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101 The bulk of Bragg’s army was drawn up in the vicinity of Shelbyville and Wartrace, with headquarters at Tullahoma. The rugged terrain of the region made for hard marching and offered the Confederates opportunities to check the Federals at the mountain gaps. But the Union army promptly seized key passes, including Hoover’s Gap, enabling Rosecrans to turn Bragg out of his position. The unexpected swiftness of the Federal advance even raised the tantalizing possibility that the Rebel line of retreat to Chattanooga might be severed entirely. After passing through Hoover’s Gap, the 11th Michigan marched into Manchester on the twenty-seventh,proceeded in the direction of Tullahoma on the twenty-ninth,and then engaged in a sharp skirmish on July 1 as Thomas attempted unsuccessfully to cut off Bragg’s withdrawal short of the Elk River crossings.1 Heavy rains and heat plagued the soldiers through day after day of demanding marches. The 11th went into camp at Decherd Station on July 8 and relocated to Cowan’s Station a month later, patiently waiting for Rosecrans to consolidate his gains. The Confederates had withdrawn all the waytoChattanooga,concedingalargeswathof southeasternTennesseealmost bloodlessly.Negley’sdivisionwasorderedforwardinthefinalmovementagainst Chattanooga on August 16. Rosecrans aimed to penetrate the mountain gaps and turn Bragg out of the city, much as he had done with resounding success at Tullahoma.On September 1 the 11th Michigan crossed the Tennessee River and resumed its march. Three days later, the regiment halted near Trenton, Georgia,and surprised and captured several Confederates at an iron foundry.2 C h a p t e r 5 This Cannot Be a Defeat June 1863–April 1864 R I . . . witnessed for over three years the brave acts of the bravest soldiers that ever fought on [a] battle-field, and never, during all that time, did I witness a braver act or a more heroic deed than was performed by Comrade King in the voluntary part taken by him in the charge of Mission Ridge. —Captain Borden Mills Hicks 102 · Conspicuous Gallantry —————— Decherd, Tennessee, July 12, 1863 Dear Jenny, We left Murfreesboro the 24th of June and reached this place the 7th of July, coming by way of Hoover’s Gap. Thence to Manchester and Tullahoma. We have had no very severe fighting, though the enemy have in several cases stubbornly resisted. At Hoover’s Gap they made a stand, but were forced to fall back. I should have written you ere this, but I have had a severe attack of fever. I am feeling better today. The Q.M. was sent to Murfreesboro in charge of a supply train, which left me in charge of the regimental train. Some of the time I was so weak, I could hardly keep my saddle. I cannot write any more at present. James. Decherd, Tennessee, July 19, 1863 Dear Jenny, ’Tis Sunday morn, about 8 o’clock in the day. The sun shines very warm at so early an hour. We have moved our camp since I last wrote you, and we are now stopping in a grove of trees, a splendid place for a camp. I should have given you a sketch of our journeys in my last,but I did not feel likewriting.IthinkItoldyou,whenweleftM[urfreesboro],atHoover’sGapwe encamped one day as the Rebels had to be dislodged before we could proceed. There was considerable fighting,but our men did not suffer very severely.Rebel accounts say one of their regiments lost 43 in killed.In the night,the enemy left the hills and retreated, leaving us a clear road. Hoover’s Gap is a narrow valley about 3 miles long,surrounded by high hills covered with a dense,heavy growth of timber.Theroadledthroughthisvalley.Hadthisgapbeenproperlyfortified, itwouldhavebeenasecondThermopylae.3 About3/4of aday’sjourneybrought us to Manchester, a town of considerable size.We reached here about 2 o’clock intheafternoon.Gen.Reynolds’sdivisionhadenteredthetowninthemorning, and captured about 100 prisoners.4 We remained here a day or two, and then marched on Tullahoma. The enemy had evacuated the place the night before. There was a long range of rifle pits, probably 8 or 10 miles long. The forest had been felled for miles around to give range to their artillery.We remained in this placeonenight.ThecountrybetweenManchesterandTullahomaisthepoorest I ever saw,and an unbroken wilderness.I do not remember seeing a single hab- This Cannot Be a Defeat · 103 itation. The first day out from Tullahoma, we made Elk River. The enemy had burned the bridge, and we were obliged...


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