An excerpt from General Lannigan's unpublished manuscript "Fighting for Freedom" along with illustrations from an anonymous artist.
|The Rebel army marches out to face the foe.|
"The retreat from Duck River
was a bit of a shambles but I managed to pull the army together at the little town of Sittington on the banks of the fast flowing Blutaip River. With the Red Queen's forces hot on our tail, the best plan seemed to be to cross over and then blow the bridge which was the only crossing point within 50 squares for an army with all of its supplies.
Before I could issue the orders though, word came that the army's supplies had not yet been evacuated from the depot in Sittington as ordered. Those supplies were crucial for the continued existence of the Rebel army and so I had no choice but to order the men to prepare for battle. We had to buy time to evacuate the vital munitions.
|McAlpine's Fusiliers get to work with axe and shovel on some field fortifications as the advance guard pulls back.|
In the morning there seemed to be a never ending stream of redcoats pouring on to the field. It was obvious that they had been heavily reinforced since Duck River.
We had a narrow gap to hold and that would make it hard for the enemy to use his superior numbers, so it was possible. A probe by enemy Hussars was quickly driven back . As the army deployed, McAlpine and his pioneers were soon busy erecting a hasty redoubt in the centre to make the position even stronger.
With the main army deployed, I ordered the sharpshooters to pullback from LIttle Farmton and move to the left to keep the enemy from moving through the woods and recalled the 3rd Infantry to the main defence line.
|The Redcoats have passed through Little Farmington and opened fire on the main line.|
The first enemy assault on our mainline was repulsed easily at all points. There was a pause while they brought up guns and reserves but things were looking good.
|A hole in the line! Where are the reserves?|
Things were fine until our only battery was silenced by massed batteries and rifle fire. I could see the Highlanders preparing to charge and so ordered the battery to fallback and the Chasseurs to come forward to fill the gap.
|The line is under heavy pressure.|
It was too late. The enemy's Foot Guards had driven the Sharpshooters from the wood and the redoubt was under heavy pressure with no reserves close enough to intervene.
|The redoubt is over run but McAlpine's falls back in good order.|
There was no option but to pull back as quickly as possible and hold the town as the last line of defence.
Thankfully the Commissary now reported that the stores had been successfully evacuated. All that remained was to save as much of our force as possible then blow the bridge.
|Mcalpine's falls back over the bridge.|
For a moment it looked good but our luck had turned and the enemy's cavalry was on us in a flash. The Black Horse were scattered, the battery over run and the Sharpshooters ridden down.
There was no way to save the last two infantry units. As the Zouaves fell back over the bridge I gave the order to light the fuse. There was a flash then a terrific BOOM!
When the smoke cleared the bridge was still there but it looked mighty shaky. Men might cross it slowly in small parties but no cavalry or guns.
It was enough, but we no longer had an army in being. The retreat continued all that night."