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[469] within six miles of that place, being engaged with and driving the enemy's skirmishers all the way. At this point we were so near the enemy's lines that we could hear distinctly their bands playing on our right and left. We obtained valuable information of their movements and location from parties who had left Martinsburgh that day. The object of the reconnoissance having been accomplished, we returned to within a mile of Shepherdstown, where we remained on picket. A little before dark our videttes were driven in, but we speedily charged and repulsed the attack. The other regiments of the brigade had camped near Shepherdstown, with the roads around well picketed.

The next day, the sixteenth instant, as the First Maine regiment was going out on the Winchester road for forage, they met our pickets (from the Tenth New-York) running in, pursued by two squadrons of the enemy's cavalry. This truly noble little regiment instantly formed and charged the assailants, driving them back beyond the abandoned picket-line. The enemy now appeared in force, bringing up their artillery rapidly, and opening fire on our line. The Maine held their ground, deploying skirmishers, and made a desperate fight. Our artillery was then advanced, and posted in an advantageous position on the right and left of the road, supported by the Forty-seventh and Sixteenth Pennsylvania regiments. The Fourth was soon sent out to the right front, dismounted, and thrown forward as skirmishers. Shortly after, the Sixteenth regiment was sent to relieve the First Maine, which had been engaged about two hours, and had expended all its ammunition. As we moved along the road they got our range very fairly, sending their shells in very disagreeable proximity to us. The tall figure of Colonel Gregg, as he and his aid, Lieutenant Martin, and his escort rode along with us, attracted their attention, and wherever he moved thereafter, very leisurely over the field, their shell followed him, the fragments scattering all around; but he appeared to bear a charmed life and escaped unhurt. Three squadrons of the Sixteenth were dismounted and sent forward; Fisher's and McDowell's, under Major Fry, on the right, each officer dismounted, with carbine in hand; and the third, under Captains Swan and Day, on the left; the fourth and last, under Captain Alexander, in reserve.

The country in which we were fighting is illy fitted for cavalry movements — the ground very rocky and broken, cut up into small fields, with high stone and rail-fence, and frequent small patches of timber. This will account for the strange event of a fight between cavalrymen, where all the fighting was on foot, aided by artillery. Our artillery consisted of four pieces. Soon after the Sixteenth was thrown forward; two of these were sent to secure an important position on our left, and were not brought into play during the fight; so we fought with two pieces of artillery, and these not as effective as they should have been, on account of bad ammunition; two of the shells which should have gone over our heads into the enemy's line, striking the ground between our reserve and the dismounted men. The rebels had eight guns in position firing at one time, and far better served than usual for them, in the cavalry fights I have noticed, whether Kelly's Ford, Aldie, Middleburgh, or Upperville. At times their firing was terrific to be concentrated on so small a line as ours; their shot, shell, grape, and canister coming all around and among us, lopping the branches from the trees, and splintering huge fragments from the rocks they came in contact with. Nothing but the uneven character of the ground preserved our little brigade from annihilation.

The Sixteenth took up the fighting for the Maine, which retired; but seeing us pushed at one time, they came out gallantly, without being asked, and we made “Johnny” travel. As our men's passions became excited in the contest, having repulsed an attack on the right, they forgot the order of Colonel Gregg, “to hold the line, but not to advance,” and with a cheer sprang forward after the foe, driving them to their, guns, where they, having a fair sweep, open all their pieces on us at once, with grape and canister. We were driven back. They charged us with exulting shouts, while their artillery hurled shell without cessation. We were driven back a quarter of a mile from our old line — all we were driven that day. In this charge the noble Captain Fisher was mortally wounded, one ball passing through his thigh, another through his breast. Colonel Gregg looked anxious, and appeared irritated that his order was not obeyed. On the left, Captain Swan had advanced in imitation of the right, and had fared the same fate, having his horse shot from under him and losing some of his best men. A new line is soon formed, strengthened by Alexander's squadron, a couple of squadrons of the First Pennsylvania regiment, from McIntosh's brigade having come up to support us. The fight goes on as wickedly as ever. The rebel battle-flag is shot down three times in a few minutes, and the last color-bearer compelled to crouch behind a wall and hold up the flag from his lurking-place. As night came on the enemy made several desperate attempts, all of which were steadily repulsed; after the last, our men, mounting the stone wall behind which the last line was formed, cheering and waving their hats, and challenging their opponents to come on, although their ammunition was exhausted.

Night put an end to the contest. At about nine o'clock the First Maine and First and Fourth Pennsylvania were ordered to fall back, leaving the Sixteenth to hold the battle-field. At about midnight Assistant Adjutant-General Maitland came and announced to Lieutenant-Colonel Robison that our wounded and all the other regiments had left, and that we were to bring up the rear, but to remain until two o'clock. At that hour we noiselessly marched through the fields for a couple of miles, until we struck the road to

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J. Irwin Gregg (3)
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