Excerpt from ATTACKS
The hearts of the mountain riflemen leapt with delight. Those Italian forces must not retreat farther, that was certain. I quickly put my ten carbine soldiers in dense clumps of bushes a hundred yards south of the road, and we proceeded to open fire on the columns on the Rivalta-Pirago road at a range of about fourteen hundred yards. We concentrated our fire on a place where escape was impossible for the enemy; on the right, the rocky wall; on the left, the Piave! The leading elements of the 3d Company began to arrive breathless at the mouth of the pass, and they reinforced the firing line. (Sketch 68)
In a few minutes our rapid fire had split the hostile column in two. The northern half marched back toward Longarone while the southern half quickened its pace. Minutes later, the enemy turned a large number of machine guns against us. The fire was ineffective for we had occupied good positions among the bushes on the forward slope and had moved away from the mouth of the Vajont ravine. The Italians only fired at the road and up the Vajont ravine, but their actions did slow the advance of our reinforcements.
Small groups of the enemy in Longarone now tried to run the gauntlet to the south. A platoon of the 3rd Company, with two light machine guns, was now in position south of the Vajont ravine and it quickly discouraged these ventures.
Suddenly, one of my runners noticed a company of Italian infantry descending the rock walls in our rear (from the direction of Hill 854). I moved a few riflemen and a light machine gun to meet this new threat. The enemy continued to climb down the steep wall in column of files and came to within three hundred yards of us. Things looked promising, for any man hit when we opened fire would have fallen down the cliff and dragged several of his comrades along. I was sure of success. But I did not fire immediately; rather, I shouted to the enemy to surrender. The enemy saw that the game was up and surrendered. Had we discovered him five minutes later, he would have been down the steep wall and could have done us much harm.