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[575] to any confident and zealous officer in the heat and anxiety of the hour.

In carrying out the plan which he had adopted, Colonel Pritchard selected from his regiment seven officers and one hundred and twenty-eight men, his object being to get his very best troopers and fleetest horses, and at four o'clock began the pursuit, leaving the remainder of his regiment under command of Captain Hathaway, with orders to picket the river and scout the country in accordance with previous instructions. The route pursued by Colonel Pritchard led down the river southeasterly nearly twelve miles to a point. opposite Wilcox's mill, and thence southwest for a distance of eighteen miles, through an unbroken forest to Irwinsville, the county seat of Irwin county. He reached the village at one A. M. of the 10th, and after causing great excitement among the women, by representing his command as the rear guard of Davis' party, he succeeded in restoring quiet, and learned that the party he was searching for had encamped that night at dusk about a mile and a half north of the village, on the Abbeville road. Having secured a negro guide, he turned the head of his column northward, and, after moving cautiously to within a half mile of the camp, halted his main body and dismounted twenty-five men under Lieutenant Purinton. This party was directed to move noiselessly through the woods to the north side of the camp, for the purpose of gaining a position in its rear, and preventing the possibility of escape; also, in the hope that it might possibly interpose itself between Davis and his escort. In case of discovery by the enemy Lieutenant Purinton was directed to begin the attack from wherever he might be, while Colonel Pritchard would charge upon the camp along the main road. Purinton having reached the point assigned him without giving an alarm, the attack was delayed till the first appearance of dawn, at which time Colonel Pritchard put his troops again in motion, and continued his march to within a few rods of the camp undiscovered. Having assured himself of his position, he dashed upon the camp without further delay, and in a few moments had secured its occupants and effects, and placed a guard of mounted men around the camp, with dismounted sentries at the tents and wagons. No resistance was offered, because the enemy, in fancied security, had posted no sentries, and were, therefore, taken in their beds completely by surprise.

Almost simultaneously with the dash of Colonel Pritchard and his detachment, but before the prisoners had been actually secured, sharp firing began in the direction of Abbeville, and only a short distance from the camp. This turned out to be an engagement

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