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Page:Memoirs of Henry Villard, volume 2.djvu/225

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CHAPTER XXXIV


Rosecrans Relieved from Command.—1863


AMONG the negative traits of General Rosecrans's character, not the least was the obstinacy with which he clung to his own conclusions, in defiance of reason and facts. His justification of the abandonment of the river route to the enemy was, of course, the assumption that it would be practicable to supply the army fully by way of the Sequatchie and Walden's Ridge. He stuck to it stubbornly against all the arguments to the contrary of General Garfield and others, until Wheeler's newest exploits and the steady decrease instead of increase of the available stores of food compelled him to consider the problem how to undo his mistake by re-opening the river line. The conclusion was indeed forced upon him that without this it would be equally impracticable to hold Chattanooga or to reach a condition of readiness for the resumption of the offensive, inasmuch as the food difficulty would not permit him to draw the reinforcements under Hooker and Sherman near enough for the latter purpose. Symptoms of his change of mind were noticeable before General Garfield's departure. He commenced talking to him on the subject, to General Smith, the new Chief of Engineers, to other generals, to Mr. Dana and myself. He began, too, to study the topography of the surroundings of Chattanooga and to send out engineer officers for the examination of particular points. This led to the evolution of an ingenious plan for neutralizing the obstructive effect of the hostile control of Lookout Mountain, viz., to seize and hold the south bank from a point beyond the range of the rebel artillery opposite the western front of the narrow peninsula formed by the first

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