Braxton Bragg was eager to play his part in the grand campaign that was unfolding, but he was forced to spend several weeks preparing his army with no hope of accumulating all the supplies and equipment he needed. While Edmund Kirby Smith was winding his way through the mountains of eastern Kentucky, Bragg was slowly shuttling his divisions across the Tennessee River near Chattanooga. Most of the Confederate troops were forced to cross on ferries at different locations upriver and downstream from the town. Some divisions needed several days to transport all their men, horses, and artillery over the river, giving the infantry a welcome opportunity to bathe in the river. Some soldiers later realized that this would be their last chance to wash themselves before entering Kentucky. An artillery officer recently transferred to Bragg's army from duty in Alabama marveled at how smoothly the river crossing took place. "It is a great sight to see a big army in motion," commented Henry C. Semple. "I saw 5000 men cross the Tenn a few days since in perfect order & silence--Not half as much confusion as in the breaking up of the congregation at our Church."
Bragg oversaw all this with an attentive and hopeful spirit. Captain Semple had known Bragg from earlier service in the war and found his old commander to be "in fine spirits, his plans are all working well and he anticipates a great triumph." The army commander told Semple that Cumberland Gap would be in Confederate hands any day, while the men in his army expected to fight a battle somewhere near Nashville or Louisville. Semple was very impressed with the quality of the army, except its means of transport. The mules and horses belonging to the wagon trains and artillery batteries were "in very low condition." Bragg realized there was nothing he