Kentucky Cavaliers in Dixie: The Reminiscences of a Confederate Cavalryman

By Geo. Dallas Mosgrove | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XLVII.
THE BATTLE OF MARION (Continued) -- ENIGMATICAL STRATEGETICS --A WIDE OPEN DOOR FOR GENERAL STONEMAN TO ENTER SALTVILLE.

AFTER nightfall General Breckinridge ordered the little army to withdraw from its position and move out on the road to Marion. On account of the rain, cold and darkness and the close proximity of the enemy it was a difficult and somewhat dangerous movement to make. Desultory firing continued all the while, and it was not until 1 o'clock Monday morning that the movement was successfully effected. But there was much surprise among the troops, and the query went round, "What does all this mean?" Some thought we were going to Saltville; others, that General Breckinridge was attempting to execute a strategical maneuver. However, the majority of officers and men thought we should have retained our position at the bridge. Stoneman had been forced to fight on the defensive. We were between him and Saltville, and he was a long way from his base, in an unfavorable position for retreat. We were aware that Colonel Buckley, returning from the lead mines, which he had failed to destroy, had passed along the Rye Valley Road, on our right. Buckley's force was of inconsequential strength and attracted but little attention. Notwithstanding the excellent morale of the troops, elated by their successes in the battles of Saturday and Sunday, we were now making the quid obscurum movement of this inexplicable campaign. General Breckinridge had not been out- generaled nor had he been out-fought. He was greatly outnumbered, it is true, Stoneman having five men to his one, but his little army of Kentuckians had defeated every movement of the Federals and were by no means loath to confront them again on Monday morning. At sundown on Sunday the Confederates were conquerors, and they protested against playing the role of the vanquished. In the light of

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