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[145] Brown's pursuit was suddenly checked, for at the cross. ing of Blackwater, the same day, his attack was confined to the use of artillery at long range. Before he reached Marshall the next day, Shelby learned that General Ewing was in his front with at least 4,000 men. The supreme struggle was at hand. Brown's force was thundering on his rear, and Ewing's force was not two miles away, ready to block his path or close on him if he stopped an hour to fight Brown. He destroyed the bridge across Salt Fork, and left Shanks with 300 men to dispute the passage and hold Brown, while he, with the remainder of the command, made a desperate effort to break through Ewing's lines. He dismounted his men and for an hour the fighting was furious. Ewing's lines extended beyond his and almost inclosed them. But he pressed the fighting and continually advanced, though portions of his line at times were checked and temporarily forced to give ground.

In the meantime Shanks was holding Brown at bay at the crossing of Salt Fork, but at a great sacrifice of his men. Once he sent to Shelby for a piece of artillery, but Shelby was so nearly surrounded and was fighting against such odds that he could not spare a man or a gun. At last Shelby saw an outlet—a weak point in Ewing's lines —and under cover of his artillery mounted his men, sent to Shanks to join him, charged with all his force on the weak point and with terrible loss cut his way through, bringing off one of his cannon and leaving the other dismounted behind him. Shanks in attempting to join Shelby was so hard pressed that he had to stop every few hundred yards to repel a charge. But Shelby's charge had broken Ewing's left wing, and Shanks having lost sight of Shelby, rode down everything in front of him and forced his way through the broken line. Shelby and Shanks were thus separated and neither knew what had become of the other, but each supposed the other lost.

As soon as Shelby got clear of the Federal lines, he

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