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[438]

“My God! Will no one have mercy and kill me!”

“Stop! Oh! for God's sake stop just for one minute; take me out and leave me to die by the roadside.”

“I am dying! I am dying! My poor wife, my dear children I What will become of you?” . . .

‘No help could be rendered to any of the sufferers. No heed could be given to any of their appeals. Mercy and duty to the many forbade the loss of a moment in the vain effort then and there to comply with the prayers of the few. On! On! We must move on. The storm continued, and the darkness was appalling. There was no time to fill even a canteen of water for a dying man, for, except the drivers and the guards, all were wounded and utterly helpless in that vast procession of misery.’

When daylight came, the head of the column had reached Greencastle, having traversed about 30 miles, and it still had 15 to go to reach Williamsport. Here began a succession of small attacks of the long train by citizens, and small detachments of Federal cavalry, scouting in the country. At one point some citizens cut the spokes of a dozen wagons, but a guard sent back, arrested and took them off as prisoners of war. At another point about a hundred wagons were captured. The head of the column reached Williamsport in the afternoon and during the night the balance came up. Here it met two regiments of Johnson's division, returning from Staunton, where they had escorted the prisoners taken at Winchester on the advance.

Imboden required every family in the town to cook provisions for the wounded, under pain of having its kitchen occupied. The river was in flood and impassable except by two small ferry-boats. Next morning he learned of the approach of five Federal brigades of cavalry — about 7000 men, with 18 guns. The flanks of the city fortunately rested upon creeks, leaving only the north front to be defended. He armed about 800 teamsters and convalescents, and with the two regiments of infantry and his dismounted cavalry he marched about so as to create the impression of a large force. He put in the line all of his guns and brought over come ammunition in the ferry-boats. A sharp fight ensued, the teamsters acquitting themselves handsomely. The enemy was driven back and held off until the approach of Stuart's cavalry in the afternoon caused the Federal cavalry to withdraw.

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J. E. B. Stuart (1)
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