HISTORY OF THE ORPHAN BRIGADE.
most of it, at Rome, Ga. (July-August, 1863), as has been noticed. This, it is true, was not so long anterior to this month of bitter January weather, when we find them at Tunnel Hill engaged in the old business which they seemed scarcely ever to have relaxed that of scouting, picketing, and fighting occasionally, while other troops hugged their cabins and had dress parade; but for four months subsequent to leaving Rome they had been subjected to trials that would have broken the spirits of weak men as well as wear out their bodies; and they were here now with jaded horses, living on scant forage which was often moldy, weevil-eaten, or half-decayed, while their clothing was poor in kind and inadequate in quantity for even a less severe season.
At length, however, about the first of March, as intimated, the brigade was relieved and sent to Oxford, Ala., where it went into quarters, and had several weeks of much needed rest, received a long arrear of pay, recruited horses, and found such various diversion among the good people in Talladega Valley as made them forgetful of past troubles and measurably unconcerned as to what fate a lowering future might have in store for them. The result was that when they were ordered to the front they resumed their ordinary duties with increased spirit and vigor, and soon afterward entered upon the long four-month campaign with new life, with rekindled hopes, and with renewed determination that, come what might, the Kentucky soldier would not be found at last to have been recreant to his trust.
Some time before the long campaign opened, however, a minor .affair in which the First Kentucky was concerned occurred, which is appropriately noticed here. For reasons not explained, Gen. Johnston or Gen. Wheeler wished to obtain information as to position of the enemy north of the mountain and below Ringgold, and Wheeler sent to this regiment for a detail of men under command of one of the best of its company officers. Col. Griffith conferred this honor on Lieut. Joe Vincent, then the junior commissioned officer.
Selecting the men and naming Sergts. James E. Miles and A. M. Head as the non-commissioned officers to have oversight each of a half of the detachment, Vincent reported to Gen. W7heeler, and was ordered to be ready at dark with his detail properly equipped for a night's special service. At the time designated Vincent and his men left the general's headquarters accompanied by a staff officer who had been instructed as to the nature of the reconnoissance to be made. Passing over the ridge some distance below Ringgold Gap, they built a high and strong rail fence in a hollow and extending some distance on each side of a public road as afterward ascertained, but a short distance from the .camp of a brigade of Federal infantry. The men took position by