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    Chapter 3

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    THE ENCOUNTERS AT THE BRIDGE AND ON THE RAFT

    At the time of which I write the name of Morgan's Cavalry was already known throughout the length and breadth of Kentucky, and those of the inhabitants who were on the side of the Union heard of his coming to one neighborhood or another with dread.

    When the boys in blue were refitting at Nashville, late in the year 1862, Morgan, having made several raids in Kentucky, though hardly, as yet, any of consequence, determined to visit the State once more, taking with him the pick of the Confederate cavalry of this section of our country. His first engagement was with a few companies of Michigan troops, on the 24th of December, where he suffered a loss of seventeen men. On Christmas Day came an engagement near Munfordsville, and then the notorious leader attacked the stockade at Bacon Creek. A vigorous resistance was made, but the explosion of a number of shells within the enclosure made a surrender necessary, and this was followed by the burning of the bridge across Bacon Creek, after which Morgan advanced to Nolan, where another bridge was destroyed.

    The march of the cavalry was now turned toward Elizabethtown, and here a fierce fight occurred between the Confederates and a body of six hundred infantry under Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, which lasted six hours. The infantry could do but little against the superior numbers of the cavalry, although fighting valorously, and in the end Morgan gained his point and began a march along the railroad, destroying everything in sight as he advanced.

    It had been hoped by Bragg that Morgan's raid would help the cause of the South a great deal; but the sudden movement of Rosecrans from Nashville to Murfreesboro dimmed the glory considerably. On the 29th of December Morgan was attacked at Rolling Fork on Salt River and driven to Bardstown, from which point he began to make his slow but certain retreat from the State.

    Captain Ripley, Deck's friend of the sharpshooters, had called Morgan's cavalry cut-throats. This was an appellation common in those days, but it is hardly justifiable. But there is no doubt that a portion of the raiders were men of low moral character, and these fellows, when foraging, thought it no more than right to confiscate everything in sight. In the neighborhoods strong in Union sentiment whole plantations were laid waste, and the women and children made to suffer untold indignities.

    It has been said that Morgan himself had left the State. This was true, but numerous detachments of the cavalrymen remained, some under captains and lieutenants who held no commissions in the Confederate army, and these were mixed up with guerillas,--lawless bodies,--who, while pretending to fight for the Southern cause, thought only of murder and plunder. For these latter bodies Morgan was not responsible, yet they were spoken of everywhere as Morgan's Raiders.

    From the very start of hostilities there had been a strong sentiment in Barcreek and vicinity against the dwellers at Riverlawn. Here the first Union cavalry companies had been formed, and from this house a father and two sons (Artie was always called the colonel's son) had gone forth. More than this, Colonel Lyon had declared that all he possessed should go to uphold the Union cause were it needed. Those of Confederate tendencies had muttered against this, and ever since the first attack on Riverlawn had been repulsed, numerous "fire-eaters" had longed for a chance to "get square."

    Deck thought of all these things as he moved from the shelter of the clearing along the creek in the direction of the bridge. From one source and another he had learned of a score of men of the vicinity joining Morgan's Raiders, and he felt certain now that these fellows would be found among those bent on the looting of his father's estate.

    The young major could not get his mind away from a certain rowdy of Barcreek who rejoiced in the name of Gaffy Denny. At a Union meeting held at the schoolhouse when the war began, Deck had refused this man admittance to the building, even when the ruffian drew a bowie-knife, and had caused the fellow to decamp by showing his pistol. Since this time he had heard twice from Denny--first that he had joined the guerillas operating throughout the county, and again that he was trying to pay his addresses to Dorcas, who, it may readily be imagined, would have nothing to do with him. Denny was a man of thirty-five, a "hoss" trader when he worked, which was but seldom, and as sly and nervy as he was unprincipled.

    "If Gaffy Denny is in this, he shall hear from me," murmured the major, as he worked his way along the creek's shore. There was a low fringe of brush overhanging the water, and he skulked behind this, passing the few breaks encountered by crawling on his chest through the grass. His progress was necessarily slow, and it took five minutes to reach the bridge, although the distance from the clearing was not more than an eighth of a mile.

    From behind the brush he had more than once looked over in the direction of the mansion. Not a soul had appeared in sight, and had he not known otherwise, he would have said that the homestead was deserted.

    When within half a rod of the bridge the major halted, for a slight movement behind the tree overshadowing the bridge seat--that seat where his father and Uncle Titus had once so bitterly quarrelled--had attracted his attention.

    "Was that a squirrel or a man's hat?" was the question he asked himself, when the view of something else answered the question. The new object to come into view was the elbow of a man, and the shining barrel of a gun followed.

    "A guard, I'll wager my commission," was Deck's thought. "I wonder if he is alone and if I can capture him single-handed."

    The major, having led the way into many a hot fight, was not the one to hang back in such an emergency as this. Even while wondering if the man on the bridge was alone, he hurried forward, keeping the tree between himself and the individual. The bridge was gained and the tree was but three yards off when a partly loose plank tipped up, making enough noise to attract the attention of the man, who leaped forward, pointing his gun as he came.

    "Halt!" he spluttered, but the word was still on his lips when Deck ducked, caught the gun barrel with his left hand, and with his right levelled his pistol full into the sentinel's face.

    "Surrender, or you are a dead man!" commanded Major Deck, sternly. "Let go of the gun."

    The fellow, taken completely by surprise, hesitated, as if inclined to argue the point. "Wha--what?" he stammered. "See yere, this ain't fair, nohow!"

    "Let go, or I'll fire," was Deck's only answer, and he fingered the trigger of his revolver nervously.

    In a second more he had the gun in his possession, and then he compelled the man to throw up both hands. "Now march up the road away from the bridge," he continued. "And no treachery, or I'll put a ball through you on the spot."

    "I reckon I have fell in with Deck Lyon," said the sentinel, with a sickly grin, as he moved on as the major had commanded.

    "I am Deck Lyon; but I don't know you, although I've seen you at Bowling Green. What do they call you?"

    "They call me Sergeant Hank Scudder in our company."

    "And what company is that?"

    "Cap'n Casswell's command--unattached."

    "Casswell's guerillas, eh?"

    "We ain't guerillas--we belong to the boys in gray."

    "Does your captain hold a commission from headquarters?"

    "'Tain't fer me to answer thet question, Major."

    "From the fact that you refuse to answer it, I infer that he does not; consequently he is nothing but a guerilla, and worse, and you are--"

    "Hold on, Major, don't be too hard on a poor fellow who has his living to make."

    "This isn't making a living--it's stealing one. Tell me truthfully, is Gaffy Denny with your company?"

    "Gaffy Denny is first leftenant, Major."

    "Where are the others?"

    "Somewhere around the house and barns."

    "How long since you arrived here?"

    "'Bout an hour and a half ago."

    "How many are there here? Answer me truthfully, or, my word for it, I and my friends will hang you to one of yonder trees."

    "Got many friends with yer, Major?"

    "Enough. Now answer my question," and again Deck's weapon came up on a level with the guerilla's head.

    "There air twenty-five on us, I reckon."

    "Were you the only man left on guard?"

    "I dunno."

    "Who put you on guard?"

    "Leftenant Denny."

    "Isn't Captain Casswell in command?"

    "No, the cap'n was shot down in a skirmish three days ago--back of Edmonton, and he's laying at the house of a friend ten miles from yere."

    While talking the pair had moved across the road, and now Deck turned his prisoner in the direction of the clearing. Soon they came in sight of General, Clinker, and one other of the slaves.

    "The first prisoner, General," said the young officer. "Have you anything with which to bind him?"

    "Look yere, Major, this ain't handsome!" cried Sergeant Hank Scudder, in alarm.

    "Handsome or not, you can thank your stars that I didn't shoot you dead on the bridge," rejoined Deck. "How about a cord, General?"

    "We dun got one, Mars'r Deck," answered the slave, and producing it he and Clinker soon bound the guerilla's hands behind him, after which the rope at his wrists was passed around a stout tree.

    Deck's next movement was in the direction of the raft, for nothing was to be seen of Artie, and he was anxious to know how the young captain was faring. He had hardly reached the pile of logs to which the raft was moored, when a sharp cry rang out on the frosty air.

    "Help! General, Woolly, Clinker! Help!" There followed another cry, and leaping through the brush and onto the logs Deck saw his cousin battling manfully in a hand-to-hand conflict with two rough men in gray, one of whom was trying to possess himself of the captain's sabre.

    In such an emergency Major Deck did not hesitate as to a proper course of action. Had the men been regular Confederates he would have been justified in shooting at them; being guerillas he felt himself even more justified. He took careful aim and fired, and the rascal who had just wrenched the sabre from Artie's grasp fell, shot through the thigh, an ugly wound though not a fatal one.

    Surprised at the counter-demonstration thus made, the second guerilla turned to see from what direction the shot had come. Giving him no chance in which to take in the situation, Deck fired a second time, the bullet whistling past the man in gray's shoulder. With a yell the fellow started to retreat from the logs, slipped on the wet and frost-covered surface beneath him, and rolled over and over until he went with a loud splash into the creek, not to reappear upon the surface of the icy current until fifty feet away.

    "Artie, are you hurt?" demanded Deck, as he watched the man who had gone overboard.

    "N--no, but th--that man nearly choked the life out of me," was the answer, with a cough. "Don't let him get away," and the young captain nodded toward the guerilla who was making for the plantation side of the creek.

    "He shan't get away." Deck elevated his voice and his shooter at the same time. "Come back here, unless you want a hole put through your head!" he called out.

    To this the guerilla did not reply. But he kept on swimming, and seeing this both Deck and Artie fired. A yell of pain was the answer to the shots, and the man turned around.

    "Are you coming back?" demanded Deck.

    "Yes! yes! don't shoot ag'in!" came with something like a groan.

    The wounded man on the logs was writhing in pain, but nothing could be done for him just now, and Deck and Artie watched the man in the water. "I'm a goner!" came from the individual of a sudden, and throwing up both arms he disappeared from view.

    For the instant Deck stared blankly and Artie looked at him. "Was that a genuine move, or is he shamming?" questioned the captain.

    "I take it he is shamming," answered the major. "I don't believe he was badly wounded at all. Wait," and he continued to watch.

    In half a minute the body of the guerilla appeared, a hundred feet below the logs. "Turn back here, or I'll put a bullet through your body for luck!" sang out Deck, and raised his pistol again.

    "Don't! don't!" came the quick reply. "I'll come--don't hit me ag'in, Cap'n!"

    In less than five minutes after this the guerilla was on the raft once more. Deck was on the point of marching him up into the grove by the creek road when Levi Bedford came up in the canoe, demanding to know what the several shots meant. He was highly pleased to think that three men had already been put out of the contest.

    "I've discovered the guerillas moving around at the back of the mansion and around the largest of the barns," he said. "Now that you have used your pistols the best thing to do, in my opinion, is to get over to the fort and take possession of it."

    "You are right," returned Deck. "Let us go over on the raft, as first proposed; but General can come around by the bridge and bring all of the horses, or keep them where they will be handy in case they are wanted. We ought not to give these guerillas the least chance to escape."

    The General was called from his hiding-place and matters were explained. While he went off with the horses, Levi Bedford led the way to the raft and unmoored her, fastening the painter to the stern of the canoe, which, though so called, was, as old readers already know, really a round-bottom rowboat. The overseer, Deck, and Artie entered the canoe, the first two at the oars, while the slaves deposited themselves on the raft, doing what they could to aid their progress over the stream by means of several sweeps which had been picked up.
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