This the General refused, sending back Doctor Ball to inform Major Myers that our column would move forward without delay into the town, and that the citizens would not be allowed to leave and would not be disturbed, unless our troops were fired upon by them; but the Major had made good his time and made himself scarce, and was nowhere to be found. The Doctor went on and demanded the surrender from the Mayor of the town, which was given, as follows:Winchester will be evacuated in an hour's time, by the military forces under my command, which time I would request for you to be pleased to observe, to give non-combatants, desirous of leaving the town, an opportunity to do so. I have the honor to be, General, your obedient servant,Samuel B. Myers, Major Seventh Virginia Cavalry.
Up to the return of the flag of truce, General Geary expected a battle. Upon the receipt of the Mayor's reply, the General advanced the column up to the forts and halted. The Doctor also ascertained that the small-pox was prevalent in the town, and to avoid this contagious disease, the troops were advanced no further. The General and staff alone going into the forts and town and taking formal possession. As the General and staff went into the fort, the army below gave three cheers for the General. Upon a hill beyond the town, the enemy's cavalry were looking on; they also threw up their hats and cheered, but the General soon put a stop to their sport, by sending a few well-directed shells among them, and they made themselves scarce. Dr. Bell, and Lieut. Davis, A. D.C. on General Geary's staff, paroled one hundred and twenty-five rebel sick, in the various hospitals in town. About three P. M. the General ordered a countermarch, and the column moved homeward down the Martinsburgh pike, halting at sunset about six miles from Winchester, and bivouacking for the night. At daylight next morning (Friday) the column resumed the march, passing through Bunker Hill at nine A. M., and reaching Smithfield at twelve M. At this point a severe snow-storm arose, and the wind blew cold and biting. The column pressed on and halted about three miles south of Charlestown, and bivouacked for the night. Notwithstanding the severe snow-storm and cold night, the boys rested very comfortably, and not seriously inconvenienced, and on the next morning (Saturday) were as joyous and light-hearted as though the winter blast had no power to blight their energies. The prospect of soon reaching camp brightened the faces of all. We marched through Charlestown with colors flying, trudging through the snow, while ever and anon a fierce blast of wind would sweep into our faces from over the plains on either side, reminding us that we had other foes to encounter beside the rebel soldiery. At last, twelve M, we arrived at Bolivar, the boys marching in proudly, each regiment to its own encampment, with as light hearts as though they had just started out, instead of just coming back from a five days expedition. We did not lose a single man, killed or wounded, but some five or six stragglers were captured. The results of the reconnoissance were such as to satisfy us positively that there are no considerable bodies of rebels in this vicinity, beyond the guerrillas and bushwhackers, who will linger here as long as the war exists. On this expedition, the want of the requisite number of cavalry, so essential to reconnoissances, was severely felt ; the command had to grope, as it were, almost entirely in the dark, as the number of cavalry with us did not exceed sixty men. Dr. Ball informs me, that while in town, and after it became known that the Mayor had surrendered the town to the Federals, the citizens became jubilant, the ladies waving American flags and pocket-handkerchiefs, and very anxious that our forces should come in and take possession, showing their satisfaction generally in their Mayor's doings. This shows quite a different state of feeling of the citizens to what it was last spring.