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[363] enemy. We were successful in making the enemy fall back. Our movements toward the enemy's rear of course hastened his departure from a position that was getting to be more dangerous than either interesting or profitable.

At the time when the enemy was known to be within six to eight miles of the Cumberland, the troops there stationed formed for action. Scenes of lively interest ensued.

In the streets of Cumberland the ladies — that is, a great many of them — promenaded up and down, of course waiting for the “ball” to open. Instead of seeming excited, they appeared to be rather remarkably cool and desirous of hearing the “Where are you? Where are you?” shells go whizzing over the devoted city of Cumberland, and to see the coal-dust flying in all directions.

I will not stop to detail all the minor movements we made and the skirmishes we had, but, passing over these, will state that as soon as Colonels Fitzsimmons's and Thompson's forces opened communication with Colonel Mulligan, we vigorously pursued the enemy, driving him on all the roads and out of all the gaps in which he attempted to maintain a position.

Our forces continued to press the enemy hard, until the latter made a stand a short distance this side of Moorefield.

The Moorefield valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in the United States. It is about fifteen miles long by, upon an average, three miles wide, and contains river bottom land of unlimited richness. It is surrounded by mountains of picturesque formation about two thousand feet in height, and forms altogether one of the most beautiful scenic displays to be met with in any portion of this country. Moorefield, situated about two or three miles from the ford, is a town of four hundred inhabitants. The town is well built, contains brick residences with tin roofs, and displays evidences of progress and refinement not observable in other portions of this region of country.

About three miles from the town of Moorefield, following the Moorefield and Romney turnpike road, you cross the south branch of the Potomac River at what is known as McNeil's Ford. It was here that Colonel Mulligan on Thursday, in pursuing the enemy, had a fight. Rosser's command disputed the passage of the river. The lands of this neighborhood are almost of a dead level, but the river bank upon which Colonel Mulligan took position is higher than the one on the other side. Thus we had the advantage of position. Our artillery opened on the enemy about eight A. M., and rapid firing was kept up for some considerable time afterward. The enemy replied vigorously, and for a long time kept us warmly at work. After a good deal of rapid sharp-shooting our shot and shell drove the enemy off to a sufficient distance to enable us to obtain command of the ford. A crossing was then effected. We found the country, as I have previously stated, a dead level from here all the way to Moorefield. This level served our purpose very well. After leaving the ford, the enemy slowly fell back toward Moorefield, all the way keeping up a scattering, skirmishing fire — a regular “fire and fall back” engagement. At the time when Mulligan first engaged Rosser at the ford — Early was at Moorefield (behind Rosser) with a heavy force of infantry and two or more batteries of artillery.

Fighting was kept up until the enemy got near the town, when he made another stand. More fighting ensued, and in the course of three hours we drove him from his last position to and through the town and beyond it. Early's forces then fell back toward the south fork of the south branch of the Potomac River, Mulligan all the time keeping close upon the enemy's rear, by aid of his cavalry force. The enemy took the south fork road, which runs through a branch valley of the great Moorefield valley. This South-Branch valley is quite a narrow one, hemmed in on either side by very high mountains and traversed by a considerable stream of water known as the South-Fork of the South-Branch. Rosser undertook to protect Early's rear. The narrowness of the valley alone prevented us from driving him along with more than agreeable rapidity. As it was, we compelled the enemy to fall back with much haste. The South-Fork road leads directly to Brock's Gap and Harrisonburgh — the original position from which the rebels moved. Colonel Mulligan continued to pursue the enemy until the latter reached the last river road, and was compelled to retire over into the Shenandoah valley again.

Colonel Mulligan has been highly complimented for the alacrity with which he obeyed and carried out General Kelly's orders and the manner in which he personally conducted the pursuit. The other commanding officers have also been complimented for their gallantry.

Our losses have not been large. Even in the six hours hard fighting our losses proved to be less than at first reported.

Looking back at the operations of the last seven days, it must be said that we have been successful, and that it is beyond doubt we have again defeated Early's designs, which were to seriously injure the line of the railroad and capture the garrison at Petersburgh. He has been defeated in getting into New-Creek or Cumberland, failed to interrupt the running of the railroad trains beyond a few hours, and failed to get off with any large portion of his prisoners or plunder. Besides, he has lost many by desertion, and quite a number as prisoners and picked — up stragglers. On the whole, he has been made to discover that raids are adventures that cost much time and material, and do not pay rebels or generals where the result is “diamond cut diamond.”

Our cavalry have driven the rebels out of Petersburgh. The enemy burned the government buildings.

Captain Gleason, of the Twenty-third Illinois, who was taken prisoner, has been recaptured.


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