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[128] helter-skelter into Bladensburg. After cutting the railroad he started for Point Lookout, distant eighty miles, with seventeen hours to make it. He sent couriers ahead to tell the people he was coming, and that they must have their horses on the roadside ready to be exchanged for his broken-down ones. They would have done it, for they were all ardent Southerners. Just as his column got in motion, he received an order from General Early to report to him at once. Turning the head of the column toward Washington, he caught Early that night near Blair's house at Silver Spring and, as usual, took the rear guard. At Rockville there was a halt to feed, when a regiment of Federal cavalry charged them, but was driven back with loss. The Marylanders, however, did not escape unscathed. Capt. Wilson Carey Nicholas, acting inspector-general of the Maryland Line, leading the charge of the first squadron, had his horse shot and was himself shot and taken prisoner. He was as good a soldier and as gallant a gentleman as ever rode a horse in that war.

From Rockville, still covering the rear, Johnson's brigade followed the army to Poolesville, where during half the day it covered Early, recrossing the Potomac. His trains were long, piled with plunder, and his herds of cattle and horses very large. The Federals pressed down on the rear guard with pertinacity and in force, but the cavalry held them until dark, and the Baltimore light artillery fired the last shots, as the First cavalry were the last troops that crossed the Potomac, on Early's withdrawal from Maryland in 1864. He had received Johnson's dispatch from the Caves, reporting the arrival of the Nineteenth corps, just in time to countermand the order for an assault at daylight next morning on the apparently deserted Federal fortification. The morning revealed those same works crammed with troops, and Johnson's dispatch, therefore, probably saved him from a great disaster, for the works were impregnable to assault

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