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[495] from the large armies, it seemed to be protected against even the most daring of sudden attacks. The principal of these chains is that of the Cumberland Mountains, whose precipitous slopes and lofty defiles were, at the time of which we speak, covered with a thick layer of snow and ice; it marks the frontier between Kentucky and Virginia, separating the basin of the Cumberland from that of the Tennessee. This was the railway line, so important and so well protected by nature and the season, that the Federals resolved to strike and destroy as their first attempt at a raid.

Eleven hundred troopers, bold and resolute, picked from several regiments, were assembled near Manchester, a village situated at the foot of the mountains and at the entrance of the plain of Kentucky. On the 25th of December they took up their line of march under General Carter, carrying absolutely nothing but such provisions as could be placed upon their saddles. They soon penetrated into the mountains through War Gap, and crossing the first ridge descended into the gorges of the Cumberland at Mount Pleasant. A few log huts scarcely justify the appellation of ‘Mount Pleasant’ given to this village; and the Federals found no resources in those rugged valleys, the inhabitants of which, few and poor, were, moreover, bitterly hostile to them. Nevertheless, on the evening of the 28th, they at once began to ascend the road, dangerous at that season, which leads into Virginia across the Cumberland Mountains. No enemy was looked for in that direction, and the passes were entirely unguarded. This night-march, despite the cold, was successfully accomplished. Allowing his horses only one hour's time to feed, Carter, after descending into the valley of Jonesville on the morning of the 29th, proceeded up the smaller ridge of Powell's Mountains, and entering the State of Tennessee reached the borders of Clinch River before sunset. Both men and horses were exhausted. Some rest was taken; each trooper ate his last biscuit, then jumped into the saddle to follow the indefatigable general, who had already given the signal of departure. Success was the prize of speed. That night saw the Federals cross the silent and gloomy gorges of Clinch Mountain; their column, almost constantly at a trot, emerged before daybreak into the rolling land which forms the undulating valley which is the central drain

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