Rosecrans was a temperamental man during this campaign and twice he had rebuked Wood. On September 6 Major General Thomas L. Crittenden had ordered Wood to make a reconnaissance to the base of Lookout Mountain. Wood felt that this would expose his division and ignored the order on the pretext that Crittenden "fixed no hour for the movement." Then Wood pulled his division back two miles. Later Crittenden sent two staff officers to Wood's headquarters to check on events which Wood interpreted as spying. He exploded at Crittenden who told him the recon order came from Rosecrans to which Wood replied, "I cannot believe that General Rosecrans desires such a blind adherence to the mere letter of this order." The next day Wood did send Colonel Charles G. Harker to Lookout Creek. Rosecrans responded to Wood that he "was disappointed that your reconnaissance was not made earlier" and that he was still uninformed of the strength and location of the enemy. This was the first rebuke and compared to what would be coming this was mild.
At Chickamauga around 9 AM of September 20 Rosecrans came across Wood's division about a third of a mile from the front. He was supporting Major General James S. Negley when he really was supposed to replace Negley but there had been a mix up in written orders. Wood had only received oral orders to take this position and obviously those orders had not been clear. Rosecrans lost his temper (he had been in a foul mood for the last few weeks) and yelled at Wood, "What is the meaning of this, sir? You have disobeyed my specific orders. By your damnable negligence you are endangering the safety of the entire army, and, by God, I will not tolerate it. Move your division at once, as I have instructed, or the consequences will not be pleasant for yourself." Wood was speechless. There have been many versions of the story since but every source traces its roots to Henry Cist's book, The Army of the Cumberland. Cist was not actually at the battle and his book has no footnotes to indicate where he got the story from. To be fair to Cist not many history books in 1882 had footnotes. Prompted by the release of Cist's book Wood wrote a letter to the New York Times explaining that there had never been a rebuke on September 20, that his only meeting with Rosecrans was very brief;
Gen. Rosecrans asked me, without heat of language or manner toward me, so far as
I observed, why I had not moved earlier. I replied that I had moved
promptly on the receipt of the order. He said the order had been sent some time
before. I replied that I knew nothing as to when the order was dispatched
from his headquarters, (be it remembered the order reached me through the corps
commander,) and reiterated that I had moved promptly on the receipt of the
order. Gen. Rosecrans made no further comment on the preceding movement of
my division, and added: “Hurry up and relieve Gen. Negley on the line.”
Rosecrans only mentioned that peremptory orders were given in his official report. Perhaps Rosecrans did not want to provide the details of the incident so that he could focus on more important events of the campaign, or perhaps the incident was not noteworthy as Wood's letter indicates.