to obstruct his advance as much as I could, so as to give our infantry time to strengthen their position as much as possible before the general battle, which we expected to come off about noon on the 5th.
I took position during the night about two miles from Hunter
He began his march about daybreak, and by sunrise we came in collision with his cavalry so unexpectedly that I became more seriously engaged than I intended or my instructions warranted, and had great difficulty in extricating my command from what, for a little while, was a most perilous position.
As it was, I lost one of my best companies, Captain F. M. Imboden
's, of the Eighteenth Virginia Cavalry, which was cut off from all support, overpowered and captured.
Our next stand was made near Piedmont
, where, to my amazement and against my solemn and angry protest, General Jones
had decided to fight, instead of at Mowry's hill, three miles further back.
We were formed in echelon
, leaving a gap of nearly four hundred yards between our right and left wings.
The two first assaults made on our left wing, where Jones
commanded in person, were gallantly repulsed, but General Hunter
discovering the fatal gap in our line between the right and left wings, rapidly formed a column of attack under cover of some woods, and, sweeping rapidly down on our exposed centre, pierced the line at this point, and striking the right flank of our left wing, doubled the line back on itself, resulting in the wildest confusion and great loss to us. The brave and gallant Jones
was instantly killed when most heroically endeavoring to change his alignment to receive the blow he saw descending so portentously on his centre.
A braver soldier never lived, and had he survived that day I doubt not he would have manfully admitted the error his over-confidence led him into.
I never learned the reason for his change of plans, but infer that it was occasioned by a telegram he had received the night before from General Lee
, and which the enemy found on his body, to the effect that no additional troops could be sent to the Valley
for several days, and he must therefore fight Hunter
as quickly as possible, and beat him back before Crook
's and Averill
's advent on the scene; and as Hunter
had the day before flanked our position at Mount Crawford
, making considerable detour by way of Port Republic
, I think Jones
concluded that his opponent sought to evade a conflict till the last possible moment, thus increasing the probabilities of a junction with Crook
; and that if such was his purpose he would either not attack us at Mowry's hill, or would seek to flank it by another detour either to the right or left.
Reasoning thus, and entirely confident that if he could