, being infested1
by Rebel horse under Rosser
, he ordered Torbert
, commanding his cavalry, to turn upon and chastise the presumption.
The Rebels broke and fled at the first charge, and were chased back 26 miles; losing 11 guns, 47 wagons, and 330 prisoners. Sheridan
's retreat was no further molested; but, having halted near Fisher's hill
to steal upon him unaware, but found him ready, and, after a short struggle, the Rebel
chief drew off, badly worsted.
on a flying visit to Washington
, supposing, his adversary had had fighting enough for the season.
Early, aware of our commander's absence, stung by his repeated defeats, and considerably reenforced, resolved on retrieving his ragged fortunes by a daring enterprise — nothing less than the surprise and rout of a veteran army.
Having strengthened himself to the utmost, and thoroughly organized his forces in his forest-screened camp near Fisher's hill
, he silently moved out at nightfall,4
resolved to flank our position across Cedar creek
, 6 miles distant, and fall on our sleeping camps at daybreak next morning.
Our forces were encamped on three crests or ridges: the Army of West Virginia
's) in front; the 19th corps (Emory
's) half a mile behind it; the 6th corps (Wright
's) to the right and rear of the 19th.
's provisional division lay behind Crook
's left ; the cavalry, under Torbert
, on the right of the 6th.
It is a fact, though no excuse, that they had no more apprehension of an attack from Early
than from Canada
Early had arranged his army in two columns, in order to strike ours at once on both flanks.
He had of course to leave the turnpike and move over rugged paths along the mountain-side, climbing up and down steep hills, holding on by bushes, where horses could hardly keep their feet, and twice fording the North
fork of the Shenandoah
— the second time in the very face of our pickets.
For miles, his right column skirted the left of Crook
's position, where an alarm would have exposed him to utter destruction.
So imperative was the requirement of silence that his men had been made to leave their canteens in camp, lest they should clatter against their muskets.
The divisions of Cordon, Ramseur
, and Pegram
thus stole by our left; those of Kershaw
simultaneously flanking our right.
At 2 A. M., the pickets of the 5th N. Y. heavy artillery (Kitching
's division) heard a rustling of under-brush and a sound as of stealthy, multitudinous trampling ; and two posts were relieved and sent into camp with the report.
thereupon ordered that a good look-out be kept, but sent out no reconnoitering party ; even the gaps in his front line caused by detailing regiments for picket duty were not filled; and, when the crash came, the muskets of many of our men were not loaded.
There was some suspicion and uneasiness, in Crook
's command, but no serious preparation.
An hour before dawn, the Rebels
had all reached, without obstruction or mishap, the positions severally assigned them, and stood shivering in the chill mist, awaiting the order to attack.
No sound of alarm, no hum