previous next

[75] and firmness and presence of mind maintained amid the most alarming dangers.

At Big Hill the road was obstructed for seven miles by wagons in great disorder. A semi-victorious army pressing heavily in the rear, a mountain in front, with the road across it blocked with wagons, were enough to strike almost any man with consternation. The Commanding General, with one-half of the army, was already so far ahead on a better road, that no assistance could be expected from him, while it was his trains mistaking their way, which placed us in our painful position. Calling his staff around him, in the gray mists of a gloomy morning, General Smith addressed them substantially as follows: “It is necessary for me, gentlemen, to call upon you for the exercise of all your energies. I consider my army in great danger. I am determined to save it, though I may be forced to destroy the trains. Park the wagons out of the road ready for burning, then move foward those which contain commissary and quartermasters' stores, but keep the road open for my troops.”

A detail of 1,500 men was made from Heth's division, and fortunately, General Cleburn, a noble gentleman and gallant and skillful officer, twice wounded in Kentucky, at Richmond and at Perryville, happened there, and, although relieved from duty on account of his last wound, took charge of the working parties, and infused into them a portion of his wonderful energy. The soldiers lined the road on either side from the foot to the summit of this immense and rugged hill, and as the starved and tired mules faltered and fell, seized the wagons and lifted them by sheer force over the worst places. All day, and throughout the night and until noon the next day, the trains, in one unbroken stream, continued to pour over Big Hill, and then the troops followed.

We were now again in the region of bushwhackers, who were even more active than upon our entrance into the State. Their savage ferocity spared none who fell into their hands, and they audaciously fired upon the soldiers in their very camps. But, altogether, their hostility was rather serviceable than otherwise, as, in a great measure, it prevented straggling.

At Rockcastle river the danger appeared even more imminent than at Big Hill. The enemy's guns thundered on our right and almost in our front. Pressing closely upon General Bragg, it appeared to be his object to intercept General Smith at the junction of the routes near London. Bragg had already left his army under the command of General Polk, and was proceeding rapidly on the way to Knoxville and thence to Richmond. Smith communicated his perilous position to that officer,

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Kirby Smith (3)
Braxton Bragg (2)
W. N. Polk (1)
Heth (1)
Cleburn (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: