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[192] and a number of horses found in unfit condition for the trip. All men who from sickness or other causes were not likely to endure the hardships of the march were also called out and sent with the disabled horses to make their way to Guntersville, on the Tennessee river, about forty miles distant. An ambulance was also sent to convey Captain Wilcox and others disabled. They subsequently arrived safely within our lines.

July 14th.--At daylight the column was in motion, preparing to cross the river. At the ferry the Coosa is a deep stream about three hundred yards wide, with but little current. Four miles further down, at Ten Islands, it spreads out to a greater width and is fordable. The detachment under command of Major Graham, of the Eighth Indiana, which had crossed at the ferry, was ordered to move down the east side to cover the ford, whilst the main column proceeded down the west side to cross at the fording.

Major Graham met the enemy immediately after leaving the ferry, and a lively skirmishing at once commenced. The rebels were strongly posted in the woods commanding the road. Skirmishers were thrown out, and the rebels were found to be in considerable force and in a position to delay the advance of a small party. They were, however, pressed back slowly by our skirmishers. Meanwhile the main column reached the fording, and the head of it (the Fifth Iowa in advance) commenced crossing. On emerging from between two islands, and having yet a width of three hundred yards to cross, it was met by a heavy fire from the rebels strongly posted behind rocks and trees on the bank. To attempt to force a passage would have been to incur a heavy loss, and the advance withdrew behind an island, under cover of which they replied vigorously to the rebels' fire. Lieutenant-Colonel Patrick also placed the Fourth Tennessee on a larger island, below and in the rear of the first named, and the men of that regiment and of the Fifth Iowa, were deployed as sharpshooters, and from behind trees exchanged shots with the rebels who were similarly posted on the bank. Two companies were sent to look for a ford reported to be two miles down the river, but failed to find it. A detachment of one hundred men was sent across the ferry to to reinforce Major Graham, to enable him to drive the rebels from his front and attack in the rear those posted at the ford. Colonel Jones, of the Eighth Indiana, was afterwards sent with the rest of the regiment for the same purpose, but the work was finally accomplished by Major Graham before his arrival. While the main column was thus delayed at the river, a fordable place was found about a mile below, and General Rousseau was about throwing a detachment across, when the rebels suddenly disappeared from the flank, Major Graham having succeeded in driving them from his front and the ford, killing some fifteen of them (two of whom were officers, one of them being General Clanton's Assistant Adjutant-General), wounding about forty, and capturing several prisoners, among whom were Lieutenant-Colonel Lary and Major McWhorter, of the Sixth Alabama cavalry. The force opposed to us proved to be part of the Sixth and Eighth Alabama cavalry, with militia and such other troops as could be hastily got together, and was commanded by Brigadier-General Clanton. But one man was injured on the Federal side, and he was wounded by a comrade, who mistook him for a rebel.

The ford being clear, the column commenced crossing. The passage of the river was a beautiful sight. The long array of horsemen winding between the green islands and taking a serpentine course across the ford — their arms flashing back the rays of the burning sun, and guidons gaily fluttering along the column, formed a bright picture, recalling the days of romance, and contrasting strongly with the stern hardships and vivid realities of the every-day life on the duty march.

This ford is one crossed by General Jackson during his campaign against the Creek Indians.

Without further delay, the march was resumed. The day was very hot and intolerably dusty. A few miles from the river we reached an iron furnace which was being operated for the rebel authorities. It was thoroughly destroyed by General Rousseau's orders. After a march of fifteen miles a halt was made for about two hours to feed and rest. The heat of the day was very trying, particularly upon the artillery horses, and finding that to retain both guns would impede the march and prevent that rapidity of movement which was essential to the success of the expedition, General Rousseau promptly decided to destroy one and attach the extra horses to the other, so that it could be moved along at the same gait the cavalry marched. It was speedily dismounted — the trunions broken off and the carriage destroyed. The night was cool and pleasant, and the moon shone brightly. The march was continued until midnight, when the command halted at Estehawba, twenty-five miles from the Coosa. The country traversed was more fertile and better improved than any reached previously.

July 15th.--At daylight the men were again in their saddles and on the road. Passing many large farms, with good fields of corn, wheat, and oats, we reached Talladega (sixteen miles) about ten o'clock. Here we struck a railroad extending from Selma in a northeast direction, originally intended to connect with Rome, Georgia, but only completed to Blue Mountain, a few miles north of Talladega. The road has no special importance in reference to present military operations. A small rebel force left Talladega a few hours before our approch, and moved down the railroad to the bridge over the Coosa river, our coming having been heard of, and the destruction of that bridge being supposed by them to be one of the objects of the expedition.

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