ePub 版

and gardens were filled with ladies and little girls with streamers of red and blue ribbons and flags with stars. Beautiful women seized the, hard brown hands of our rough and ragged soldiers, and with tears and smiles thanked them again and again for coming into Kentucky and freeing them from the presence and insults of the hated and insolent Yankees. For hours the enthusiasm of the people was unbounded. At every corner of the streets, baskets of provisions and buckets of water wrere placed for the refreshment of our weary soldiers, and hundreds of our men were presented with shoes and hats and coats and tobacco from the grateful people. Private residences were turned for the time into public houses of entertainment, free to all who could be perguaded to go and eat. But if the reception of the infantry was enthusiastic, the tears, the smiles, and shouts and cheers of wild delight which greeted General John Morgan's cavalry as they came dashing through the streets amidst clouds of dust, wTas without a parallel. The wildest joy ruled the hours. The bells of the city pealed forth their joyous welcome, whilst the waving of thousands of white handkerchiefs and tiny Confederate flags attested the gladness and delight of every heart.

It would have been well if the enthusiasm which welcomed Gen. Smith in this town could have been confirmed as a true token of the public sentiment of Kentucky. But while this sentiment was developing itself, the exultation which greeted our troops at Lexington was reflected in other parts of the Confederacy: and from the results already achieved in the Western campaign, the Southern public was raised to the pinnacle of hopeful expectation. When it was known at the seat of government in Virginia that Gen. Smith, after crushing the force opposed to him at Richmond, had gone on and Captured Lexington, Paris and Cynthiana, and established his lines almost in sight of Cincinnati, the public indulged the prospect of the speedy capture of this great city of the West, with its valuably stores and yards for building gunboats. What might have been the result of a sudden attack on this city (for one of our brigades was in striking distance of it) is left to conjecture. The order was to menace, not to attack; and the purposes of the campaign projected by Gen. Bragg required that Smith's command, after making its demonstration on the Ohio, should fall back into the interiour to co-operate with the splendid army he had already brought into Kentucky.

Gen.. Bragg had entered the State by the eastern route from Knoxville andv Chattanooga. The direct route by the way of Nashville would have brought him on Buell's front; but he chose to make the crossing of the Cumberland river several miles above Nashville, apparently with the design of making a flank movement on Buell. The immediate effect of this movement was to cause the Yankees to evacuate East Tennessee, and to relieve North Alabama from Federal occupation; but the enemy, learning that Cincinnati was not in immediate danger, had abundant time to remove the forces collected for the defence of that city, to be united with Buell's army in Kentucky.

The sudden disappearance of Smith from in front of Cincinnati, and the rapidity of his movement, intimated clearly enough that he wTas making a forced march to reach Bragg and strengthen him before a decisive trial of his strength with Buell. But the movement deprived us of a victory that might have been cheaply won; for it gave opportunity of escape to the Yankee -Gen. Morgan, who had been completely hemmed in at Cumberland Gap, with an army of ten or twelve thousand men and abundance of arms and equipments.

The distance to the Ohio River is about two hundred and fifty miles, and includes the most mountainous portions of Kentucky. There are scarcely fifty miles of the entire route in which there are not defiles and passes where a small force could have kept the enemy at bay. The famous cavalry commander, John H. Morgan, had been sent with a portion of his command to harrass the retreating enemy; and this intrepid officer, with seven hundred and fifty men, arrested the Yankee army for five days, and might have captured them with the half of Marshall's infantry, who were within little more than a day's march. But reinforcements were not sent forward, and no alternative was left to Morgan but—after inflicting such damage as he could upon the enemy—to rejoin Smith's march, which had now .taken the direction of Frankfort.

On the 17th of September, Gen. Bragg captured about five thousand of the enemy at Munfordsville, with the inconsiderable loss on our side of about fifty men in killed and wounded. He had thrown his lines between Buell's force at Bowling Green and Louisville, and it was confidently expected that he would engage him, drive him across the Ohio or the Mississippi, or at least disconcert his hopes of preparations and increase of forces at Louisville. Buell's entire force at this time was not computed at over thirty- five thousand, for which our army, in the best possible spirits and confidence, was an overmatch.

It is probable that at this juncture the struggle in Kentucky might have been decided by a fight on a fair field with an army our inferiour in all respects. Viewed in the light of subsequent events, it is difficult to determine what good object Gen. Bragg could have had in declining a contest with the enemy but a few miles distant. It is still more inexplicable that after the success of Munfordsville he should have stood idly by and suffered Buell and his wagon trains to pass between him and the Ohio River-, almost in sight of his lines.* He had passed Buell to enter Kentucky, and having accomplished it, his reasons for allowing his enemy to repass him and enter- Louisville are inadmissible to any justification that can be offered by practical good sense. Whatever explanations have been made of them, it is certain that at this time the public has not abandoned its opinion, that General Bragg's failure to deliver battle at the important conjuncture which placed him between the enemy and the Ohio, was the fatal errour of the Kentucky campaign.

On the 4th of October, Gen. Bragg joined Smith's army at Frankfort, where was conducted the inauguration of the Provisional Governor of Kentucky, Mr. Hawes. This ceremony, however, was scarcely anything more than a pretentious farce. Scarcely was it complete^, when the Yankees threatened the State capital, and the newly-installed Governor had to flee from their approach. The delusion, that Buell's army was quietly resting in Louisville, was dispelled by the news received at Frankfort on the inauguration day, tp the effect that the Yankees were in large force within twelve miles of the place. But the apparent movement on Frankfort was a mere feint, while the enemy was concentrating to force our left wing near Perryville.


Having arrived at Harrodsburg from Frankfort, Gen. Bragg, finding the enemy pressing heavily in his rear near Perryville, determined to give him battle there, and ordered Gen. Polk to make the attack next day. But he had made an unfortunate disposition of his forces, for <5n the day before the division of Withers had been sent to Salvisa to reinforce General Kirby Smith and cut oif Sill's division. Hardee's and Buckner's divisions were marched to Perryville, leaving Gen. Cheatham's at Harrodsburg, which, however, came up to Perryville <^l the night of the 7th of October, before the engagement. Withers' failed to intercept Gen. Sill's division, but captured the rearguard, consisting of seyen hundred and fifty men, with an ammunition train; and on the morning of the 9th, General Withers' and Gen. Kirby Smith's forces reached Harrodsburg, having been too late to participate in the decisive events of the preceding day.

The morning of the 8th October found not more than fifteen thousand Confederate troops confronting an enemy three times their numbers. 'The forces opposed to us at Perryville consisted of the right wing„of the "Army of the Ohio," composed of Buell's veteran army, with Major-General Geo. W. Thomas as Commander-in-Chief of the field, and Gen. Alex. McCook commanding the first corps. We fought nine divisions of the Abolition army, composed at least of five thousand each, making forty-five thousand men.

Gen. Buckner's division, which was posted on our extreme right, with Anderson's division, formed the left wing of the army of the Mississippi, under Major-General Hardee. Cheatham's and Withers' divisions formed the right wing, under ,Major-Gen. Polk. Thus we had but three divisions in the field.

The action opened a little past noon. It was only skirmishing- for a considerable time, Colonel Powell's brigade holding the extreme left of our lines, and gallantly-driving the enemy back for about a mile against superior forces. It was about this time, towards 4 P. M., when General Smith's brigade, belonging to Cheatham's division, was ordered back to our assistance, that General Adams, with his brave Louisiana ians, was holding the enemy in check against fearful odds, when he was forced to fall back from his position. General Hardee, seeing the importance of holding the point, ordered General Adams to retake it, telling him he would be supported by reinforcements. It was while advancing again, and anxiously looking for the reinforcements, that General Adams, seeing some soldiers firing at what he supposed to be our own men-^ordered them to cease firing. "I tell you, sir, they are Yankees," cried one of the officers. "I think not, and you had better go forward first and ascertain," replied Adams. "I'll go, sir, but I don't think it necessary, for I know they are Yankees," insisted the officer. "Well," said Adams, "I'll go myself," and dashing forward on his charger, he had not proceeded one hundred yards when a furious storm of Minie balls whizzed by his ears from the enemy. The General turned immediately, and riding up, shouted to our troops to pour in their fire. Towards six o'clock the firing became incessant on both sides. There stood Adams, with his little brigade, holding back a division of% the enemy, left, as it were, alone to his fate, until, seeing no chance of being reinforced, he gradually fell back, in most excellent order, but not without considerable loss.

« 上一頁繼續 »