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Floyd, leaving General Reynolds in the Cheat Mountain region to watch and oppose Lee. Rarely has an army followed a wilder road than that which Rosecrans and his army were obliged to traverse. His route lay along some of the wildest of the mountain tracks, over the western spurs of the Alleghanies. Now the men passed through deep ravines and narrow defiles, now climbed steep hill-sides, now followed slippery and winding paths among beetling crags. The Gauley Mountain Range was especially rugged. Its summit was reached at noon of September 9, and the weary troops looked down upon a magnificent panorama of wooded heights and valleys, through one of which curved the waters of Gauley River. On a bald eminence just north of this stream lay Floyd's camp, the river curving so that his flanks rested on the stream.
It was a strong position, but Rosecrans did not hesitate to attack and during the greater part of the day the roar of combat echoed among the hills. Night fell before the battle ended, and when the next morning dawned Floyd's army had disappeared. It had crossed the Gauley in the dark over a bridge of logs, which broke down behind the troops, while a large amount of arms and camp equipage was left in the works. Thus ended the battle of the Carnifex Ferry, with little loss in men on either side, but with victory for the Union arms.
Meanwhile Reynolds had held his own against Lee. Later on, the latter was recalled to Richmond to engage in engineering works in South Carolina, Rosecrans now having only Floyd to deal with. On November 12 he gave that doughty civilian general his final defeat, putting him to flight and chasing him so hotly that he did not stop until fifty miles from the field. Floyd soon after resigned from the army to enter upon duties for which he was better fitted. Shortly afterwards the campaign in Western Virginia ended and Rosecrans was withdrawn for service in a larger field.
In April, 1862, he joined General Buell's army in Tennessee and took part with it in the siege of Corinth, where he commanded a division. After General Pope was called to Virginia to command the army before Washington, where he bore the burden of defeat on the old Bull Run field, Rosecrans replaced him at the head of his former army. It was known as the Army of the Mississippi, its head-quarters being at Corinth. General Grant was now the superior officer in that region.
During September Sterling Price, a Confederate general, captured Iuka, a Mississippi village where a large amount of Federal stores had been gathered. Grant at once sent two columns against him, one under General Rosecrans, to attack his flank and rear, the other under General Ord, to strike him in front. As it happened, Ord did not appear in time to take part in the battle, which was fought by Rosecrans with the nine thousand troops under his command. Without waiting for his associate, Rosecrans made a sharp attack in the afternoon of September 19, a severe battle succeeding in which the Confederates were pushed back upon the town. Nightfall closed the contest and when Ord appeared the next morning he found Rosecrans in possession of the place. Price had fled during the night, and though sharply pursued he had gained start enough to enable him to escape.
In early October Rosecrans was back at Corinth, which he was busily fortifying, with twenty thousand men under his command. Price and Van Dorn had combined their forces and were advancing on the town, threatening an attack. This came on the 3d and continued throughout the day, the Confederates fighting fiercely and gaining many advantages. Their success was so great that Van Dorn sent a triumphant despatch to Richmond, presaging victory, and that night his men rested on their arms, secure of
conquest in the morning
But the next day told a different tale. The Confederate veterans fought as courageously as before, even penetrating into the town and capturing the head-quarters of Rosecrans. But they were driven back, their ranks were swept with shot and shell, and before noon their hopes of victory were turned into certainty of defeat. With a wild shout of “Charge" the Federals poured over the parapets, rushed upon Van Dorn's men in a desperate hand to hand fight, and soon sent them fying in confusion to the shelter of the forest.
This ended the battle. Rosecrans gave his men a rest till next morning and then set out in pursuit, following and pushing the broken columns of the enemy for forty miles, while the cavalry kept on their track for sixty miles. Rosecrans was in strong hopes of capturing or destroying the whole fugitive army and even capturing Vicksburg. Grant did not agree with him, perhaps fearing that too extended an advance might prove dangerous, and the victor reluctantly sounded the recall. A few days after this striking victory, while the country was ringing with his praises, Rosecrans was relieved from his command and ordered to report at Cincinnati.
This was the result of events that had taken place in Kentucky. The Confederate General Bragg had invaded that State and threatened Louisville, to which General Buell had hastened for its defence. On the withdrawal of Bragg he was followed by Buell, and their forces met in the battle of Perryville. This ended in the retreat of Bragg, who, however, was not severely pressed by the victor. The result of the whole campaign, indeed, was so unsatisfactory to the Government that Buell was removed from his command and Rosecrans ordered to succeed him. The Army of the Ohio, as it had been called, was now renamed the Army of the Cumberland.
Rosecrans found his new army in a sad condition. Marches, conflicts and misfortunes had wasted and demoralized it, leaving it with “its spirit broken, its confidence destroyed, its discipline relaxed, its courage weakened, and its hopes shattered.” One-third of the number had gone, ten thousand of them being in hospitals, its cavalry was weak, and it was with great difficulty that its channel of supplies could be kept open, the Confederate cavalry being very active. Instead of following Bragg in his retreat, Rosecrans found it necessary to reorganize the army and to protect Nashville from danger, and winter set in before the men were in condition for effective service.
Meanwhile General Bragg, finding that he was not pursued, had halted and encamped at Murfreesboro, on the Stone River, about thirty miles southeast of Nashville. Having no idea that Rosecrans would undertake a winter campaign, he sent away a large portion of his cavalry, partly to annoy Grant, partly to try and break the railroad by which his antagonist obtained supplies from Louisville. Aware of this weakening of the enemy, Rosecrans thought that the opportunity was too good to let slip, and at once put his army in motion.
On Christmas Day, 1862, the army lay in camp at Nashville. The following day found it on the march, streaming southward by all the roads leading to Murfreesboro. By evening of the 27th it was stretched out in a line more than three miles long, facing Bragg's forces on Stone River. Here the two armies lay till the night of the 30th, both prepared for battle. Rosecrans proposed to attack early the next day and seek to cut through the Confederate centre, but Bragg was too quick for him, making an attack in force on his right wing at sunrise.
Severe and desperate fighting followed. The assault of the Confederates proved irresistible. Union brigades were driven back in confusion, batteries were taken, and by eleven o'clock the Union right was completely broken up and the Confederate cavalry were in Rosecrans's rear. It seemed as if the day was lost. General Thomas, who commanded the centre, was exposed to a flank attack and obliged to fall back to a new position. Then the left wing was furiously assaulted and driven back, the only check to a complete victory for Bragg being the firm stand of Thomas and of Hazen's brigade of the left wing.
Such was the position at nightfall, Hazen alone of the whole Union army holding his original ground. Bragg seemed justified in claiming a victory. What, then, was his surprise the next morning to see his enemy standing confidently in order of battle on advantageous ground. The stubbornness of Thomas and Hazen had prevented a rout and a w line faced the Confederate forces, so strongly posted that on NewYear's Day only skirmishing was attempted, the ex