Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 30.djvu/189

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Battle of Chickamauga. 181

and when the leader thought he was entirely unobserved. Rose- crans is too good a soldier to let his face reflect to his men, either his hopes or his forebodings.

An hour passed by and the battle had not been revived. The troops, wearied of standing, in expectant phalanx, reclined on the ground, but where they could regain their places at a single bound. Eight o'clock came, and the sun had lifted the fog and sent a grate- ful warmth to the long, shivering lines of humanity. A few shots on the skirmish line betrayed the fact that both armies were ready, and, apparently, each waiting for the other to open the initial fire.

Nine o'clock, and even the pickets were quiet. I rode over to- ward the left, and hearing no firing, I turned my horse's head di- rectly toward the front. Here was Brannan's Division, with its regiments retired one after another as a sort of reserve. My heart sank again as I looked upon the slender regiments. This was the first battle for that division. First commanded by Thomas, three or four of its regiments distinguished themselves at Mill Springs, but after that they missed the great battles of Shiloh and Stone River. Saturday morning they mustered nearly 8,000 bayonets nearly double the average strength of the division.

The next day there were few regiments that numbered 200 men. The day before it was almost a pistol shot from the colors to the flanks. Now a child could have easily spanned the distance with a pebble. Thrice had they driven the enemy, and thrice had they been driven, and the slight slight lines called a regiment attested that they were veterans, though fighting their virgin battle. There was the Eleventh Ohio, scarcely numbering two small com- panies, coolly waiting for the shock. Beside was an Indiana regi- ment, a year and a half younger in the service, but, alas! as stinted of men as its battle-battered companion.

Moving forward to our foremost line of battle, I struck upon Pal- mer's division holding a slight hill, on the crest of which they had erected a little palisade of logs and rails. Over this a dozen cannon were peering, and the men stood in lengthened groups listening to the straggling skirmish fire which had again broken out. The Sec- ond Kentucky was there, and while I was shaking hands with old friends the firing in front swelled up, until the crack of a hundred rifles startled the air. The soldiers sprang to their palisade without a word, and rested their guns calmly across it. Old soldiers and true soldiers, they needed no command to warn them to their pest.

Returning to the rear, I passed many of the dead of both armies.