previous next

[31] him and drove him back in disorder, with considerable loss. Simultaneously the Twelfth Virginia infantry, Col. Klunk, engaged a large body of the enemy's skirmishers in a wood south of the ridge, and on the opposite side of the creek and race, and after holding them in check two hours, being outflanked and greatly outnumbered, retired. Our whole force which had been advanced on the Strasburgh road, retired behind the creek and race above described. That creek and race then constituted the line of our forces in front of the town, and was held by Col. Ely, with a portion of his brigade, on the Front Royal road, and by Gen. Elliott, with a portion of his brigade, on the Strasburgh road. The remainder of my forces were in the forts immediately north of the town.

Immediately after our forces had retired from the Strasburgh road to the Winchester side of the creek and race, the enemy advanced his skirmishers, and brisk skirmishing ensued until dark. About five o'clock in the evening the enemy advanced and took possession of a picket post surrounded by a stone wall on the south, east, and west, and which commanded the Strasburgh road, from which they were dislodged by two companies of the Twelfth Virginia volunteer infantry. In this affair, which occurred about six o'clock in the evening, we captured a prisoner, from whom I learned that he belonged to Hay's Louisiana brigade, which was a part of Ewell's corps, the whole of which, and also that of Longstreet, was in our immediate vicinity. A deserter, who came in shortly afterward, confirmed his statement. This was the first intimation that I received that Lee's army had quietly retired before the lines of the army of the Potomac and performed a five or six days march. Telegraphic communication with my headquarters continued until twelve o'clock M. on Saturday. The Blue Ridge screened the operations of Lee's army from me. I had always relied with implicit confidence upon receiving timely notice by telegraph of its advance in my direction. On Saturday, under the cover of night, I withdrew my forces on the Strasburgh and Front Royal roads, in front of Winchester, to the southern suburbs of the town, under orders to retire to the forts north of the town at two o'clock in the morning. Colonel McReynolds arrived with his command between nine and ten o'clock P. M., and was assigned to the star fort, immediately north of the main fortification. At this time it was evident that at least two corps of Lee's army, numbering not less than fifty thousand men, and abundantly supplied with artillery, were in my immediate vicinity, and that my retreat by the Martinsburgh and Berryville roads was cut off.

I still hoped that there had been some corresponding action of the army of the Potomac, and that if I could sustain myself for twenty-four hours I would be relieved.

Early on Sunday morning detachments of cavalry were sent out on the Berryville and Martinsburgh roads, but were driven back by the enemy's skirmishers and sharp-shooters. From seven o'clock on Sunday morning until four o'clock in the afternoon detachments from the Eighteenth Connecticut, Fifth Maryland, and Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania volunteer infantry, under the direction of Colonel Ely, continually skirmished with the enemy in front of the forts and east of the town, between the Front Royal and Martinsburgh roads. During this skirmishing the rebels took possession of a large brick dwelling, surrounded by dense shrubbery, on the Berryville road, about half a mile from Winchester. Our skirmishers attached and carried the house, killing one officer and five men, and capturing eleven prisoners. At one time during the day the rebels in considerable numbers appeared in the town, but were driven out by the Eighteenth Connecticut and Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania volunteer infantry. On Sunday morning General Elliott, with a portion of his brigade, Carlin's battery, and the Twelfth Virginia volunteer infantry, took position on the ridge above described, about a quarter of a mile south of the Romney road. He had frequent and sometimes severe skirmishes. The enemy did not, however, at any time appear before him in force.

In consequence of the overwhelming masses of the enemy about me, I kept my forces during the day well in hand, and in immediate connection with the forts. As early as Saturday evening, after I learned the presence of Lee's army in force, I made up my mind to act entirely on the defensive, economize my forces, wait until the enemy had massed himself for the final attack, and then, unless relieved, force my way through what might appear to be the weakest portion of his lines.

My belief was superinduced by the manoeuvres of the enemy on Saturday, and by the grounds that the real attack would come from the Romney road. Early on Sunday morning I ordered Captain Morgan, of the Twelfth Pennsylvania cavalry, with a detachment of two companies of that regiment, to proceed out the Pughtown road as far as Pughtown, if practicable, thence across to the Romney road, and by that road back to the forts. I instructed him to carefully observe the disposition and forces of the enemy, if any, in that direction. That officer returned with his command to the forts about two o'clock P. M., and reported that he had made the round indicated without meeting or detecting any traces of an enemy in that direction. Immediately west of and parallel with the ridge on which the main fortification is constructed, and about two thousand yards distant therefrom, is another range, known as Flint Ridge, on which there was in process of construction a line of earthworks which commanded the Pughtown and Romney roads, and all the approaches from the west. These works were occupied on Sunday by the One Hundred and Tenth and part of the One Hundred and Sixteenth Ohio volunteer infantry, and battery L, Fifth regiment artillery, under Colonel Keifer. The report of Captain Morgan relieved me from all apprehension of an immediate attack in that direction, and induced

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
W. H. F. Lee (4)
John Morgan (2)
Ely (2)
Elliott (2)
McReynolds (1)
Longstreet (1)
Klunk (1)
Keifer (1)
George Hay (1)
R. S. Ewell (1)
Carlin (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: