Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 294
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James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
 
Page 294
 
 
and by Longstreet’s corps from the Army of Northern Virginia, Bragg outnumbered his opponent and made on September 19 an indecisive attack.  9
  Next day took place the fierce and bloody battle of Chickamauga, “the great battle of the West.” It would have been an undecided contest or a Union victory, since the defensive position and the intrenchments fully compensated for the disparity in numbers, had not Rosecrans lacked nerve for the contest. His force was the Army of the Cumberland, seasoned and intrepid soldiers, who, as their history shows, were able, under proper command, to accomplish wonders, but in this case were affected by the spirit, as indeed they were sacrificed by the orders, which emanated from headquarters. The battle was proceeding with variant fortune, when the execution of an ill-considered and unlucky order from the commanding general opened a gap in the line of battle, through which the Confederates poured and, throwing two divisions into confusion and routing two others, drove a mass of soldiers panic-stricken from the field. Rosecrans was carried away in the crowd of fugitives and, fearing that the whole army was vanquished, rode on into Chattanooga, twelve to fifteen miles away, for the purpose of taking measures for the defence of the city. He sent thence at five o’clock in the afternoon a despatch to Halleck saying: “We have met with a serious disaster.… Enemy overwhelmed us, drove our right, pierced our centre and scattered troops there.” General George H. Thomas commanded the left wing of the army and with 25,000 men repulsed during the whole afternoon the assaults of a force double his number, holding his position with such steadiness that he earned the title of the “Rock of Chickamauga.” Later, under orders from Rosecrans, Thomas withdrew to Chattanooga, where was assembled the remainder of the
 

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