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    Chapter 21

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    Chapter 22
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    CROSSING THE TENNESSEE RIVER

    Twenty-four hours after the affair described in the last chapter, the Riverlawns rode into Huntsville, bringing with them their last prisoners and their horses. They found that the larger portion of the Union cavalry had already arrived, and prisoners, horses, and negroes ready to flee to the North, were numerous.

    "You have done remarkably well, Major Lyon," said the general in command, on receiving Deck's report. "I doubt if any of our forces have done better," and with this compliment the youthful commander was dismissed.

    The stop in Huntsville did not last long, some of the cavalry leaving on the same night that the Riverlawns came in. By a pre-arranged plan the Union forces spread out into a large semicircle when on their way northward, and they came home with about three hundred prisoners, sixteen hundred horses and mules, and a thousand head of cattle, sheep, and pigs. On the return, the Riverlawns encountered but one body of the enemy, less than fifteen in number, and these fled at the first sight of the Unionists. About six hundred negroes joined the army on its northward movement, and thus escaped to the free States, much to their own satisfaction.

    General Bragg, accompanied by Wheeler's cavalry force, had escaped to Chattanooga, and it was thought by some that General Rosecrans ought to pursue the enemy without delay. But there were great difficulties in the way. The enemy had torn up the railroads, the Army of the Cumberland, despite such raids as the one just mentioned, was short of rations and forage, and the commanding general felt that he must have support for his flanks ere braving the river and the mountain gaps, which he felt the Confederates would hold as long as possible.

    To thoroughly understand the situation, the reader must remember that between the Union army and Chattanooga lay the lofty Cumberland Mountains, washed on either side by the waters of the Elk and the Tennessee rivers. To the northward the mountains were rugged and but poorly wooded; to the southward they were partly broken up by the Sequatchie River, flowing through the valley of that name, nearly fifty miles long, a valley much broken in spots.

    Behind this great barrier Bragg felt, for a time at least, safe, and he utilized each hour in adding to his troops, men being forced into the Southern army wherever and whenever they could be found. The soldiers were poorly clothed and scantily fed, and some of the cavalry were mounted on mules. The firearms were of various sorts, English and Belgian weapons being quite common.

    It was not until the 16th of August that the Army of the Cumberland began that momentous advance which will ever be remembered in the annals of history. In the meantime, railroads had been repaired, the artillery had been equipped with extra heavy harness for the horses, boats on the rivers had been put in good condition, and, equally important, the corn had ripened in sunny spots and been gathered in by the army quartermasters. The loss of their crop of corn caused many a heartburning among the farmers of this section of our country, but the confiscation was one of actual necessity; and, wherever such a course seemed just, payments were made for what was taken.

    Twice had Rosecrans defeated the enemy by turning his flank. Now, with the mountains between himself and Bragg's front, there seemed nothing to do but to try the trick again. But the movement must be well planned and well executed, or the enemy would immediately become aware of what was going on, and make a move that would upset all the Union commander's calculations.

    As has been said, the mountains to the northward were high and rugged; to the southward, they were broken up by a long valley, a river, and several small creeks. To turn the enemy's right would, therefore, require a long and arduous journey through a country almost barren. Rosecrans resolved to make his real movement to the left; that is, to the southward of Chattanooga. And the first act in the great drama was to hoodwink Bragg into believing that he was coming around by the mountain paths to the north.

    Carrying with them ammunition enough for two great battles, and rations for twenty-five days, the forward movement began by throwing Crittenden's corps over the Cumberland Mountains and Walden's Ridge into the Tennessee Valley, directly opposite and to the north of Chattanooga. The corps moved from Hillsboro, Manchester, and McMinnville, and when in the Tennessee Valley were joined by Wilder's brigade of mounted infantry,--a portion of the fourteenth corps. To these bodies were added Minty's cavalry, which, riding on the left, through Sparta and Pikeville, operated along the river for twenty-eight miles above Blythe's Ferry.

    The boys in blue were bound to deceive the enemy if the thing could be done, and at night immense camp-fires were lighted for miles along the river front, always in front and to the north of Chattanooga. Foot-soldiers and cavalry showed themselves first at one place and then another, and at night bugle-calls sounded out in spots where no cavalry had yet been or was likely to be. On the river bank, trees were cut down and sawed up, the ends being left to float down the stream, to give the enemy the impression that extensive bridge-building was on the way. One detachment climbed up a nearby ridge, and with its battery threw shells toward the city,--something that made the inhabitants imagine that the final contest was now at hand.

    And while all this was going on, the main portion of the Union forces had crossed the Cumberland Mountains thirty odd miles below, and were gathering on the bank of the Tennessee River. A train had come in, bringing on it a pontoon-bridge which was to be thrown across the stream at Caperton. The train was stopped in the woods, and the boats and planking were hurried forward in secret.

    While the sun was still rising on the 29th of August, fifty boats, with a capacity of twenty-five hundred men, were taken across the open fields of Caperton, launched, and rowed to the south shore of the Tennessee. The picket guard of the enemy was driven away, and soon the pontoon-bridge was in position. Immediately upon the completion of the work, Davis's division crossed and went into camp at the base of Raccoon Mountain. In three days his division, with Johnston's, had marched across the range, and forty-eight hours later these troops established themselves at Winston's Pass over Lookout Mountain, within forty-two miles of Bragg's stronghold. The same day Stanley's cavalry, under General Mitchell, crossed Lookout, and on the week following descended into Broomtown Valley.

    The march of the army was now well under way, and Thomas's corps and the other troops came along at various points, covering the ground as rapidly as the nature of the territory permitted. It was felt that General Bragg must know by this time what was going on, and strict watch was kept all along the line to prevent a surprise.

    The laying of the pontoon-bridge was to Major Deck Lyon and his brother, Captain Artie, a good deal of a novelty, and the Riverlawns assisted in carrying more than one boat down to the rushing waters of the Tennessee. Once the boats were strung from shore to shore, it was no easy matter to link them together, or to get the planking down even after they were linked, but all hands worked bravely, despite the occasional shots from the Confederate pickets fleeing from the neighborhood.

    The Riverlawns crossed the bridge in safety, all but two men, a private of the sixth company, who quickly swam his horse ashore, and Sandy Lyon. Sandy had a spirited horse, and was advised to lead him over; but the lieutenant insisted on riding, and when the middle of the bridge was reached, his horse shied, and Sandy slid overboard like a flash. He went down, to come up at a point fifty feet down the turbulent stream.

    "Help! help!" he yelled, as soon as he could eject the water from his mouth. "Some of you fellows haul me out!"

    "Can't you swim?" asked several, unwilling to endure a wetting if it was not necessary.

    "I can't swim much--ain't swum in five years," came in a gasp, "and this clothing weighs a ton!"

    Artie Lyon had seen Sandy go overboard, and now he drew his uncle's attention to the scene. Titus was very much excited on the instant. "Save Sandy--save my boy!" he cried, and he tried to leap overboard, but Artie hauled him back.

    "You can't swim, can you?" asked the captain.

    "No--but--I don't want Sandy to drown!" panted Titus Lyon. "I've lost one son already in this war!"

    "There is a boat--I'll get that and go after Sandy," answered Artie. "You stay here;" and he motioned for two cavalrymen standing near to hold Titus and thus prevent him from throwing himself into the rushing element.

    The boat was a flat-bottomed affair, owned by an old fisherman of Caperton. The oars were handy, and Artie was soon on a seat in the craft. As he pushed off Life Knox leaped in beside him.

    "Reckon two rowers are better nor one," said the tall Kentuckian, and without a word Artie tossed him an oar. Soon the boat was making good headway down the stream in the direction in which Sandy's head could be seen bobbing up and down.

    "Help me!" he cried again. "I'm played out!"

    "Keep up a little longer,--we are coming," replied Artie, encouragingly.

    "I can't keep up--something is fast to my foo--" And the words ended in a gurgle, as Sandy suddenly disappeared.

    "Why, what can this mean?" asked the young captain. "Has he caught his spurs into each other?"

    "More than likely he got tangled up in one of those boat chains," remarked Life Knox. "I noticed the chains hanging around when the bridge was put down."

    "Then they'll take him to the bottom, sure," said Artie, and grew more anxious than ever for his cousin's safety.

    The disappearance of Sandy had been noticed from the bridge and from both shores, and now several small boats put out. Titus Lyon broke away from those who held him and went overboard with a loud splash, and two minutes later a boat picked him up, more dead than alive.

    When Artie and Life reached the spot where Sandy had disappeared, nothing was to be seen of the young lieutenant, and a blank look seized upon the faces of the would-be rescuers. Suddenly, however, the tall Kentuckian gave a leap to the stern.

    "There he is!" he shouted.

    "Where?"

    "Under water several feet. He is going down!"

    As Life spoke he threw off his coat and hat, his boots followed,--in a moment he slipped overboard.

    The boat had now swung around with the current, and Artie had his hands full bringing her up to the proper position and holding her there. Artie's heart was in his throat. Poor Orly Lyon had been shot down in battle, and now, if Sandy was also lost, what would his Uncle Titus and his kind-hearted Aunt Susan do?

    "Oh, I do hope Life brings him up!" he thought, when the head of the Kentuckian appeared, dripping with water. Life supported Sandy in his arms, and Artie brought the flatboat up close. In a moment Sandy was laid on the seat and the captain of the seventh company clambered in.

    The eyes of the lieutenant were closed, and Artie could not tell whether he was dead or otherwise. "Is it--it all right?" he faltered.

    "I hope so, Artie. He had his ankle caught in a chain just as I supposed. It was hard work releasing him, I can tell you. Let us get to shore just as fast as we can."

    Artie needed no urging to do this, and soon the flatboat grounded on the south bank of the river, and willing hands carried Sandy to a grassy bank where he was rolled and worked over, until the water came out of him, and he gave a gasp.

    "He's all right now," said Life, drawing a long breath.

    "Yes, and I'm mighty glad of it," murmured Artie.

    Surgeon Farnwright then took charge of the case, but Sandy scarcely needed him. By morning the lieutenant was as hearty as ever, although a bit "shaky" as he expressed it.

    "I won't forget you," he said, squeezing Life Knox's hand. "You're a brick!"

    Titus Lyon was even more affected. "I've lost Orly," he said, in a husky voice, "I couldn't afford to lose Sandy, nohow. We ain't been very much of friends in the past, Captain Knox, but I hope we will be in the future--leas'wise, I'll be your friend, through thick and thin."

    And the adjutant of the Riverlawns kept his word.
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