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[202] raced away at a speed that soon left a number of the cavalry-men in the rear. Finally, the number of pursuers dwindled to three, and the courier, crossing the brow of a small hill, turned his horse into the woods bordering the turnpike.

The ruse was successful, and the three Confederate cavalrymen dashed on down the hill. A short distance farther along one of the horsemen abandoned the chase and started to return. As he came abreast of Stanton's courier, a movement of Baker's horse attracted the Confederate's attention and he stopped. The cavalryman saw the courier and started to cover him with his rifle, but Baker was prepared. The Federal's revolver cracked, and the Southerner fell from his saddle.

The other Confederates had given up the chase and were returning when they heard the shot. They rushed back in time to see Baker's steed galloping across an open field to reach the road in front of them, and dashed to intercept him. The Federal was the first to reach the road, and again the pursuit commenced. Baker turned into the fields, and with the pursuers close behind him started a last race for Bull Run.

The despatch bearer's horse was panting and exhausted, but, with the grit of a blooded racer it struggled on, holding the pursuers almost at the same distance. With a final dash Baker reached the bank, leaped into the stream and started for the opposite shore. The creek was little more than twelve yards wide at that point and the horse soon reached the other side, but there a steep bank several feet high confronted it, and it could not climb out. With revolver ready the courier waited, prepared to offer his last resistance, when a shot rang out. It was the pickets of the Federal army firing on the Confederates, who abandoned their pursuit at the first shot. The messenger made his way into Centreville, and mounting another horse dashed on toward Washington.

It was late afternoon when he delivered the messages from Banks to the Secretary. In twenty-four hours the courier had ridden nearly one hundred miles.

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