The first garbled report of battle arrives in Richmond from Chattanooga.
November 25th.—We have an unintelligible dispatch from Gen. Bragg, saying he had, yesterday, a prolonged contest with the enemy for the possession of Lookout Mountain, during which one of his divisions suffered severely, and that the manœuvring of the hostile army was for position. This was the purport, and the language, as well as I remember. There is no indication of the probable result—no intimation whether the position was gained. But the belief is general that Bragg will retreat, and that the enemy may, if he will, penetrate the heart of the South! To us it seems as if Bragg has been in a fog ever since the battle of the 20th of September. He refused to permit —— to move on the enemy’s left for nearly two months, and finally consented to it when the enemy had been reinforced by 30,000 from Meade, and by Sherman’s army from Memphis, of 20,000, just when he could not spare a large detachment! In other words, lying inert before a defeated army, when concentrated; and dispersing his forces when the enemy was reinforced and concentrated! If disaster ensues, the government will suffer the terrible consequences, for it assumed the responsibility of retaining him in command when the whole country (as the press says) demanded his removal.
From letters received the last few days at the department, I perceive that the agents of the government are impressing everywhere—horses, wagons, hogs, cattle, grain, potatoes, etc. etc.—leaving the farmers only enough for their own subsistence. This will insure subsistence for the army, and I hope it will be a death-blow to speculation, as government pays less than one-fourth the prices demanded in market. Let the government next sell to non-producers; and every man of fighting age will repair to the field, and perhaps the invader may be driven back.
We have the speech of the French Emperor, which gives us no encouragement, but foreshadows war with Russia, and perhaps a general war in Europe.
We have rain again. This may drive the armies in Virginia into winter quarters, as the roads will be impracticable for artillery.
The next battle will be terrific; not many men on either side will be easily taken prisoners, as exchanges have ceased.
Dr. Powell brought us a bushel of meal to-day, and some persimmons.