General Imboden's report.
Headquarters Valley District, in the fork of the Shenandoah, near Front Royal, Oct. 19, 1863.Colonel: Yesterday (Sunday) morning, at two o'clock, I moved from Berryville to surprise and capture the garrison at Charlestown. The surprise was complete, the enemy having no suspicion of our approach until I had the town entirely surrounded. I found the enemy occupying the court-house, jail, and some contiguous buildings in the heart of the town, all loop-holed for musketry, and the court-house yard inclosed by a heavy wall of oak timber. To my demand for a surrender, Colonel Simpson requested an hour for consideration. I offered him five minutes, to which he replied: “Take me, if you can.” I immediately opened on the building with artillery, at less than two hundred yards, and with half a dozen shells drove out the enemy into the streets, where he formed and fled toward Harper's Ferry. At the edge of the town he was met by the Eighteenth cavalry, Colonel Imboden's and Gilmore's battalions. One volley was exchanged, when the enemy threw down his arms and surrendered unconditionally. The Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, and five others, who were mounted, fled at the first fire, and ran the gauntlet, and escaped toward Harper's Ferry. The force I captured was the Ninth Maryland regiment, and three companies of cavalry, numbering between four and five hundred men and officers. I have not had time to have them counted. In wagons, horses, and mules, arms, ammunition, medicine, and clothing, were considerable, all of which I have saved, and will have properly accounted for. As I expected, the Harper's Ferry forces, infantry, artillery, and cavalry, appeared at Charlestown in less than two hours after I fired the first gun. Having promptly sent off the prisoners and property, I was prepared for them. I retired from the town and fell back slowly toward Berryville, fighting the enemy all the way, from ten o'clock till near sunset. My loss, as far as ascertained, is very small-five killed and fifteen or twenty wounded, more or less, three or four mortally. Captain Coleman will lose an arm, and Captain Cumnel was badly shot in the hip. I think a a few-ten or fifteen broken-down men — who straggled behind, were captured. Wa killed and wounded dreadfully several of the enemy in the court-house, including the Adjutant of the Ninth Maryland; and, in the fight along the road, the enemy's loss was considerable, as we ambuscaded them several times with good effect. I marched nearly all night, and reached the river here at daybreak. It was quite full, but I have effected a safe crossing of the north branch. Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,
Colonel R. H. Chilton, Chief of Staff, A. N. V:
Colonel R. H. Chilton, Chief of Staff, A. N. V:
headquarters army of the Potomac, Oct. 15, 1863.After the cavalry engagement on Sunday, it was rumored that the rebel infantry was in force, supporting their cavalry. This induced General Meade to countermarch the troops, with the intention of making the line of the Rappahannock his base of operations in case of an attack. He also intrenched his reserve artillery in the forts near the river. Their desperate attack on Gregg's cavalry on Monday evening seemed to open our eyes to their real intentions; so an order came for the troops to march in the dead of night. On Tuesday morning, as our infantry were returning toward Auburn, on nearing the ford, which is in a dry ravine, with close trees and underwood, the enemy's dismounted cavalry opened a brisk fire on the front of the column from their sheltered position. The front line was composed of Graham's brigade, the Sixty-third Pennsylvania being in advance — a regiment chiefly of conscripts, and commanded by Colonel Danks. General Birney seeing them wavering, rode up, and cried out, “Come on, boys! Go into them,” and charged. The regiment at once rallied and forced back the enemy. The First division of the Third corps lost in this short but stubborn encounter, eleven men killed and forty-two wounded. Lieutenant Miller and Captain Consort were both wounded severely. The rebels retired, leaving eight killed and a large number of wounded, besides a lot of arms and accoutrements, behind them. Among the wounded were the bugler and two orderlies on the General's escort. The corps then moved on and encamped for the night at Greenwich. The Second corps bivouacked in the woods, beyond the ford. About six o'clock we resumed our march, and soon crossed the ford at Auburn. The First division, commanded by General Caldwell, fell into line of battle on the heights beyond. So secure did we feel that the men were ordered to stack their arms and cook breakfast. We heard some firing on our left, and when the dark haze that obscured the morning cleared away, we could see the lines of cavalry within half a mile of us. Corn was stacked in the field; so we left our tired and hungry steeds to feed on it, and advanced to the top of the hill to witness the conflict going on in the plain beneath. We saw our cavalry (Gregg's) charging into the wood; but after a fierce shelling and musketry fight, we saw them break back, followed pell-mell by the enemy. They were now rushing toward our lines. Our men were cooking their coffee, speculating on the chances of the. conflict. It was to be many a poor fellow's last breakfast. On our right were a couple of high knolls, thickly wooded. From these all of a sudden masked batteries opened on our lines, shot and shell came shrieking through the air, and so accurate was their range, that nearly every one of them came ploughing through us. The men jumped to their arms, the officers rushed to their commands.