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[484] Observing a large pile of hay, a few well-directed shells from Brown's guns kindled it into a consuming fire that soon spread to vast heaps of bacon, flour and corn adjoining. Lieutenant Briggs discovered a large pile of barrels under tarpaulins nearly opposite his position. A few well-trained shots from his James rifles, with percussion shells, had the happiest results; for soon a blue blaze, unmistakably whiskey, was quickly seen to dart from under the tarpaulins. As this was observed along the line a loud shout went forth, though many doubtless envied the flames as they swallowed up the fluid which was rare to the boys. Soon the barrels began to burst with loud explosions, and the “red” liquor ran in torrents of living flame down the hillside, spreading the conflagration in its course toward the river, and filling the air with the blended yet distinctly recognizable fumes of burning spirits, sugar, coffee, and meat. The Confederates had been on short rations all day, yet some of them declared at night that the fumes from this enormous alcoholic roast made them feel like the traveller in “Gil Blas,” as if they had been eating heartily.

Meantime all the warehouses and buildings were ignited, and the noise from the explosion of the vast quantity of ordnance stores reminded one of a desperate conflict at a distance between contending armies. The night was made almost as luminous by the conflagration as the day, under which our troops were enabled to move out of the dense forest to the main Lexington road, some two miles distant, where the train was established to feed our forces, and encamp for the night. Briggs's section, Rice's battery, Brown's section, and Morton's battery were left on the river, supported by Rucker's brigade, throughout the night.

On the following morning Morton accompanied General Forrest back to the river, and viewed the immense destruction of property and subsistence at the time with eager satisfaction — the lonely forts gloomily surmounting and silently guarding with their wide-mouthed guns broad heaps of ashes and charred, smoking ruins. Gunboats, transports, and barges all had gone down in flame. The extensive warehouses filled with supplies, and other buildings, had ceased to be, as well as the immense piles of stores that covered acres of the surrounding slope the day before.

We now ordered Brown and Briggs to withdraw their guns and rejoin their batteries. As this was being done, a regiment of colored troops dashed out from their works and displayed themselves in wild and amusing antics. Throwing off their coats and hats, with sleeves


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John Morton (2)
J. W. Brown (2)
W. H. Briggs (2)
E. W. Rucker (1)
T. W. Rice (1)
N. B. Forrest (1)
H. H. Briggs (1)
Gil Blas (1)
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