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[141] by General Ewing, for he had already commenced evacuation and retreat, and of course made no reply. There is no doubt whatever of the purpose of Price to carry his intention into effect, for after the repulse of Tuesday, and his manifest design to march his army through the valley, together with his proposition, he could not do otherwise if it cost him thousands of lives.

General Ewing marched for Rolla by way of Webster and Osage, and was hotly pursued by Shelby, whose advance he encountered at Caledonia. Marmaduke soon discovered Ewing's evacuation, for the magazine blew up at three o'clock that Wednesday morning, telling the tale in such thunder-tones as roused the rebel hosts to a man, and awoke the echoes of the valley for twenty miles around. It is to be remarked here that Shelby was to have made the attack on Fort Davidson Wednesday morning; for Price desired to make Shelby's tatterdemalions, guerrillas, and Indians stand the brunt of that assault, which Ewing's evacuation saved them from, much to their cowardly content, no doubt; for it may be observed that had Shelby's cut-throats had a spark of soldierly ability, they could at any time during Ewing's retreat have swallowed up his brave little band. But because they were brave, and had everything that a just cause and true patriotism can inspire men with, they held their sneaking, savage foe at bay, and cutting through his line, reached at last safety and rest.

The night of Wednesday was pitch dark — a circumstance which, while it delayed the retreat, allowed the poor wearied soldiers to snatch a very brief repose. They were trammelled by refugees, affrighted men, wretched women, and helpless children. God pitied them and shielded them with his protecting Providence, which in darkest hours of the march still inspired the fainting band with hope. The soldiers and their heroic leader felt indeed, with Richmond, that

True hope is swift, and mounts with swallow wings:
Kings it makes gods, and meaner creatures kings.

At three o'clock on Thursday morning the march was resumed, the column turning off from the main road, and taking an unfrequented one to Leesburg (or Harrison), on the Southwest branch of the Pacific Railroad, hoping to go by rail the rest of the way to Rolla. The unfrequented road was taken because it led to the crest of a sharp ridge dividing the waters of Dry Creek and Huzza, and affording a favorable line for defense and retreat.

On reaching the ridge, at about ten o'clock Thursday morning, Shelby overtook and attacked the rear with great vigor, and from that place to Leesburg, a distance of some miles, the devoted band, nearly surrounded by cavalry, were compelled to keep a strong skirmish line thrown out, or keep in line of battle front and rear. Still they pushed on. When a favorable point was reached the artillery was unlimbered and placed in position. The enemy either had none or did not use it, and that was favorable to the retreat. On two or three occasions the attacks on flank and rear were in such force as to drive in the lines and throw the little command into disorder, which was frightfully augmented by the refugees; but General Ewing, by his indomitable coolness, courage, and skill, soon restored order, and by his own defiance of danger and death, infused renewed life and determination into his little band. Leesburg was reached at last, and just in time to receive the train from St. Louis, ten cars loaded with military stores. These were speedily unloaded and the command put aboard; but just as the train was ready to start, the stations above and below were observed to be in flames. This was the worst dilemma of the entire retreat. Cut off by rail, surrounded on all sides, a terrible struggle with overwhelming numbers — overwhelming? yes, a thousand against every hundred of the command — and nothing stared them in the face but total destruction and death. This they chose, rather than at the heels of such success as they had, yield to the scalping-knife of savages.

Ewing immediately seized everything available for defence. Railroad ties, barrels, boxes, bales of hay, everything and anything to turn a bullet, was used, and by the time night again overtook the busy and anxious throng, they found themselves besieged, but in a tolerable state of defence.

Friday morning came, and with it a storm of bullets from all sides. The little army was completely surrounded; not a single outlet could be found, even for a single messenger, and the situation was really desperate. Coolness and courage still was theirs, and they awaited each attack of the enemy with undaunted spirits. The rebels charged upon the defences again and again, but recoiled, carrying back their dead and wounded. The slaughter of their horses was large, and they became more careful and economical in future. On Friday night the rebels menaced the little camp, and conducted an Indian-like warfare against it. They would make a demonstration on one side, and then send a few treacherous shots from an opposite direction, which did more damage than any others. On Saturday the rebels massed for assault, and appeared four or five thousand strong, but the day passed without other action on their part than firing at long range. So much for Ewing's artillery.

On Sunday they prepared again for assault, and at three o'clock P. M., were really about to charge, when a most unlooked — for circumstance occurred and changed the entire aspect of affairs. A body of the Union cavalry appeared in the direction of Rolla, and dashing through the enemy's lines, galloped into the charmed circle of the little garrison. Such a shout went up as rent the air and “made the welkin ring.” It seemed as though the “God of battles” had sent them, and there and then the thankful soldiers fell upon their knees and devoutly thanked

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