Gen. Burnside, after he was relieved from command on the Rappahannock, had been assigned1 to that of the Department of the Ohio, and his old 9th corps dispatched with him to the West, with a view to an early and determined advance through eastern Kentucky for the liberation of loyal but crushed and suffering East Tennessee. The exigencies of the service, however, compelled a diversion of the 9th corps to reenforce Grant, then in the crisis of his struggle for Vicksburg. So Burnside was obliged to remain idle at Cincinnati. A force for mounted Rebels having, under Gen. Pegram, emerged from East Tennessee, crossed the Cumberland mountains and river, and addressed themselves to the spoliation of southern Kentucky. They proclaimed their force the vanguard of a large army advancing, under Breckinridge, for the rescue of Kentucky from her Yankee oppressors; paraded the greater portion of their number as infantry on entering any considerable village; and got up a handbill proclamation that every young man who did not choose to serve in the Confederate armies must leave Kentucky! These pretensions seem to have imposed, to some extent, on Gen. S. P. Carter, commanding the Union forces on that frontier, who retreated before Pegram from Danville, across Dick's river and the Kentucky; abandoning the heart of the State to rapine. Pegram lacked the audacity to continue the pursuit, as well as the force to justify it, or he might, perhaps, have chased Carter and Wolford across the Ohio. But the Rebels turned here to fly,2 thus revealing their weakness; and soon found a dangerous force on their hells. They were sharply chased by Wolford's cavalry through Lancaster, Stanford, and Waynesburg, to within three miles of Somerset, where they were brought to bay:3 meanwhile, Gen. Q. A. gillmore had joined the pursuit with 250 of the 7th Ohio cavalry and taken command: swelling the Union force to about 1,200 men. The Rebels are stated, in the reports on our side, to have been twice that number — a statement which is not confirmed by any returns, and is probably a gross exaggeration, explained by the efforts of the enemy to diffuse an extravagant idea of their numbers. At all events, they were very easily driven from their
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.