady balance of mind necessary to a great general. He could organize an army, or plan a campaign in his tent; but he had no self-possession on the field of battle. In great emergencies he became confused and forgetful. It was probGENERAL THOMAS'S FIGHT.
ably this nervousness and paralysis of memory which caused the disaster at Chickamauga. He had forgotten the position of his forces. He intended to order General Wood to close to the left on Brannan; or on Reynolds, forgetting that Brannan was between them. But the order was to close up on and support Reynolds ; whereas Reynolds, like Brannan, was doing very well, and did not particularly need support.
The routed divisions of the army fled to Chattanooga, – the commanding general among the foremost ; where he hastened to telegraph to the War Department and the dismayed nation that all was lost; while General Garfield, his chief of staff, extricating himself from the rabble, rode back to the part of the field where firing was still heard, — running the gauntlet of the enemy's lines, and joined General Thomas, who, rallying fragments of corps on a spur of Missionary Ridge, was stemming the tide of the foe, and saving the army from destruction.
Through woods dotted all over with the graves of soldiers buried where they fell, we drove to the scene of that final fight.
Bones of dead horses strewed the ground. At the foot of the wooded hill were trenches full of Longstreet's slaughtered men. That was to them a most tragical termination to what had seemed a victory. Inspired by their recent success, they charged again and again up those fatal slopes, only to be cut down like ripe grain by the deadly volleys which poured from
crescent of flame and smoke, where the heroic remnant of the army had taken up its position, and was not to be dislodged.
FROM CHATTANOOGA TO MURFREESBORO'. · The military operations, of which Chattanooga was so long the centre, have left their mark upon all the surrounding country. Travel which way you will, you are sure to follow in their track. There are fortifications at every commanding point. Every railroad bridge is defended by redoubts and block-houses; and many important bridges have been burned. The entire route to Atlanta is a scene of conflict and desolation : earthworks, like the foot-prints of a Titan on the march; rifle-pits extending for miles along the railroad track; hills all dug up into forts and entrenchments; the town of Marietta in ruins; farms swept clean of their fences and buildings ; every. where, along the blackened war-path, solitary standing chimneys left, “ like exclamation points,” to emphasize the silent story of destruction.
I saw a few “Union men” at Chattanooga. But their loyalty was generally of a qualified sort. One, who was well known for his daring opposition to the secession leaders, and for his many narrow escapes from death, told me how he lived during the war. Once when the Rebels came to kill him, they took his brother instead. His residence was on a hill, and three times subsequently he saved his life by taking a canoe and crossing the river in it when he saw his assassins coming. Yet this man hated the free negro worse than he hated the Rebels; and he said to me, “ If the government attempts now to force negro-suffrage upon the South, it will have to wade through a sea of blood to which all that has been shed was only a drop!” Another, who claimed also to be a Union man, said, “ Before the South will ever consent to help pay the National debt, there will be another rebellion bigger than