War of the Rebellion: Serial 034 Page 0290 KY., MID. AND E. TENN., N. ALA., AND SW. VA. Chapter XXXV.

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several miles, when they attacked our rear guard vigorously. I again succeeded in ambuscading them, which caused them to give up the pursuit for the night. We continued our march, and reached Blountsville about 10 o'clock in the morning. Many of our mules had given out, leaving their riders on foot, but there was very little straggling behind the rear guard.

At Blountsville we found sufficient corn to feed our tired and hungry animals. Ammunition and rations were hastily distributed to the men, and the remaining ammunition was put on pack mules and the wagons burned, as it was now understood that it would be impossible to take them over the roads before us. After resting about two hours, we resumed our march in the direction of Gadsden.

The column had not got fairly under motion before our pickets were driven in, and a sharp skirmish ensued between Forrest's advance and our rear guard, under Captain Smith, in the town of Blountsville. The enemy followed closely for several miles, continually skirmishing with the rear guard, but were badly handled by small parties of our men stopping in the thick bushes by the side of the road and firing at them at short range, and when we reached the East Branch of the Black Warrior River the ford was very deep and the enemy pressed so closely that I was compelled to halt and offer him battle before we could cross. After some maneuvering, I advanced a heavy line of skirmishers, who drove the enemy out of sight of my main line, when I ordered the troops, except the skirmishers, to cross the river as rapidly as possible. After all had crossed, except the skirmishers, they were rapidly withdrawn, under cover of our artillery, and a heavy line of skirmishers thrown out on the opposite bank for that purpose. It was about 5 p. m. when the last of the command crossed the East Branch of the Black Warrior. We proceeded in the direction of Gadsden without further interruption, with the exception of small parties who were continually harassing the rear of the column, until about 9 o'clock the next morning, May 2, when the rear guard was fiercely attacked at the crossing of Black Creek, near Gadsden. After a sharp fight the enemy was repulsed.

I had learned in the mean time, through my scouts, that a large column of the enemy was moving on our left, parallel with our route, evidently with the intention of getting in our front, which made it necessary for us to march all night, though the command was in no condition to do so, and, to add still more to my embarrassment, a portion of our ammunition had become damaged in crossing Will's Creek, which, at the time, was very deep fording. I only halted at Gadsden sufficiently long to destroy a quantity of arms and commissary stores found there, and proceeded on. Many of our animals and men were entirely worn out and unable to keep up with the column; consequently they fell behind the rear guard and were captured.

It now became evident to me that our only hope was in crossing the river at Rome and destroying the bridge, which would delay Forrest a day or two and give us time to collect horses and mules, and allow the command a little time to sleep, without which it was impossible to proceed.

The enemy followed closely, and kept up a continuous skirmish with the rear of the column until about 4 p. m., at which time we reached Blount's plantation, about 15 miles from Gadsden, where we could procure forage for our animals. Here I decided to halt, as it was impossible to continue the march through the night without feeding and resting, although to do so was to bring on a general engagement. Accordingly, the command was dismounted, and a detail made to feed the horses and