With neither side aware of the precise position of its opponent, Thomas sent a division forward to reconnoiter the Chickamauga (above). The advancing Federals drove back Forrest's Cavalry, but were in turn hard hit by two of Walker's Confederate divisions. The battle swung back and forth, losses were high, but the results by nightfall were negligible.
General Bragg's plan on September 19 called for his army to complete its crossing of Chickamauga Creek and commence a drive south toward Lee and Gordon's Mill, where he believed the left flank of the Federal Army of the Cumberland was located. The Confederate army could then drive the Federals southward into the wilds of McLemore's Cove, away from both Chattanooga and their supply line to Nashville. When the plan was formulated, the Federal left indeed lay at Lee and Gordon's Mill, but during the early hours of September 19 General George Thomas's XIV Corps had passed behind XXI Corps and extended the Federal line northward beyond the Confederate position.
After sunrise on September 19, Thomas sent a division eastward in search of a Confederate brigade rumored to be isolated west of Chickamauga Creek. The division encountered Confederate cavalry covering the rear of Bragg's army, and the resulting action soon drew both armies to the scene. Throughout the day, both commanders threw more and more units into the fight, but neither side gained a decisive advantage m the struggle which raged in the tangled thickets and small fields just west of the creek. After dark, the two armies drew apart slightly, but each prepared to renew the contest at first light.
That night, the Army of Tennessee received additional reinforcements from Virginia. Dividing his forces into two wings
"'The Rock of Chickamauga". Maj. Gen. George Thomas (below). A total rout of Rosecrans's army was only prevented by Thomas's insistence upon a reinforcement of the Union left and the spirit of resistance with which he inspired his men.
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