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    Chapter 28

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    Chapter 29
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    AN ADVENTURE AT CRAWFISH SPRINGS

    The three battalions of the Riverlawns had been drawn up in something of a semicircle, the first under Deck occupying the right, the second the centre of the road, and the third the left. As the road was scarcely eight feet wide and winding through the woods at that, all of the companies were practically behind more or less shelter.

    The attack by the first battalion paralyzed the panic-stricken advance guard of those in retreat, and they knew not how to turn. But when they did realize their position, they concluded that, for the present, the greater danger lay in front of them, and they scampered to the rear, behind the companies which still kept their formations.

    The first battalion was still delivering its fire, when the second and third opened up, aiming at the Confederate companies drawn up in proper ranks. This fire was returned, and several of the Riverlawns were struck, though none fatally. Then more Confederate companies appeared, spreading out to the right and the left, in the hope of either surrounding the Union regiment and capturing it, or of passing around it and thus effecting an escape.

    Colonel Lyon was wide awake, and never had he shown greater ability as a commander than now. As the Confederates came on, he made a rapid calculation as to their number, and of how many were armed. Then he sent word back to Captains Knox and Ripley, to divide their forces and send the sharpshooters into the woods, with orders to drive the fleeing ones toward the centre,--that is, the road. Then he dashed up to Deck.

    "Dexter, can you take that gun?" he asked hurriedly.

    "I can try," answered the young major.

    "Do so at once, and train it on the companies coming up. We can take care of this panic-stricken horde, I feel certain."

    Deck saluted and turned to his battalion. "We must take that gun, boys! And we must take it quickly. Will you do it?"

    "We will!" shouted over three hundred voices in deep unison; and away went the four companies on the double-quick.

    The captain of the battery saw them coming. He had lost his other guns, and he was determined to hold this at any cost. As rapidly as he could, he turned his gun into position.

    "I'll give 'em one dose of canister, if I die for it!" he roared, and sighted the piece himself.

    But Deck was on the alert, and while the gun was being sighted, he gave the order, and the battalion moved out of range immediately. They darted among the trees, and only Artie Lyon's company received the shot, which killed one man and wounded two others. Before the cannon could be loaded again, the first company was on the battery, and the captain went down under a sweeping blow from Captain Abbey's sabre. Seeing their leader gone, the drivers tried to escape on the horses, but were brought down and compelled to surrender. Of the whole number but one assistant escaped.

    No sooner was the gun captured, than it was turned about and reloaded. Among the Riverlawns there were a number who knew all about handling such a field-piece, and in less than two minutes a most destructive fire was poured into the regularly formed Confederate companies just appearing around a bend of the forest road. The shot brought forth a loud, defiant yell, but the command slackened its pace, and presently came to a halt, as if the leading officer was calculating what had best be his next move.

    Between the trees and the brush and the drifting smoke--a smoke far more dense than that emanating from the powder used to-day--but little was to be seen of either friend or foe, and when another movement began, five minutes later, Colonel Lyon had to exercise great care, for fear one of his battalions might fire into another. Advance guards were sent out wherever practicable, and not a shot was fired until the commander knew exactly where it was going.

    The Confederates had halted, but they could not do so long, for a Union force--some Michigan infantry--was pushing them in the rear. A charge was made on the battery and the gallant first battalion behind it. The rush was led by a hundred cavalrymen, and twice that number of infantry, and in the midst of it there came on two hundred additional cavalrymen on foot--a detachment of Forrest's unmounted force operating near the ruins of the Alexandria bridge.

    The crash of the conflict was terrific, the Confederates, hedged in front and rear, fighting with a valor born of desperation. The cannon marked the battle-ground, and around this circled friend and foe, blinded by dust and smoke, and deafened by the close discharge of carbines and muskets. In five minutes Deck saw that his battalion was being beaten back, not rapidly, but foot by foot, toward Duff's Claim.

    "Don't retreat, boys!" he shouted. "Stand up to it like men! The victory is ours, for more Union troops are coming. Charge! and I will lead you!" and he did, with such a magnificent show of heroism that the four companies seemed to become inspired, and sent the enemy on the retreat. Then the cannon was reloaded, and the Confederates received another dose of canister, just as the Michigan infantry came into view.

    "Surrender!" cried Deck, and the cry was taken up from behind the Confederates. But the leader of the enemy's force did not deem that the time to give up had yet arrived, and ordered his men into the woods.

    It was a fatal blunder, for here they ran into the arms of the panic-stricken crowd, hemmed in by Captain Ripley's sharpshooters. Before they knew what to do, the second and third battalions were ordered up, and also Life Knox's command. Three more volleys were fired by the Unionists and one by the Confederates, and then the ranking officer of the latter, a major, held up his sabre to which he attached his handkerchief, as a token of surrender.

    "I am Major Dudley Arkell," he said to Colonel Lyon, who received the surrender. "I hardly know what commands I have here, as I was taken out of my own regiment, and placed here but an hour ago,--after these poor fellows' officers were shot down."

    "I am Colonel Lyon, of the Riverlawn Cavalry of Kentucky."

    Major Arkell extended his hand, which the colonel shook willingly.

    "I am proud to know you, Colonel Lyon, and I have heard of the Riverlawns before. They were pitted against some relatives of mine at Stone River,--a captain and a lieutenant, who were captured by your force. In behalf of these men I have surrendered to you, and who are not my own command, I request that you will treat them with consideration."

    "I shall do the best I can for them--I do that for all prisoners," answered Colonel Lyon, soberly. "I do not believe in making war any more heartrending than is necessary."

    "Your humanitarianism does you credit, Colonel Lyon," concluded Major Arkell, as he saluted, and rode to the rear.

    With as little delay as possible, the captured troops were made to throw their weapons into a heap. Under a guard of one battalion--the third, they were speedily escorted to the rear and placed among other prisoners, also captured within the hour.

    The next movement was to obtain two army wagons, and into these were placed the stores found on the island, and the captured firearms. In the meanwhile, Captains Ripley and Knox were sent after the retreating Confederate sharpshooters. But the pursuit was in vain, the shooters having removed themselves to the opposite shore of the Chickamauga.

    It must be confessed that the engagement, although lasting less than an hour, had been a most tiring one, and many of the cavalrymen would have been for taking a rest had it been allowed them. But this was a "day of days" in which history is made with marvellous rapidity, and hardly were the prisoners and the captured weapons and stores disposed of, than Colonel Lyon received orders to take his first and second battalion up to a ford two miles above the present battle-ground. The Confederate cavalry, it was feared, would make a dash across the creek to Crawfish Springs, and the Riverlawns were sent to support McCook's command, which had been weakened by the loss of both Davis's and Johnson's divisions, both having already gone to the support of Thomas. With McCook at this time was Negley's division of the Fourteenth corps. The field hospital had been established in the vicinity of Crawfish Springs, and it was felt that the enemy must not be permitted to come over at this point.

    Crawfish Springs was a most beautiful spot, a typical scene for a landscape painter. The spring was really the outlet for a subterranean river, and flowed forth between beautiful hills covered with trees and flowering bushes. It was on the estate of a widow, Mrs. Gordon, whose fine brick mansion stood not far away. In the vicinity of the spring was the house of Lowry, Second Chief of the Cherokees, and it was here that the Army of the Cumberland had, for the time being, established its hospital.

    The Confederates had tried early in the morning to cross Chickamauga Creek, opposite Lee and Gordon's Mill, but had been repulsed. The Union cavalry and infantry were now stretched along the bank of the stream, while the enemy was opposite, and each was watching the other as a cat watches a mouse.

    "Colonel Lyon, you will take up a position in the field next to this," said General McCook, when the commander of the Riverlawns reported with his two battalions. "I am sorry you have but eight companies with you. How soon do you expect the remainder?"

    "They will follow me as soon as they can dispose of some prisoners we succeeded in taking."

    "Then you have already been successfully engaged?"

    "Yes, General; we took several hundred prisoners."

    "I am glad to hear it, for we need some go-ahead men here, or our hospital will be taken and General Rosecrans' very headquarters at the Widow Glenn's threatened. Keep a careful watch and report every movement the Confederates make."

    "I will do my best, General," answered Colonel Lyon, and saluting, he galloped off on his steed.

    There had been a lull in the firing, and now, when the Riverlawns took the position assigned to them, not a sight of a Confederate was to be seen. The stream at this point was lined with heavy brushwood. There was a ford above and another below, and there were numerous spots where the banks were high and rocky. In one place not far away there was a waterfall in the shape of a horseshoe, where the stream made a direct descent of five or six feet.

    Half an hour went by, and all remained quiet. Deck had thrown himself under a tree and partaken of some hardtack, some rather tough beef, and a drink of black coffee. Artie was close by, and both were recounting their experiences in a low tone.

    "They have been fighting all along the line, that's certain," said Artie. "We'll hear of some astonishing results, to-morrow, mark my words."

    "Well, I trust we whip them, that's all," replied Deck. "My! but I am tired. I'll sleep like a rock to-night, no doubt of that."

    "We'll all sleep--if the Johnnies let us," said his brother, laughingly. "I think--Hark! that's pretty heavy firing, eh?" He had broken off as a heavy cannonading reached their ears. Hardly had the cannons belched forth than the rattle of musketry followed.

    The firing grew heavier, and they leaped to their feet, as if expecting the tide of battle would come their way. Then, of a sudden, Artie pointed to a spot between themselves and the creek.

    "Look! look! Deck, who is that?"

    The youthful captain had detected the form of a man moving silently but swiftly through the brush and deep grass. The man was dressed in a clerical suit of black, similar to those worn by unattached chaplains throughout the war.

    "Whoever it is, he acts suspicious-like," commented Deck. "I don't like that."

    "No more do I; let's investigate," rejoined Artie, and they made after the individual, who had passed in a direction leading from them.

    A hundred feet were covered, before they caught sight of the man in black again, and then he was squatting behind the rocks, as if preparing to leap into the stream. But when he saw that they had discovered him he kept away from the water, and dove into the brush again.

    "I'll wager that fellow is a spy!" ejaculated Deck. "Artie, we must take him by all means!"

    "I am with you," answered the brother, readily. "Come on, before he gets too far away!" and he started on a run, with the major beside him. Soon both were out of sight and hearing of their commands, and in the midst of a thicket, where a short arm of the creek formed a cove surrounded by rocks and trailing vines.

    "Do you see anything of him?" whispered Artie, as they came to a halt beside a large, square rock overhanging the cove.

    "No; but he can't be far off," answered Deck. "He came down here, I am almost positive."

    They stood perfectly still, looking to the right and the left, and then behind them. Far away boomed the cannons, and the rattle of smaller arms was incessant; but here all was as quiet as a graveyard.

    "He's a sly one," went on Artie, after a long pause. "He believes in playing a waiting game. He's a spy beyond a doubt."

    "I think you had better make a short detour around the cove," said Deck. "I will watch from this point, to see that he doesn't enter the water and swim away on the sly. Are you willing to undertake it, Artie?"

    "Certainly, if you think it best," answered the captain, and started off without delay.

    He was soon out of sight, and Deck sat down on the rock, pistol in hand, to await developments. For a few minutes he sat facing the water, then he swung around, to ascertain, if possible, what progress his brother was making.

    As he turned around, a form appeared from the water under the big rock. The form straightened up, and a long arm was thrust forth, directly at Deck's side. The hand grasped the major's pistol, and in an instant it was snatched from Deck's grasp.
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