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[399] two adversaries watched each other's movements. Finally, at the urgent solicitations of Bragg on taking the field, the Confederate generals decided to attempt a diversion in his favor. Price sent Armstrong's brigade of cavalry to feel Grant's position on the Hatchie.

On the 30th of August, a bloody day along the whole of the immense line occupied by the belligerents—the day of the battle of Manassas, the Richmond combats and the engagement at Mac-Minnville—Armstrong followed the road from Grand Junction to Bolivar, in the hope of surprising the Federals in that position, or at least of cutting their communications. The latter, however, having got wind of his approach, sent a few hundred horse, with some artillery and mounted infantry, to meet him. These lastmentioned troops, destined to fight exclusively on foot, although transported on horseback, had been organized to resist the inroads of guerillas, and rendered excellent service in that country, where the movements of foot-soldiers are so slow. Although the Federals were only nine hundred strong, they resisted Armstrong's attacks the entire day. It is asserted that during the contest some squadrons of cavalry of the two parties crossed sabres, a rare occurrence at that period of the war. Toward evening the Federals fell back toward Bolivar, and joined the main body of their forces beyond the town, on the north bank of the Hatchie. Armstrong, seeing the impossibility of taking the enemy by surprise, and that the Federal brigade of Crocker was ready to receive him, made a detour to the west of Bolivar, and crossed the Hatchie lower down, in order to threaten the village of Jackson and cut the railway between those two important posts. On the 31st, after doing some slight damage to the track, he attacked at Medon Station a post of a few hundred men entrenched behind cottonbales which they had piled up in haste. Unable to drive them out of this improvised redoubt, and giving up all further attempt, he retraced his steps toward the Hatchie. A column of seven or eight hundred infantry, with two pieces of artillery, under Colonel Dennis, was sent in pursuit, and overtook him at Britton's Lane. The Confederates, full of confidence in their numerical superiority, halted to give them battle. The small band of Federals was surrounded on every side, and lost both its convoy and

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