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    Chapter 36

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    Chapter 37
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    FIERCE FIGHTING--AN UNDIVIDED UNION--CONCLUSION

    While Long's cavalry and the Riverlawns were operating as mentioned, General Thomas, under directions of Grant, began the first movement ending in the great battle of Chattanooga. With about twenty-five thousand men the new commander of the Army of the Cumberland marched forth to Missionary Ridge, to develop the Confederate lines at that point. The march was made in such order that the enemy thought a parade was taking place in the plain below them, and it was not until Thomas's skirmishers fired on their outposts that they became aware that a battle was on hand. They retreated to their rifle-pits and a hot engagement resulted, and a larger portion of Missionary Ridge was secured to the Unionists. On the next day another important advance was made along the river.

    Hooker was near Lookout Mountain, and with his command scaled the lofty peaks, drove the Confederates from one point of advantage to another, and after a bloody battle, which will never be forgotten by either the blue or the gray, took about two thousand prisoners and intrenched himself on the mountain-side in full view of Chattanooga. This contest took place in the rain and mist, and was so high up that nothing of it could be seen from below because of the clouds. At night the moon came out through the scattering rain, and hundreds of victorious camp-fires blazed at as many different points, telling of the victory gained.

    Bragg was now almost at his wit's end. He had lost at Tullahoma, gained nothing on the Chickamauga, failed in his siege of Chattanooga, and it looked as if the remnant of his command was to be scattered to the four winds of heaven. He had made some mistakes, officers under him had failed to carry out his commands, and now, when it was too late, he bitterly regretted having allowed a portion of his soldiers to move on, to fight elsewhere.

    The dawning of day, November 25, saw a hundred flags with the stars and stripes floating from the peaks of Lookout Mountain, and Hooker prepared to make a descent and sweep in the direction of Rossville Gap. In the meantime Bragg marched his brigades along Missionary Ridge, his idea being to either overwhelm Sherman or seize the railroad, which is not definitely known. He had been driven out of Chattanooga Valley, and it was now a question of fight or leave Chickamauga Valley.

    Sherman was in need of reënforcements, not having brought all of his men over the stream, and Howard marched the Eleventh corps to join him. Sherman began, without delay, a furious assault on Bragg's right, and leaving the knoll upon which he was intrenched, swept up that upon which the enemy rested.

    The line of battle, two miles in length, was now clearly defined, and at half past three in the afternoon a general advance was ordered. The Union skirmishers encountered at first a series of rifle-pits. The orders had been to take these, and nothing more was expected. The battle waged with great fury, and soon the Confederates were seen to waver and abandon first one pit and then another.

    "Let us go on! Down with the enemy!" was the battle-cry, and no sooner were the pits gained, than the Union soldiers leaped over them and began the steep ascent of the mountain before them, the Confederates from the pits fleeing wildly in all directions, and a great number being made prisoners.

    The peril connected with the storming of Missionary Ridge can hardly be overestimated. At some points the sides were almost perpendicular, and at others the shell rock crumbled beneath the touch. At the top were stationed forty pieces of artillery, and thousands of the enemy. Shot and shell rained down incessantly, and great gaps were torn into the ranks, as company after company pressed up, bound to gain the summit at any cost. To those who saw it, it was a sight the mind's eye could never lose. The officers were as excited as the men, and no one in command could have ordered those under him back, even had he been so inclined.

    The Riverlawns had come forward on horseback, but now, after the rifle-pits were gained, it was deemed best to dismount. Away they went on foot, close to Sherman's side, with Long's cavalry but a short distance away.

    "We have them on the run, boys!" shouted Colonel Gordon. "Forward! Don't lag behind the rest of the line!" And forward they went, until the first battalion was far up the heights, with Deck at their head, waving his sabre enthusiastically over his head. His breast had been sore from that sword prick in the rib, but now all that was forgotten in the excitement of the moment.

    "There is a break!" he shouted to Gordon, and pointed to the spot with his sabre. It was an opening several hundred feet wide, and the Riverlawns rushed to fill it. Then on they went again, pell-mell, panting for breath, and firing as often as the opportunity presented itself. Once a shot tore through the companies, but it did not stay their progress.

    A cheer swept down the line. Some regiment had gained a peak some distance away, and the Confederate standard was torn down, and the glorious stars and stripes hoisted in its stead. The cheer was nerve inspiring, and onward swept the boys in blue with more enthusiasm than ever.

    The Riverlawns were still a hundred feet from the point they were trying to gain, when, on looking through the cloud of smoke, Deck saw a sight that filled him with horror. Above was a huge mass of loose rocks and dirt. The Confederates had shovelled away to the front of the mass, and now it was just starting on its downward way. Should it strike the regiment it would fairly annihilate the ranks.

    For an instant Deck could not speak. Then his voice rang out like a trumpet:--

    "Riverlawns! Right face! Double-quick--march!"

    "Right-face! Double-quick--march!" rang from one battalion to another, and a sharp turn off along the side of the ridge was made. Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon looked at Deck in wonder.

    "What does this mean?" he began. "Do you--Great heavens! Double-quick, boys, if you want to save your lives!" And the double-quick became a triple-quick, and some went even faster. Scarcely had the regiment left the fated spot when the rocks and dirt came crashing down, sweeping trees, brush, and vines before it, and ploughing up the ground as though with so many gigantic plough-shares.

    "You saved the regiment!" cried Tom Belthorpe as he met Deck, a moment later. And Gordon said the same.

    The order to go forward again was now given, and away went the Riverlawns in what was little short of an ugly mood, for they did not consider the letting down of the rocks and dirt as square fighting. Deck continued at the head of the first battalion, and inside of five minutes gained the top of the ridge. A regiment of Confederates were there, in the act of retreating, and he charged them relentlessly, causing them to fairly tumble down the slopes opposite. The whole regiment was soon at hand, and the fight did not come to an end until the enemy had been driven clear out of sight.

    Missionary Ridge was won, but now was no time to celebrate the victory, although cheer after cheer rang along the mountain peaks and every Union flag to be had was waving lustily. The Confederate artillery was seized and pointed in the opposite direction, and the log barricades were torn down and set up in places of greater advantage. At the centre, the Confederates tried to make another stand, but it availed nothing, and overwhelmed, they threw down their arms and fled.

    But even yet the work for the Riverlawns was not all over. There was another ridge between General Sherman and the main body of the Union troops, a ridge near the tunnel under the mountain, where General Bragg's right flank rested. This must still be taken, and again the Riverlawns played an important part, fighting until long after sundown, with Sherman's invincible command.

    The fighting was still on, when Deck's battalion found itself in a little gulch, pursuing a small body of Confederates that had been uncovered ten minutes before. The enemy had been fired at four times, and half a dozen men had fallen. The battalion pressed them so closely that soon the leader was seen to throw away his sword and lift up his hands in token of surrender.

    The face-to-face meeting with the Confederate was a surprise to Deck, for the man was none other than Totterly, and the men under him numbered two who had taken part in the attack on Riverlawn. Under a strong guard, all three guerillas were taken to the rear. Two other guerillas were picked up mortally wounded.

    As soon as he could get the chance, Deck spoke to Totterly and the others about the articles stolen from the mansion. The leader would admit nothing, but one of the wounded men confessed to all that had been done and said that the articles taken had been left with a relative of Totterly in Chattanooga. One hundred dollars of the gold was gone, but all the other things were safe. That night Totterly tried to escape by running the prison guard and was shot in the back, a wound from which he died at sunrise.

    Deck was anxious to learn if the information given to him concerning the stolen articles was correct, but it was just now impossible to get away. Early in the morning the Riverlawns were sent along the river in pursuit of the flying enemy. In the meantime Sherman, having done such gallant work at the Ridge, was ordered to prepare to go to Knoxville, where Burnside's position was becoming embarrassing. And thus the Riverlawns parted with this brave and daring general for the time being.

    When Major Lyon returned to Chattanooga he found Captain Artie much improved. Colonel Lyon was also a trifle better, but both Surgeon Farnwright and the city doctor agreed that he must not think of joining his command again for at least four or six months to come. As a matter of fact, the colonel never went into the field again, but, receiving an honorable discharge, retired to his home at Riverlawn, having done more than his share in upholding the glorious Union.

    Upon the retirement of Noah Lyon, Lieutenant-Colonel Gordon became the commandant of the regiment, and Deck was made second in command. This left the office of major of the first battalion vacant, and for "meritorious service" Captain Artie Lyon became the new major, when he once again took the field, six months after the event narrated at the beginning of this chapter. At the same time Sandy Lyon became a full-fledged captain, much to old Titus Lyon's delight and to the joy of his mother and sisters.

    Deck's first move on coming back to Chattanooga was to have a search made of the premises occupied by the relative of Totterly. This brought to light the stolen money, minus the hundred dollars which had been spent, the jewellery, and also the mysterious missing paper. To make sure that it was the right document it had to be read, and the reading made Noah Lyon and the other members of his household smile.

    "I do not believe in the institution of slavery," wrote Duncan Lyon, "and I hope ere this paper is brought to light that it will be abolished in the State of Kentucky. If it is not abolished, I hereby urge upon my brother Noah to set the slaves free,--doing it in the following manner: All under eighteen years of age to be held until they can care for themselves, and the others to be freed at the rate of one every two months, starting with the oldest. This will make it easy on him. If the slaves wish to remain at Riverlawn, I urge that they be allowed to remain, at fair wages, so long as they perform their work faithfully."

    Such was the contents of the much-discussed letter, and Noah Lyon said he was not surprised. "It pleases me to know that Duncan thought as I think," he said to Deck. "And I am glad to remember that our slaves are practically slaves no longer. Levi Bedford has already put every hand at Riverlawn on the pay-roll, and the only reason why they don't leave is because they don't want to leave."

    A month later the old colonel returned to his plantation home, but Captain Artie remained at Chattanooga. The reason for this was, that the wounded captain had found Rosebel Greene not only the best of nurses but likewise the loveliest girl he had ever met. As the days went by and Artie grew stronger, their friendship increased, and it was with tears in her eyes that she saw him depart at last for the seat of war, now miles away.

    As the days passed the gateway to the southeast was thrown wide open, and Sherman began that march to the sea which brought him such undying fame. With the general went the Riverlawns, through many a fiery battle, doing their duty as of yore and winning fresh laurels day by day. To tell of all these happenings would require many volumes, and still not one half would be told. The war went on, and commanders came and went, but the Riverlawns kept in their place, well to the front, no matter what the danger. In one battle Colonel Gordon was shot down, and then Deck became the commander, a position he held until that final surrender of Lee to Grant at Appomattox.

    The Union was saved! How the news flashed hither and thither over the telegraph wires! The church bells rang, bonfires leaped up to the very clouds, and men, women, and children shook hands, wept, cheered, and yelled themselves hoarse. Henceforth it would be the United States of America, and nothing less--against all comers. The Constitution of our forefathers, baptized in the blood of thousands of martyrs, should henceforth be held sacred!

    The final surrender came in April, 1865. In October of that year occurred two events, which, while not of national importance, were of great moment to the immediate parties concerned. By invitation of the Belthorpes, Rosebel Greene had made her home at Lyndhall, and here she was united for life to the young soldier whom she had so tenderly nursed back from death's door to perfect health. At the same time that this occurred Kate Belthorpe became Mrs. Dexter Lyon. All belonging to the several families were present, and among them Margie Gadbury, who in the early spring had changed her name from Belthorpe. Lyndhall was a mass of lights and flowers, and both Deck and Artie were married in full military uniform, and the entire occasion was one long to be remembered by those who participated.

    When the Riverlawns were mustered out there was some talk of disbanding the command, but this was overruled, and for a number of years the various companies remained intact, although unattached. Every year they held a grand reunion, where the veterans, young and old, would "fight their battles over again." At these reunions many toasts were offered, but that which brought forth the greatest applause was the one invariably offered by Colonel Dexter Lyon.

    "Gentlemen," he would say, on rising, "let me give to you the toast I have proposed to you every year since the war closed: An Undivided Union. May God prosper it, and every citizen do all he can to uphold it!"

    "An Undivided Union!" would come back in deep unison. "Once and forever! AN UNDIVIDED UNION!"

    THE END.

    * * * * * * * * * * * *
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