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Zzzthe gunboats open fire.

They did not at once show a disposition to come out, but very soon Uncle Sam's gunboats in James river got our range, and, as we did not go down there really to fight, we took the back track at a trot, stimulated by the bursting of a huge shell every now and then in uncomfortable proximity.

As I said, we moved at a trot. In fact we trotted most of the time—that is, when we were not on a gallop. We were making haste to join the columns at the Blackwater, Rosser ahead with the cattle, followed by General Dearing and Colonel Miller, General Lee bringing up the rear.

After the command had crossed the Blackwater we trailed towards the plank-road. General Rosser advised General Hampton that a large force of the enemy was approaching on that road. General Hampton ordered him to take position at Ebenezer Church, and to hold the road there and to send the cattle by Hawkinsville, crossing the plank-road two miles in the rear of the line of battle, which was at once formed. Major Venable, General Hampton's adjutant-general, and Major Ryals, provost-marshal, took charge of the cattle, and were to put them across the Nottoway river at Freeman's Ford. General Rosser held his ground, and Colonel Miller and General Dearing soon came up to his assistance.

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