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[759] where they were, when they got there, how their force were disposed, where their wagon train lay, what they had been about during the night. The general at once began a raking cross-examination of the frightened creature, and, as a natural consequence, the witness stumbled. At once he was called a liar, and his story set down as sheer romance and the result of fright. The general refused to listen further to the man's story, and declared the whole of it improbable, as he was certain Morgan must be near Blennerhasset, several miles above. Staff officers interposed in vain with the plea that the fellow's story was sustained by every reasonable probability. We were silenced with the sneering dictum that niggers were natural liars, and that no sane officer would believe one unless he knew of his own knowledge that the story was true. Some of us may have thought that General Judah should have known the truth of the man's story, but military discipline forbade us putting such thoughts into words. We were not long to remain ignorant of our enemy's whereabouts. Lieutenant Armstrong, of the Fourteenth Illinois Cavalry, was sent for. The general directed him to proceed with his company-forty-five men — toward the river. The lieutenant was not ordered to load his pieces, nor given the slightest hint to be prepared for a sudden meeting with the enemy. Behind Armstrong's company rode the general and staff, and behind them, and close upon their heels, was Captain Henshaw with a piece of artillery. The road, after we descended the hills, was a narrow lane bordered on each hand by wheat fields, in which the grain was standing in shocks. The fences, which were high, were not let down; no kind of precaution was taken against a surprise, though the fog was so dense the men could barely, see from head to foot of the small company, and the advance, where it had moved the regulation distance ahead of the company, was lost to view in the white gloom. To round up and make complete in all its parts this splendid exhibition of tactical skill, our main body was left lying about loose and too far from the river to support us in any sudden emergency at that point, where one was likely to arise.

We had approached within six hundred yards of the ford when a gust of air, hot as the breath of an-oven, come down the valley; the fog lifted with nearly as great celerity as a stage curtain can be run up. Our party had no time to “take in the beautiful scenery disclosed to our view,” mostly because a strong skirmish line in gray jackets, on foot, and not more than a hundred yards to our left and front, was made visible to our eyes by the sudden letting in of sunlight on that particular spot. The fellows were not long in making

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Armstrong (2)
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