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[415] Moore marched in advance to reach the Hatchie, and had but three hundred men with him when he reached Davies' Bridge. This bridge was yet in possession of the Confederate cavalry, which since morning had been harassing the Federals on their onward march. But the latter already occupied a height called Matamoras, which commanded the passage of the river. Moore, who tried to capture it, was driven back in disorder. Ord, leaving his troops on the road, hastened forward in person, and took command of the Federals; placing himself at the head of Hurlbut's troops, he drove the Confederates back into the Hatchie; they crossed this river with difficulty, leaving eight pieces of cannon on the other side, and he took possession of the bridge, which had not been destroyed. The remainder of Maury's division, which had just joined Moore, disputed its possession in vain. Hurlbut, who had resumed the command, Ord having been wounded, tried to turn this advantage to account, to gain ground, and throw into the whole of the enemy's column the same disorder as was in Maury's division; but he soon found himself confronted by superior forces; Van Dorn had gathered all the men he could find in a fighting condition and concentrated them against him. The position of the Confederate general was, in fact, so critical that he could only escape from it by a desperate effort. Arrested in his march to Davies' Bridge, he expected every moment to hear Rosecrans' cannon thundering in his rear at Tuscumbia Bridge. The only means left to extricate himself from this blind alley was to ascend the course of the Hatchie until he could find a crossing not under the control of the enemy. As soon as he learned that they were waiting for him at Davies' Bridge, he ordered his train of wagons, ambulances and all noncombatants of his army to proceed in the direction of Crum's Mill; but this long, heavy column could not reach the point designated very speedily, for the crossing of the defile formed by the causeway and bridges, amid the swamps adjoining the river, would consume much time. In order to accomplish this movement, it was necessary to detain Hurlbut at Davies' Bridge, and prevent him from ascending the left bank of the Hatchie to seize Crum's Mill, or from crossing to the right bank to menace the road followed by the convoy toward Boneyard. This was the

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