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[249] troops suffered much from this privation, but they bore it cheerfully, marching in excellent order and with great celerity.

At Rockcastle river General Smith received dispatches from Scott, informing him that the enemy were advancing in force to drive him from his position. It was of vital importance that the position should be held, and Cleburne was ordered to move to Scott's assistance as rapidly as the condition of his troops would permit. At 3 A. M. we left our bivouac upon the banks of Rockcastle river. Churchill's column was already moving. Day dawned upon us on the top of Big Hill, a wild region almost uninhabited. Here was first fully appreciated the importance of Scott's victory a few days previous. Numerous positions offered, in which a regiment of good soldiers, with a few pieces of artillery, could have opposed a very serious obstacle to our advance, and perhaps compelled us to retire. That the enemy had not seized and fortified these positions afforded General Smith great satisfaction, inasmuch as it furnished conclusive evidence that our movements were unknown or misinterpreted.

General Cleburne was forming his men in line of battle when we reached the foot of Big Hill to meet a reported advance of the enemy. It proved to be, however, only his cavalry, which retired. The troops were exhausted by their long and rapid march, and required rest; and Churchill's division coming up soon after, the entire command was moved forward a short distance, strong pickets thrown out on all the roads, and the soldiers allowed to rest on their arms in battle order. Late in the afternoon a sharp cavalry skirmish occurred, in which Scott was forced to abandon one of his guns. The enemy's cavalry charged with great audacity. That night the opposing armies lay so near each other that some of the enemy's pickets were thrown out within our line, and the next morning, as greatly to our surprise as theirs, captured.

We had now marched nearly one hundred miles into Kentucky, and met not one man who sympathised with the Confederate cause. The enemy, reported seven full regiments strong, was immediately in our front, while we could muster not more than five thousand five hundred men, worn by long and arduous marches on insufficient food. But doubt was ruin; to hesitate was to be destroyed. Behind us was a barren mountain country, and a ferocious and bitterly hostile population; beyond the enemy in our front the “blue-grass region,” the garden of Kentucky, teeming with inexhaustable supplies.

General Cleburne was ordered to attack at daylight. So far from hesitating, the determination of the enemy to offer battle here gave General Smith the liveliest satisfaction. It had been feared that he

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