Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/377

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347
First Congress.

the war. This signal defeat of General Rosecrans was followed by his retreat into Chattanooga, where his imperiled position had the immediate effect of relieving the pressure of the invasion at other points, forcing the concentration for his relief of large bodies of troops withdrawn from the armies in the Mississippi Valley and in Northern Virginia. The combined forces thus accumulated against us in Tennessee so greatly outnumbered our army as to encourage the enemy to attack. After a long and severe battle, in which great carnage was inflicted on him, some of our troops inexplicably abandoned a position of great strength, and by a disorderly retreat compelled the commander[1] to withdraw the forces elsewhere successful, and finally to retreat with his whole army to a position some twenty or thirty miles to the rear. It is believed that if the troops who yielded to the assault had fought with the valor which they had displayed on previous occasions, and which was manifested in this battle on the other parts of the line, the enemy would have been repulsed with very great slaughter, and our country would have escaped the misfortune and the Army the mortification of the first defeat that has resulted from misconduct by the troops. In the meantime the army of General Burnside was driven from all its field positions in Eastern Tennessee and forced to retreat into its intrenchments at Knoxville, where for some weeks it was threatened with capture by the forces under General Longstreet. No information has reached me of the final result of the operations of our commander, though intelligence has arrived of his withdrawal from that place.

While, therefore, our success in driving the enemy from our soil has not equaled the expectations confidently entertained at the commencement of the campaign, his progress has been checked. If we are forced to regret losses in Tennessee and Arkansas, we are not without ground for congratulation on successes in Louisiana and Texas. On the seacoast he is exhausted by vain efforts to capture our ports, while on the northern frontier he has in turn felt the pressure and dreads the renewal of invasion. The indomitable courage and perseverance of the people in the defense of their homes have been nobly attested by the unanimity with which the Legislatures of Virginia, North Caro-


  1. Braxton Bragg.