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[260] necessary to re-cross the Tennessee river without delay.1

But just here the pursuit was interrupted for three days. On the 18th, the national cavalry arrived at Rutherford's creek, three miles north of Columbia; but the rains were falling heavily, and the stream was swollen; the bridges were destroyed, and the pontoons had been sent by mistake on the Murfreesboroa road. The whole country was inundated, and the roads were almost impassable; nevertheless, the army crossed the Harpeth, and Wood's corps closed up with the cavalry. It was not, however, till the 20th, that a floating bridge could be constructed out of the wreck of the old railroad bridge. Hatch's division of cavalry at once crossed Rutherford creek, but found on reaching Duck river that the enemy had already passed all his infantry, and removed his pontoon train. Duck river was a torrent, and another bridge must be laid. The pontoons had now arrived, but the weather had changed from dismal rain to bitter cold, and the colored troops employed in laying the bridges were half frozen as they worked in the stream. This occasioned further delay.

It was not till the 22nd that Wilson and Wood were ordered forward, the infantry moving by the main road, and the cavalry on either flank, in the fields. Smith and Schofield marched more leisurely behind. Forrest was now in command of the rebel rear-guard, composed of what was left of his cavalry, and five brigades of infantry, altogether about five thousand men. The inclemency of the weather was at this time the cause of great suffering in both

1 Hood's Report.

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