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[440] valleys near them. Some of the streams that meandered by them were the Watauga, Holston, Clinch, and French Broad rivers, and these streams would rise rapidly during the rain storms in the spring and fall.

The progress of the troops was often arrested by the rapid rise of these rivers, much to the chagrin of officers and men. It will readily be seen by this rapid outline that East Tennessee was a desolate country for military operations, and, to make bad worse, a Union sentiment prevailed to a great extent among the inhabitants of that entire section; therefore, both Union and Confederate found friends and enemies in every neighborhood.

To protect the Southern sympathizers and to arrest absentees and deserters a considerable force of cavalry was kept there.

Captain Rowan obtained permission to send Lieutenant J. W. Doncaster, of the Third Maryland, to East Tennessee for the absentees of his battery. A leave of absence of twenty days had been granted him, but he failed to return at the expiration of that time, owing to unavoidable delays occasioned by circumstances which are as follows: A short time after Lieutenant Doncaster arrived in East Tennessee Captain Burlesson, of the U. S. A., who commanded a company of bushwhackers, learned that he and Birdwell, a Confederate enrolling officer, were stopping at the residence of Mr. Abraham Fleenor. One dark, stormy night, early in October, 1864, Burlesson and his gang proceeded to the house of Mr. Fleenor and demanded admittance, but were peremptorily refused. He declared that if the door was not immediately opened he would beat it down. The door was not opened, and he carried his threat into execution. During this time Lieutenant Doncaster, who was sleeping in a room on the lower floor, arose, dressed himself and went up stairs, determined if they came up to defend himself. Burlesson insisted that he should come down, but the Lieutenant told him that if he had any business with him he knew where to find him. Burlesson then said, ‘I know how to bring him down,’ and went into the next room, brought out a feather bed and cut it open, saying he would set it on fire and ‘smoke him down.’ At this juncture a young lady, one of Mr. Fleenor's daughters, stepped forward and told Burlesson he should not set the bed on fire. Whereupon he struck her on the head with a pistol, which caused the discharge of one of the loads, that took effect in the ceiling. Still she bravely maintained her ground, determined, if possible, to prevent the ‘smoking’ process. Lieutenant Doncaster, on hearing this contention, decided

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