Doc. 68.-the fight at Rogersville, Tenn.

Report of Major-General Sam Jones.

headquarters Department W. Virginia and E. Tennessee, Dublin, December 11, 1863.
General S. Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector-General C. S. A., Richmond:
General: I have the honor to forward, with this, the reports of Major-General R. Ransom, Jr., and his subordinate commanders, of the attack on the enemy near Rogersville, Tennessee, and the reports of Brigadier-General John Echols and subordinate commanders of the battle at Droop Mountain, in Pocahontas county, Virginia. Both of these affairs occurred on the same day, the sixth ultimo.

The affair at Rogersville was a complete success, and reflects great credit on the officers and men concerned. The affair at Droop Mountain was by no means so disastrous as at first reported. Our troops seem to have contended gallantly against vastly superior numbers, and, though driven from the field, the artillery and trains were brought off and secured; and the enemy seems to have been so severely punished as to deter him from pushing on and following up the advantage he had gained. After a long and fruitless march he retreated, having suffered heavier loss than he inflicted. I was in Tennessee when Brigadier-General Echols informed me of the movement of the enemy through Pocahontas, and I reached Dublin on the sixth ultimo, about the hour the firing commenced at Droop Mountain. I met Brigadier-General Echols' command on Salt Pond Mountain. It was promptly supplied with the necessary arms and clothing, and in four days moved back and reoccupied the points it had occupied before the engagement of the sixth ultimo.

With great respect,

Your obedient servant,

Sam. Jones, Major-General, commanding Department.

Report of Brigadier-General Ransom.

headquarters District southwest Virginia and Eastern Tennessee camp near Blountville, Tenn., Nov. 14, 1863.
Major C. S. Stringfellow, Assistant Adjutant-General, Dublin, Va.:
Major: I have the honor to enclose reports of Brigadier-General Jones and Colonel Giltner, relative to both attacks upon the enemy at Rogersville. General Jones has supplied copies of my letters to him, and they accompany his report. Colonel Giltner's report was sent to General Jones for endorsement. I enclose both the note of my adjutant-general to General Jones and his reply to him. Also, my letter of instructions to Colonel Giltner.

I regret that there should be any discrepancies in the two reports, but I am satisfied they are not irreconcilable. It was intended for the attacks by both brigades to be independent, but simultaneous, and, of course, when the two forces came together, the senior officer was to be in command of the whole. I did not intend to unite the brigades, as my instructions show. The result of the expedition is the best proof that it was conducted well, and I am unwilling to create or sustain bickering or jealousy, when there should be mutual good feeling. General Jones was verbally instructed to change the point of crossing the river if, upon fuller information, it should become advisable. The first report gave, as captured, eight hundred and fifty prisoners, four pieces of artillery, sixty wagons, and one thousand animals. About seven hundred and seventy-five prisoners arrived; the artillery, as at first reported, thirty-two wagons and three ambulances. The regimental colors and one garrison flag are in my hands. One regimental flag was captured, but in some way lost.

I regret that, up to this time, I have been unable to have accounted for more than about three hundred animals, all told. I much fear they have been appropriated by the men, and have been sent off and sold. There is no other reasonable conclusion.

The affair was a decided success, and I have thanked the officers and soldiers engaged in it.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

R. Ransom, Jr., Brigadier-General.

Report of Brigadier-General W. E. Jones.

headquarters Jones' brigade, near Carter's Station, Tennessee, November 13, 1863.
Major T. Rowland, A. A. G., District S. W. Va. and East Tennessee:
Major: In accordance with enclosed instructions from headquarters, district of south-western Virginia and East Tennessee, my command rendezvoused at Bauckman's Ford on the fourth instant. On inquiry, finding if it crossed here there would be danger of alarming the enemy, I deemed it best to cross near Spurgeon's mill, and camped for the night a few miles below. Moving early next morning, the command halted at Easly's, on Horse Creek, five miles from Kingsport, and fed the horses. From this point I communicated with Colonel Giltner, near noon, my intention to execute the original plan of attack. Arriving seventeen miles from Rogers ville, on the Beach Creek road, near dark, we halted to feed and cook rations. Here it was ascertained the road leading to Smith's and Dodson's Fords ran within six miles of the camps of the enemy. It was also ascertained both fords were difficult and dangerous, and the night was dark and rainy. To reach the point assigned me by the hour designated, required me to cross the Holston before daylight By intricate mountain paths, exacting the ut most care on the part of all, we reached Long's shoals, twelve miles above Rogersville, and [758] crossed in safety. Reaching the old stage road, nothing could be heard of Colonel Giltner's command, but I determined to turn the position of the enemy at the mouth of Big Creek, by way of the Carter's Valley road, my brigade crossing the old stage road for this purpose. Soon a messenger overtook me with tidings of Colonel Giltner, also reporting about one hundred Federal Tennessee home guards at Kincael's. Pushing ahead part of the Eighth Virginia cavalry to surround and capture this force, they encountered near where the home guards were expected a scout of fifty men from the Second Tennessee Federal regiment. The attack was made with such vigor that but seventeen men of this force escaped this onset.

Moving on briskly to the junction of the roads, the Eighth regiment turned east on the old stage road, and took position on the first eminence. As it was now long after Colonel Giltner should have made his attack, and no engagement could be heard, I felt assured the enemy must have made his escape, but moved the Eighth across the river road from Big Creek to Dodson's Ford, in hopes of intercepting fugitives. The men of the Twenty-seventh battalion Virginia cavalry, under Captain J. B. Thompson, were ordered to charge into Rogersville, and in so doing captured upwards of one hundred prisoners and some army supplies. For the same reason the Eighth was ordered to the river road. Colonel Witcher was ordered with his own and the Thirty-seventh battalion of Virginia cavalry to Smith's Ford. The Thirty-sixth battalion Virginia cavalry was held in reserve near town, and the Twenty-first regiment Virginia cavalry in the position first held by the Eighth regiment. The Twenty-seventh battalion Virginia cavalry was ordered, after the captures in Rogersville, by the railroad to the river. After these dispositions had been made, a party of fifty-five home guards (Federals) attacked the town from the west, but were easily dispersed by a small party under Lieutenant W. M. Hopkins, A. D. C.

After all the prisoners had been collected and marched out east of the town, the wagons loaded, hitched to, and driven to the forks of the main roads, was heard the first firing in the direction of Big Creek. The Twenty-first regiment was immediately ordered up the old stage road, with directions to be guided by the firing and to join in the battle. The Thirty-sixth battalion was ordered up from town, and all the other commands were recalled in haste. The old stage road being open, the Twenty-first having moved across towards the river, a party of one hundred and twenty-five of the enemy attempted to escape towards Rogersville, but were intercepted and all captured by the timely arrival of Witcher's, Claiborne's, and Smith's commands.

By this time firing had ceased in front, and I felt assured of the surrender of the enemy, as proved to be the case. Two hundred and ninety-four prisoners were taken by my brigade acting alone. The Eighth Virginia took nine wagons and teams, seven of which were secured. The remainder of the command took three wagons and two ambulances, all of which were secured.

From Colonel Comes' report, it will be seen the roads west of the position of the enemy were held by the Eighth Virginia cavalry, and a large part of the five hundred and fifty-six prisoners taken here were taken by the Eighth, and sent in charge of an officer to Colonel Giltner. Had Colonel Giltner made a prompt and bold attack that would have discovered the position of the enemy before my dispositions were made under the impression of his having abandoned his position, it is believed none would have escaped. The unaccountable delay doubtless has proved very detrimental to our interests.

To Captain McKinney, of General Jackson's staff; to Mr. W. H. Watterson, clerk of my brigade quartermaster; and to Mr. Phipps, and other guides, my thanks are especially due for their activity, energy, and judgment on this occasion. To Lieutenant W. M. Hopkins, of my personal staff, I am under great obligations for the efficient discharge of his official duties.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant

W. E. Jones, Brigadier-General.

Report of Colonel Giltner.

headquarters Second cavalry brigade, near Kingsport, Tennessee, November 10, 1863.
Major T. Rowland, A. A. G.:
I have the honor to submit the following report of the operations of the troops under my command during the recent expedition into the enemy's lines:

In obedience to orders from district headquarters, I moved out of Kingsport at six P. M., on the fifth instant. You are already furnished with the general order containing the different corps of the command, and their order of march. The whole force did not exceed twelve hundred, as the return of my Adjutant-General for that day exhibits. Such was the secrecy with which the movement was conducted that not only the citizens, but the officers, had no idea of its contemplation until it had progressed considerably towards its execution. Some delay occurred in crossing the river, on account of the darkness of the night, and the difficult passage of the horses and artillery over a bad ford. All was, however, soon in order, and the march continued in a cold, chilling rain, without further obstacle until we were unexpectedly halted by the passage of Brigadier-General Jones' brigade across our road to the Carter's Valley road upon our right. I did not see General Jones, but learned from his staff officer that this change in the original plan was rendered necessary by the impracticability of the road to, and across the river, at the ford he proposed at first to cross. [759]

As soon as General Jones' brigade had crossed I moved on slowly, intending to halt a short time at Surguinsville, in order to give General Jones time to reach the enemy's flank and rear, before attacking him in front. But just as my advance reached Surguinsville, it was fired upon by a scouting party of the enemy which had reached there that morning (now four and a half o'clock A. M.), as I afterwards learned. I communicated this fact to General Jones. The enemy, about thirty in number, retired precipitately on being pressed by a squadron of the First Tennessee, which constituted my advance. On arriving within two miles of Big Creek, where the enemy were understood to be encamped, we came upon a body of the enemy in a strong position, and, though not discovering more than twenty-five or thirty, furnished reason for the suspicion of a larger force masked behind the ridge and under cover of dense pine thickets. Some time was consumed in revealing their intention and force, by throwing forward flanking and skirmishing parties, before which they again retired. We moved forward without delay, and on approaching Big Creek discovered that the enemy were in the act of crossing at Russell's Ford. Colonel Carter (First Tennessee) was sent at double-quick to cut them off, which he did in most gallant style. Being cut off from the ford, the enemy took a strong position on the opposite side of Big Creek, where they had been encamped. Leaving one section of Phillips' battery, supported by three companies of the Second East Tennessee mounted infantry at Russell House, three hundred yards in front of their position, and on this side of Big Creek, Lieutenant-Colonel Trimble (Tenth Kentucky) and Major Parker (Fourth Kentucky) were brought forward and dismounted in five hundred and fifty yards of this section, and moved up. The men all went forward with the greatest enthusiasm, making no halt for balls, shells, or bullets. Colonel Carter, after intercepting their retreat by the ford, turned upon these two guns, and, advancing by a shorter route, was the first to reach them, capturing, at the same time, a large number of wagons, which had moved out to cross the river. Without halting a simultaneous advance was made by the three regiments (Tenth Kentucky, First Tennessee, and Fourth Kentucky) across Big. Creek (which, though deep and rapid, proved no obstacle) and up the hill, on which was posted their other section of artillery, supported by their main force.

At this time, Captain Lowry's battery (detained by difficult roads) arrived upon the field, and engaged the battery of the enemy, delivering its fire most effectually. Immediately on crossing the creek our forces encountered the enemy in a chosen position, where, after an hour's sharp conflict, they succeeded in capturing the other section of Phillips' battery and about four hundred and fifty (450) of the enemy. The remainder endeavored to effect their escape by precipitate flight. Here I ordered forward Major Clark, Sixteenth Georgia, and Col onel Slemp, Sixty-fourth Virginia, whom I had held in reserve, mounted, and sent them at double-quick to pursue and overhaul the fugitives, which was done in the most praiseworthy manner, the Sixteenth Georgia following them across the river, and the Sixty-fourth to Rogersville. A party of these endeavoring to escape by a lower ford, was met by the Eighth Virginia, of General Jones' command, and most of them captured. In all about five hundred and fifty prisoners were taken by the forces under my command, four brass six-pounder James guns (Company M, Second Illinois light artillery), some thirty wagons loaded with all manner of quartermaster and commissary, medical, and ordnance stores, together with all their camp and garrison equipage, the horses and arms of the prisoners, all the papers appertaining to the Adjutant-General's department, containing most valuable information, etc., etc., etc.

As already mentioned, our forces did not exceed twelve hundred, of which not more than six hundred were engaged actively. The forces of the enemy (commanded by Colonel Israel Garrard, Seventh Ohio cavalry) consisted of Second East Tennessee mounted infantry, about full; Seventh Ohio cavalry, five hundred and eighty strong, and Phillips' battery, all composing half of Colonel James P. T. Carter's brigade (Third brigade cavalry, Fourth division, Twenty-third army corps). Colonel Garrard, commanding, escaped with the first who crossed the river. One Major, several Captains, and one acting Adjutant-General, were among the prisoners. Our loss will not exceed ten killed and wounded. The enemy's about twenty-five or thirty. Seven wounded were paroled and left in charge of a Surgeon.

Every exertion was used to secure all the captures, and the artillery and about thirty wagons were brought off safely, but owing to a want of harness for the teams, two caissons and some twenty wagons were disabled and abandoned.

It was my intention to retire to where I could find a good position and obtain forage, and remain until everything valuable was secured and sent to the rear But General Jones coming up, ordered me to fall back that night beyond the river, which was accomplished by nine A. M. the next morning.

Two stands of colors captured by the Fourth Kentucky cavalry, were sent up this morning. One captured by the Tenth Kentucky, was delivered to you by Brigadier-General Jones, and another taken by the First Tennessee, was afterwards stolen from the regimental wagon.

No discrimination can be made in the gallantry of troops, where every corps commanded the admiration of its officers, and the gratitude of their country. Their soldierly bearing in the presence of the enemy, furnishes a just cause for pride, and receives the unqualified approbation of their commander. Those actively engaged, and those held in check, manifested alike [760] an equal willingness, even anxiety, to discharge their full duty as soldiers, even the most dangerous. Any discrimination among individuals would be invidious, and no one is slighted when it is asserted that all (with a trifling exception) may remember their actions that day with a just pride.

I am especially indebted to Colonel Heiskell, volunteer aid, Captain Flusser, acting aid, and Captain Guerrant, A. A. G., for invaluable services on the field, and throughout the expedition.

I am, most respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

H. S. Giltner, Colonel, commanding Brigade.

Report of Colonel comes.

headquarters Eighth Virginia cavalry, November 13, 1863.
Brigadier-General W. E. Jones, Commanding Cavalry Brigade:
General: At your request, I make the following report of the part taken by the Eighth Virginia cavalry at Rogersville, on the sixth instant. After a forced march of twenty-four hours, my regiment arrived at and crossed the Holston River, near Rogersville. At this point I was ordered across the country, on a by road, to the Carter's Valley road, at a point some eight miles above the town, and there await the arrival of Colonel Giltner. I had not waited but a few minutes, when I was informed by you that Colonel Giltner was moving on the road between me and the river. At this juncture, being informed by you that there was a company of cavalry on picket, some four miles in advance of me, I threw forward Company E, of this regiment, with instructions, when they arrived at the enemy's pickets, to charge down upon them, and not to permit any of them to reach Rogersville, to give the alarm. This order was carried out to the letter, not one of the enemy being permitted to enter the town; Company E, led by Captain H. C. Everett, having captured some forty of them, dispersed the remainder of them in the woods. Meeting with no further obstruction, my command was moved, by your direction immediately in rear of the enemy, on a road leading to a ferry below Rogersville. Whilst moving my command through the woods (the undergrowth is very dense at this point), I found myself within twenty yards of the wagon train of the enemy, which had been sent to the rear — their pickets being already driven in from the front by Colonel Giltner. Finding the enemy's wagon train about to move, I ordered my command to charge the guard, composed of about seventy-five or eighty men, which they did, capturing the whole of the wagon train and nearly all of the guard.

I then immediately moved on with my regiment, and soon found myself closely engaged with the main force of the enemy. I immediately posted my command behind a fence and on a wooded hill-side, in easy range of the enemy's camp, where we remained, under a heavy fire, about fifteen minutes. The enemy were about to charge my position when Colonel Giltner commenced the action in front, which appeared to disconcert the enemy so much that, although they made an effort, in considerable force, to dislodge me, they were quickly repulsed, and driven back on their former position. Colonel Giltner attacking vigorously about this time, the enemy threw down their arms and fled in every direction. Large numbers of them surrendered on the field, others were captured in squads through the neighborhood. A few of them, however, made their escape across the river.

My command succeeded in capturing, in this affair, upwards of three hundred prisoners, nine wagons and teams, loaded with quartermaster's stores, seven of which we succeeded in bringing with us. We also captured a large number of small arms, saddles, and about ninety horses and mules, in addition to the mules that were attached to the wagons. The command was moved, by your direction, on the Carter's Valley Road creek to Blountville, where we arrived safely, on the eighth instant, bringing with us, besides captured property above mentioned, some eight hundred prisoners. Our loss in this affair is one killed, and two or three slightly wounded.

I am, General, with the highest respect,

Your obedient servant.

J. M. Comes, Colonel Eighth Virginia cavalry

Major Rowland to Brigadier-General Jones.

headquarters District S. W. Virginia and E. Tennessee, near Blountville, Tenn., November 12, 1863.
Brigadier-General W. E. Jones, commanding, etc.:
General: The Major-General commanding directs me to enclose the report of Colonel Giltner for your endorsement, inasmuch as the two brigades were united in the latter part of the affair of the sixth instant. He requests that you forward your report of the same affair as soon as possible.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

T. Rowland, A. A. G

General Jones to Major Rowland.

headquarters Jones' brigade, November 18, 1863.
Major T. Rowland, A. A. G., District S. W. Va. and E. Tenn.:
Major: In reply to yours, enclosing a report of Colonel Giltner, relative to the attack on the enemy near Rogersville, the sixth instant, I can say, if by endorsement you wish me to confirm his statements, such is not in my power. My report will show you the affair appears to me in a different light from what it does to Colonel Giltner. As the report is not addressed to me, [761] and is not sent through me, I presume it was not intended I should correct errors in it. I was under the impression I commanded in this affair, and the statement of Mr. Watterson will show Colonel Giltner was of the same opinion before the fight.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

W. E. Jones, Brigadier-General

Orders of General Ransom.

Headquarters division, camp near Blouniville, November 3, 1863.
Brigadier-General John S. Williams, commanding Cavalry Brigade:
General: It is represented that there is at Rogersville a body of two or three regiments of the enemy, and it is desired to capture that forde. You will drop down the river with your brigade, having pickets at the fords, cross the north fork of Holston, and attack at Rogersville at daylight on the morning of Friday, the sixth instant. Brigadier-General W. E. Jones will proceed by the Horse Creek and Beach Creek Valley roads and attack simultaneously with you. Your march, after getting across the North Fork, should be rapid, and in the night. You can go a few miles below Kingsport, so as to reach Rogersville easily in the night of Thursday and make the attack as directed. No wagons, except for ammunition, will be taken. You can carry the battery now with you if you desire it. Have prepared enough cooked rations for the movement. After executing the movement and the attack, you will return rapidly to your present position. Concert between you and Brigadier-General Jones will be necessary. General Jones has been directed, after the attack, to return to his present position.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

R. Ramsom, Major-General.

Copy of endorsement on the above letter:

headquarters District S. W. Virginia and East Tennessee, Blountville, Tennessee, November 4, 1863.
Brigadier-General John S. Williams having been relieved of his command, and Colonel Giltner assigned to the command of his brigade, the latter officer will execute the order herein conveyed.

R. Ransom, Jr., Major-General.

Headquarters division, camp near Blountville, November 3, 1863.
Brigadier-General W. E. Jones, commanding Cavalry Brigade:
General: It is represented that there is at Rogersville a force of two or three regiments of the enemy, and it is desired to capture that force. You will please collect your brigade, throwing a force in the direction of Jonesboroa, and with the greater part proceed to Rogersville by a route leading up Horse Creek and down Beach Creek Valleys, across the Holston at one of the fords near Rogersville, and attack at daylight on Friday morning, the sixth instant. You will cover the roads leading to your rear by small pickets, so as to convey information both to yourself and to the infantry on the north side of the Holston, east of Kingsport. Brigadier-General Williams, commanding cavalry brigade, will move, by way of Kingsport, across the North Fork of Holston, and join in the attack at the same time as yourself. After starting directly for Rogersville, rapidity will be required both in the execution of the march and attack, and in your return to your present position. I need hardly caution you as to your left flank. The force sent towards Jonesboroa should cover it, as well as check a direct advance in that direction. You will have enough cooked rations prepared, and take nothing else, except ammunition. No wagons except for ammunition, will taken. I leave it to your discretion to take the battery of artillery now with you or not, as you may deem it best. If not carried, have it properly posted, so as to do good service, if needed, and not to be subject to capture.

Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant,

R. Ransom, Major-General.

General Ransom to General Jones.

Headquarters division, near Blountville, Tenn., November 3, 1863.
Brigadier-General W. E. Jones, commanding Cavalry Brigade:
General: I enclose a letter of instructions and a map for your guidance. I find the Horse Creek Valley too much to your right. You must take the most direct road, or the one you think best. Dodson's Ford is represented to me as the best. I will send to you Captain McKinney, of General Jackson's staff, who knows the country thoroughly about Rogersville. It looks as though it would rain, and we may be prevented from making the movement. Williams will be relieved to-morrow, and I shall have to send the letter of instructions to Colonel Giltner.

You had best have the battery come to this side of the Holston, and let me know where you have it.

I shall move up towards the junction of the two rivers to-morrow, on the Jonesboroa road.

It may rain and cause the river to rise after you get to Rogersville. In that event you may make your way out by Kingsport.

Reports from Kingsport and Rogersville represent the enemy camped on Big Creek, four miles above Rogersville.

Give directions so that your wagons may not get into any difficulty.

If you can do so, it would be well for you to come here to-night.

* * * * * * *

Giltner will have orders to attack at the same [762] hour you do, that is, at daylight on Friday morning. Neither should wait for the other, as both have the same orders.

Yours truly,

R. Ransom, Major-General.

Statement of W. H. Watterson.

headquarters Jones' cavalry brigade, Q. M. Department. November 13, 1863.
Being called upon by Brigadier-General W. E. Jones to give a statement of my connection with the affair at Big Creek, Hawkins county, Tennessee, I most respectfully submit the following:

I was left by General Jones at the house of Mr. William Lyons, where the road from Lowry's Ford crosses the old stage road, in order to see that the brigade under his (General Jones') command took the right road, when I saw that Colonel Giltner's column had arrived. I went to the head of it, and, while there, understood from him that he was going to halt his brigade at Surguinsville until he heard from General Jones.

This was concluded upon, I supposed, since General Jones had crossed the river, at least fourteen miles from and above the ford at which it was intended when the expedition begun, and to have an understanding as to the plan of attack.

When the rear of Jones' brigade had passed the crossing of the roads, I hastened on to inform General Jones of Colonel Giltner's intention. I overtook General Jones about three miles from where he came into Carter's Valley road, going very rapidly, at the head of his column. When I told him that Colonel Giltner was awaiting at Surguinsville to hear from him, he seemed surprised, and ordered me to go immediately and tell Colonel Giltner to move on and attack the enemy in front.

I started back to the first cross-road, and had got about one and a half miles, when I met a courier from Colonel Giltner, who said that his whole brigade had passed down the old stage road in a great hurry, having routed the Yankee pickets at Surguinsville. I then hurried to follow on after General Jones, and had gone on the Carter's Valley road to within five miles of Rogersville, when I learned that Colonel Giltner had not gone on down further than C. C. Miller's, eight miles east of Rogersville. I immediately about-faced and went back to the road leading from the Carter's Valley road to the old stage road, coming out at Mr. C. C. Miller's, where Colonel Giltner was understood to be. When I turned back I was about four miles from C. C. Miller's (or Yellow Store), but when I got there all of the brigade under Giltner had passed along, except the artillery (Lowery's battery) and the rear guard. I went on after Colonel Giltner, passing about half of his column (the rear half) in motion, and overtook him only a few hundred yards east of Mr. John Shields, six miles east of Rogersville. Colonel Giltner was, at the time, with a portion of two companies of Colonel Carter's First Tennessee cavalry, together with Major Goforth and Captain Fulkerson, in a field on the right hand side of the road. The squadron was made the command of Major Goforth, so I soon after learned. I delivered General Jones' orders to Colonel Giltner to attack as soon as possible. The squadron under Goforth went on the right to flank the movement of the main column in its advance to attack the enemy, who were understood to be about a mile distant, on an elevation, in the woods to the left of the road. I think the attack was made about nine A. M., nearly thirty minutes after I delivered General Jones' orders to Colonel Giltner.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,

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