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36 Southern Historical Society Papers.
untenable. Had it been held by sufficient numbers, Missionary Ridge could never have been stormed. The real cause and manner of its capture will appear hereafter.
Our stay on " The Ridge" was attended with a great deal of suf- fering. It was mid-winter, and the low-grounds behind us (that fear- ful " Chickamauga bottom "), over which ran our roads of supplies, were nearly all the time covered with water. " Corduroy roads " were built for miles, yet every rain would undo all our work and make it worse than before. The weather was stormy, and the camps would be flooded day and night. Winter quarters were not allowed to be built, and we therefore had no shelter. Starvation seemed to stare us in the face. For weeks at a time, we subsisted on two meals a day, and those " meals" were a small "pone" of corn-bread, and a cup of " corn coffee." Our duties, meantime, were increased, for our ranks had been lessened, and the enemy were becoming active and annoying. Sickness, for the first time since our stay in and around Corinth (Miss.), broke out in our ranks, and many were swept away. Demoralization spread fearfully among those men, who, but a few days before, had gained one of the bloodiest victories of the war. " Our sufferings are great," said they, "but we could bear them, if we felt there was no help for it." It was their secret conviction that there was help, and that they were the victims of official blunders. Their disaffection was increased by the rumors of bickerings among our leaders. Reports of quarrels between Bragg and his leading officers came down to us, and his removing from command, on the eve of the battle, one of the most popular Generals in the army, Frank Cheatham, looked very much like a confirmation of the re- ports. So, between the dissensions of the leaders and the various causes of discontent among the men, the army grew rapidly demor- alized. The withdrawal of Longstreet to East Tennessee, together with the sickness which existed, had thinned the ranks greatly, so that at the time of the batde we did not have thirty thousand men. (In many places in the line, our men were in single rank, and sprin- kled seven or eight feet apart, and there were gaps where there were • no men at all.) Our sufferings from hunger were such that Bragg was on the point of withdrawing (such was the general impression) when the attack of the enemy began. It was thought, too, that it was a doubtful question : which was the most famished, the besiegers or besieged ? General Grant must have had very accurate accounts of our condi- tion ; for, unless he did, his movement was a very bold one. Had those thirty thousand men been able to cover all the ground, he