for the men and artillery were small rafts, constructed by lashing canoes together, and making a flooring upon them of fence-rails.
The horses were forced to swim, and, after laboring through the fierce stream and painfully climbing the crumbling, treacherous bank, they stood panting and trembling, in little groups, until comforted by the arrival of their masters.
With such inadequate facilities, the passage of the river was necessarily tedious; but something worse than hard work, and loss of time, was to be apprehended.
As has already been intimated, this, the initiatory step of the expedition, was one of the most perilous.
's cavalry was stationed only twelve miles distant from Burksville
, where it had been concentrated immediately when Morgan
appeared upon the border.
It was more than double our entire strength, and if its commander had closely watched the river, and had attacked vigorously when our passage was partially effected, not only would the raid have been crushed in its inception, but we would have been cut to pieces.
It is possible that his vigilance had been deceived by the apparent withdrawal of our regiments, after they had remained inactive for nearly a week upon the banks of the river; and he may have believed that, having recruited men and horses in the fertile and grassy valleys where they had been encamped, Morgan
intended to seek safer proximity to Bragg
But, even if the Federal
commander was beguiled into such a delusion by demonstrations made with no other view than to mislead him, his negligent watch was inexcusable.
So far from himself trusting to chance, Morgan
, finding the river unguarded, and not even observed by videttes, chose the very time that the difficulty of getting over was the greatest, for the reason that the attempt would then be least expected.
The result verified the accuracy of his calculations.
Information of our movements was not transmitted to the enemy until late in the day, and it was not until nearly three in the afternoon that a column of about one thousand strong approached Burksville
, so closely as to threaten the First Brigade, of which some eight hundred men were, by that hour, across.
This force was promptly disposed to receive the advancing cavalry, and the ground about a mile back of the village being favorable, the greater part of it was placed in ambuscade.
The Federals, unsuspectingly, trotted into the trap, and, recoiling before one stinging volley, delivered at short range, rushed back in confusion.
, at the head of a reserve of two hundred men, whom he had kept mounted, pressed the retreat so energetically that he dashed into Judah
's camp along with the fleeing squadrons.
For a few minutes there ensued a scene