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[62]

I have had some personal acquaintance with the lamented Colonel, and have admired those qualities which made him so excellent and honorable a soldier. He was apparently a man of mild disposition, thoughtful, kind, considerate, and actuated by nothing so much as by a faithful sense of duty.

He was a Baltimorean, and a lawyer of fine ability, and esteemed by a large number of friends. His loss is deeply felt in the division, and his worth acknowledged by all.

The forces engaged upon our side comprised eight companies of the Maryland First, two companies of the Twenty-ninth Pennsylvania, two companies Ira Harris Guard, two pieces artillery of Capt. Knipes's battery, and Capt. Mapes's pioneer corps of fifty-six men.

One gun, which was carried off the field and brought to within a few miles of Winchester, was abandoned, necessarily, and captured by the enemy before the following morning.

One o'clock Saturday morning I was awaked to make preparations for immediate retreat-informed, too, of the principal facts in the account given above. The remnant saved from the battle at Front Royal had retreated upon the road which connects that place with Front Royal, and the enemy were known to be in close pursuit.

Their movement, too, seemed evidently intended to cut off our connection with Winchester, and we saw very naturally before us the prospect of an enemy (Ewell) in our front, while Jackson, whom we had known to be behind us near Harrisonburgh, seemed more than probably intending to push upon us in our rear, placing us between two fires, each doubtless larger than the little command which remained to Gen. Banks after the withdrawal of so large a portion of it to reenforce other less exposed divisions of the army.

We soon learned that the forces of Ewell were on the road upon which we were retreating, and in front of us. But we moved on, and had proceeded three miles beyond Strasburgh,had crossed Cedar Creek bridge, and ascended the hill beyond. A consternation seemed to have been created ahead of us, indicated by the return of sutlers, teamsters, and servants, frightened themselves and giving warning to others to look out for the shells which would immediately be bursting over our heads. There was for a few moments a rush of men, mounted and dismounted, back upon the road and through the fields, as if they had already seen large numbers of the enemy.

Shouts were raised, and everything seemed to indicate an immediate battle. The soldiers received the intelligence with a shout and with animated faces. Orders to halt, right face, were immediately shouted from the head of the column, and repeated all the way down to the other end. In a moment all were ordered to take off their knapsacks, which were immediately stacked up by the roadside, and guards were appointed over them. All were ordered forward at once, and the men, though ordered to march, moved almost at the speed of double-quick.

Presently Gen. Williams, who had not yet left Strasburgh, came riding rapidly with his staff to the head of the column, and the soldiers raised a hearty cheer as he passed, which continued up the column as he advanced to the front. Gen. Banks soon followed, and was greeted with similar manifestations of pleasure and confidence in their commander. We followed closely, and the road was filled with wagons, some broken down, others with the mules cut suddenly away, and all deserted by their drivers, who had taken flight on the appearance of a few of the enemy's cavalry, and fled in a miniature Bull Run stampede.

The infantry were kept somewhat in the rear, until the General and his body-guard had advanced to ascertain the position of the enemy, and the space between was filled with the baggage-wagons, which were soon being repossessed by their timorous possessors under the inspiring influence of the wagon-master's whip, who, enraged at their cowardly rout, was driving them back with most unmerciful lashes to their deserted charges. Men were now seen flocking back, and the baggage-train was again supplied with teamsters.

On again we moved, into and through Middletown, and when we reached Newtown, eight miles from Winchester, numbers of the enemy's cavalry were seen, and we dashed into the village and out into a small grove at the farthest end of the town, in which several of the enemy were seen as soon as we arrived in sight. Forty of our soldiers had been captured in the town only a few hours before our arrival, with a small quantity of baggage. Most of the captured were sick. One of them, who was killed — David Dickerson was his name, I think — was of company B, Sixty-sixth Ohio regiment. I saw a lady who was with him immediately after he was shot. He asked for a paper, wrote upon it his name and regiment, and wished that his family should be informed of his death. Two hundred of the rebel cavalry had been in the town in the morning, and a man who had come in from the Front Royal road stated that a large force of infantry were but a few miles away. We passed through, however, without meeting them and on to Winchester and encamped.

Our early and rapid march prevented the accomplishment of their contemplated plan to crush us between the upper and nether millstone, and the disaster they would have accomplished was postponed until the following day, (Sunday.) This in the front.

The other end of our column encountered the force which was to have been sent to attack our rear. First the Zouaves d'afrique, body-guard of Gen. Banks, had been stationed in the rear to burn the bridge across Cedar Creek, three miles from Strasburgh, after all had passed except the cavalry, under Gen. Hatch, who. were yet to come up and would ford the river. While they were besmearing the bridge with tar, unsuspecting any danger, the enemy charged down upon them from the mountain on the left, cutting them up in a most unmerciful manner, and capturing all of them except five.


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N. P. Banks (3)
Ewell (2)
A. S. Williams (1)
William H. Mapes (1)
Knipes (1)
R. H. Jackson (1)
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David Dickerson (1)
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