Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 39.djvu/22

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10 Southern Historical Society Papers.

Third. "Chickamauga," one of the fiercest, bloodiest battles of our war (compare list of casualties there with any of Napo- leon's battles, or with any of Lee's), was fought September 19th and 20th, 1863. It was a magnificent victory for our army, a complete rout for the Federals, in which they were saved from utter destruction or capture only through the timidity of Bragg, our leader. Forrest, our chief of cavalry, implored Fjragg to "follow them up," describing at the same time the enemy's thorough demoralization and disorganization, both of men and officers, even to corps commanders. Bragg refused, }et about 6,000 fresh reinforcements were reported as having arrived for him just after his foe broke and turned to fly. On such things the fate of armies and nations and the coloring of the future often depend. The two armies were about equally matched, the Federals somewhat superior in numbers.

"Missionary Ridge," a rout equally complete as that of the enemy at Chickamauga, and one of the most disgraceful that Southern arms sustained, was fought just a little over two months after, viz: on November 25th and 26th, 1863. and by the same Southern army that almost demolished their foe at Chickamauga.

How can such an astonishing paradox be explained? The explanation, after all. is simple, although made up of several elements. First, it was the sickly season, and the bulk or a large part of our army spent those intervening "two months" in the swampy "bottom" of the Chickamauga River, one of the crookedest of streams, making miles of "bottom land," which heavy rains could convert into a vast morass or quagmire. This, in fact, is just what happened. The heavy rains came, making sickness worse, making our bivouacs bogs, making roads impassable, cutting off supplies of every kind from us, and re- ducing us by November 25th and 26th to an army of half- sick (even those "fit for duty"), half-starved, half-clothed men, our ranks thinned by the thousands under medical care. To put this picture nakedly before you I give one fact, well known at the time, and a fact T can take my oath on. for I saw it mvself, incredible as it may seem. Just as you drew near to