Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 33.djvu/271

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The Twelfth Alabama Infantry. 267

expectation and wishes, and, lale at night, we evacuated our posi- tion and left Washington and its frightened inhabitants. The object of the daring expedition was no doubt accomplished, and Grant was forced to send large re-enforcements to the threatened and demoralized capital from his army, and thus largely diminish his force and lessen his ability to act upon the offensive. I believe we could have taken the city when we first reached it, but the delay brought heavy battalions from Grant, ten times our small number, who could have readily forced us to abandon it. About 12 o'clock at night we commenced falling back towards Rockvtlle, and, I regret to say, our march was brilliantly illuminated by the burning of the mag- nificent Blair mansion. The destruction of the house was much de- plored by our general officers and the more thoughtful subordinates, as it has been our policy not to interfere with private property. It was set on fire, either by some thoughtless and reckless sharp- shooter in the rear guard, or by some careless soldier stationed about the house.

Marched in retreat the remainder of the night, passed through the friendly southern town of Rockville and halted near Darnes- town. At dusk we commenced marching, via Poolsville, to White's Ferry on the Potomac. Did not march over five miles the entire night, though kept awake, and moving short distances at intervals of a few minutes. Re-crossed the Potomac on the i4th, wading it, and halted near the delightful little town of Leesburg. We have secured, it is said, over three thousand horses and more than twenty- five hundred head of beef cattle by this expedition, and this gain will greatly help the Confederate government. The Yankee cavalry made a dash upon our wagon train and captured a few wagons. General Cook's Georgia and Battle's Alabama brigades were double- quicked, or rather ran, about two miles after them, but of course could not succeed in overtaking them. The idea of Confederate infantry trying to catch Yankee cavalry, especially when the latter is scared beyond its wits, is not a new one at all, and though at- tempted often in the past, and doubtless to be repeated scores of times in the future, I venture to predict, will never be successful. Indeed it is a demonstated fact that demoralized and retreating Yankee infantry cannot be overtaken by Confederate cavalry, vide battles of Bull Run, Manassas, first and second, etc. A frightened Yankee is unapproachable. We finally gave up the pursuit and marched through Snicker's Gap. The Twelfth Alabama picketed