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Breckinridge, not wishing to surrender any more territory in that direction, and to avoid the demoralization consequent upon a contraction of his lines, gathered together hastily such dismounted men as he could find, organized them, and went in person with them to meet the enemy.
His success was beyond his expectations — having succeeded, by the force of his personal presence and direction, in defeating the enemy in a sharp engagement at Bull's gap, which caused him to retire towards Knoxville, and gave security to the border for some time.
The situation of affairs in Southwest Virginia was critical, however, in many respects, and called for qualities of the first order in its commander.
Civil government was almost suspended by the remoteness of the country from the seat of Government, but chiefly from the fact that the military feature had almost absorbed the civil in pursuits as well as the thoughts of men. It thus happened that for all the essential wants of the people