The screams of the shells drowned the hiss of the bullets; coming from three different directions, and bursting between the two lines formed at right angles — a disposition we were compelled to adopt in order to confront both assailants — the air seemed filled with metal, and the ground was torn and ploughed into furrows.
Only some twenty-five men were killed, and about eighty wounded. The open, skirmish line formation, which our system of tactics prescribed, saved us from heavier loss.
The odds were too overwhelming and too apparent for the contest to have lasted long, even had the men been in better fighting condition.
After sustaining the attack for little more than half an hour, we began to retreat, at first in good order.
The upper end of the valley was filled with wagons and ambulances, whose wounded and terror-stricken occupants urged the scared horses to headlong flight.
Often they became locked together, and were hurled over as if by an earthquake.
Occasionally a solid shot, or unexploded shell would strike one, and dash it into splinters.
As the retreating battalions neared the point of exit, and discovered that-only two narrow roads afforded avenues of escape, they broke ranks and rushed for them.
Both were instantly blocked.
The remaining section of artillery was tumbled into a ravine, during this mad swirl, as if the guns had been as light as feathers.
The gunboats raked the roads with grape, and the Seventh and Eighth Michigan Cavalry dashed into the mass of fugitives.
In a moment the panic was complete, and the disaster irretrievable.
Between seven and eight hundred of the command were captured on this field.
Some three hundred swam the river at a point twenty miles above.
Several were drowned in the attempt to do so. General Morgan
succeeded in withdrawing about a thousand men from the fight, and effected their reorganization, although closely pursued and continually attacked by cavalry.
This was a last effort, gallant but unavailing.
Fresh thousands met him everywhere.
He was baffled at every point, and, finally, about a week later, surrounded and obliged to surrender.
Thus ended a raid which, in boldness of conception and purpose, vigor and skill of execution, and importance of object, has no equal in the history of such enterprises.
The soldier who carefully studies it will pronounce that its failure was not disgraceful, and that even success could have furnished no stronger proof, than did its conduct, of the genius and nerve of its author.