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[293] First Brigade sustained themselves through the hardships and privations of the retreat like good soldiers.

70 War of Rebellion, 123.

Other quotations from other reports might be made to the same effect.

That these reports may have their true significance it is necessary that we note what General Hunter himself says of what took place on the 17th and 18th. It will be found difficult to understand where all the glory comes in. He writes:

Early in the morning of the 17th orders were given for the troops to move, but the march was delayed for several hours at the Great Otto river, owing to the difficulty in crossing the artillery, and in consequence we did not overtake the enemy until 4 o'clock in the afternoon. At that hour Averell's advance came upon the enemy, strongly posted and entrenched at Diamond Hill, five miles from Lynchburg. He immediately attacked, and a sharp contest ensued. Crook's infantry arriving at the same time, made a brilliant advance upon the enemy, drove him from his works back upon the town, killing and wounding a number and capturing seventy men and one gun. It being too late to follow up this success, we encamped upon the battle-field. The best information to be obtained at this point of the enemy's forces and plans indicated that all the rebel forces heretofore operating in the Valley and West Virginia were concentrated in Lynchburg, under the command of General Breckinridge. This force was variously estimated at from ten thousand to fifteen thousand men, well supplied with artillery and protected by strong works.

During the night the trains on the different railroads were heard running without intermission, while repeated cheers and the beating of drums indicated the arrival of large bodies of troops in the town, yet up to the morning of the 18th I had no positive information as to whether General Lee had detached any considerable force for the relief of Lynchburg. To settle the question, on this morning, I advanced my skirmishers as far as the toll-gate on the Bedford road, two miles from the town, and a brisk fire was opened between them and the enemy behind their works. This skirmishing with musketry, occasionally assisted by the artillery, was kept up during the whole of the forenoon. Their works consisted of strong redoubts on each of the main roads entering the town, about three miles apart, flanked on either side by rifle-pits protected by abatis. On these lines the enemy could be seen working diligently, as if to extend and strengthen them. I massed my two divisions of infantry

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