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[121] Ringgold battalion sent out to effect their capture. In April they made a raid against the Swamp Dragons and succeeded in destroying much of their stores of plunder, but on the return were ambuscaded by the desperadoes in a deep and narrow gap of Fork mountain. A fierce fight followed, in which the Rangers were so fortunate as to escape without loss and inflict severe punishment upon their enemy. In May, 1864, when Crook and Averell were raiding in southwestern Virginia, McNeill advanced against Piedmont, on the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. While he with 40 men demanded and received the surrender of the garrison at that place, two detachments of ten each were sent to the east and west to cut off communications. One of these squads, under John T. Peerce, stopped a train at Bloomington, and found it full of Federal soldiers. With supreme assurance Peerce demanded their surrender, and fortunately the colonel agreed to capitulate, as he did not have a round of ammunition with him. By firing the machine shops, engine-houses and buildings, and turning loose the locomotives, McNeill caused a damage estimated at $1,000,000 to the United States government. Having accomplished so much with almost incredible daring, he left the town under fire of artillery hastily brought up, and escaped with a cunning equally wonderful the forces sent out to intercept him, reaching Moorefield in safety, after an absence of only five days. Not long after this the Rangers suffered from the enemy adopting their own tactics, being surprised in camp, and two men, John B. Fay and Samuel Daugherty, captured. But McNeill's men would not rest under such a misfortune, and ten, with the fleetest mounts, under Lieutenant Dolan, hurried in pursuit. Coming up with the rear guard, they dashed into the Federals, and not only rescued their own comrades but made prisoners of the men who were guarding them. After the battle of New Market, McNeill went to the Shenandoah valley, scouted before Hunter previous to the latter's advance,

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