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[156] and a squadron of cavalry, moved to the mouth of Duck river to build a fort to obstruct the passage of gunboats to Nashville. But before it had accomplished this, Hood was defeated in front of Nashville, on the 14th day of December, and orders were received to join the retreating army at Bainbridge. In the retreat the Missouri brigade was one of the seven brigades selected to bring up the rear, and was the last to cross the pontoon bridge over the Tennessee river—the rear of the rear guard.

Bledsoe's battery marched in rear with the brigade, and was fought by its intrepid commander as cavalry, infantry or artillery as circumstances required. One morning, just before daylight, the battery had taken a position on the turnpike over the brow of a hill, with a deep cut in front. A heavy fog concealed everything at the distance of a few rods. Immediately after daybreak a regiment of the enemy's cavalry appeared, and came within twenty yards of the battery before discovering it. Bledsoe was waiting and prepared. His guns were in position, double-shotted, and trained on the road. In a loud voice he called on the Federal commander to surrender, and he, taken by surprise, surrendered at once, and with his command was safely disposed of before any additional force came up. On another occasion, the battery remained in rear until the enemy charged and tried to capture it. But the guns went off at full speed down the road, mixed with the charging cavalry, who could only use their sabers, and loudly called upon the drivers to stop; but the drivers yelled back that they could not hold their horses, and thus mingled together, pursuers and pursued rushed upon the infantry of the rear guard and the battery was safe, while its pursuers found it necessary to retire in a hurry.

The army passed through Eastport, Iuka and Jacinto to Verona At this time Gen. Dabney H. Maury, who had frequently commanded the brigade and knew it intimately, wrote it a letter in which he said: ‘As for you, ’

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