vious to my arrival, but the enemy had seized and run off the boat before we reached there.
I then ascertained that there was a bridge some 7 or 8 miles up the river, near Gaylesville, and procured new guides and pushed on as rapidly as possible in order to reach the bridge before the enemy should take possession of it. We had to pass over an old coal chopping for several miles, where the timber had been cut and hauled off for charcoal, leaving innumerable wagon roads running in every direction, and the command was so worn out and exhausted that many were asleep, and in spite of every exertion I could make, with the aid of such of my officers as were able for duty, the command became separated and scattered into several squads, traveling in different directions, and it was not until near daylight that the last of the command had crossed the river. The bridge was burned, and we proceeded on and passed Cedar Bluff just after daylight. It now became evident that the horses and mules could not reach Rome without halting to rest and feed. Large numbers of the mules were continually giving out. In fact, I do not think that at that time we had a score of the mules drawn at Nashville left, and nearly all of those taken in the country were barefooted, and many of them had such sore backs and tender feet that it was impossible to ride them; but, in order to get as near as possible to the force I had sent ahead, we struggled on until about 9 a. m., when we halted and fed our animals. The men, being unaccustomed to riding, had become so exhausted from fatigue and loss of sleep that it was almost impossible to keep them awake long enough to feed. We had halted but a short time, when I was informed that a heavy force of the enemy was moving on our left, on a route parallel with the one we were marching on, and was then nearer Rome than we were. About the same time I received this information our pickets were driven in. The command was immediately ordered into line, and every effort made to rally the men for action, but nature was exhausted, and a large portion of my best troops actually went to sleep while lying in line of battle under a severe skirmish fire. After some maneuvering, Forrest sent in a flag of truce, demanding the surrender of my forces. Most of my regimental commanders had already expressed the opinion that, unless we could reach Rome and cross the river before the enemy came up with us again, we should be compelled to surrender. Consequently I called a council of war. I had learned, however, in the mean time, that Captain Russell had been unable to take the bridge at Rome. Our condition was fully canvassed. As I have remarked before, our ammunition was worthless, our horses and mules in a desperate condition, the men were overcome with fatigue and loss of sleep, and we were confronted by fully three times our number, in the heart of the enemy's country, and, although personally opposed to surrender, and so expressed myself at the time, yet I yielded to the unanimous voice of my regimental commanders, and at once entered into negotiations with Forrest to obtain the best possible terms I could for my command, and at about noon, May 3, we surrender as prisoners of war.
We were taken to Richmond, Va. The men were soon sent through the lines and exchanged. My officers and myself were confined in Libby Prison, where we remained until the night of February 9 last, when four of my officers and myself, together with several other prisoners, succeeded in making our escape, and reached Washington in safety about March 1. The balance of my officers, or nearly all of them, are still confined as prisoners or have died of disease, the result of long confinement, insufficient food, and cruel treatment at the hands of the enemy.