The Union steals a page from the Confederate playbook and conducts a daring guerrilla-type raid behind enemy lines from their base in Manchester.
In December, 1862, Clay County's Colonel T. T. Garrard was in Memphis, on his way to Vicksburg and a brigadier generalship, when he received a telegraph from headquarters ordering him to Manchester, where he was to join with Brigadier General S. P. Carter to conduct a super-secret raid behind Confederate lines in Tennessee. Manchester was chosen as a staging ground for the nearly 1000 cavalry troops apparently because its remoteness offered the best chance for the guerrilla-type raid to be carried out in secrecy. It didn't hurt that Garrard knew the territory like the back of his hand.
The special Union regiment left their supply wagons in Manchester and, lightly equipped, made their way up Goose Creek, across Asher's Fork to the Red Bird, then up Phillips Fork and on across Pine Mountain. From there, on an exceptionally cold day, they crossed the only unguarded pass on Cumberland Mountain -- unguarded because the Rebels had not expected a cavalry unit to be able to traverse the extremely rugged trail -- and made their way into Virginia and on down into the Powell Valley in Tennessee.
Though Garrard was now 50 years old he had no trouble keeping up with the brutal schedule kept by Carter. The troops rode round the clock for three days through enemy territory, skirmishing with Rebels all the way, and on the 30th December they accomplished their mission by blowing up two railroad bridges crucial to the Confederates.
Getting back to Manchester turned out to be a replay of the trip from Manchester, riding nonstop in freezing conditions, being harassed by Rebels and bushwhackers all the way. But Carter's and Garrard's troops made it back and basked in accolades from the top Union brass, including the top one of all, General-in-Chief Halleck in Washington, who said, "The daring operations and brilliant achievements of General Carter and his command are without parallel in the history of the war, and deserve the thanks of the country."
Garrard then resumed his original journey and was promoted to brigadier general during the battles around Vicksburg leading up to the famous seige.
Brigadier General S. P. Carter
Colonel T. T. Garrard. Garrard was promoted to brigadier general after the raid.