Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 25.djvu/281

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( 'iiin/iitfii. 277

ilry, and much relief was felt when, at dawn, we began to fall back towards Hoonesboro. Our retreat was none too early, for aht-ady the columns of the enemy, with their bright muskets gleam- ing in the morning light, could be seen as we entered Boonesboro. More than once we were faced about as we retreated, as if to repel a threatened charge by cavalry.

Having IK-CM halted in streets of Boonsboro, the men, after being so long in the saddle, were allowed to dismount, and for some time remained in this way, the men standing by their horses or sitting down on the curbstones and holding their bridle reins. Suddenly the order "Mount!" "Mount!" resounded down the street, and simultaneously a rapid fire of pistols and carbines was heard near at hand. Before the men could mount and form ranks, the rear guard, retreating at full speed, dashed into our already confused column, and in an incredibly short time the street became packed with a mass of horses and horsemen, so jammed together as to make motion impossible for most of them. At the same time the upper windows in some of the houses were hoisted and a volley of pistol shots poured down on our heads. The Federal cavalry, quickly discovering our situation, dashed up boldly and discharged their car- bines into our struggling and helpless ranks. When the way was opened, and retreat became possible, a general stampede followed, our whole force rushing from the town down the 'pike at a full gallop. This disorderly movement was increased by the discovery that some of the enemy's infantry had almost succeeded in cutting off our re- treat, and were firing from a corn field into our flank.

We had scarcely gotten out of the town before our colonel's (W. H. F. Lee) horse was killed, and he, falling heavily on the 'pike, had to take flight, dust-covered and bruised, through the field on the left. Captain Hughlett's horse fell in like manner on the edge of the town, and he, leaping the railing, found concealment in a dense patch of growing corn. In the middle of the turnpike were piles of broken stone, placed there for repairing the roadway. On these, amidst the impenetrable dust, many horses blindly rushed, and fall- ing, piled with their riders one on another. Here and there in the pell-mell race, blinded by the dust, horses and horsemen dashed against telegraph posts and fell to the ground, to be trampled by others behind.

When the open fields were reached and we were beyond the range of the infantry, a considerable force was rallied and the Federal horsemen were charged in turn. In this charge our lieutenant-col-