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Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 31.djvu/163

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Sketch of Mijor-General Patrick R. Cleburne. 155

tember, 1863, military operations in the army with which Cleburne was connected were of a desultory and undecisive character. But outpost duty in close proximity to an enemy superior in number afforded Cleburne occasion for the exercise of his high soldierly qualities of vigilance and activity. In the advance from Tallahoma to Wartrace, and the subsequent retirement of the army to Chatta- nooga, his division habitually formed the vanguard in advance and the rearguard in retreat. The battle of Chickamauga an Indian name, which signifies "the river of death" wrote the bloodiest page in the history of Western battles. General Bragg, re-enforced by Longstreet's Corps from Virginia, on the igth and 2oth of Sep- tember, engaged and, after an obstinate contest, defeated Rosecrans' army, which, routed and demoralized, retreated within its line of works at Chattanooga. In this battle Cleburne's Division bore its usual prominent part; a charge made by it, in the struggle for posi- tion in the adjustment of lines on the Saturday evening preceding the Sunday's final conflict, is described as especially magnificent and effective.

The Confederate forces soon after occupied Missionary Ridge, and partially invested Chattanooga, with the object of cutting off the supplies of the army within its lines. The attempt was but partially successful. Meantime, the Federal government dispatched General Grant to succeed Rosecrans in command, and recalled Sherman's army from Mississippi to re-enforce him. On the 24th of November Grant, re-enforced by Sherman, attacked Bragg, weakened by the detachment of Longstreet's Corps, and carried the position of the Confederate left on Lookout Mountain. On the 25th a general at- tack was made upon the Confederate line. The right wing, under my command, consisted of four divisions Cleburne's on the ex- treme right. The attacking force in this part of the field was com- manded by General Sherman. The enemy made repeated and vigorous assaults, which were repelled with heavy loss to the assail- ants. Cleburne's position on the right was most insecure, from its liability to be turned. He maintained it with his accustomed ability, and upon the repulse of the last assault, directed in person a counter charge which effected the capture of a large number of prisoners and several stands of colors. The assailants gave up the contest and withdrew from our front. But while the cheers of victory raised on the right were extending down the line, the left of the army had been carried by assault and the day was lost.

All that now remained to the victorious right was to cover the