previous next

[329] me that another battery on the enemy's right had opened on our position, and that there were some indications of a considerable force of infantry in the woods in that quarter. On receiving this information I pushed forward Sullivan's brigade, which was placed, by order of Col. Kimball, in a position to oppose the advance of the enemy's right wing. The action opened with a fire of artillery on both sides, but at too great a distance to be very effective. The initiative was taken by the enemy. He pushed forward a few more guns to his right, supported by a considerable force of infantry and cavalry, with the apparent intention of enfilading our position and turning our left flank. An active body of skirmishers, consisting of the Eighth Ohio, Col. Carroll, and three companies of the Sixty-seventh Ohio, was immediately thrown forward on both sides of the valley road to resist the enemy's advance. These skirmishers were admirably supported by four pieces of artillery under Capt. Jenks and Sullivan's gallant brigade. This united force repulsed the enemy at all points, and gave him such a check that no further demonstration was made upon that flank during the remainder of the day. The attempt against our left flank having thus failed, the enemy withdrew the greater part of his force to the right, and formed it into a reserve to support his left flank in a forward movement. He then added his original reserve and two batteries to his main body, and then, advancing with this combined column, under shelter of the bridge on his left, on which other batteries had been previously posted, seemed evidently determined to turn our right flank or overthrow it. Our batteries on the opposite ridge, though admirably managed by their experienced chief, Lieut.-Col. Daum, were soon found insufficient to check, or even retard, the advance of such a formidable body. At this stage of the combat a messenger arrived from Col. Kimball, informing me of the state of the field, and requesting direction as to the employment of the infantry. I saw there was not a moment to lose, and gave positive orders that all the disposable infantry should be immediately thrown forward on our right to carry the enemy's batteries, and to assail and turn his left flank, and hurl it back on the centre. Col. Kimball carried out these orders with promptitude and ability. He entrusted this movement to Tyler's splendid brigade, which, under its fearless leader, Colonel Tyler, marched forward with alacrity and enthusiastic joy to the performance of the most perilous duty of the day. The enemy's skirmishers were driven before it and fell back upon the main body, strongly posted behind a high and solid stone wall, situated on an elevated ground. Here the struggle became desperate, and for a short time doubtful; but Tyler's brigade being soon joined on the left by the Fifth Ohio, Thirteenth Indiana, and Sixty-second Ohio, of Sullivan's brigade, and the Fourteenth Indiana, Eighty-fourth Pennsylvania, seven companies of the Sixty-seventh Ohio, and three companies of the Eighth Ohio, of Kimball's brigade, this united force dashed upon the enemy with a cheer and yell that rose high up above the roar of battle, and though the rebels fought desperately, as their piles of dead attest, they were forced back through the woods by a fire as destructive as ever fell upon a retreating foe. Jackson, with his supposed invincible stone-wall brigade and the accompanying brigades, much to their mortification and discomfiture, were compelled to fall back in disorder upon their reserve. Here they took up a new position for a final stand, and made an attempt for a few minutes to retrieve the fortunes of the day; but again rained down upon them the same close and destructive fire. Again cheer upon cheer rang in their ears. A few minutes only did they stand up against it, when they turned dismayed and fled in disorder, leaving us in possession of the field, the killed and wounded, three hundred prisoners, two guns, four caissons and a thousand stand of small arms. Night alone saved him from total destruction. The enemy retreated above five miles, and, judging from his camp-fires, took up a new position for the night. Our troops, wearied and exhausted with the fatigues of the day, threw themselves down to rest on the field.

Though the battle had been won, still I could not have believed that Jackson would have hazarded a decisive engagement at such a distance from the main body without expecting reenforcements. So, to be prepared for such a contingency, I set to work during the night to bring together all the troops within my reach. I sent an express after Williams's division, requesting the rear brigade, about twenty miles distant, to march all night and join me in the morning. I swept the posts and route in my rear of almost all their guards, hurrying them forward by forced marches to be with me at daylight. I gave positive orders also to the forces in the field to open fire on the enemy as soon as the light of day would enable them to point their guns, and to pursue him without respite and compel him to abandon his guns and baggage or cut him to pieces. These orders were implicitly obeyed as far as possible. It now appears that I had rightly divined the intentions of our crafty antagonist. On the morning of the twenty-third a reenforcement from Luray of five thousand reached Front Royal, on their way to join Jackson. This reenforcement was being followed by another body of ten thousand from Sperryville; but recent rains having rendered the Shenandoah River impassable, they found themselves compelled to fall back without being able to effect the proposed junction. At daylight on the morning of the twenty-fourth, our artillery again opened on the enemy. He entered upon his retreat in very good order, considering what he had suffered. Gen. Banks, hearing of our engagement on his way to Washington, halted at Harper's Ferry, and with remarkable promptitude and sagacity ordered back Williams's whole division, so that my express found the rear brigade already en route to join us. The General himself returned here forthwith, and after making me a hasty visit, assumed command of the forces in pursuit of the enemy. The pursuit was kept up with vigor, energy and activity, until they reached Woodstock, where the enemy's retreat became flight, and the


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.
Nathan Kimball (4)
E. B. Tyler (3)
James Sullivan (3)
W. H. Jackson (3)
N. G. Williams (2)
John C. Jenks (1)
P. Daum (1)
James Carroll (1)
N. P. Banks (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
24th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: