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    Chapter 32

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    Chapter 33
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    And the two brothers rushed into each other's arms, while Colonel Lyon stood by, his face full of joy over the return of his son. Artie had told the story of Deck's capture, and both he and the colonel had felt almost positive that they would not see the major again for a long while to come, and perhaps never again.

    "Yes, I've had a very fortunate escape," said Deck, as he shook his father's hand. "I wouldn't be here at all were it not for Tom Derwiddie."

    "Tom Derwiddie?" queried Artie.

    "Yes. Don't you remember him--the Confederate soldier I assisted at the burning cotton mill?"

    "And you met him?" put in Colonel Lyon.

    "I did. I was placed in his charge for a few minutes, and he very accommodatingly gave me his pistol, freed my hands, and let me knock him down," continued the major, with a laugh, and then told his tale in detail.

    "Well, you are more than lucky," said Artie, when he had finished. "Finding Ceph was worth a good deal, eh?"

    "It was worth as much as escaping," answered Deck, and he stroked the noble steed affectionately. "I wish you could tell your story, too, old boy!" And Ceph gave him a poke with that nose of his. It seemed as if the steed did most of his talking with that nose.

    Others had gathered around, Captain Life Knox, Sandy Lyon, and Uncle Titus, and Deck's story had to be retold to them. In the meantime he was served with a hot supper, and later on, given the means to change his wet clothing for dry.

    "You ought to have something to tell the general," said Titus Lyon to him. "Of course you kept your eyes and ears open while you were over there."

    "No, Uncle Titus, I didn't. I promised the fellow who assisted me to say nothing, and I intend to keep my promise. But I wish I could have collared that Captain Brentford, and brought him along."

    The Riverlawns were encamped at the foot of a hill not far from Crawfish Springs. It was a fine place for a camp, and many of the privates were already sleeping soundly. Soon Deck and his relatives and friends retired, only the pickets being kept awake. In spite of his adventures, the major slumbered soundly, and did not arise until the Sabbath dawn was well advanced.

    It was felt by both sides that the morrow would tell the tale of defeat or victory, and all night long Generals Rosecrans and Bragg were busy arranging their plans. The former could get no reënforcements worth mentioning; but to the Army of Tennessee were now added reënforcements under General Longstreet, who arrived shortly before midnight, to assume personal charge of the corps temporarily commanded by Hood. A rough estimate of the troops on both sides at this time places the number of Unionists at fifty-five thousand, as against nearly seventy thousand Confederates. But what they lacked in numbers, the Army of the Cumberland made up in position, for they occupied higher ground than their opponents--something of great strategic importance, as we will soon see.

    It must be confessed that General Rosecrans's troops were all but exhausted. Every soldier, excepting two divisions, had been thrown into the fight on Saturday, and every division had marched and countermarched until some of the infantry hardly knew whether they had feet or not. On the other hand, Bragg had three divisions and three brigades who had not participated in the battle, and who were thus fresh in every sense of the word.

    The battle was again to be for the Lafayette road and the mountain gaps near it--the gateway to Chattanooga and the East. The centre of the field was the farm owned by a man named Kelley. The battle front of the Unionists ran around the northeast corner of the farm, across the Lafayette road and to the southwestward. The firing line was more compact than on Saturday, two brigades of each division being placed in front, with the third brigade behind, in reserve. At the left of the line was Baird, with Johnson, Palmer, and Reynolds following, in something of a semicircle. South of this semicircle lay Brennan and Negley, with Davis and Sheridan guarding the vicinity of the Widow Glenn's--still Rosecrans's headquarters. As before, the cavalry was stationed at both ends of the line, although the larger portion remained between the Chickamauga and Crawfish Springs, to do regular duty and also help guard the field hospital previously mentioned.

    Bragg's forces overlapped those of Rosecrans's both on the right and the left. Opposite to Baird was Breckinridge, who had just come up, with Armstrong, Pegram, and Forrest overlapping the Unionists' left wing. Next to Breckinridge came Cleburn, Steward, Johnson, and Hindman's battery. Behind Johnson lay Law and Kershaw, with Cheatham and Walker still further back, on the right; while Gracie, Kelly, and Preston were to the rear on the left.

    During the night the Army of the Cumberland was not idle, even though a majority of the soldiers slept soundly. The pioneers were out in force, with the Engineering Corps, and many barricades of trees, logs, and brush were piled up, along with sods and loose rocks. The Confederates heard the ringing of axes and the crashing of timber as it came down, but could do nothing toward stopping the construction of these defences.

    Sunday morning dawned with a heavy fog filling the valleys--a fog so dense that the mountains were shut out, giving the battle-ground, from every point of view, the appearance of a ghostly plain. This fog did not begin to lift until nine or ten o'clock. Bragg had given Polk orders to begin the battle, but minute after minute passed and the Confederate leader sat impatiently astride of his horse, waiting in vain for the sounds of the conflict.

    "What is the matter with Polk,--why in common sense doesn't he do something?" General Bragg is reported to have said, and started off for the right wing personally. He found Polk absent from the field and no preparations being made to attack Baird. As the fog lifted, he saw how his right overlapped the Union left, and how the Rossville road was thus left open, and Breckinridge and Cleburn were given orders to advance without delay.

    In the meantime Thomas had ordered Negley to reënforce Baird. But only one division could be spared, which was rushed to the scene with all possible speed, and that was all the support the left flank received.

    At half past nine the battle was on, Breckinridge and Cleburn coming swiftly onward with a ringing yell, to meet a sturdy resistance from Baird and Beatty's division of Negley's brigade. The contest was fierce from the very opening, and for a while it looked as if the left flank would be completely annihilated and Baird's command made prisoners. But regiments and divisions under Johnson, Stanley, and Vandever were hurried to the scene, and, suffering heavily, Breckinridge was thrown back, with two generals killed and his chief of artillery mortally wounded.

    By this time the battle had extended down the line, and now Cleburn, Walker, Cheatham, and others became involved. The artillery on both sides were pouring forth shot, shell, and canister at a fearful rate, and whole lines of brave infantry were mowed down like blades of grass.

    With the repulse of the Confederates' right the hopes of the Unionists ran high, but when victory seemed almost assured, a grave blunder at the Union centre brought fearful disaster to the Army of the Cumberland. Receiving an order to close up to Reynolds, Wood took it to mean that he was to fall back in support, and he left the Union centre to do this. The gap was quickly filled by Longstreet, and thus the right and left wings of the Army of the Cumberland became separated, and henceforth two battles ensued instead of one, on ground from a half a mile to one mile apart. To the east of Kelley's Farm and the Lafayette road were Baird, Johnson, Palmer, and Reynolds, still in their old semicircle, while to the westward of the road was a jagged, but unbroken, line composed of nearly all the other troops. The Confederate forces lay scattered in several directions, but principally in front of both of the positions mentioned.

    The disaster to the centre, followed by a determined attack on the right, was more than the Union troops could bear, and they were forced to give up ground, until another stand was taken, as described above. In the meantime, Thomas was in ignorance of the state of affairs on the right, yet he soon discovered that he was fighting more than his share of the enemy on the left. He had massed his artillery on the slopes of Missionary Ridge, and now he withdrew from his breastworks of trees and dirt, and took up a position here. To get to the ridge was no easy work, and the slaughter counted up into the thousands upon both sides.

    A pause in the tide of battle followed. Like two giants the armies faced each other, getting their "second wind," and speculating on how to proceed next. Thomas held the ridge and the Confederates were bound to drive him from it and shatter his forces. It was two o'clock and assault after assault was made, lasting until sundown. At times the Confederates would gain a slope or a minor ridge, but a Union division or a brigade would rush upon them and dislodge them, or a battery would literally cut them to pieces. The charges were truly magnificent, but Thomas and his forces stood like so many rocks, and could not be dislodged. At sundown the attacks ceased, and it was well that this was so, for many of the Union troops were short of ammunition. In some cases the latter attacks were repulsed solely with bayonets and clubbed muskets.

    With the coming of night, it was deemed advisable to have Thomas's forces withdraw in the direction of Chattanooga, and this plan was carried out, although not without additional fighting, in which a few men were lost and a large number of infantry were made prisoners. By this movement the Army of the Cumberland was again reunited, and stood once more as a wall between General Bragg and Chattanooga.

    When Major Deck Lyon awoke in the morning he found the encampment of the Riverlawns submerged in mist so thick it almost appeared as if it was raining. Major Tom Belthorpe and Captain Artie Lyon were already astir, and the three gathered together, to talk over the situation.

    They were not, however, left alone long. Colonel Lyon had already been moving around, surveying the "lay of the land," and had made the discovery that a large portion of the enemy had crossed the Chickamauga. While an early breakfast was being eaten, orders came to march the regiment up to a position midway between the creek and the hospital on the field.

    The road ran for some distance parallel with the creek, with short brush on one side and a sparse growth of trees on the other. It was uneven and the cavalry had torn it up considerably.

    The first battalion was well in advance, when, without warning, a regiment of the enemy poured down on them from the woods. The first intimation of the proximity of the Confederates was a round from four companies, which tore through the ranks of Captain Artie Lyon's command, killing three and wounding twice as many more.

    Without waiting for orders from the colonel, who was riding in the rear, watching Major Truman's battalion, Major Deck Lyon called a halt, and swung the first and second companies into position. "Take aim--fire!" was the command, and the bullets clipped hither and thither through the trees. One Confederate was thus taken unawares and the whole regiment brought to a halt.

    But though repulsed, the enemy did not halt long. In less than a minute the Confederate colonel gave the command for nearly his whole regiment to advance, and the leading companies came out of the timber on the double-quick. A portion of them fired again at the first battalion of the Riverlawns while the remainder reserved their ammunition for Tom Belthorpe's four companies.

    Colonel Lyon now galloped up and looked inquiringly at his son. "Deck, what does this mean?"

    "We are caught, father, that is what it means," answered the major. "If you will allow me to say so, I think we had best re-form behind yonder brush."

    "I will take your advice, for you have felt the enemy," said Colonel Lyon, and lost not an instant in giving the necessary orders. By the time the shelter of the brush was gained, the firing line of the Confederates was fairly well defined, and the colonel placed his own men, four companies abreast, and two companies deep, with the second half of the second battalion and the second half of the third battalion in reserve. Ten sharpshooters from Captain Life Knox's command and an equal number from Captain Ripley's company were detached, to make a detour and learn the true fighting force of the body thus suddenly encountered.

    The Confederates had advanced as far as the edge of the woods. Between this and the road lay a small patch of grass, so that the cleared space between the brush and the first row of timber was a little over a hundred feet. The brush was heavy along the road, and the first row of the Riverlawns, dismounted, were as close up to this natural defence as possible.

    The open space disturbed the Confederate colonel and he hardly knew whether to trust a rush across it or not. But, finally, he gave the order, and four of his companies came on, spread out in a skirmish line. They fired as they came, and received a sharp fire in return. At the brush they hesitated, and while doing this, received a volley from the Riverlawns behind.

    "This is going to be warm work!" observed Major Belthorpe to Deck, as he galloped up on his black charger. "That fellow must have a good reserve force somewhere back there."

    "Ripley and Knox have found them, that's certain," answered Deck, as a rattle of guns came from the sides of the enemy. "We'll soon get their report."

    At that instant Colonel Lyon dashed up.

    "There are but eleven companies of them," he said. "I think by a rapid dash to the north we can turn their flank and either make them retreat or surrender."

    "Let us make the move then," said Belthorpe, and Colonel Lyon gave the orders. Soon the Riverlawns were in rapid motion, to the Confederates' surprise, and likewise their bewilderment.
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