Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 16.djvu/71
Diary of Major R. C. M. Page. 65
and very dark and favorable to our movement. Retreated by Sta- ley's creek, which was now a torrent, but the road was the bed of the creek most of the way, until we began the steep ascent. Remnants of refugee carts found abandoned. Most of the cavalry were ordered to retreat first, then the artillery, with Duke's brigade bringing up the rear. One caisson and one wagon had to be abandoned, having been accidently overturned, and were destroyed by the enemy, who ceased to follow up.
December loth, 1864. On top of the mountains at daylight with all the guns safe and awaiting an expected attack, which, however, did not occur.
December 2oth, 1864. Reached Mt. Airy by Rye Valley road and camped on the MacAdamized turnpike. Stoneman, meantime, passed on without further trouble to Saltville, where he destroyed the salt works and eight guns, Captain King escaping with two brass 12- pound howitzers of his own and one of Sawyer's battery. The officers and men mostly escaped, the nature of the country easily permitting them to do so.
December 21 si, 1864. Reached Wytheville. Weather fearfully cold, clothing and boots frozen, and many of the men more or less frost-bitten. Pushing and dragging the guns over Glade mountain, and the terrible march following, as well as that from Saltville to Marion, were among the severest trials ever experienced. The enemy retreated into Tennessee, but became frost-bitten and disorganized. They abandoned four United States 3-inch rifles, which they spiked and threw into a creek. They destroyed the carriages and caissons. These guns were found, however, and brought back to Wytheville, where they were put in beautiful order and nicely mounted by Cap- tain Semple, of the Ordnance Department. At last we had four field guns worthy of the name. They were put under command of Cap- tain J. P. Lynch. Meantime Douthat had returned, and he, Bur- roughs and Lynch were ordered into winter quarters near Wytheville.
January ist, 1865. Wytheville, Va. Went to Richmond early this month by order of General Breckinridge, in order to exchange some of our guns for better, if possible. Will be twenty-four years old to- morrow. About this time received a letter from Major Thomas U. Dudley (now Bishop of Kentucky), of the Commissary Department at Richmond, Va., complimentary regarding the Bull's Gap affair and suggesting that Lieutenant J. Henry Cochran, formerly of my battery in Lee's army, be transferred to our department as my adju- tant. This letter, cordially endorsed with my approval, was also