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[57] command of Major Keenan, which had been thrown out on picket in the direction of Union, three miles away. General Pleasanton, who was at the right of the village, immediately hastened to the front, taking with him two pieces of the horse battery, of which there are only four in the service. The enemy continued firing, and advancing their artillery from one position to another until one gun suddenly opened very near to the village. “Can't we reach that?” remarked one of his officers to Gen. Pleasanton. “Reach it? I guess I can,” replied the General, and in less than a moment's time one of the pieces was unlimbered, and a shell tossed in the direction of the rebels.

Another, and still another followed. But they all fell short, one setting fire to a meadow, which was soon burned over. By this time the cavalry on both sides had dismounted, and the sharp, quick report of their carbines indicated that a spirited engagement was taking place. The gallant Major Keenan (whose horse had been shot and exchanged for another,) seeing that the enemy were pressing on him in large numbers, sent for reinforcements, when the entire regiment (Eighth Pennsylvania) were sent to his support. The rebels were now plainly visible scouring through the distant woods and fields, evidently determined on disputing our advance to Union, which General Pleasanton had been ordered to occupy at all hazards, and the possession of which was necessary to the successful carrying out of General McClellan's programme. About half-past 2 our cavalry began to fall back, owing to the superiority of the enemy, and a courier was sent to the Sixth regulars, Captain Sanders, which was stationed three miles back on the road, ordering them to come up on the gallop, which they did. Reinforcements consisting of a battery and Doubleday's old brigade of infantry were also hurried forward from Burnside's encampment at Purcellsville, whither he had moved up his forces in the course of the day.

As our men fell back, the rebel cavalry followed until within range of our guns, when they were brought to a halt by the most splendid artillery firing of the war. The rebels soon got their guns into a position commanding our own, but in five minutes time it became too hot for them. They changed to another position, but were in less time driven from that. Finally they galloped over a meadow, our shells thickly flying after them, and planting their guns directly in front of the grove, one mile and a half distant. They had hardly fired a shell, however, before our Rodman tenpounders so ploughed the ground around them as to cause a skedaddle out of sight.

This ended the artillery firing for that day, having proved for the twentieth time the superiority of our artillery over that of the rebels. About half-past 3 o'clock all became quiet, and we supposed the contest had ended for the day. About five o'clock, however, the skirmishing was renewed in an orchard on the right, between the dismounted cavalrymen, and continued until dusk, the Sixth regulars in the mean time having come. During the night the infantry and artillery from Purcellsville arrived. In the morning it was found that the enemy had advanced their pickets to a considerable distance on the right. At precisely ten o'clock our artillery opened upon them and the infantry were thrown forward. The firing was, on the day previous, most accurate. One caisson was blown fully fifteen feet into the air, causing the rebels around the gun to retreat in double-quick. Such accurate shooting the rebels could not stand, and they accordingly commenced falling back; we, at the same time, following up and peppering them in fine style.

Thus we continued to drive them from hill to valley for several hours, their artillerists being compelled to abandon every new position as often as it was chosen. Several prisoners were taken, among the number two who rode directly into one of our own regiments, mistaking it for Col. Owen's Third Virginia cavalry. I conversed with prisoners from the Third, Fourth and Fifth Virginia cavalry, proving that we had been fighting General Stuart's force. From them as well as refugees, I learned that he had been on the ground all day; also that the bulk of the rebel army is on this aide of the Blue Ridge, retreating toward Gordonsville. A detachment of the Eighth New-York cavalry captured some eight horses, with equipments, and quite an amount of officers' clothing. An ambulance driver of the same regiment was accidentally killed.

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Pleasanton (3)
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