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[463] carry all the known passes of the bayou, and, once on the other side, the Confederate works were to be immediately attacked.

But the ground was ill adapted to connected movements, and the attack, which had been ordered to be made at daybreak, could not begin till about noon. In fact, in order to reach the place where he was to throw the bridge across, Blair was obliged to pass under the enemy's fire, which killed many of his men. Morgan had met with such a reception on the border of the water-course in the morning, that he instantly sent for assistance to enable him to force the narrow pass which lay before him. M. L. Smith's division was to have crossed the ford; but as the opposite bank was inaccessible, a company of volunteers went over the water in the morning, amid a shower of balls from the enemy, and took position under the cornice formed by this overhanging bank. These intrepid soldiers were ordered, at a given signal, to fire some bags of powder they had placed against the beetling banks that sheltered them, and quickly cross over to the other side; it was agreed that the instant the mine was sprung the attacking columns were to rush into the breach thus opened. On the extreme right, A. J. Smith was preparing rafts for throwing a flying bridge over the bayou. The signal for the attack was to be given to these two divisions by regular salvos from Morgan's artillery, which he was trying to place in battery in the vicinity of the crossing, for the purpose of covering the offensive movement of his infantry.

Finally, toward noon, Blair, having completed the construction of his bridge, crossed the bayou, followed by a regiment belonging to Thayer's brigade of Steele's division. The remainder of this brigade had been sent to join Morgan through mistake. Steele's two other brigades, having been delayed by the narrowness of the roads, were far in the rear, and could not arrive in time. A quicksand at the end of Cypress Swamp lay in Blair's path; he was fortunate enough to get over it, leaving only the officers' horses behind him, for he had not ventured to take his artillery along through this dangerous pass. Just as he was emerging in front of the open space occupied by the enemy, a terrible discharge of musketry carried death among his heads of column; but instead of stopping them, it had only the effect of accelerating

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John Morgan (3)
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