Page:A Memoir of the Last Year of the War for Independence in the Confederate States of America.djvu/50

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46
PURSUIT OF HUNTER.

of the Blue Ridge, and put batteries in position commanding a gorge, through which the road passes, where it was impossible for a regiment to move in line. I had endeavored to ascertain if there was not another way across the mountain by which I could get around the enemy, but all the men, except the old ones, had gotten out of the WHY, and the latter, as well as the women and children, were in such a state of distress and alarm, that no reliable information could be obtained from them. We tried to throw forces up the sides of the mountains to get at the enemy, but they were so rugged that night came on before anything could be accomplished, and we had to desist, though not until a very late hour in the night.

By a mistake of the messenger, who was sent with orders to General Rodes, who was to be in the lead next morning, there was some delay in his movement on the 21st, but the pursuit was resumed very shortly after sun-rise. At the Big Lick, it was ascertained that the enemy had turned off from Salem towards Lewisburg on a road which passes through the mountains at a narrow pass called the "Hanging Rock," and my column was immediately turned towards that point, but on arriving there it was ascertained that the enemy's rear guard had passed through the gorge. McCausland had struck his column at this point and captured ten pieces of artillery, some waggons, and a number of prisoners; but, the enemy having brought up a heavy force, McCausland was compelled to fall back, carrying off, however, the prisoners, and a part of the artillery, and disabling the rest so that it could not be removed. As the enemy had got into the mountains, where nothing useful could be accomplished by pursuit, I did not deem it proper to continue it farther. A great part of my command had had nothing to eat for the last two days, except a little bacon which was obtained at Liberty. The cooking utensils were in the trains, and the effort to have bread baked at Lynchburg had failed. Neither the waggon trains, nor the artillery of the 2nd Corps, were up, and I knew that the country, through which Hunter's route led for forty or fifty miles, was, for the most part, a desolate mountain region; and that his troops were taking everything in the way of provisions and forage