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[221]

I then abandoned my former determination to issue an address. to the people, calling upon them to rally to me, as they were already pouring in so rapidly that I knew I would not be able to protect and feed them, and as it would require that my army should be kept together to protect them on a rapid and dangerous. retreat from the State. At daybreak on the morning of the 19th I moved from Waverly towards Lexington--General Shelby's division in the advance. Having received information that Generals Blunt, Lane and Jemmison, with between 3,000 and 4,000 Federals. (Colorado, Kansas and Missouri Federal troops) were at Lexington, and fearing they might make a junction with McNeill and A. J. Smith, who were at Sedalia and Salt Fork, I made a flank movement to the left, after crossing Tabo, so as to intercept their line of march. The advance under Shelby met them at 2 P. M., and a battle immediately ensued. For a time the Federals fought well and resisted strenuously, but finally giving way, they were pressed by our troops, driven well past Lexington, and pursued on the road to Independence until night. That night the enemy evacuated Lexington in great haste and confusion. Shelby's old brigade, under Brigadier-General M. Jeff. Thompson, bivouacked that night in the suburbs of town. I encamped at General Shield's, three miles south of Lexington, marching that day twenty-six miles. On the morning of the 20th I moved west, in the same direction as before, to Five Creek prairie, twenty-two miles, where I encamped: Information was received that the enemy had fallen back to the Little Blue. On the 21st I resumed my line of march to the Little Blue on the Independence road — Marmaduke's division in the front, whose advance soon came upon the enemy's pickets, who, being driven across the Blue, burned the bridge as they crossed. A ford half a mile below the bridge was seized by our troops, and Marmaduke's division crossed it. His advance, Colonel Lawther's regiment, soon came upon the enemy, who were strongly posted behind a stone fence, in superior numbers. Lawther's regiment was driven back and hotly pursued by the foe, when they were reinforced by Colonel Green with one hundred and fifty men. A fierce engagement ensued, with varying success--Colonel Green contesting every inch of ground, when Wood's battery arrived and the enemy gave way; but being reinforced, again renewed the attack. Just as the ammunition of our troops engaged — who still manfully resisted with success the far superior numbers of the enemy — was about to become exhausted, Colonel Kitchen's regiment


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