|Chapter XXVIII. GENERAL REPORTS.
anon; third, the road through Columbia, Liberty, and Danville. he would not in any event take the road to the mouth of Salt River; because it threw him more away from the base of supplied which Kirby Smith's presence had established in Central Kentucky, because it made his junction with Kirby Smith more difficult and uncertain, and because it placed him in the angle between the Ohio and Salt Rivers, neither of which could he cross without ferrying or bridging. The same facts made the possession of Munfordville a matter of no strategical value to us. its importance, therefore, was determined by the value of the bridge, which alone it was intended to protect as a link in the chain of communication between the troops farther south and Louisville, their base of supplies. The bridge, if destroyed, could be reboil the week-was actually rebuilt in about ten days; and as the principal part of the force which drew supplies across the bridge was coming north, its preservation was not of immediate importance. I have been disposed to say, therefore, that the determination to hold the bridge wa an error of judgment; but I will not now assert that it was so, seeing that doubt existed as to the probability of Bragg's coming that way and that the commander considered himself able to hold his position against the force which at first threatened him. If it was evident that Bragg would come against the place with his whole or any considerable part of his army, then it is certain that to attempt to hold it was an error, for no position could be less tenable for a small force it was an error, for no position could be less tenable for a small force against a very large one. It must be apparent that the possession of Munfordville was of no importance that would justify the jeopardizing any considerable force to hold it, and the evidence shows that for two days and a half after the first attack the way was open for the withdrawal of the garrison. Its relief from the direction of Bowling Green was therefore unnecessary, if it had been possible. Let us see now how far the place was considered to be in jeopardy and on what ground it was reasonable to expect relief from Bowling Green.
It appears that on Saturday, the 13th, the coming officer learned that a force, represented to be 7,000 strong, was advancing upon his post from the direction of Glasgow; that he reported the fact to his superiors at Louisville, saying:
If I had one more good regiment and a few more pieces of artillery that force could not take me. as it is I shall do my best to prevent. Can you send me re-enforcements? I shall send train to Salt River for them.
To which he received in reply, "I send you what you ask." The same day he also reports, "Some indications that the main rebel force are going toward Lebanon," and that his intrenchments would be finished that night. These reports were certainly not alarming, and did not indicate that he expected or required assistance from Bowling Green, however desirous he might be to see a force coming from that quarter. On the same day he sent scouts to Bowling Green with verbal messages. These scouts could not have carried word that he was in jeopardy and required help from his superiors had given him al he thought necessary at that time and as yet no force had appeared in front of him. I now remember that the scout Miller came to me, but so little was there in his communications to me different from the information I derived from unauthorized persons, that I had forgotten, nor do I now remember, that he came as a messenger. He knew less about the enemy and scarcely if any more about the enemy and scarcely if any more about the foreseen than others, especially one who came from the vicinity of the fort the morning of the attack and reported quite and confidently that the garrison had surren
|Chapter XXVIII. GENERAL REPORTS.