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[392] army. It was massed in the triangle formed by Duck River and the Kentucky before their confluence, but it could not think of remaining there. The autumnal rains had set in the very day after the battle of Perryville; the reign of mud succeeded that of dust. To prevent the retreat from being turned into a disaster, there was not a moment to lose. The country in which the army found itself was too poor to subsist it during the winter; communications with the South were too difficult to procure supplies from that quarter. Any attempt to occupy again the rich counties which had just been evacuated was out of the question. A chain of mountains, very broad and very difficult of access, rose on the only road which was open to Bragg. It was impossible for him to return by the same road he had followed in the prosperous days of his invasion; he must enter the defiles which Kirby Smith had found so much trouble in passing. His convoys were already proceeding in the direction of Cumberland Gap, leaving en echelon at various stages on the route, depots of provisions to enable it rapidly to gain an advance on the Federals, who were obliged to draw all their provisions after them. On the 13th of October, Bragg put his army on the march by the roads passing through Lancaster, Mount Vernon, Loudon and Barboursville. On the 19th his heads of column reached Cumberland Gap, and on the 26th his rear was going through this redoubtable pass.

Buell was not able to pursue him closely. Having been informed on the evening of the 13th of his retreat, he immediately put Crittenden's corps in motion through Stanford, to turn Duck River, and cut off the enemy from the direct southern road toward Somerset, which diverges at Stanford from that of Cumberland Gap. Woods' division overtook a body of the enemy's cavalry at Stanford, but was unable to detain it long enough for a fight of any importance. McCook followed Crittenden. Gilbert bore more to the left, crossed Duck River, and passing through Lancaster entered the road through which the greater part of Bragg's soldiers had passed. The latter, however, by draining the limited resources of the couutry and obstructing the roads, delayed the progress of their adversaries. At Crab Orchard the road entered a sterile country, and presented defiles

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