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[365] times when the large armies were inactive. The smaller they were, the more were they generally inclined to plunder and to acts of violence. The villages which lacked either the force or the will to protect themselves were constantly occupied by these bands, which penetrated far forward among the Federal posts. One of them was even seen to take possession of Clarksville, on the Cumberland, between Nashville and Fort Donelson. Among their misdeeds we have to mention the assassination of the Federal general Robert McCook, near Decherd, on the 6th of August. This officer, being seriously ill, was travelling alone with a small escort several kilometres in advance of his brigade. About one hundred partisans rushed upon him, and the Confederate mounted men, galloping alongside of his carriage, whose frightened horses the drivers were unable to control, riddled him with pistol-shots. The men capable of such atrocious acts dispersed as soon as they found themselves pursued, and returned apparently to their plantations to resume their rural pursuits; but when they had not arms in their hands, they served the Southern generals still more effectively in the capacity of spies. These chiefs, therefore, afforded them a protection which was anything but creditable to themselves. When these partisans were caught with arms in their hands and treated as assassins, the Confederate government protested, just as if the laws of war had been violated; when they were arrested in their own houses as spies, it set up the cry of oppression, and these cries were repeated even in Europe.

The position of the Federals was a difficult one. They had to guard an immense arc extending from Memphis, on the Mississippi, to Cumberland Gap, recently occupied by the brigade of the Federal general Morgan. Their troops were too much scattered to support each other effectively and with promptitude, or to intercept the guerillas that slipped in between them, and yet they were divided into such small detachments as to offer here and there an easy prey to an enterprising enemy. Besides, the large army which had besieged Corinth was weakened not only by the excessive development of its lines, but also by the reduction of its effective force. On one hand, the volunteers who had enlisted for one year after the battle of Bull Run were being discharged; on the other hand, at this hot season, the army was paying

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John Morgan (1)
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