The objective point of the campaign had now been reached.
With nine thousand men General Smith
crossed the Cumberland mountains
in the face of a superior force, and over roads considered impracticable for artillery and wagons.
Finding that the Federal General
, would not come out from his impregnable position at Cumberland Gap
, with less than six thousand of his command, he boldly advanced into the heart of Kentucky
by difficult roads, through a hostile population, and a country destitute of supplies and almost destitute of water.
he engaged the enemy, nearly double his own numbers, and defeated and destroyed his army, capturing five thousand three hundred prisoners, nine cannon, nearly ten thousand stand of small arms, and numbers of wagons and mules, and munitions of all kinds.
Then pressing rapidly forward, he drove him to the Ohio river
, and seized and occupied his chief depot, Lexington
, the second city in Kentucky
, and the metropolis of the most populous and productive portion of the State
More than this, it was General Smith
's success which forced Buell
to evacuate his strong positions in Tennessee
and fall back upon Nashville
, thus enabling General Bragg
, by rapid marches, to get between him and Louisville
, and compel him to give battle in the open field with a retreating army.
Thus in the enormous fruits by which success was followed, as well as in conception and execution, is this campaign entitled to rank among the really brilliant campaigns of modern war. Let but General Bragg
accomplish, as there is good prospect of his doing, the overthrow of Buell
's army, and Kentucky
is secured — Grant
must evacuate North Mississippi
and come to the defence of the line of the Ohio
, while Van Dorn
, crossing with his army into Arkansas
, might soon be able, with the assistance of the troops already there, to drive the Federals
, and reoccupy every inch of Southern territory.
If the accomplishment of all this was not looked forward to with entire confidence, it was, at least, regarded as possible, and even probable.
How these brilliant prospects faded away and came to nought, how these promises of the future finally sunk in gloom and disaster, it is now my province to show; and this I trust to do by a circumstantial narration of events — censuring no one, but allowing the blame, if there be any, to rest wherever the inexorable logic of facts may justly place it.
When we entered Lexington
, General Smith
's campaign, as originally conceived, was accomplished.
All that was at first intended had been achieved, more easily, more fully, and with more complete success than