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    Chapter 13

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    Chapter 14
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    AN ADVANCE ALL ALONG THE LINE

    General Bragg, the Confederate commander, had established his headquarters at Tullahoma, but his troops lay some twenty or thirty miles to the north of that town, in a grand semicircle extending from Wartrace on the east, through Shelbyville to Columbia on the west. The troops numbered about forty thousand, of all sorts, according to the commander's own report, and a larger portion of them were sheltered behind hastily constructed intrenchments.

    Although Bragg occupied this advanced position, General Rosecrans was certain that should the Confederate be unable to hold Shelbyville and the surrounding territory, he would retreat to his stronger intrenchments at Tullahoma. This town, situated on the rocky bank of Duck River and surrounded by mountainous passes, was an ideal stronghold. Once the Southern forces should retreat to it, to follow them would be extremely hazardous, for the Confederates could easily command the river and every defile, and pour in a hot fire without permitting the Union troops to get a shot in return.

    Under these circumstances, General Rosecrans determined, if possible, to cut off the Confederate's chances of retreating to Tullahoma, or, at least, of retreating by the direct way. To do this, he determined to turn the enemy's right, and then make a dash for the railroad bridge at Elk River. Once he had turned the enemy's right and gained the bridge, Bragg, if he retreated, would have to go to Tullahoma by side roads, where both armies would have an equal chance in fighting, so far as the lay of the land was concerned.

    In all military operations, one of the main elements of success lies in the fact of keeping the other fellow guessing what you are going to do until you do it; and, in order to blind General Bragg as to his real intention, General Rosecrans started in by making an attack on the Confederate centre, as though he intended to push through at that point if he could. While this was going on he hurried his main divisions around to the enemy's right.

    The army numbered many thousands of infantry, cavalry, and artillery; the battle-ground extended over many miles of territory; and to get every regiment in its proper place was no light task. Messages flew hither and thither, carried by telegraph and by horseback messengers, and many a detail was completed only to be totally altered at the last moment. And while this was going on, a close watch had to be kept on the enemy, for fear he would make some movement never dreamed of by our troops.

    After months of preparation and numerous small conflicts, the army began to move on the 23d of June, 1863. It was divided into three corps, the right under McCook, the centre under Thomas, and the left under Crittenden. The weather was by no means favorable; and soon it was raining in torrents, rendering the roads a mass of liquid mud, and swelling even the smaller streams to such an extent that they could scarcely be forded. In a campaign lasting nine days, General Rosecrans declares that their advance was delayed ninety hours by the elements.

    After their work along the railroad in the vicinity of McMinnville, the Riverlawns were ordered to Triune, where they went into camp just outside of the town, on the bank of a little creek backed up by a hemp field. Their hospital tent was located in the midst of this field, and here, on a cot, lay Deck, suffering in a manner that was new to the doctors caring for him. At times the major was out of his mind, then he would be rational, but so weak he could scarcely talk.

    "It's awful--simply awful," said Artie, to his Cousin Sandy one day. "It's the worst case I ever heard of."

    "It is too bad," replied the second lieutenant, of Captain Gadbury's command. "I wish I could do something for him, I really do."

    There was a great change in Sandy Lyon. He was no longer the wild fellow he had been. Army discipline had made a man of him, and he was a first-class soldier in every sense of the word. Only one thing he regretted, that being that he had not become attached to the Engineering Corps. He declared that as soon as the war was over he was going to study hard and become an architect and builder.

    The change in Titus Lyon was also great. He had kept the pledge, and his brother Noah could not have had a more useful adjutant. The brothers were real brothers once more, much to the satisfaction of Titus's wife and daughters, as well as the other members of the Lyon family at large.

    At last Colonel Lyon began to think of sending Deck home, although he hated the thought of having the youth where he could not see him constantly. Moreover, Mrs. Lyon had not been informed of how much Deck was suffering, and the truth might give her a shock.

    It was three weeks previous to the movement of the army upon the Confederate forces that the major began to mend. At first the change was gradual, but inside of ten days he was up on his feet. His appetite now came back, and he began to walk around, declaring that he would soon be as well as ever.

    "Deck, you must take no more such risks--I positively forbid it," said Colonel Lyon, when calling on his son one evening.

    "All right, father, I'll try to be more careful," answered Deck, with a faint smile. "To tell the truth, I didn't realize what a risk it was until it was too late to turn back. On that account, I don't think I am half the hero the boys are making me out to be."

    "I have a letter for you," continued the colonel, producing the communication. "It will certainly interest you, for it is from the Confederate soldier you rescued from the mill."

    "Is that so? How is he doing?"

    "He is doing too much--he got so well that he ran away yesterday."

    "Ran away!"

    "Exactly; and left that letter behind. Read it," and Deck did so. The communication ran as follows:--

    "MAJOR DEXTER LYON:--

    "My Dear Sir: I am on the point of trying to make my escape from the sick camp in which I have been placed by your Union hospital surgeons. It is a rather shabby way to act after such kindness, but I have no hankering after a life in a Northern prison pen.

    "Before I leave, and knowing well I shall run the risk of being shot down, I wish to thank you for your goodness in rescuing me from the burning cotton mill. You did more for me than I think I should have done for any Northern man--you risked your life to save mine. Major Lyon, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, and if it ever comes in my power to do you a good turn I shall do it--no matter what it may cost me. I thank you again.

    "Yours respectfully,

    "THOMAS DERWIDDIE,

    "Tennessee Volunteers."

    "Did they follow Thomas Derwiddie up?" asked Deck, as he folded the letter. It was written on a scrap of very old and dirty newspaper, in pencil.

    "They tried to; but they could not catch him. I reckon by this time he is well within the Southern lines."

    "He is certainly very thankful," mused the major. "Come what may, it would seem that I have one friend in the South--although it is likely I shall never see or hear of him again."

    "That is true, Deck; yet it must make you feel glad to know the fellow appreciates your kindness."

    "It does, father; I shall prize the letter very highly," and Deck placed it in an inner pocket. When next he wrote to Kate Belthorpe he enclosed the communication with his own, and Kate thought almost as much of one letter as of the other.

    The first cavalry division, under General Mitchell, was located near Triune, and this division now moved forward, on the Eagleville and Shelbyville turnpike, in the direction of the enemy's centre and left. Less than half an hour after came the order for the Riverlawns to move in a similar manner.

    "Hurrah! we'll soon be in it again!" cried Captain Artie, rushing into his company street with the news. "Get to moving, boys; for there is no time to lose. We are going to smash the rebs this trip."

    "Well, I hope so," said Black, his first lieutenant. "How about your brother, the major?"

    "Deck is going along. My father doesn't like to hear of it; but the major says he is feeling all right again. I reckon he will take it a bit easy, though."

    There was little time to say more, for the call to move made plenty of work for everybody. Every man was supplied with twelve days' rations of bread, coffee, sugar, and salt, and six days' rations of pork and bacon, while other meat was carried "on the hoof," as it was expressed, that is, alive, the animals being driven along in droves, or tied to the rear of the supply wagons.

    "I'm glad we're going to move, but I'd just as lief have clear weather for it," observed Life Knox, as he came up, shaking the water from his military cape. "Captain Lyon, do you feel like taking a dash of some ten or twelve miles on horseback with me?"

    "A dash--where to?" queried Artie, stopping in his operations of strapping his belongings together.

    "The general wants to learn in what condition the side road to the southeast is in, and he has detailed me to make an investigation. I can take any one along whom I please, and I thought of you and Deck; but Deck is not fit to go, even though I have seen him around on his faithful old Ceph."

    "The side roads are probably drowned out," laughed Artie. "But I'll go, with pleasure--scouting always did just hit me right," and without delay he turned over his command to Lieutenant Black.

    Inside of a quarter of an hour, the two captains were off, each mounted on his favorite horse, each fully armed, and each carrying his rations with him. The rain came down steadily, and the horses sent the water flying in all directions as they pushed their way along over a turnpike covered with pools.

    "Does the general think of sending troops by that side road?" asked Artie, presently, as a turn hid them from their late companions, who had wondered where they were going.

    "Nothing was said about that, and I didn't ask any questions," returned Life. "My private opinion is, he wants to make sure the road can be used in case the rebels try to break through our corps."

    "They wouldn't dare to do that."

    "They might dare anything, Artie. Bragg has some fine soldiers under him--not the least doubt of that. The more I see of this campaign, the more I am convinced that the war will not end until there has been an immense amount of blood shed. We began in a haphazard sort of way, but we are speedily getting down to business."

    "I agree with you there, Life. Of course Bragg will drive us back to Kentucky, if he can; in fact, he'll drive us through Indiana into the Lakes, if we let him. But we are not going to let him," concluded the youthful captain of the fourth company.

    They had been moving along a level road, but now a second turn took them up a gentle slope, from the top of which a bird's-eye view of a small stretch of country could be obtained. Behind them, to the right and the left, many companies of soldiers, afoot and on horseback, could be seen advancing southward.

    "There is the road we are to investigate," said Life, pointing with his long forefinger. "By the lay of the land, I should say it doesn't amount to anything. The infantry and cavalry may get through, but never the artillery."

    "Well, all we can do is to make an examination and report," answered Artie. "But see here, why isn't a detail of the Engineering Corps doing this work?"

    "Every man is engaged elsewhere. Besides, we are to look for rebels while we are at it. The general is inclined to believe there are spies in this vicinity. If we run across any such cattle, we are to lasso them and bring them in."

    After this, the two relapsed into silence, for the rain was driving into their faces, and it was difficult to talk while muffled up in their storm capes. They descended the slope on the other side, then turned into a small woods, where the tall trees afforded some shelter.

    Two miles had been covered, and the horses were making good time on a rocky road-bed, when, looking ahead, they saw a split in the highway. One branch ran to the southward, the second, a few points to the eastward.

    "Which is which?" asked Artie, as he drew rein.

    "That's the riddle. One road looks as if it was travelled about as much as the second."

    "And neither very much, Life."

    "I think we had better try the one to the right."

    "And I was going to suggest the one on the left."

    "Well, they can't both be right."

    "No, only one is right--the other is left," laughed the young captain.

    "And you'll be left to take the left," said the tall Kentuckian. "But, seriously, which had we better follow?"

    "I don't know--unless we toss up for it."

    "There may be sign-boards about. Let us look."

    They made a careful survey of all the trees and posts in the vicinity, but nothing like a guide-post came to light. If there had been signs, the enemy had removed them long before.

    "I have a suggestion to make," said Artie, as the pair came together in the road again. "Let us each take to a road and ride, say, quarter of a mile. Then we can return and compare notes."

    "That would certainly be better than halting in the rain, Artie. It's settled, and I'm off," and using his spurs, Life Knox dashed away down the road to the right. A few seconds later, Artie took the road to the left, little dreaming of the adventure that was in store for him.
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