regret the prospect of having to give it up. It will be cruel to abandon the loyal people in this country to the rebel fiends again.
Early on Friday morning, the twelfth of June, I received this telegram:
Lieutenant-Colonel Piatt, as I learn by copy of despatch sent me, which he forwarded to you from Harper's Ferry, misunderstood me, and somewhat exceeded his instructions. You will make all the required preparations for withdrawing, but hold your position in the mean time. Be ready for movement, but await further orders. I doubt the propriety calling in McReynolds's brigade at once. If you should fall back to Harper's Ferry, he will be in part on the way and cover your flank. But use your discretion as to any order to him. Below, I give you a copy of the telegram of the General-in-Chief. Nothing heard since. Give me constant information.
Robert C. Schenck, Major-General, Commanding.
copy of General Halleck's telegram.
Harper's Ferry is the important place. Winchester is of no importance other than a look-out. The Winchester troops, except enough to serve as a look-out, should be withdrawn to Harper's Ferry. No large amount of supplies should be left in any exposed position.
H. W. Halleck, General-in-Chief.
Late on Friday evening I received a despatch from General Schenck, which is lost, but which was in substance as follows: A dispatch just received from Colonel Don Piatt says, “I read Halleck's last despatch by the light of his of the thirtieth April, and considered it a positive order to fall back to Harper's Ferry, and I so ordered Milroy. I have been on the ground and gave it advisedly. Milroy cannot move from his present position in presence of the enemy. He has not transportation enough to move in face of the enemy, and he has not cavalry he can rely upon, to scout beyond Strasburgh.” What are your facilities for transportation? This telegram I immediately answered as follows:
I can at any time, if not cut off from Martinsburgh, have sufficient transportation to take all public stores from here in six hours.
Late on Friday night, June the twelfth, perhaps about ten o'clock, I sent Major-General Schenck this despatch, to wit:
The Twelfth Pennsylvania cavalry had a slight skirmish with a rebel cavalry force of about five hundred, twelve miles from here, on the Front Royal road, this afternoon. The Thirteenth Pennsylvania cavalry and Eighty-seventh Pennsylvania infantry, with one section of artillery, had a splendid little skirmish with some four hundred rebel cavalry this side of Middletown, at the same time. The Thirteenth skirmished with the rebels a short time, and drew them into an ambuscade of the Eighty-seventh and artillery. Eight of the rebels were killed, and a number wounded, and thirty-seven, including a captain and two lieutenants, taken prisoners. No casualties on our side. The enemy is probably approaching in some force. Please state specifically whether I am to abandon this place or not.
To this communication no reply was received.1 It is clear that I received no order to evacuate Winchester, except that of Colonel Piatt, which was annulled by the telegram of Major-General Schenck, received on Friday, the twelfth. The telegram above copied of the General-in-Chief was before me, but that is advisory in its tone, and I, in common with General Schenck, did not construe it as amounting to an order, or as indicating that immediate compliance was intended. I rather considered it as indicating the course which should be pursued upon an emergency yet to happen. This telegram, although sent as late as Thursday, the eleventh, must have been written in the absence of all knowledge of the impending emergency; otherwise language calculated to hasten my action would have been used. The language contained in my telegram, expressive of my confidence in my ability to hold Winchester was used with reference to any contingency which would probably happen. I did not mean that I could hold it against such an army as that which I knew to be at the disposal of General Lee, and it was no part of my duty to watch the movements of that army. My limited cavalry force did not enable me to scout beyond the Blue Ridge. That army was faced, however, by the army of the Potomac, between the headquarters of which and my own, by way of Washington, a continuous line of telegraphic communication existed. I believed that Lee could not move his large army with its immense artillery and baggage trains, and perform a six days march in my direction unless I received timely notice of the important fact. The immense cavalry force at the disposal of General Hooker strengthened this confidence. Therefore, on Friday, when I perceived indications of the approach of the enemy in some force on the Front Royal road, I felt confident that it was composed of the forces which I had faced, or that the expected cavalry expedition of General Stuart was in progress. Acting upon this belief, I regarded it as my duty to remain at my post at Winchester. Lee's army in parallel columns once across the passes of the Blue Ridge from the direction of