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LEXINGTON ATTAOK ED.

. 149

1

lege stood within the fortifications, and was occupied as headquarters. The river was about half a mile distant.

An attack was made on the twelfth, led by General Rains in

person, with a battery of nine pieces of artillery; but it was repulsed with heavy loss. The assault was directed against an angle of the works poorest defended ; and the fierce, determined manner in which it was resisted, showed Price that it would not be prudent, even with his overwhelming numbers, to attempt to carry the place by storm ; and he commenced on Friday morning a new system of approaches. Bales of hemp from the surrounding region were carted in, and after being thoroughly saturated with water, to prevent them from being set on fire with red hot shot, were rolled forward as breast-works to protect the batteries. Mulligan, in the mean time, burned a portion of the old town, to prevent the enemy from taking shelter there, and sat down to wait for reinforcements. On the tenth, he had sent a lieutenant with a squad of twelve men on a steamer to Jefferson City, a hundred and sixty miles distant, for more troops but they had not proceeded far before they were captured He then dispatched other messengers by different routes, to avoid a failure. The rebels expected that aid would be sent him, and threw out columns in different directions to intercept it. On Wednesday, they planted four batteries, numbering in all thirteen pieces, and opened a terrible fire on the beleaguered little garrison, while their sharp shoot us from every rock, tree, fence, and house, within range,

rained an incessant shower of balls upon them. If a single head appeared above the works, it became the target of a hun, dred rifles. Mulligan had but six small pieces of artillery, with which to reply to this overwhelming fire, but they were worked with great gallantry. A large, brick house stood towards the river, to which Mulligan had nearly extended his dine of earthworks. This, during the day the rebels got

150

DISTRESS OF MULLIGAN,

possession of, and from the windows, doorways, and behind the chimneys to which they had clambered—some even sheltering themselves in the cistern-kept up a galling fire on the garrison. Determined to bear the annoyance no longer, Mulligan ordered a platoon to clear it, which they did in a twinkling, at the point of the bayonet. Night at length came and put an end to the combat. The next morning Price retired some distance with his main army, to wait the arrival of his ammunition. Day after day now wore away with no fighting except between detached parties. On the 18th, his ammunition having arrived, Price moved back in front of the works, preparatory to his final attack. With a strong force he occupied the brick house near the works, seized the boats in the river to prevent the escape of the garrison, stormed and took possession of some bluffs that overlooked the position, and began to fortify them. The fighting now was incessant. The bright moonlight nights brought no cessation to the combat, and the besieged being cut off from the river, began to suffer dreadfully from want of water. The large number of horses and mules within the inclosure, also grew frantic with thirst and threatened to break away from their fastenings, and spread terror through the camps. From the hights that the enemy held in spite of all the efforts made to dislodge them, they on the twentieth began to roll slowly downward a breastwork of hemp bales. From this last device of the rebels there was no escape, and Mulligan looked with alarm on the steadily approaching rampart, along the crest of which ran an incessant sheet of flame. Saily after sally was made, and deeds of desperate valor were done, and partial successes gained; but it was evident that the doom of the garrison was sealed. They were driven back to their inner defenses, while the home guard retired entirely, refusing to fight any more. No water was to be bad, and the agony of thirst was becoming stronger than the

FALL OF LEXINGTON.

151

fear of death. The wreck and ruin that surrounded them was rendered still more appalling by the putrifying carcasses of hundreds of horses that had fallen before the fire of the enemy, and now filled the air with an insufferable stench. For more than a week they had borne up against overwhelming numbers, looking anxiously for the aid for which they had long ago sent. Every morning Mulligan bent his ear to catch the sound of distant cannonading, telling him that help was at hand; and every night he turned his eye anxiously towards the silent river to catch the first signal of deliverance, but in vain. He bore up heroically through these long days and nights of pain and toil, and his brave brigade stood nobly by him, showing themselves worthy of their gallant commander; but buffet it back as he would, the painful trutlı that his flag must be struck to the foe, would return with every revolving hour, crushing him to the earth. Had there been any definite point within reach, where a desperate stand could be made, he would have cut his way through the host that environed him sword in hand; but turn which way

he would, he saw no avenue of escape. On this last day he was twice wounded; but not until the home guard had refused to fight longer, and the hempen breast-work was within fifty yards of his fortifications, did he finally consent to surrender. Two thousand six hundred men, including the five hupdred home guard laid down their arms, and one of the most important posts of Missouri fell into the hands

of the enemy

Fremont's career had conimenced badly, and one loud voice of condemnation went up against hiin all over the land. Some few of his friends pretended that the loss of this place was only a part of his strategic plan which would result in the capture of Price's entire army, but the common sense of the people was not to be duped in this manner. A ztrategy, they said, that required the death of Lyon, and the surrender of

152

FREMONT TAKES. THE FIELD.

a whole army was not one by which Missouri could be saved. Fremont, in defense, declared that he did send reinforcements, and events over which he had no control prevented them from being received. Much angry discussion and sharp criticism followed. A good deal unquestionably could be said in his defense but the clamor could not be allayed. The people always have judged, and always will judge a General by his success, and no apology will satisfy them for defeats where no evidence is given of efforts having been made equal to the emergency.

One fact seemed palpable to all-he should have known the circumstances in which his subordinate was placed, and if the difficulties that surrounded him were insurmountable, told him so, and left him to secure his retreat as he best could.

From this time on, Fremont's enemies never let him alone, -ill they secured his removal from the department. Charges of gross frauds on the government in the purchase of arms and army supplies, and in the giving out of contracts, of surrounding himself with favorites to the exclusion of the fighting officers of the army, of keeping up an aristocratic estab- : lishment, and finally of total incompetency in the management of his department, multiplied on every side. He saw that he had awakened a storm that would overwhelm him without immediate signal victories, and he took the field in person, and began to concentrate his forces against the

enemy. While Mulligan was contending at Lexington, Colonel Scott met with a repulse at Blue Mills, but the enemy retired before our main force could come up.

Notwithstanding all these reverses in the west, Kentucky never faltered in the loyal stand she had taken. The legislature called on the rebels to leave the state forthwith, and when Polk agreed to do so, if the Federal forces were also withdrawn, it refused to grant the condition; and though their acts were vetoed by the governor, they passed them

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