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[368] which separated him from the enemy's camps at MacMinnville enabled him to effect this passage in perfect safety. We shall leave him for a short time while he is taking position on the right bank of the river, and follow his lieutenant, Kirby Smith, who had left Knoxville at the same time as he, and was about to precede him into Kentucky.

We have spoken elsewhere of the vast region of country without railroads and navigable rivers extending between the Ohio and the Alleghany ridge, a portion of which forms Eastern Kentucky. We have explained how inaccessible it was to large armies for want of ways of communication. But Kirby Smith, taking with him six or seven thousand men accustomed to long marches and to forage on the march, did not hesitate to venture in it. His first object was to wrest from the Federals the impregnable position of Cumberland Gap by turning it. This important pass, which, before the introduction of railroads, was the most frequented thoroughfare between east and west, had been abandoned in the spring by the Confederates, and occupied on the 18th of June by Morgan's Union brigade, which had strongly entrenched itself there. Kirby Smith crossed the Alleghanies at Big Creek Gap, thirty-five kilometres south-west of Cumberland Gap, and proceeded direct toward the centre of Kentucky, the richest and most populous part of that State. He thus cut the communications of the Federal Morgan with the depots from which he obtained his supplies, leaving to Humphrey Marshall on one side, and to John Morgan the partisan on the other, the easy task of preventing a single wagon from carrying him provisions. The Union brigade, thus besieged, held its position for three weeks; finally, on the 17th of September, when its provisions had become exhausted, it blew up the works it was entrusted to guard, and, descending the slopes of the Alleghanies, forced a passage into Ohio, despite the guerillas who harassed it during the whole of that painful retreat.

Meanwhile, Kirby Smith was rapidly advancing through Kentucky with his small force, the numerical strength of which was daily increased by public rumor; a thousand horse preceded it, scouring the country for the necessary supplies, which by active exertions were obtained from the inhabitants and brought

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