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[324] in their rear and were then only held by a line of skirmishers, but was soon compelled to retire.

The enemy had possession of Bartlett's Mill road which ran on our left towards the fords above, and connected with a road from Bartlett's Mill to Zoar Church in our rear; and as there was great danger of our left being turned in this direction, a watch was kept by videttes and pickets on that flank, so as to advise us of any movement, and enable us to move the line in prolongation until it connected with the one on the river.

The enemy made no such movement, however, and though on the 30th there were indications as if he were going to attack our left, yet he did not do so.

At the same time there had been indications of a purpose to attack our right beyond the Plank road, and corresponding movements were made to meet an attack there.

We remained in position awaiting the enemy's movements until December, when, all purpose to attack on his part being apparently abandoned, General Lee determined to attack him on his left flank, and for that purpose drew out two of Hill's divisions on the right to make the attack early next morning, the other division being moved to occupy their positions and my divisions being extended out to the right to occupy the part of the line evacuated by Hill's left division (Anderson's). During the night, however, the enemy withdrew from our front, and next morning he was found gone.

As soon as this was discovered I moved forward with the whole corps on the stone pike and then towards Germana Ford, capturing some two or three hundred prisoners, but the enemy's main force had crossed the river early in the morning.1 After going to within a short distance

1 Though Meade's performance on this occasion was somewhat like that of a King of France on a certain occasion, yet he had not failed to accomplish something towards the “suppression of the rebellion.” There was a little tanyard near Locust Grove, in sight of his headquarters, which belonged to and was operated by a poor man who took in hides to tan on shares for the neighbors, but who was in no wise engaged in tanning for the government or the soldiers. The community around it was very poor, and this was the sole dependence for shoes for the women and children of that neighborhood. The tannery building and the house of the owner were burned, the leather all destroyed, and the hides in the vats taken out and cut to pieces so as to be worthless. In addition to this, all the plows and farming utensils, and wheeled vehicles, including old ox-carts and dilapidated buggies, in the neighborhood and on the road to Germana Ford were burned, and the houses of a number of citizens ransacked and the furniture destroyed. In the very few cases where there were pianos or libraries, the former were hacked to pieces with axes, and the books in the latter torn up and scattered over the ground, private papers sharing the same fate. I saw the evidences of these things myself. The women and children around Locust Grove had no new shoes that winter, and the people in all that country were deprived of the means of properly cultivating their crops next season, to say nothing of those who lost what little source of amusement, recreation or mental employment there was left to them.

Can it be doubted that this was calculated to break the spirit of the “rebellion” ? Meade's expedition to Mine Run accomplished this much if no more.

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