Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

October 14th.

Our part in this expedition is done, and we are on our way back to Knoxville. Wilcox’s “baby brigade,” as our boys call them, and the Twenty-third Corps, together with cavalry and mounted infantry, are following up the retreating Rebels. I have not learned the result of the fight, and probably will not for some days to come. Over a hundred of their dead are buried at Blue Springs, where our forces first overtook them, and as far as I went—which was fifteen miles—every house was filled with their wounded.

I saw some were from Lee’s army. One Lieutenant said he remembered seeing our regiment at Fredericksburg. He had stood picket opposite our boys several times. There was a brigade from the Rappahannock. Their force, he said, was about eight thousand, all mounted. The facts in the case were about as follows: Burnside had cleared his department of armed Rebels and had advanced into Virginia as far as Salt Town, where the Rebels had extensive salt works, strongly fortified. Before he could concentrate sufficient force to destroy these works, word came that Rosa was in danger—that Burnside was to hold himself in readiness to reinforce him at a minute’s notice. In order to do this he must withdraw all his forces from the northeast and concentrate them near Knoxville.

The Rebels followed up as he fell back, and occupied the positions he had driven them from.

Before Burnside reached Morristown, word came from Rosa that he was safe inside his fortifications and was being rapidly reinforced by Grant. This left Burnside free to do over again what had been undone, but through no fault of his.

It was a touching sight to witness the joy of these much-abused people at our return. Men who had fled to the bush as the Rebels advanced, and dare not, for their lives, appear, came flocking in and were welcomed with tears and shouts of joy by wives and children. Their gratitude was unbounded.

As I witnessed the delight of these people and listened to their tales of suffering, I felt more than ever that I was engaged in a just and holy cause, and my heart was strengthened to do and dare for human liberty.

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